The People, Friends and Neighbors of Joshua Tree are working hard to keep this space the unique thing that it is. In late November, Dollar General appealed our win to the State Court of Appeals. We held a public community meeting on December 18, 2014 to talk about options and all that. About 100 people were there and all were quite adamant about continuing our fight against this corporate predator. And so we’ve filed the required pro forma response in a timely manner, and made clear our intent to defend our win and our Community. Now comes some more work . . .
We need money to pay for this effort: We have filing fees, a P.O. Box and other small stuff, but mostly, we are asking for help to pay our highly-skilled, kick-ass lawyer at a bargain-basement rate.
Our fundraising goal is $9,500.
Please donate online via gofundme
Or send a check to us . . . checks should be made out to David Fick with “JTDBA” or “Dollar General” in the memo line, and mailed to:
P.O. Box 1492
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
Or you can make a cash or check donation anytime you are in town . . . at the Joshua Tree Health Food Store, Windwalkers, Coyote Corner Gift Shop or Joshua Tree Outfitters. Most any other independent storefront in Joshua Tree would also accept your donation.
Thanks so much.
Thursday December 18, 7-9 pm
Joshua Tree Community Center
Three years ago, the Joshua Tree Community began its battle against Dollar General, a corporate predator that wants to build a store in our central district. Community members, friends and neighbors rallied, organized and educated ourselves, and forced the County to change its process and give the project greater scrutiny and broader public review. Despite all our statements and evidence showing the project should be rejected, the Planning Department and Planning Commission approved it. We appealed to the Board of Supervisors. Despite the hundreds of pages of written statements and evidence we submitted, and a day-long hearing, the Board of Supervisors also approved the project, with only Supervisor Ramos voting our way.
We challenged that decision in State Court, and won! Our legal victory means the County has to review this project again from the beginning, with a new initial public notice and it must correctly follow CEQA procedure and standards.
At the end of November, 2014, Dollar General appealed our win to the next level. We have until December 22 to file a pro forma response.
Please attend this Community Meeting to learn about the next steps we have to take, and other steps we can take, with our attorney and in court to defend our win.
Hanging in the balance of this fight is the future of our Community: If we maintain this win, we set a precedent and maintain our unique community character and identity as Joshua Tree. If we lose, we will inevitably become the same as everyplace else, overrun by corporate box stores.
Look around this website to see all the legal documents and decisions that got us to here.
Joshua Tree, California wins a key court battle against corporate predator, Dollar General.
Joshua Tree, California, a small, unincorporated desert community and the Gateway to Joshua Tree National park, is engaged in a nearly three-year struggle to preserve its unique community character, and so far it’s winning. Small, local business owners and residents in Joshua Tree, 150 miles east of Los Angeles, won a key court fight against San Bernardino County and discount retailer Dollar General, which wants to build an outlet in the iconic tourist village. The store would be the fourth Dollar General serving the community of about 8,000 and surrounding towns, in addition to a Walmart Supercenter only four short miles from downtown Joshua Tree.
“Tourists, campers, rock climbers, bird watchers, artists–they all come to Joshua Tree National Park to get away, and they stay, eat and shop in the town of Joshua Tree because we offer something different, something charming and authentic that they cannot find in most cookie cutter towns around here ” said Celeste Doyle of the Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance (JTDBA), which brought the suit. “Our local economy and tourism appeal depend on our unique character.”
San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Donald R. Alvarez agreed the store could put the town’s economy at risk. Judge Alvarez recently ordered the County to conduct an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) to determine whether business and property owners would suffer economic harm from the proposed 9,100 square foot formula retail chain store. Dollar General, a $17.5 billion public company with 11,000 stores in 40 states, will pay for the EIR.
“This is a national issue,” said Linda Perry, owner of Joshua Tree Health Foods. “Independent businesses are an endangered species throughout the country. We provide good jobs at higher pay than chain stores, and our profits stay in the community. Dollar General’s profits go straight to their headquarters in Tennessee.” The Dollar General store would directly compete with a number of local stores and could put them out of businesses, resulting in lost jobs, boarded-up storefronts and urban blight.
There is a growing awareness nationally that formula (chain) retail stores are destructive to local economies and communities by siphoning profits to distant corporate headquarters. Stores like Dollar General have been met with fierce resistance in many communities, both rural and urban. As in Joshua Tree, opponents point to the fact that there is no shortage of discount retailers in the area, and their high concentration severely hampers the chances for more diversified independent businesses to succeed.
Residents, business and property owners who have moved to Joshua Tree and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in renovating the downtown feel that the establishment of a large chain retail store in downtown Joshua Tree will open the floodgates to other formula retail development and undermine what they have built: a unique desert community and economy that makes locals and visitors feel welcome and at home.
“This is about growing a healthy, local economy,” said Scott Cutler, owner of Sacred Sands B&B. “Ten years ago a few visionary business owners invested here, renovating existing buildings, and others followed.” Today, downtown Joshua Tree is an eclectic mix of independently owned restaurants, galleries, outfitters, vintage clothing stores, and a weekly farmers market. “The recession was tough, but the local businesses survived and now downtown is thriving,” said Scott’s partner, Steve Pratt. “But bad development drives out good, and Dollar General is bad development.”
Mindy Kaufman, owner of Spin and Margie’s Desert Hide-A-Way, notes that Joshua Tree is a short drive from Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, making it an ideal escape from urban life. According to a USGS Economic study, visitors to Joshua Tree National Park added nearly $63 million to local economies. According to National Park data, more visitors enter Joshua Tree National Park through the Joshua Tree entrance than through any other Park entrance.
“The towns around Joshua Tree have two each of Rite-Aids, Family Dollar, Dollar Tree, and Dollar General stores, as well as a Walmart Supercenter, and nearly every fast food option you can imagine,” said Thomas Fjallstam, President of the Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce. “There is only one downtown Joshua Tree with its unique independent artistic character. People looking for something different, to get away from all that, come to Joshua Tree.”
Please contact us for more information, or visit our website or FaceBook page.
Joshua Tree Downtown Business Alliance
FaceBook: No Dollar General in Joshua Tree
View or download: JTDBA- Writ and Judgment _0085 (pdf)