Hauled Water and Denied Building Permits
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In May of 2009 a Johnson Valley property owner addressed the HVCC on a building permit issue. Mr. Clabaugh informed the Council that he had been denied a building permit to expand the cabin on his recently purchased parcel, simply because the property relied on hauled water as its water source. He asked the Building Department to provide the ordinance or regulation that supported this policy, but did not receive any response.

The HVCC delegates discussed this and agreed this policy hurts property owners in rural areas that do not have a pressurized water delivery infrastructure. We asked Field Representative Alan Rasmussen if he could investigate this and provide us with the regulation that the county is enforcing.

Shortly after that meeting, Alan Rasmussen provided the Council with a copy of SB County Development Code 84.21. This code states that the issuance of building permits for single-family residential dwellings relying on hauled water, are contingent upon approval from the Division of Environmental Health Services. It does not differentiate between new construction and construction additions to already existing structures. To view this code click here >>>.

Alan also provided the Council with a memo issued by Environmental Health Services to Building and Safety, clarifying the EHS position that they do not deny permits for structure upgrades and remodels, provided the structure has functioning plumbing and wastewater disposal (septic system). To view this memo click here >>>.

This seems to resolve the issue of permits to upgrade structures, but what about permits for new construction?

On August 22, we obtained a copy of a letter received by a Landers resident, in response to his application for a permit to build on his property that relies on hauled water. This letter clearly states that EHS does not approve the use of hauled water as a potable water source at this time. To view this letter click here >>>

As of now, we do not know the current County position on approving permits for development on parcels that rely on hauled water, nor do we know of any ordinance or regulation that justifies the EHS position of not approving the use of hauled water. The Homestead Valley Community Council believes the County should not deny building permits for any property that relies on hauled water. The State of California approves hauled water from licensed providers, so we believe the County should do the same. The Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association (LVEDA) in the first district has also taken on this issue. We are working with them to resolve this issue as soon as possible. Please check back here frequently for updates.
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Homestead Valley desert scene with Joshua Trees
HVCC letter to third district Supervisor Neil Derry

JVIA letter for residents to send to third district Supervisor Neil Derry

LVEDA letter to first district Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt
Update February 2014
After the 2010 Census, County district boundaries were redrawn, and Lucerne Valley was included in the Third District.

In August of 2013, the new Third District Supervisor James Ramos formed a Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) that included citizens from both Lucerne Valley and the Homestead Valley community of Johnson Valley.

In December of 2013, the LV-JV MAC added yet another voice to the HVCC's arguments on this issue, sending a recommendation to Supervisor Ramos from his Third District constituents that he work on their behalf to remove the ban on the use of hauled water.

This MAC recommendation cites, among several objections that had been spotlighted by the HVCC:

1. the unconstitutional taking of our property rights.
2. no written law or code – actual users of hauled water have never been consulted on this unwritten policy, or had a vote on the matter.  Hauled water has not been a health problem.
3. discrimination against lower income property owners who have not the means to support the cost of drilling a well and have no certainty of the success of that well.

So far, there has been no reply.

To view the LV-JV MAC recommendation to Supervisor Ramos in full, click here.

To send your own letter to Supervisor Ramos click here >