Letter to the Editor: plans defy public input

manzanarsolarsiteAs a resident of Inyo County, I have been excited to take part in the revisions to the County’s General Plan.  My participation has not been limited to the Renewable Energy component of the plan, but rather the entire General Plan. This is because I view the County General Plan as a way for our county to envision and begin developing a plan for our future.  Since none of our towns in the south are incorporated, our participation in this plan is the best way for us to have a voice in our future.  I believe our County needs an economic development plan, and it has not seemed to me that we have had one in a very long time.

During both the General Plan process and the Renewable Energy process, I thought the Planning department did an excellent job of soliciting input from residents.  Planners had an interactive agenda which asked everyone—not just those comfortable speaking in public– to weigh in on maps and written policy proposals by putting colored stickers on components of the plan.  Being able to participate in this process made me believe that I was participating in a democratic process.

This is why I was so shocked to see the documents before you today.  These documents in no way reflect what took place in those community meetings. While I attended meetings in Independence, I have spoken to people who were in these same meetings in Bishop and other parts of the county, who report that community sentiment was largely similar.  There were no suggestions that industrial solar development was part of anyone’s vision for moving this county forward.

When asked, the overwhelming majority of participants heartily supported solar development on rooftops, over the aqueduct, or perhaps on Owens or China Lake, but were vehemently opposed to the placement of industrial solar mega-developments on undisturbed land. At meeting after meeting, I have heard residents express grave concern about the industrialization of the valley and the impact of such industry on our bread and butter:  tourism.  No temporary construction jobs, and certainly not the 10 jobs DWP is suggesting will arise from their proposed project next to Manzanar will compensate for the damage done to our many small businesses, and recreation-centered employment with the Park Service, Forest Service, or BLM.

Modifying the County’s General Plan is something that cannot be rushed through because of pressure from outside agencies.  It must be done with careful, deliberate consideration and engagement with our county’s residents.  In Inyo County, any economic development plan we make must have supporting tourism at its center.  Otherwise, we are taking our greatest asset, the beauty of our valley, and throwing it down the toilet.

Jane McDonald



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38 Responses to Letter to the Editor: plans defy public input

  1. Daris February 24, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    What do you think will sway our supervisors money from DWP or those comments made by the public? I know where my money would go if I were to bet.

  2. DESCO February 24, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    Well said. The project may or may not be visible from 395, but for anyone hiking more than a few feet up the side of a mountain, this will be an eye sore seen for many miles.

  3. Desert Tortoise February 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    The project “next to Manzanar” will be four miles away. It will be very nearly invisible from Manzanar. How about dealing in facts and not emotion?

    I have said it once and will say it again, drive south to Mojave and take a look at the PV array immediately west of Hwy 14 before you get to Silver Queen Road. There is almost nothing to see. Drive further south to Hwy 138 and head west out of Lancaster. There are two very large PV farms flanking the road. They are not visible until you are very close, and even then they are not an eyesore.

    The PV arrays are no more than five feet above the ground and their surfaces are non reflective black. These are nothing like the solar plants at Kramer Junction.

    I would suggest the county planning commission can see fact from uninformed emotion and has acted accordingly, and wisely.

    • Steve February 24, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      If you were to live in the Owens Valley maybe I would hear what you have to say. but you don’t so go some where else.

      • Desert Tortoise February 25, 2014 at 2:15 pm #

        Who do you think pays the bill for Owens Valley or any isolated rual place to have ultility service? Don’t kid yourself, the cost to provide gas, electricity and water utilitiy service to the many isolated communities of the west is orders of magnitude greater than the revene that could reasonably be collected by the residents of those communities. If Mammoth Lakes paid the full cost to deliver electricity to it’s residents, your electric bill would be many times greater than it already is.

        You have electricity and water out of the kindness, and tax dollars, of big city residents who foot the bill so their fellow Americans in rural areas don’t have to live in primative conditions. Even in my lifetime there were places in the US where there was no electricity simply because the cost to run lines to these places was so high the utilities could never recoup their investment off the ratepayers served. Federal and state subsidies of tax money was required to put those in place. The same is true all over the west. You don’t pay your way, not by a long shot, but you whine and cry when the people who pay your bills seek better ways to generate the electricity they will pay part of the cost for you to use.

        • Benett Kessler February 25, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

          If you want to keep a tally sheet, Inyo-Mono made the City of LA with water from here. Without that resource, there would be no big city down there. Talk about not paying your way.

          • kwak February 25, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

            not to mention all the silver from Cerro Gordo . . .

          • Fiat Justitia March 3, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

            And the hydropower generated in the Owens Valley, which gets exported to the cities.
            Tortoise has it backwards. If you look beyond the narrow fiscal view, at environmental life cycle analysis, the rural areas subsidize urban areas. It’s the age-old story of conquer and pillage. And who pays the ultimate price? Plants and animals other than ourselves.
            Tortoise really has it backwards when he/she states that “kindness” decrees that rural Inyo County has water and power. How beneficent of LADWP to leave any water in the hydrogeologic basin of origin! The reality is that DWP is pushing for the day when there is no ranching/tourism or other uses – and the Owens Valley can fulfill its destiny of a large water storage basin, unfettered by evapotranspiration and decorated with miles of solar panels.

        • Russ Monroe February 25, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

          Fiction, Again!
          Is it ignorance? Is it stupidity? Nah, just disinformation as always!
          Owens Valley is a net energy exporter. Mammoth has it’s own geothermal. The small amount of hydro power that is generated here is normally more than we consume, and many times that amount is generated by the Coso geothermal plant, but what relevance are facts to a pseudonym? Apparently zero.
          Like many remote burgs that never have had lines to them, my home has power because we have paid the bill, in advance! We own our solar and wind generating equipment. We have water because we own the water rights to our land. We have paid our way. We have taken no subsidies.
          Do you have the spine to admit you are wrong? Not something that you have ever demonstrated here…. oh, but, that’s right, YOU stand by your fabrications don’t you, pseudonym? Uh huh.

          • Mongo The Idiot March 2, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

            Russ Monroe,
            I am a pseudonym who very much enjoyed your facts.
            Also, you said…
            “Is it ignorance? Is it stupidity? Nah, just disinformation as always!”
            Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. I notice a prevalence of this in the valley. When the topics of the attacks are examined, it appears that the effort is organized. I notice that many of the dis-informative claims are replicated exactly from person to person in rebuttal to valid complaints.

          • Russ Monroe March 3, 2014 at 10:17 am #

            My response was intended to be to the pseudonym that consistently defames the name of noble desert tortoise. I should have specified that. Sorry, no offense intended toward you Mongo.
            I agree, it is hard not to notice that often the same semantics and cadence appear in the writing of several pseudonyms here. Disinformation has been something that Benett has had to push against for the entire time she has been reporting.
            Personally Mongo, I don’t believe that you are a pseudonym, you just choose to use one. I can’t say the same for some others that post here.

          • Mongo The Idiot March 3, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

            Thanks Russ,
            No offense taken, I really admired your comment and wanted to acknowledge you.
            I agree with your observation about DT. To use paradoxical or oxymoronic
            metaphor, it appears we have a horse of a different color or even a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In all fairness though, I do know one authentic person of the same ilk, so the possibility in my mind remains that there is no malicious intent.
            In closing, I have seen the artists rendering of the solar project that appeared in the Register. My feeling is that the installation is beyond ugly and a ruthless defacement of some of the most valuable cultural and scenic land in North America.
            My late friend Bill said this to me from horseback as we rode in the shadow of the giant, ” I can’t imaging living in a more beautiful place or having a better life.”
            Neither can I Bill, neither can I.

          • Russ Monroe March 3, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

            Well Mongo if you didn’t like the rendering in the Register, you’ll really hate this:


            These are some videos I have loaded to youtube for my new web site.
            Near the bottom of the group is LORPFeb00283, a pan of the Owens River Delta. If the “plan” that the Inyo County Planning Commission just approved is allowed, every part of the valley floor that can be seen in this video could be covered in solar panels and or wind turbines. How’s that for obscene?

          • Benett Kessler March 3, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

            Russ, couldn’t figure out how to get to your videos via that link.

          • Benett Kessler March 3, 2014 at 6:51 pm #

            Russ, can’t find your videos via the link.

          • Russ Monroe March 3, 2014 at 8:49 pm #

            So, try:


          • Mongo The Idiot March 4, 2014 at 10:50 am #

            Russ Monroe,
            It was good to see your videos. I can see that I am not the only person who actually notices nature’s subtle magic here in the OV. Every single time I go out and “turn over a stone” or “pick at a rotten log” or “just sit still and watch” I see something new. Creatures, plants, minerals, and vapor that defy my imagination. The scene is full of life and magic from the depths of the earth where the hexagonal Aquamarine forms to the heavens where I have seen swirling bottle curls of crimson and coal. In the Aqua I see geometric patterns that I once thought were created by Man. In the sky, as nature flexes its muscle, I am reminded that I am not the power of this universe. I feel respect as I am overcome by awe and a sense of belonging. We cannot create any part of this thing we are threatening, we can only mimic it. We are not stewards, we are pretenders cloaked in self importance and poster board efforts designed to make us feel good about ourselves. Our motto appears to be “act without thinking.” We assume that those who propose clean energy are not planning to put it in the middle of a place that should be a preserve. We seize the property of old men collecting bottles and cans. We plant fish, kill fish, and mess around with frogs in the name of preservation. Some feel so lost that they seek blotto with drugs; we search for them with dope sniffing dogs so that we can get them into the very system they want wiped from their consciousness. Cops and Rangers aren’t above the law, they are the law. In the end we scrape the whole thing and plant plastic. How can this all exist in the same confined space without my noticing? I am an Idiot, there is no other explanation.
            Proceed with eyes closed naysayers, and pretend to take comfort in the arms of your banker. I choose Nature, just as deadly, yet infinitely more satisfying and completely in line with our own evolution and nature.

    • JeremiahJoseph February 24, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

      What about this project do you really admire DT? Are you really for “green energy”?
      I ask that because the more I learn and inform myself about this project, there is healthier and a more efficient ways to bring energy sustainability.. But most of those ways do not scratch the backs of big entities like LADWP, which brings my question to you, what is it about this project that makes you promote it?
      I feel we have a global problem with Local solutions, and if industrializing (mega solar project) is your answer, I think you forgot the question..

      • Desert Tortoise February 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm #

        You better deal with the fact that it is the tax payers of the big cities those utilities serve who subsidize utility service to isolated places like the Owens Valley. The rates you pay don’t even begin to pay the full cost to bring electricity to your home or business. That cost is born by ratepayers and taxpayers in the wealthy coastal cities you so enthusiastically disparage. Keep it up. They are not infinitely patient with ingrates who do not appreciate the good deal they get off their tax dollar. If you had to pay the full cost of your electricity you would go broke.

        • Message March 3, 2014 at 9:49 am #

          DT – I’m begining to suspect you aren’t from around these parts. And have entirely too much time on your hands.

          Your point about the ingratitude of people in rural communities to our benefactors in the city is riddled with classcism and hypocrisy.

          The wealthy sophisticates of the city do not have the vaguest notion of where their resources come from – not just water from the Owens Valley – water from across the entire western US (and even over international lines). Water that’s provided at the expense of rural communities in CA, NV, UT, AZ, and let us not forget Mexico. The people of Los Angeles can cry themselves their own river about subsidizing electricity in communities with populations smaller than a single highrise. Please explain to me why we should bear the externalities of their wasteful energy and water use? I get the larger economic picture, but should we really bend over backwards to satisfy the insatiable appetite of the city without asking them to consider the consequences of their resource use? Why is it wrong to tell LA that if they practiced more conservation, we wouldn’t need to build as many power facilties? Heck, they’d save money doing it!

          I’ll consider industrial energy development in my backyard when they considered getting rid of the pool in theirs.

          I’ll point out again that the Eastern Sierra exports over 90% of energy generated here to the southern California. We were 100% renewable before it was cool. We were 100% renewable when lightbulbs came into fashion.

          I’m not sure where you’re from DT – but I can tell you that when I lived in the city, environmentalism was very trendy. I’m just asking people to be educated about what that means outside of a Whole Foods, and practice what they preach.

    • Ken Warner February 24, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

      Here’s the best picture I’ve seen that gives a notion of the relationship between Manzanar and the PV panel site. A 5 or 6 foot tall object will be very difficult to see 4 miles away. Yes, you will be able to see something. Would that be any different than driving or walking through Bishop or any of the towns on 395?

      We live in an industrialized World. It’s not pretty. A gas or coal fired plant in the same place would be — in comparison — a true disaster.


      • erik simpson February 25, 2014 at 10:02 am #

        Believe it or not, some of us don’t limit our travels to driving on 395 or walking around in Bishop. We actually hike, ride and hang out in the Sierras, the Inyos and the Whites. Pretending this solar collection facility won’t be visible is an insult to intelligence. There may be some who like the sight of windmills and solar farms. If that’s the case, the Bakersfield/Techachapi/Mojave area could be the promised land. It even has railroads!

        • Ken Warner February 25, 2014 at 11:16 am #

          You are just twisting words looking for an argument. I hope you find one.

          • kwak February 25, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

            There’s nothing twisted about his words: it’s very clear. You want to reduce the argument to what you can see from your car window; he acknowledges that far more perspectives exist than your narrow, limited and intentionally blind one. You and DT continue to repeat the same tired arguments as though you think they’re new and original, yet you never address counterarguments, or demonstrate an understanding of the issue and its implications.

            This is were you will smugly repeat your self-perceived truisms: have at it.

          • Ken Warner February 25, 2014 at 8:10 pm #

            I suggest that you and Eric re-read my post and see if you can find any of the things you claim I said. To make it easier for you both I said:

            Yes, you will be able to see something. Would that be any different than driving or walking through Bishop or any of the towns on 395?

            We live in an industrialized World. It’s not pretty.

        • Eastern Sierra Local February 25, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

          It sounds like you don’t support a facility or a zone change in the Owens Valley that will reduce green house gases, thwart climate change, bring sustainable employment, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil?
          I’m very nervous that people in the Owens Valley who drive around in their Prius’ and Subarus with “Change 2008” stickers on the bumpers are suddenly getting a taste of their own “environmentally conscious green agenda” in their own backyard and don’t like it ……”how’s that ‘Change’ working out for ya?”

          • Benett Kessler February 25, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

            I would watch out quoting Sarah Palin.

          • Wayne Deja February 25, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

            ….maybe some can say “I can see those solar panels from my house “…..

          • Waxlips February 26, 2014 at 6:50 am #

            You aren’t from around here are you?

    • Waxlips February 26, 2014 at 6:48 am #

      It isn’t just the visual blight DT. there’s more to it than that. Maybe you can tell us all of the other things that will come along with these large solar arrays. Yeah, why don’t you let us know what a great thing it is and how it is going to benefit the Owens Valley, cuz I’m not seeing it.

  4. Philip Anaya February 24, 2014 at 6:37 pm #

    Topo facts DT,

    Manzanar Parking lot elevation 3858 ft. Owens River at Manzanar Rewards Road 37117 ft. Base of alluvial fan due east of Owens River/Manzanar Rewards Road 3937 ft. Manazanar is approx 141 ft higher in elevation than the Lower Owens River at Manzanar Rewards Rd. The distance and the slope of the east side of the Lower Owens River to the alluvial fan base of the Inyo’s is represented by 220 vertical ft. The visual declination might be stated as about 155 to 160 degrees.

    The Mojave Projects . Highway 14 at Texas Ave, South of Mojave is 2680 feet and the easterly side of the solar PV projects is 2700 certainly not the same visual angles in the a “let them eat cake” type of assessment.

    There is a lot of confusion with the responses of the Inyo Planning Department for the participants in the process is what I’ve been hearing . Inyo County Planning has not been proposed Solar Ranch siting, maybe a visual angle of 178 degrees.

    Your repeated “emotional” callout on this issue, on Ms. MacDonalds letter is rather insulting , the “pot calling the kettle black” and the facts and your comparison sounds like responsive to requests and suggestions to engage in a fair and insightful public education and discussion of the issues of the process of this General Plan Amendment. On Friday afternoon Feb 14 the Inyo Planning Dept posted the Agenda and Packet, 378 pages of Planning Department assesments, evaluations and recommendations for the upcoming Feb 26 Planning Commission action item . They gave only until Feb 19, 2 business days for stakeholders, participants and Public responses for inclusion and consideration into the Planning Department presentation . The Planning Department 5 business days to include that contribution into their presentation which has already been prepared and available online.

    The Planning Department has been requested to make the Feb 26th meeting a forum for the discussion of both the process and the facts of this REGPA, the amendments to the general Plan and then have another public meeting to take an action , a possible recommendation to the BoS . I do not believe that a public process can ever be shortchanged by an extra meeting . I do believe on the contrary that the public process can be shortchanged. if there is no affirmation from our public officials of a request of that step, even an extra unplanned step, to affirm that our democratic, process is not missed and denied.

    The Planning Commission has the final word or so they should, about what occurs at their meeting . Mr. William Stoll is the Chair of that Commission and I’m wondering if he is the same person as Bill Stoll a candidate for the 1st district BoS race. Talk about facts, political opportunity’s and emotional responses to home of the free, DT

  5. April Zrelak February 25, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    The SOVSR is not the only project anticipated in the REGPA. The Planning Department is proposing and ENCOURAGING large-scale development throughout the eastern Owens River area of the valley, all the way south to Keeler, surrounding the entire eastern side of Lone Pine, south to Boulder Creek and various places throughout Inyo County that do not appear in the REDAs. Planning has, for years, challenged BLM and CA Dept of F&W on conservation areas that effectively preserve some areas of Inyo County against large development due to sensitive plants and wildlife. These individuals (Planning) are hired employees and the Planning Commissioners are appointed by the Supervisors. So, it is right and necessary to be involved with the process to lobby the people who work directly for us — Board of Supervisors. They are ultimately responsible to work for their constituents.

    Concerning the viewscape, what is never discussed are the 300,000 sq.ft substation and 3,000 sq.ft. maintenance buildings associated with the SOVSR (both with high perimeter security fencing). Please explain how tall and visible that will be ( I could not find that in the EIR). How do the proponents feel about a giant WalMart- type warehouse 3.5 miles from Manzanar? The REGPA also promotes wind farms. Currently, most areas cannot use that technology because of China Lake NAWS objections. The document under consideration tomorrow suggests pressure on the military to alter their needs so that wind farms can be placed in Owens Valley and Rose Valley. Also recommended is financially charging the military and others for successfully defending barriers to development. There is much to dislike about the REGPA draft!

    Finally, if one’s only experience in Owens Valley is from a car on Hwy 395, then my condolence is offered. Nature Deficit Disorder is a clinically recognized condition. Once the Owens Valley is full of industrial farms, it will be too late. This location has world-wide appeal for the vast, undeveloped landscape. Retain it for future generations to experience.

  6. Mongo The Idiot' February 25, 2014 at 12:49 pm #

    What was once worthless now has value.
    I’m glad I saw it before it was gone.
    Thank You Nature, I loved it with all my heart.

  7. Dessert Tortoise February 25, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    i haz kandy!

  8. Waxlips February 26, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    Mongo only pon in game of life. Me too!

    • Mongo The Idiot' February 26, 2014 at 9:02 am #

      You think you got Methamphetamines now, just wait till the place looks like Mojave. Make lots of money on these projects Owinyoites, things gunna get allot worse once this place is trashed. This new resident will sell out and move someplace nice. I’ve worked too hard and long to retire in a trash heap inhabited by a bunch of face pickin’ sex fiends. Plain and simple, some folks can hear the cash register ringing as we speak while others panic that their soup bowl is goin’ empty. Neiter got the imagination to see that what they have always wanted is right in their back yard.

  9. Trouble February 26, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    Just move it down the road a little. The jack rabbits and tourist will never know!

  10. Charlene February 26, 2014 at 8:39 am #

    Why doesn’t the DWP offer solar to all customers with electric bills? Why ruin our valley for the second time, the first being the aquaduct. DWP has our whole valley fenced off! We are locked out of fishing, gathering for native americans, walking, driving, etc. CORPORATIONS such as DWP do not care about the environment, the BLM, and all Federal agencies are too busy using the endangered species act to round up and kill wildhorses. They keep drying up natural springs by over pumping and our wildlife is suffering. If the supervisors go along with the DWP, they are selling us out. Now where’s our solar on our homes? I should be able to sell back the energy I save, and not the other way around!


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