Pioneertown: Residents uneasy about water

Desert Sun Staff Writer

Four Pioneertown residence say they will contact a local attorney this week in the wake of plans by the San Bernardino County Office of Special Districts to create a new water agency at the former Western-themed movies set turned unincorporated community.
(Pioneertown is located about 5 miles northwest of Yucca Valley)

The residents are not opposed to creation of a new water district, but they are against development that would ruin the rural image of Pioneertown, four representatives told the County Board of Supervisors at a meeting Monday in San Bernardino.

After seeking legal advice, The homeowners said Monday they want to come up with a plan that will give them some measure of control over the “quality” of future development, once more water is available.

The representatives what a three-week delay from the Board of Supervisors – who postponed action to:

–Accept $520,000 loan, at less than current market interest rates, from the state Development of Water Resources (DWR), as allowed under the 1915 Safe Drinking Water Act.

–Create an assessment district, been charging the 320 or so Pioneertown landowners an average $1,600 over a 34 year period, to pay back the DWR loan.

–Award nearly $350,000 in bids to replace hundreds of feet of underground pipeline in the community, drill and equip at least three new wells, and build a new steel reservoir.

The decision to hold off on a final vote until July 11 also leaving what is proposed by the absence a 1st District Supervisor John Joyner, who represents Pioneertown and the entire Morongo basin. Joyner reportedly was surveying flood-watch measure is Monday along the California side of the swelling Colorado River.
(Next month’s hearing on the proposed water district Will begin at 1:30 PM in the board chamber, 175 W. Fifth St., San Bernardino)

Plans for water agency upset town’s residents

Meanwhile, all four residents told the supervisors they have not been properly informed of the county’s readiness.

Despite their claims, a large crowd of Pioneertown landowners reportedly attended an “informational” meeting this past Saturday with county officials at the local bowling alley.

“I didn’t hear any opposition at the meeting.” Ed Houston, chief of project development branch of the county special district office, said Monday, added he attended that informal, local weekend gathering, along with his staff.

Houston said the current “water system” in Pioneertown “leaks like a sieve” and “has significant problems.”

He added that original plans for a county assessment district were “initiated by the residents themselves” at least three years ago.

But homeowner Constance Walsh argued it wasn’t residence but “absentee landowners” bent on the high-density development who have been pushing the county to form a new water district.

“Once this goes it,” Ms. Walsh said of the new water district, “the building moratorium, as of that minute, will be completely lifted.”

Although she and her neighbors insisted they were not standing in the way of progress, nor opposing inevitable development, 5th District Supervisor Robert Hammock, who represents all of metropolitan San Bernardino, said it seems as if that was exactly what they were doing.

“Those folks,” Hammock said of the landowners, “are expecting to be able to build on their own land.”

There are now about 40 residences in Pioneertown. That number would probably double after the new water district is formed, said Houston, adding the district probably could serve a total of 150 customers.