Tag Archives: bishop ca news

City of Bishop Provides Guidelines for What Businesses Need to Reopen

Inyo County has received a variance from the California Department of Public Health to move faster through Stage 2 of the Governor’s Four Stage Recovery Roadmap. The City of Bishop intends to comply with this Roadmap. This means restaurants and in-store retail in Inyo County and the City of Bishop can be certified to re-open by completing the following steps:

  1. Review your industry guidelines (see Industries section on the County’s website)
  2. Prepare your business and complete the checklist
  3. Complete and submit the Inyo County Business Attestation form
  4. Visibly post your completed checklist within your business

The submitted Inyo County Business Attestation form will be reviewed within 24 hours. Businesses may open immediately after County approval.

We’re here to help, so if a restaurant abuts against a city-owned lot or property, call us and we’ll be happy to see if we can work out a temporary encroachment permit to allow for outdoor seating (so you can increase your capacity beyond the reduced indoor capacity). As we know, the time lag to see the effect of our actions is two weeks to determine if these safety precautions are effective. So, let’s make sure we do it responsibly, keeping to health orders, so we can minimize any sort of relapse in our case load which would set us back on our path to re-open.

Temporary Homeless Safe Parking Project Gets the Green Light

Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA) have found a suitable location to implement a Safe Parking Project in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s executive order, which requires counties and cities to provide suitable shelter for the state’s homeless population.

 

Individuals experiencing homelessness will now be permitted to park in front of the old Kmart building next to Taco Bell. There will be portable toilets and sanitation stations on site to ensure that those staying in the old Kmart parking lot are practicing the recommended sanitation guidelines provided by the California Department of Public Health.

 

Since the state of emergency was declared by Governor Newsom on March 19, 2020, both IMACA and Inyo County have been scrambling to find a suitable location to shelter the homeless.

 

According to Assistant Director of Inyo County Health and Human Services, Meaghan McCamman, the county played a supporting role in helping IMACA find a suitable location to shelter the homeless. “IMACA has looked for a long time for a suitable spot. We need to have social distancing available for the vulnerable populations if we are to fully reopen the economy. This is an IMACA project. When the governor put aside 150 million dollars to help shelter the homeless, IMACA, which acts as the Continuum of Care in the area was the recipient of some of those funds. The county has acted in a supporting role,” McCamman said.

 

McCamman emphasized that the Safe Parking Zone will not be permanent. “This is an emergency parking situation. This is not a long-term situation. I know the Continuum of Care is looking for a long-term situation, but the lease is set to expire with the lifting of the declared emergency,” McCamman said.

The lifting of the state of emergency would come from Inyo County Public Health Officer, Dr. James Richardson.

 

There is a big difference between IMACA’s Safe Parking Project that was set to be implemented at the Bishop Church of the Nazarene and the Safe Parking Project that will be instituted in the old Kmart parking space. Homeless people residing in their cars were only permitted to stay at the Church of the Nazarene from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Now, the homeless who stay in the old Kmart parking lot, must stay in the parking lot unless they are performing essential business.

 

Housing and Planning Director for IMACA, Larry Emerson, said, “There is shelter in place order, and people parking at the lot are expected to stay there unless they are conducting essential business or if they recreating outside while maintaining social distance.”

 

Emerson says the parking lot will be patrolled by law enforcement along with IMACA staff. “Yes they [law enforcement] will be present. Additionally, IMACA will have 24-hour monitoring for the spot on site,” Emerson remarked.

 

There is also no limit to the amount of people who can park near the old Kmart building. The only requirement is that those staying in their vehicles must practice physical distancing. “There is no limit to the number of parking spots. We will expand and contract in order to maintain a safe social distance for those who don’t have a home to go to,” Emerson said.

 

The Church of the Nazarene Safe Parking Project which was being discussed before the pandemic allowed for up to fifteen vehicles to be on site.

 

According to the Housing and Planning Director, the number of portable bathrooms and sanitation stations will depend on the amount of people who are staying in the old Kmart parking lot. “This will be driven by how many folks we have using the parking lot. We are starting out with two standard portable restrooms and one wheelchair accessible restroom. Sanitation facilities will be available as well.” Emerson remarked.

 

With the latest decision to move to “phase two” of reopening society, Governor Newsom has said that local municipalities may be able to open quicker depending on whether or not they meet certain criteria. McCamman said multiple times to KIBS/KBOV News that one of those requirements is finding suitable shelter for the homeless. “The timing right now is really perfect. Local jurisdictions now have more flexibility, which allows them to move faster than the state. Having safe space available for the homeless is a part of the reopening process,” McCamman remarked.

 

The City of Bishop gave the green light to both the county and IMACA to use the old Kmart parking lot to shelter those without a place to go. Mayor Laura Smith, gave the okay on the plan, and said that if anything goes wrong, Bishop will have the authority to discontinue the Safe Parking Project. “The city has received input on the plan, and I signed off on it. This project is not in lieu of the Church of the Nazarene project. This is only temporary during the emergency declaration. As soon as this period is over, the project is done. Also, if there is any problem and the city does not want it anymore, then it is done,” Smith said.

 

Because of the declared state of emergency, citizens of the public do not have the opportunity to appeal the Safe Parking Project at the old Kmart parking lot.

Inyo County to Break Ground on New Bishop Building

Inyo County officials and representatives from Wolverine/Inyo LLC will officially break ground on the Consolidated Office Building in Bishop this Friday, March 6, 2020. The public is invited to attend the ceremony – an occasion at least 10 years in the making – at the site of the future building at 1360 N. Main St. (north of Grocery Outlet). The groundbreaking begins at 10 a.m. and will include light refreshments and remarks from County officials and principles for the developer, Wolverine/Inyo LLC. “After some time in the making, we’re excited to bring all of Inyo County’s Bishop departments together into one single structure,” said developer Jim Leslie, principle of Wolverine Interests. “The new municipal building will promote efficiency and pride in the community.”

”Our current Board as well as past boards of supervisors have worked for over a decade to make this building possible,” Board Chairperson and Fifth District Supervisor Matt Kingsley said. “This building is not a monument to county government, but rather an efficient and simple building that will save future generations millions of tax dollars and provide consistent and comfortable working space for our county employees.”

The two-story, 42,000 square-foot building will house in a single location the Bishop operations of approximately 16 departments currently spread across 8 separate locations in the City of Bishop, including Probation, Health & Human Services, Administration, County Counsel, Information Services, Risk Management, Parks, Motor Pool, Solid Waste, Child Support Services, District Attorney, Environmental Health, Veterans Services, Sheriff, UCE Farm Advisor, and the Public Administrator-Public Guardian.

The Independence and/or Lone Pine locations of these same departments will remain in Independence and Lone Pine with their current staff. The Board of Supervisors has been adamant that the new building in Bishop not result in the relocation of any staff or services from the southern end of the county.

The project has been in the works since 2010, when the County determined that renting office space all over the city for its Bishop-based programs was neither financially sustainable nor in the best interest of the public and its employees. With ever-increasing rent and repair and maintenance costs at the different sites – some of which are beyond their useful life and not conducive to healthy, productive working environments or efficient service delivery – the County landed on a plan to build a new facility to better suit the various departments’ needs, improve customer service, and save taxpayer money over the long-term.

“Not only will the new building provide a better environment for our constituents and employees,” said District 2 Supervisor Jeff Griffiths, “but we will also save millions of taxpayer dollars in the years to come.”

The County entered into an exclusive negotiating agreement with a developer in 2011, and after several public meetings in 2013, directed staff to move forward with negotiations. Those negotiations stalled out, but were resumed in 2017 and resulted in more favorable lease terms and pricing for the County. County Administrator Clint Quilter and the Board of Supervisors give much credit for the successful negotiations to County Counsel Marshall Rudolph.

“Mr. Rudolph was able to work through some difficult legal situations and worked with the developer to come up with innovative, outside-the-box solutions to move the project forward,” Quilter said.

He and the Board also credited real estate consultant Allan D. Kotin for his expertise in conducting several cost analyses and presenting the Board with options for moving forward with the project. They also noted the tremendous effort put into steering the project forward by former County Administrator Officer Kevin Carunchio, who worked on the idea of a Consolidated Office Building with the Board and public for 8 years.

The Board approved a Build-to-Suit Lease Agreement with Wolverine/Inyo LLC on January 15, 2019. Per the agreement, Wolverine/Inyo LLC will develop the property to the County’s specifications, and receive lease payments from Inyo County over a 20-year period. Title to the property transfers to Inyo County at the end of the 20-year lease. Cost analyses were conducted on other potential locations in Bishop, including the old Kmart Building and the Cottonwood Grove center. These analyses identified the Consolidated Office Building as the best value. The building is expected to generate substantial savings in general. The County will begin saving money over its current leased facility, including maintenance and utilities, in 7 years and lease payments will go away entirely in 20 years

There’s a New Location for Fourth of July Festivities in Bishop

There’s a new location for the Fourth of July Celebration in Bishop this year.

After sixty-eight years of having the show at the Bishop Airport, the festivities will now be held at the Eastern Sierra Tri-County Fairgrounds and Events Center for year sixty-nine.

Fairgrounds CEO, Jen McGuire spoke glowingly about the new location saying, “I’m excited about this event. Joining forces with the City, Chamber, The Tribe, Casino, County, DWP, Caltrans, CHP, BVFD is going to make this event the biggest and best this town has ever seen! All of these great organizations coming together to put on an event is very special.”

There will be quite a few traditional activities going on at the Fourth of July celebration, along with new ones. “We will have an entire day of food and craft vendors, live music, games, face painting, designated picnic and fireworks areas, ice cold beer, and a chili cook-off with chili tasting for the public. It’s going to be fun and you’re not going to want to miss it!”

The new venue for the event is a result of Inyo County preparing to bring in commercial flights to Bishop. Because of the airport upgrades, a new location for the fireworks needed to be selected.

City of Bishop Mayor, Laura Smith expressed her enthusiasm for the new location. “I’m excited about it. We had to move it, so it’s nice to have a new location for the fireworks.”

Smith also expects the celebration to be bigger and better. “I think it is going to be good for Bishop. We get to combine the event with the tribe, the fair, LADWP, and Inyo County. It has also become more of an all day celebration now.”

County to Discuss Indian Wells Groundwater Authority Groundwater Sustainability

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to discuss the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority (IWVGA) draft Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) at its regular meeting Tuesday, January 14. Specifically, the Board will receive a presentation by staff and an update from Supervisor Kingsley, Inyo
County’s representative on the IWVGA. The GSP is scheduled for consideration by the IWVGA on Thursday, January 16, 2020. One of the components of the GSP is inclusion of a project seeking to import water into the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin via the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Inyo County is one of five members of the IWVGA, which also includes Kern and San Bernardino counties, the City of Ridgecrest, and the Indian Wells Valley Water District. The joint powers authority was created for the purpose of implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) within the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin, which the state determined is in “critical overdraft” due to decades of over- pumping. SGMA is requiring development of a GSP as part of the mandate to halt the overdraft and bring the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Basin into balanced levels of pumping and recharge by 2040. The GSP is
due this month.

“Although Inyo County’s constituency is a relatively small portion of the groundwater users in that basin (i.e., Pearsonville), Inyo County has outsized concerns regarding the future of the basin’s water use due to the intention of our fellow JPA members to import water into the basin via the LADWP Aqueduct,” said Assistant County Counsel John-Carl Vallejo, who serves as Inyo County’s alternate on the IWVGA board.

The Inyo County Board of Supervisors hear the update Tuesday shortly after reconvening from closed session at 10 a.m.

The meeting will be held in the Board of Supervisors Chambers, County Administrative Center, 224 N. Edwards St., Independence.

Death Valley Prepares for Annual Bird Count

Death Valley National Park invites the public to a fun day outdoors counting birds on Saturday, December 21. All skill levels are welcome for this opportunity to meet new people and learn about birds while contributing to a citizen-science effort continuing for over a hundred years.

The Christmas Bird Count will begin at 7 a.m. on Saturday, December 21 at Furnace Creek Golf Course parking lot in the Oasis at Death Valley. No experience is necessary! This is a great opportunity to learn about birds, get identification tips, and meet others interested in birding. Participants should dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes. Bring a hat, sunscreen, water, and snacks. Binoculars are recommended. Participants do not need to commit to the entire day, but must be there at 7 a.m. Contact Carol Fields at 760-786-3252 or carol_fields@nps.gov to sign up for the count.

This event is part of the nation-wide National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count (CBC). This year will be the 120th year of the national Christmas Bird Count, making it one of the longest-running citizen science events in the world. Death Valley National Park has been collecting CBC data since 1957. The data collected helps demonstrate the important role national parks serve for migratory and overwintering bird populations.

The data collected by CBC participants documents the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other bird surveys, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed over the past 120 years. The long-term perspective made possible by the Christmas Bird Count is vital for conservationists. It helps guide strategies to protect birds and their habitat, and helps identify environmental issues with implications for people as well. Each year, the CBC mobilizes more than 70,000 volunteers in more than 2,400 locations. Results from past counts can be viewed at http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.

A New Regional Dispatch Center Could be Built in Bishop

The Bishop City Council unanimously voted 5-0 to approve funding for a site-study of a new regional dispatch center that would be based in Bishop.

The idea is for the Bishop Police Department, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, and Mono County Sheriff’s Office to have all of their dispatchers working together in the same space.

Bishop Police Chief, Ted Stec argued in favor of the project saying, “A Regional Dispatch Center would save money because it would require less personnel from all agencies in the area in the long run.”

Mammoth Lakes PD and Mono and Inyo County Sheriff’s Offices are requesting that the City of Bishop pay $25,000 to help split the cost of the study of feasibility four ways with the total estimated at approximately $100,000 dollars.

Currently, Bishop has not budgeted for such a study, whereas other agencies have pooled together their resources and approved the funding for the investigation.

Council member Chris Costello of the City of Bishop seemed wary of the cost. “We already have a great dispatch center in place. I think if the system is not broken, then don’t fix it.” the council member stated.

However, Costello also said that he did not want to leave the town’s neighbors hanging out to dry, and brought forth the idea of providing $5,000 dollars of funding toward the study to in order to demonstrate good will.

Mayor Pro-Tempore Laura Smith expressed interest in the project saying, “Yes, we already have a good dispatch center set up, but we can make it even better by adding emergency medical dispatch services to the regional dispatch center.”

Police Chief Stec acknowledged the feasibility of adding medical services to the center but said the dispatchers would need further training in that realm to add it into the center’s repertoire.

During the meeting, it was apparent that most members of the city council were wary of being perceived as being bad neighbors. Karen Schwartz of the city council spoke on the issue saying, “I support the regional dispatch center because it supports the greater good and helps out our entire region.” Mayor Jim Ellis expressed similar feelings on the matter, and seconded Schwartz’s motion.

Rob Patterson, the Finance Director for the Town of Mammoth Lakes was in attendance and told the council he did not believe the project would be as expensive as the estimated price. “I don’t think the cost of the study will be $100,000.” Patterson said. “It may be around that amount, but we just want to ensure that there is enough money available to complete the study. There is also a chance that it could be something the California Office of Emergency Services covers, we have to explore that further.”

Shortly after, the council voted unanimously to approve funding not to exceed $25,000 dollars. Councilmen Costello and Muchovej reluctantly voted in favor of the study, whereas Smith, Schwartz, and Ellis supported the study.

The study is expected to take a few months, with no solid timetable available at the moment.

Donations Sought for the Annual Eastern Sierra Shop with a Cop

Law enforcement officers and public safety staff from law enforcement and criminal justice agencies throughout Mono and Inyo Counties are busy planning the Annual Shop-with-a-Cop event, which will be held Saturday, December 14, 2019.

This is a very special day where our local law enforcement brings the true spirit of Christmas to families in need throughout the Eastern Sierra and Owens Valley. Children are selected by various local law enforcement agencies from nominations received by area schools, community groups and individuals. On Saturday morning, the children are picked up at their homes by their law enforcement “partners” and taken to pancake breakfast sponsored by the Bishop Lion’s Club. After breakfast, the officers and children respond Code 3 (lights and sirens) through Bishop to K-Mart to start their shopping extravaganza. Each child is given $200 to shop for gifts for their families. After all the gifts have been purchased, local volunteers wrap the gifts, and the officers and children travel home where an early holiday celebration begins!

Their goal for the 2019 Shop-with-a-Cop event is to provide Christmas to 70 children and their families. This event is completely donation driven. Let’s start getting into the holiday spirit and donate to this great event today! Donations can be dropped off at the Mono County Sheriff’s Office, Inyo County Sheriff’s Office, Bishop Police Department and Mammoth Lakes Police Department. Please make checks payable to ESPOA (Eastern Sierra Peace Officers Association) with “Shop-with-a-Cop” written in the memo line. ESPOA is a 501(c)3, and your donation is tax deductible.

BLM Bishop Field Office Issues Seasonal Fire Restrictions

BISHOP, Calif. – The Bureau of Land Management Bishop Field Office has issued seasonal fire restrictions for BLM-managed public lands in the Eastern Sierra effective Monday, July 1, due to increased wildland fire danger in the region. The restrictions will remain in effect until November 1, or until wildland fire conditions on public lands in the region improve.

Fire officials estimate that nearly 90 percent of wildland fires affecting BLM-managed public lands in California during the last decade have been human caused. Individuals who spark wildfires, intentionally or unintentionally, may be held responsible for fire suppression and property damage costs. Officials encourage the public to be extremely careful when recreating outdoors, to carry a shovel and water at all times, and to check weather forecasts and fire danger conditions before leaving home.

The following restrictions will remain in place until the risk of wildland fire in the Eastern Sierra subsides:

  • No campfires, charcoal or wood barbeques, or similar open flame fires, except within a designated campsite with a fire ring or fire pit specifically provided for such use in the following developed campgrounds: Tuttle Creek Campground, Goodale Creek Campground, Horton Creek Campground, Crowley Lake Campground and Pleasant Valley Pit Campground. Portable stoves burning gas, jelled petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are allowed outside of developed campgrounds when used in accordance with a valid California Campfire Permit, available free at all BLM, Forest Service and Cal Fire offices or at www.preventwildfireca.org/Permits.
  • No tools powered by internal combustion engines off established roads, trails or parking areas (such as chainsaws or lawn mowers).
  • No smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, or within the developed campgrounds listed above, or while stopped within an area at least five feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
  • No motorized vehicles off established roads, trails or parking areas.
  • Target shooters may not use incendiary, exploding, tracer, steel core or armor piercing ammunition. Shooting at steel or exploding targets that could emit sparks is not allowed. Target shooters must have a shovel or fire extinguisher on hand. Hunters may use steel shot and other non-lead ammunition as required by California State Law.
  • No fireworks, including “safe and sane” fireworks.
  • No welding or operating an acetylene or other torch with open flame, except by special permit.
  •  No use of explosives, except by special permit.

BLM-managed public lands subject to these fire restrictions extend from the southern Owens Valley in Inyo County, north to Topaz Lake and the Nevada border in Mono County. These fire restrictions also apply to popular BLM-managed recreational areas in the region including the Alabama Hills National Scenic Area, Inyo Mountains Wilderness, Volcanic Tableland, Long Valley, Adobe Valley, Mono Basin, Bodie Hills and Slinkard Valley. BLM seasonal fire restrictions for the Eastern Sierra Region are being implemented in close coordination with Cal Fire (https://www.facebook.com/1663811310523258/posts/2419842918253423?sfns=mo).

The BLM is committed to keeping public landscapes healthy and productive by working closely with cooperating agencies, neighboring communities, and public land visitors to prevent wildland fires. To learn how you can do your part to prevent wildland fires visit www.readyforwildfire.org. A listing of fire restrictions throughout BLM California is available at https://go.usa.gov/xmUEG. For specific questions, please contact the Bishop Field Office at 760-872-5000.

Mono County Seek to Mitigate Wildlife Deaths With Grant Money

The Mono County Board of Supervisors expressed support in their letter to Caltrans District 9, and encourage the transportation organization to apply for funding which would help mitigate wildlife deaths from vehicles.

Proposition 68 is an ordinance that provides organizations with funding to help reduce the amount vehicle collisions with animals across the state.

Currently, Caltrans District 9 is requesting $2,000,000 from the state to complete the environmental planning report. In total, the cost of completing the entire project is estimated to cost between $50,000,000-$70,000,000.

Most of the funding would go toward the seven mile stretch from Crowley Lake and the Mammoth Lakes turnoff. “The seven mile stretch of US Highway 395 from Crowley Lake Dr. to the Junction with state route 203 accounts for more than double the number of deceased deer removed by Caltrans Maintenance forces compared to any other seven mile stretch of US 395 within District 9. The letter from the supervisors went on to say “This [area] accounts for 43% of reported collisions for this area of US 395, the stretch of highway also contains the largest hotspot of deer collisions within the district.”

Not only did the supervisors express concern for deer crossing the corridor, they also noted the presence of other species including the Bi-State sage grouse. The letter says, “The areas along these roadways host significant wildlife habitat, supporting populations of resident and migratory species, including the Bi-State sage grouse which is proposed to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and play a critical role for migrating mule deer in the spring and fall.”

In order to obtain the rest of the necessary funding, Mono County will seek money from other state and federal agencies. “If awarded, funding will also allow Caltrans District 9 and their partners to seek additional state and Federal Funding to support the completion of subsequent project development phases.”