February 6, 2017

Carjacked 1,200 Pounds Of Marijuana

In Pomona! They were caught when they were spotted from the police helicopter unloading the weed in the "700 block of Washington." So I went to Google maps to look at the aerial view to see if possibly there were other indications.

Well, looky here. Can you pick out the weed house in this neighborhood of neat homes? I imagine the police already had their eye on this place.
700 block of Washington in Pomona

permalink | February 6, 2017 at 07:15 PM | Comments (0)

Planning Commission - January 31, 2017

This was a special meeting of the Planning Commission to deal with the heavy marijuana workload. There are currently only four Planning Commissioners. Those two statements aren't directly connected. It's city staff that has a heavy marijuana workload and, coincidentally, there are only four commissioners for now.

Basement Cultivation at Green Leaf Wellness

This item was the agenda for the January 10 Planning Commission meeting, but was continued because the owner of the dispensary didn't show up. Now, on January 31, the owner was present.

Green Leaf Basement Floor Plan
North is up.

Commissioner De La Torre asked if the cultivation area in the basement extended under any neighboring business, such as the nail salon. City staff said it did not. Aw, too bad, because when I first saw these plans I could tell that it would extend under the nail salon. When the owner came to the podium he explained that the basement did, in fact, go under the nail spa. The point of that question was to determine whether an additional fire alarm should be installed in the nail salon, in case of a fire in the basement. The owner went on to list security measures he was putting in place, such as hardening the exit doors and installing card readers so he can track every employee who goes into a cultivation room.

Commissioner Cirner asked about ADA compliance. The plans show only two ways to access the basement and both of them are stairways. Rather than answer that question, the owner described more security measures he was putting in place. Mr. Cirner seemed to accept that as an answer. At the end of the meeting I asked Community Development Director Rangel about ADA requirements. His answer was, basically, that full ADA access in this space would be cost prohibitive. Yes, of course, but I didn't know you could compromise on ADA improvements solely because of their cost.

Someone (I could neither see nor hear who) moved to approve with the addition of an alarm in the nail salon connected to the fire detection system in the basement, Mr. Cirner seconded. Approved 4-0.


Tentative Parcel Map by DHS Properties, LLC

This is an empty 14.9 acre lot on Little Morongo Road north of Two Bunch Palms Trail. This tentative parcel map is for condominium purposes for marijuana cultivation. The agenda packet showed the applicant to be DHS Properties, LLC, but staff said the applicant was David Snyder.

Tentative Parcel Map
This map shows the old city limits, prior to the annexation that reached to I-10
.

The CUP for this parcel was approved in November 2015.

With no discussion or public comments, Commissioner Romero moved for approval, Mr. Cirner seconded, approved 4-0.


Four Parcels on Cabot Road

These four parcels are all adjacent and all will be used for cultivation. But there are two owners and some differences between each parcel, so this item includes FOUR CUPs, two development agreements and one mitigated negative declaration. (No partridges.) The two owners are Cabot Building Partners and DHS Therapeutics. It's on the east side of Cabot Road, a couple of empty lots south of Two Bunch Palms Trail. 6.29 empty acres.

Commissioner Cirner moved for approval with the addition of two lights on poles, seconded by Commissioner De La Torre, approved 4-0.

The entire meeting wrapped up in only 35 minutes.

permalink | February 6, 2017 at 01:53 AM | Comments (0)

January 14, 2017

SpaceX Launch And Landing This Morning

If you don't want to watch the whole thing, start it at 22:25 which may seem a bit early, but I think you'll find it entertaining. There's some great photography on this 100% successful mission that launched from Vandenburg. Cameras on the first stage give you a few glimpses of much of the coast of California (mostly clear everywhere, it seems) as it ascends. You also get to watch the perfect descent from the POV of the first stage. The second stage gets screen time too.

Maybe I've just missed it before, but the speedometer constantly displayed in the upper right is new to me. I notice that the speedometer and the altimeter both have red lines. What happens if it red lines? It's not going to throw a rod. Does it mean it's overreached and achieved escape velocity? Milky Way here we come?

permalink | January 14, 2017 at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2017

Planning Commission January 10, 2017 - Cultivation, Cultivation, Cultivation, Cultivation

Commissioner Terifaj is no longer with the Planning Commission. Here's the form to fill out if you want to be part of shaping the future of DHS. Mayor Pro Tem Joe McKee is the one to make the appointment to fill this seat. Present tonight were Andrew Cirner, Scott De la Torre, Dirk Voss (Chair) and Cathy Romero.

The agenda this night consisted of four public hearings:

  1. A marijuana cultivator's tentative parcel map
  2. A CUP for a marijuana cultivation facility
  3. Amending a CUP to allow for marijuana cultivation in a dispensary
  4. Subdivision of land to be used for marijuana cultivation

Tentative Parcel Map for We Care DHS

The CUP for this grow facility got final approval back in August. The location is vacant land on Two Bunch Palms just west of the only cultivation site that is currently operational.

Approved 4-0.


Conditional Use Permit and Development Agreement for A Green Culture DHS, Inc.

This location is the northeast corner of 15th Avenue and Little Morongo Road. 15th Avenue is just a dirt road there.

The building will have 22,479 square feet of cultivation area and greenhouse roofs, so their electric bill will be a bit lower. The design of the building includes two 9 x 12 feet rollup doors that the cultivators don't need, but the city has started adding requirements to the cultivators' CUPs that will make the building more likely to be useful for other purposes when the day comes that they decide not to cultivate there anymore.

A Green Culture DHS, Inc
It looks like it's going to be right purty!

Approved 4-0.


CUP Amendment for Greenleaf Wellness

All marijuana dispensaries are permitted to grow up to 99 plants in Desert Hot Springs. When the CUP for Greenleaf Wellness was approved, however, the dispensary did not include any plans for the 1,315 s.f. basement. Now, they've got plans and they've come back for this amendment. The owner, Thom Miller was not present at the hearing.

Greenleaf Wellness Basement Plan
I believe north is to the left. The shops on the street level face the north. Across the top would be Palm Drive.

Ted Mayerhofen commented that he had worked on this building before it was a dispensary. He thought there were security issues. He also said that delivery would have to be from the alley, and an ordinary truck would block that alley. OTOH, any delivery to any business in that little shopping center on the southwest corner of Buena Vista and Palm Drive could block an alley. Plus, I thought the main reason for alleys was using them to load and unload, because then the trucks are not blocking the main streets or taking up parking lot space. So what if it blocks a short alley for a short time? Later, the discussion of the Commission indicated that they understood a dispensary would have no large deliveries or shipments, so no big trucks would be in that alley anyway.

Commissioner Cirner raised the question of ADA access to the basement. In the floor plan above you can see there is a stairway coming down from the first floor and one door that exits to the exterior. It looks to me like that's the door that opens onto the stairway that goes up to Palm Drive. That would mean this basement space is not 100% beneath the dispensary, as it seems to extend to the eastmost end of the building.


The stairway from the one exterior door is on the left side of the building.

This would certainly not seem to be ADA compliant. Do small business have to conform to ADA when doing major renovations? I think they do. Installing an elevator in this building would, it seems to me, be very cost prohibitive. This cultivation space may never come to be.

The vote was 2-2, making it a denial. Commissioners Cirner and De la Torre voted against. Mr. Cirner had brought up the ADA issue, but Mr. De la Torre never expressed his concerns about the project. Then a motion was made to continue the hearing to next month's hearing (February 14) so some of their questions could get answered and to give the owner the opportunity to show up and explain. That motion was approved 4-0.


Coachillin Holdings Tentative Parcel Map

Before discussion started on this one Charles Rangel introduced himself as the new Interim Community Development Director.

Coachillin Holdings propose to build the biggest cultivation site in the city on Indian Canyon between 18th and 19th. You may have already noticed that there has been some grading there. The land is vacant, but the Google satellite view below is recent enough to show some of the grading.

The site is 150 acres and the developer proposes to subdivide it into 40 parcels. Mr. Rangel said that staff recommended this item be continued...again. This is not the first time this has come before the Commission and been continued. Part of the reason this time is that the developer handed a new map to the city on the very day of this meeting. That map would need to be reviewed by both the planning department and fire department before the staff could make any recommendation on that.

Another, bigger reason for the continuance is that the property has on it what the Army Corps of Engineers calls a blue-line stream. Here's the definition of blue-line stream as given by the Riverside County Flood Control and Water Conservation District:

Blue Line Stream - Any stream shown as a solid or broken blue line on 7.5 Minute Series quadrangle maps prepared by the U.S. Department of the Interior Geological Survey (USGS). A blue line stream may be any creek, stream or other flowing water feature, perennial or ephemeral, indicated on USGS quadrangle maps, with the exception of man-made watercourses. The United States Army Corps of Engineers uses USGS blue line stream markings as a preliminary indicator of “Waters of the United States”. Streams identified on USGS maps in such a manner are therefore generally subject to federal environmental regulations.

Blue-line stream
A USGS map of the site
. That's I-10 at the bottom. Dillon Road runs across the top of the map. It shows that "blue-line stream" coming down from the north, crossing Dillon and then Indian, then parallelling Indian as it crosses Coachillin's property. You can make it out in a regular Google satellite view, but it's also been used by off roaders, which somewhat obscures it. Before they can do anything on that site they need a sign off from the Army Corps of Engineers which will state, in effect, that they don't expect to be sending any ships up that stream, nor do they plan to dam it for hydropower or irrigation. BUT, the guy who does that at the Army Corps of Engineers retired in November and it seems he has not been replaced. Kenny Dickerson who represented Coachillin Holdings at this meeting, suggested that if both he and Interim Community Development Director Rangel went together to the Army Corps, they would get some action.

Coachillin Holdings disagrees with the requirement to put sidewalks on the streets around the project (except along Indian Canyon - there will be a sidewalk there). They also object to sidewalks inside their property. Their reasoning is that sidewalks make it easier for nefarious people to get closer to their valuable product. What a lot of nonsense. If your security plans are overwhelmed by simply providing evil doers a level path to walk on, then your security plans need a lot of beefing up. Every dispensary, every cultivator, everybody actually, puts in sidewalks. Never have I heard an argument that sidewalks attract crime. That sort of non-logic is usually used when a city is planning to extend a subway line or bike path, because everyone knows most stolen TVs are transported by either bicycle or mass transit. Crooks never have cars.

Coachillin is paying to build the roads around its facility. The sidewalks are a only a small part of that. Why would the city want to force people to walk in the street in an industrial zone?

Mr. Dickerson said that he would redo his proposal so that it only dealt with the parcels to the rear, which the blue-line stream doesn't cross. Mr. Rangel said that wouldn't help, because the Army Corps of Engineers would also have to sign off on a decision that the blue-line stream doesn't cross those parcels.

These are the remaining issues that still must be resolved before the Planning Commission can make a decision. Rather than bringing this proposal back month after month simply to approve a continuance, the Planning Commission voted to table it, meaning it hasn't been rejected and it isn't scheduled for a decision. Whenever Coachillin can get all their ducks in a row, they'll come back to the Commission.

Approved 4-0.


Special Meeting, Tuesday, January 31

Mr. Rangel said there is a bit of a backlog of proposed cultivation facilities that are ready for the Commission, so the Commission agreed to a special meeting on the 31st to review some of those.

permalink | January 11, 2017 at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

January 2, 2017

Tecopa Update

I'm just home from three nights of camping at Tecopa Hot Springs. The water there is as odorless as the hot water in Desert Hot Springs. Below is a comparison of the minerals between DHS and Tecopa.

Information on the Desert Hot Springs Aquifer came from Two Bunch Palms Resort. The numbers for Tecopa's hot mineral water came from Delight's. Units are PPM. ND = "Not Detected." I would appreciate it if anyone who can fill in a blank spot would leave a comment with the data.

DHS Aquifer
(hot)
Tecopa
Aluminum Oxide ND0.2
Bicarbonate 39668
Calcium 317.2
Chloride 120371
Fluoride 6.22.4
Hydrogen-ion Activity (ph) 8.47.5
Iron Oxide ND0.094
Magnesium ND9.7
Silica 0.53 
Sodium 300725
Sulphate 470497.5
Lithium 0.24 
Lead4
Boron9.2
Selenium8
Potassium22.3
Arsenic0.24
CarbonatesND45.2

Another difference that I only noticed this time (although it's never changed) is that in Tecopa, they are pumping a LOT of water into the hot tubs, 24 hours a day. I couldn't give you an objective estimate of gallons per minute, but I'll say that in DHS the flow of the water into and out of any particular hot tub is pretty subtle. The owner of the place could tell you if the water is flowing, otherwise you'd probably never notice. At the county baths in Tecopa the water is gushing into the first tub and roaring as it pours out of the second tub on its journey back into the ground. You have to really speak up to be heard over the water.

I counted the cinder blocks so I can tell you that the second tub at Tecopa is 16 feet long...and after that I forgot to do any more counting. I'd estimate the width at 10 feet. I didn't count any cinder blocks in the first tub, but it's roughly the same volume. One night when I was there, someone slapped what looked like a plastic bucket lid over the drain (which is just a 6-inch hole) in the second pool. This completely stopped the outflow and made it possible to talk at a normal volume. Over a period of about half an hour I watched the water level rise about six inches. With another couple of inches it would have started to run out into the dressing area. They pulled that plug off when they left.

Tecopa is showing astounding (for Tecopa) signs of prosperity for such a tiny, remote, and harsh town. There's a brewery. My big question was: What is the source of their water? There is no drinking water aquifer there. All the springs are hot mineral springs. Here's what I found on their website: "Now, we hearken back to the days when miners lived there and brewed their own beer with the same artesian water which flows daily from the natural springs." Maybe they run it through reverse osmosis to bring it closer to potability...or maybe not! For those Tecopans who drink more beer than water, this could be a risk.

The Bistro restaurant is still there, but I hear it's gone through a number of personnel changes. The food is still good (AMAZINGLY good for this outpost of civilization). I had the pork chops. All the guys said that the night before the pork chops were wonderful. Mine were dry and overcooked. They do pizza and there is no additional charge for additional toppings! Pig out! The best thing about the place, though, is the people. They are seriously understaffed (especially on New Year's Eve), but all the staff are really great. Service is slow, but very willing to customize to your pleasure. Prices are not bad at all ($21 for those pork chops). When I was there it was almost like being at a party. On their menu you will find a few dishes with scorpions in them. I asked, so I can tell you the scorpions are canned in alcohol in Thailand, so they come into the U.S. as food and it's about as safe as eating a dead Thai scorpion can be. When someone orders a scorpion dish, it's a big show...and not like those restaurants where the entire staff turns out to sing you a really bad birthday song. One of the staff comes out carrying a bullhorn and an instant camera (you know, nueva Polaroid style) along with the food. She'll ask you to hold the scorpion in front of your open mouth while she takes a picture. I was told they have no flavor, but are crunchy and fairly hard to chew, according to three local experts, ages 6, 7 and 8. They all ate scorpions that night. For some this was a repeat adventure. And then they came over and wanted to tell us their ages! There's a lot of screaming, cheering and applauding when a scorpion is successfully swallowed.

A scorpion eater is supposed to write his name on the instant photo and then it gets pinned up to their wall of fame.

There was a table of four young people, two men, two women, seated boy-girl-boy-girl, so if I were to stereotype I'd guess heterosexual dates. The men ordered a scorpion dish (ice cream and some cake in a big bowl), one took a selfie as he held it in front of his mouth—and then he put it back into the ice cream! He didn't swallow! The other guy didn't eat one either, so we got to find out what happens with failures like this. The nice lady with the bullhorn announces to the room "We've got a couple of chicken shits right here!" and the crowd goes wild.

BTW, this is a BYO alcohol place.

Further up the road, there is now a McNeal's BBQ at the entrance road to Delight's. Some of us went there this morning for breakfast. They have a very brief menu, but the waitress named off a list of other dishes they had that was longer than the menu. They should probably just print out new menus every day on plain 8½x11. The staff was great...as staff seems to be everywhere in Tecopa. Outside of Burning Man, I've never seen such a bunch of hardworking, nice, and apparently quite honest people.

But the food at McNeal's. Urgh. I had the brisket sandwich. In Kansas City a barbecue brisket sandwich is a couple of slices of white sandwich bread laid out side by side on a plate, topped with a big pile of sliced brisket with some dill chips and something like coleslaw on the side. At Gates BBQ in Kansas City that would cost you $5.75. It might be more than some people can eat. At McNeal's where all the meat is smoked for 15 hours, the brisket sandwich (their only other meat option is pulled pork - no chicken, no ribs) was a hamburger bun laid open face on top of which was shredded cabbage with no dressing at all (they called it "coleslaw") and a small amount of cubed brisket (I've never seen it cubed) that was dry and not very flavorful. Ten bucks. The pulled pork looked like a much better deal and the guys who ordered that said they thought it was very good. They got a much larger quantity of meat and sauce.

I didn't notice the most obvious lack at the table until someone asked the waitress for barbecue sauce!! She brought out one cold bottle of a thin red sauce. I put some on my brisket and it didn't seem to add flavor or moisture. At any other barbecue restaurant I would have tasted a couple of straight spoonfuls of the sauce, but I didn't even think of it, I was already so disappointed with what I had.

I'd say go there and try it. Mine was so bad it had to have been a fluke. They had been closed the day before, so my brisket may have been left from Saturday night. Order anything but the brisket (they have vegetarian choices) and just enjoy the Tecopa ambiance. They've got a big screen TV and play music (possibly satellite) and there's a large area of the floor that's clear, just about the right amount of space if some people wanted to dance.

I was there for three nights with Great Outdoors. I was the only one in a tent, my nice windtight tent, not the lightweight cool one I took to Burning Man, so I was always comfortable in there. But most of the time it was too cold (and sometimes windy) to sit outside. There was always, of course, the hot water tubs across the street. The cost of camping ($22/night for a spot with electricity) includes unlimited usage of the hot water tubs. One night we held a potluck dinner inside the RV that had the biggest popout. I brought my last package of Hydrox cookies. Most of the guys had never heard of them...and they were all of an age that the original Hydrox should have been available in their yoots. Maybe Sunshine Biscuit company was not entirely nationwide.

The county-owned campground and hot tubs use this website: tecopahotspringscampground.com which is not to be confused with the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort (tecopahotsprings.org) next door.

Neglected to mention for those new to the subject, the county hot tubs are sex-segregated with mandatory nudity. Very popular with immigrants from Korea, but it's not at all in the style of a Korean spa. Besides the group tubs, there is a third private hot tub room that is handicapped accessible and can be rented by anyone for their private enjoyment.


Here's your county campground on the west side of the roadway, and your county hot tubs on the east side and a bit to the northish. I never knew until I looked at this aerial view that the county tubs had one outdoor tub in back...or on the women's side.

permalink | January 2, 2017 at 09:54 PM | Comments (3)

November 21, 2016

Hotel Cecil

The L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission visited Hotel Cecil on Main Street. The lobby is quite nice. They also took us up to the 14th floor to see a couple of typical rooms. Most rooms do not have baths, so there are shared toilets and showers on each floor. All of the rooms are small; about 11' by 17'. We saw one room that had no bath and it was pretty small, but included a small flat screen TV and a clock radio that included a mount for an iPod (the old Apple connection, not Lightning). Then they showed us a room with a bath. It was still 11' x 17', so they just used almost all the open floor space to put a bathroom (shower, toilet, sink) in there. There was about 18 inches of clearance on either side of the bed, and if there was any furniture besides the bed, I can't recall it. The hotel is now doing business as "Stay On Main." The rooms are very plain,

Hotel Cecil Lobby (3089)

Hotel Cecil Lobby (3086)

Hotel Cecil Lobby (3061)

Hotel Cecil Lobby Entrance (3137)

Hotel Cecil Lobby (3124)

View From 14th Floor Hotel Cecil (3115)
Looking out the window of a 14th floor guest room, this is the view
.

More photos of Hotel Cecil can be found here.

permalink | November 21, 2016 at 08:30 PM | Comments (0)

Catalina Swimwear Building

On a tour with the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. Here's the Wikipedia article for Catalina Swimwear.

Los Angeles from the Catalina Swimwear Building (1010)

Loft - Catalina Swimwear Building (1008)
The building is live/work lofts
. That's one of the Commissioners front and lower center.

Catalina Swimwear Building (1007)

View From Catalina Swimwear Building (3167)

Facade Catalina Swimwear Building (3161)
A bit of newer stuff was pulled off to reveal some of the original facade
, which will be restore.

More photos of the Catalina Swimwear Building are here.

permalink | November 21, 2016 at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)

Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission

On Thursday morning last week I attended a 9 AM meeting of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in LA City Hall. They had two things on their agenda that morning: first was to consider designating the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate in Toluca Lake as a monument; second was to go visit and tour Hotel Cecil and the Catalina Swimwear Building. It was the second thing that I came for, but the Bob Hope house issue was very interesting.


Above is the Google Earth view of the estate.

Below is what the public could see from the street.

The place is owned by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. First the staff made its presentation with a slide show and talk all about how ultra famous Bob Hope was. Under Los Angeles law there are two different bases that can justify declaring something a monument. One basis is the usual: great cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. The second is that it was the home of a celebrity. The Bob Hope house was proposed (by a city council member) due solely to the celebrity status. Staff admits it has no cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. In discussion the Commissioners said that in L.A. they obviously are not going to declare every residence of every celebrity a monument or they would consume a significant portion of the housing market. But they agreed that Bob Hope was just about the most famous person in the world.

After the staff report the Foundation got up to make their comments. They were daughter Linda Hope and a couple of other people, one of whom may have been an attorney. They told us quite a different story than staff told. Right off the bat, Linda Hope said they had the wrong address. The correct address is 10346 Moorpark Street. Staff had supplied the address as 10350 Moorpark Street. No points for staff there. Then she went on to explain that while staff had described the house as French Chateau style, only the original house was French Chateau and that Dolores Hope had almost continually added wings and additions so that now the house was some sort hodge-podge of no significance. She also disputed their description of the grounds which staff said included a "one-hole par 3 golf 'course'." Linda Hope said it was only a small decorative thing that could not really be used for golf.

Worse, she said, was that there was no way the Los Angeles public could access the house. In the '90s the Hopes had considered making it into a museum, but quickly learned that since it was in a quiet upscale residential area with narrow streets, there was no way it could be a museum open to the public. So the Hopes' final instructions were to use the estate to help fund the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. The intention of the trustees was to sell it. The place had been sitting on the market for ages but not long ago the first decent offer was submitted. That was when the city council member asked that the Cultural Heritage Commission consider the property. The decent offer was immediately withdrawn.

Linda Hope listed all of the memorials to Bob Hope that are scattered over the Los Angeles area. She said each and every one of those was more significant to the legacy of Bob and Dolores Hope than the estate. Later, Commissioners said they were surprised by the list, not realizing there were already so many memorials; so obviously staff didn't do that research either.

A couple of residents got up to also speak against the designation, but the essence of their arguments was that Toluca Lake is a beautiful, quiet community and any kind of monument there would bring traffic, noise and lower property values. The President of the Commission interrupted both of those commenters (!) to tell them that was of absolutely no concern to this Commission.

One Commissioner suggested giving monument status to only the hedge and gate in front of the house, because those were the only things the public would ever see. I was pretty sure that was a joke, but the President went ahead and explained how impractical that would be.

Finally, a Commissioner made the motion to deny monument status and that was approved 5-0. The decision now goes to city council, since it had originated there and city council could overrule this decision.

The meeting was adjourned and we headed out on our field trip.

permalink | November 21, 2016 at 07:04 PM | Comments (0)

November 19, 2016

Rare Double Survival Of Lost Desert Hikers

None of the details of how this all came down are included in this article and I imagine the couple haven't talked to any press about it. I was astonished that after being found they decided to go to Joshua Tree where they would spend the night. That is far from a direct route home. It sounds like they're continuing their vacation! They sound pretty tough. I hope they make some babies.

In the map below, Black Mountain Road, where they were found, is roughly diagonal across the center of the image. They seem to have been not too far from a broadcast tower. I wonder if the lights they spotted were on that tower.

permalink | November 19, 2016 at 09:20 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2016

Blythe Outlawed Marijuana Sales

But that was some time ago when the issue was solely medical marijuana. Now, however, the city leaders see that Blythe could be THE city to supply recreational marijuana to all of Arizona...illegally, of course, but how many cops can Arizona tie up just to watch for marijuana to cross the Colorado River.

permalink | November 13, 2016 at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)