• Government Affairs/Roads & Traffic Advisory Committee

    GA-RTAC meets on the 2nd Thursday of each month at the Chamber to share information and form collaborations between local government, first responders, utilities and all other groups and businesses who serve the Big Bear Community. GA-RTAC was formed by the Chamber to provide better communication between these entities for the betterment of the community.


    GA- RTAC Meeting Minutes - April 11, 2019

    Attendance: Austin Marshall, Maureen Auer, Stephanie Thoth, Shannon Dunkle, Josh Monzon, John Harris, Danielle deClerq, Ellen Clarke, Danielle Goldsmith, Dakota Higgins, Samuel Shoup, Reggie Lamson, Dawn Marschinke, Matthew Merrall, Robin Lee and Annette Karnes.


    Co-Chairs Austin Marshall and Maureen Auer called the meeting to order at 9:04 a.m.

    Big Bear Chamber of Commerce/ Stephanie Thoth:

    Stephanie provided an overview of Chamber events, including fundraising for Fireworks on the Lake on July 4, and co-sponsoring the Be on T.R.A.C.K. event for students and parents to learn more about what’s next after high school, with a focus on workforce retention locally, to take place on April 15 at Community Church Big Bear, 5-7 p.m.

    She advised that the Chamber sent an eBlast yesterday detailing three road repairs and maintenance projects.  They include a guardrail installation and terminal end treatment project on SR 18 in Running Springs beginning April 10, with a one-way flagging operation in the area. Also, a bridge rail and approach replacement project on SR 330 that began April 2 and is expected to be completed by summer 2020. Work will be at City Creek Bridge and East Fork City Bridge with only one lane open in either direction, with a temporary signal. And, a bridge rehabilitation project resumes on SR 38 on the Santa Ana River Bridge. A one-way flagging control operation will be in the area and the project is expected to conclude by the end of April. 

    Assemblyman Jay Obernolte office/Shannon Dunkle:

    (Scroll down for report)

    In response to Shannon’s remarks about the re-introduced and proposed water bill(s), Reggie Lamson stated that one bill would charge $1 per month per customer to provide water to disadvantaged communities.  There would be an inadequately small amount for administration and he predicted that an additional staff member would be needed to administer the tax.  The disadvantaged $1 per month fee would be waived.

    U.S. Congressman Paul Cook/Dakota Higgins

    (Scroll down for report)

    Sam Shoup will be the new representative for Congressman Cook and will attend the GA-RTAC meetings.

    Big Bear Lake Department of Water and Power/Reggie Lamson:

    Grants and loans have been secured for upcoming projects. A $12 million USDA grant will fund the pipeline work to begin this summer in residential areas only, Valley wide from April through October for the next four years in a 12-mile range in Big Bear Lake and Fawnskin. Lane closures are expected on affected residential streets.

    The department has secured a grant and a 1% loan for a solar energy project with Bear Valley Electric Services to be located just north of the Convention Center on existing DWP property where a fence to protect the equipment and the public will be erected beginning tomorrow. The equipment is expected to be operational by June and will save approximately $130,000 in annual power costs for consumers, and $2 million over 20 years.

    Construction has resumed at Sawmill Well between Moonridge and Sugarloaf, or the Moonridge area, to pump water east to west.  It is the second largest water well in Big Bear and will be operational by September 2019.

    The Replenish Big Bear project collaborated on by the Department of Water & Power, Big Bear Area Regional Wastewater Agency and the Big Bear City Community Services District will deposit water at Shay Meadows in the Stickleback Pond, which is home to the highest population of the three-spined stickleback fish found anywhere, and the Stanfield Marsh, to maintain lake levels at a consistent 0 to 7 feet from full. Except in instances when the lake and ponds overflow, water will no longer be transferred to Lucerne. The project will treat wastewater to levels higher than even drinking water. He hopes to get the $20 million in funding in six to eight months.

    State Senator Mike Morrell/Josh Monzon:

    (See attached report)

    City of Big Bear Lake/John Harris:

    John advised the city has been using temporary patches on asphalt, but now the permanent patches are being placed to repair extensive damage left by the rain and snowstorm-laden winter. The City is preparing to pave the Moonridge Y to Sheephorn, Colusa and Ridgecrest. The Veterans Park parking lot will be repaved after the July 4 weekend and prior to Tour de Big Bear. The Village parking lots are slated for seal coating.

    John said his “yellow shirt” crews are out in force and asked the group to spread the word to be careful driving in areas where they are working.

    He asked legislative representatives present to convey the need for support in dealing with CalRecycle’s requirements under the legislation revolving around recycling organic material, some of which do not apply to Big Bear. 

    Bear Valley Electric Service, Danielle deClerq:

    Earth Day is April 19, 10:30 -1:30 (rain date is April 26) in the Bear Valley Electric Service parking lot and they are partnering with the Department of Water & Power this year, presenting the theme, “Protecting our Species.”

    The office currently has five job openings. She referred people to their website to review the postings.

    Big Bear Fire Department/Dawn Marschinke:

    Dawn echoed others’ sentiments that it has been a brutal weather season and their call volume was very high. In 2018, 112 zero drawdowns were reported, times when all resources were expended. As of this meeting, there have been 60 times this year already. The Fire Authority Board has set a workshop and Chief Willis must prepare a balanced budget, which may include closing the Sugarloaf fire station.

    Dawn said that the consensus among people who filled out the surveys and attending the Town Hall meetings about their budget shortfall were mostly willing to pay a share of the needed expense.  However, they want businesses and visitors to pay a fair share as well. In addition, a Community Facilities District is under consideration.

    She reminded everyone that the Fire Department and Sonora Cantina are hosting the Chamber’s May 14 mixer.

    The chipping program will begin earlier, opening April 15, in response to recent storm damage.  Applications can be submitted via their website.

    California Highway Patrol/Matt Morrell

    The department is seeing an increase in staff with transfers and are equally as glad to see winter end. 

    The “cheaters” program, whereby senior citizen volunteers are identifying out of state license plates on cars of local residents, will help to compel those residents to get California vehicle registrations.

    Officer Dave Gibson is being awarded the Medal of Valor for stopping a suicide by driving off the mountainside.  Assemblyman Jay Obernolte is recognizing him next Friday at the Everyday Heroes event.

    Big Bear Association of Realtors/Robin Lee

    Robin introduced herself and plans to attend the monthly GA-RTAC meetings to report to her membership.  Legislative Chair Annette Karnes will also attend.

    The meeting was adjourned at 9:52 a.m.











    Shannon Dunkle

    Field Representative

    Office of Assemblyman Jay Obernolte

    33rd Assembly District


    2019 Legislation

    Assembly Bill 21- Driver’s licenses: veteran designation.

    In Assembly Appropriations Committee

    Provides that all veterans are exempt from the fee to have a “veteran” designation placed on their driver’s license or identification card. The veteran designation allows veterans to access veteran benefits as well as utilize veteran discounts without needing to carry their discharge papers (DD-214), an important official military document.


    Assembly Bill 28- High school diplomas: State Seal of STEM

    In Assembly Appropriations Committee

    Establishes a State Seal of STEM to recognize high school graduates who have attained a high level of proficiency in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. The bill would establish criteria for the receipt of the State Seal of STEM, would require the Superintendent of Public Instruction to prepare and deliver to participating school districts an appropriate insignia to be affixed to pupil diplomas or transcripts, and would require participating school districts to maintain appropriate records and affix the appropriate insignia to diplomas or transcripts of recipient pupils.


    Assembly Bill 394 - California Environmental Quality Act: exemption: fire safety

    In Assembly Appropriations Committee

    California has seen record numbers of wildfires in the past few years, causing mass devastation to the residents of this state. According to census data, California leads the nation by large numbers when it comes to people living in high-risk fire areas with 2,044,800 households at high or extreme risk from wildfires. Assembly Bill 394 will exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) narrowly defined projects recommended by the Board of Forestry that improve safety in fire-prone subdivisions identified as lacking sufficient egress routes.



    The California Small Business Association named Assemblyman Jay Obernolte the 2018 State Assembly Legislator of the Year for his advocacy on behalf of small businesses.

    Best of the Desert: Public Servant




    Assemblyman Obernolte opposes Governor Newsom’s moratorium on the death penalty. Just over two years ago, California voters rejected Proposition 62, which would have repealed the death penalty. Instead they approved Proposition 66, which streamlined the appeals process to speed up executions. Californians have made their voices heard on this issue, and the Governor should honor the democratic process by enforcing their clearly-expressed wishes, not thwarting them.





    Response to Governor Newsom’s State of the State: I wish the governor would have spent some more time talking about poverty. He nibbled around the edges, mentioning housing and homelessness, but he didn’t address the core issue that California currently has the highest poverty of any state in the nation. That is due primarily to the fact that the cost of living is so high here, and many of the causes of this can be traced back to failed government policies. We need to have a frank and direct discussion about how we can address this issue that affects so many Californians.


    His stance on clean drinking water is also baffling. He says it’s a ‘moral disgrace’ and ‘medical emergency’ that over a million Californians don’t have access to clean drinking water, yet instead of prioritizing funding for this in the budget (which has $20 billion surplus) he intends to reintroduce a plan to increase taxes on every Californian’s water bills. This will only make living in California even less affordable than it already is.








    Joshua Monzon, Field Representative

    Senator Mike Morrell


    Senator Morrell’s Bills

    • SB 384 , Housing Omnibus Bill
      • Streamlining the CEQA Process for housing developments of 50 units or more according to the same process used to expedite sports arenas
      • Expanding the Housing Accountability Act to capture more households.
        • Current law under the HAA does not provide an equal legal standard for developers of above-moderate income housing to fight a local governments’ denial of their development.
      • Will offer incentives to sellers who sell to first-time home buyers [in order to promote market mobility for all Californians]
    • *** The bill was withdrawn from the Housing Committee and is now set to be heard on April 10th in the Environmental Quality Committee


    • SB 562 – Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemptions
      • This bill would increase property tax exemptions for 100% disabled veterans, blind veterans and veterans missing 1 or 2 limbs
      • The new rates in this bill would keep up with inflation moving forward.
    • *** Re-referred to Committee on Veteran Affairs from Committee on Governance and Finance, no hearing date set yet.
      • IF ASKED:

    The current exemptions that were put in place in the 1980’s are:

    •  Basic Exemption: $134,706
    • Low-Income Exemption (under 40k a year): $202,060
    • This bills rates would be:
      • Basic Exemption $200,000
      • Low income Exemption $250,000








    Dakota Higgins

    Field Representative

    Col. Paul Cook (Ret.)


    • S.47 - John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, passed in both houses and was signed by President Trump. It includes three of Congressman Cook’s bills: H.R. 376, the California Desert Protection and Recreation Act of 2019; H.R. 3279, the Helium Extraction Act (the bill number is from the 115ths Congress, we never technically reintroduced it this year but its language was still included); and H.R. 1067, the Santa Ana River Wash Plan Land Exchange Act.
    • Congressman Cook reintroduced H.R. 255, the Big Bear Land Exchange Act. This bill had local support including the City of Big Bear Lake, County of San Bernardino, the local chapter of the Sierra Club, and others.
    • Yesterday Congressman Cook introduced the Veterans Member Business Loan Act (bill number still pending), which would exclude veterans’ loans from the statutory credit union member business loan cap. This bill will increase veterans’ access to small business loans, and would cover any veteran who served on active duty and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.
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