Why Dollar General doesn’t belong in Joshua Tree

Here’s why the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors should vote to deny Dollar General’s application for a Conditional Use Permit in Joshua Tree:

•    Joshua Tree is characterized by small-footprint, family-owned businesses. At 9,100 square feet, the proposed Dollar General is twice as large as any existing commercial building in Joshua Tree, destroying the character of the town.

•    With the exception of two gas stations, there are no national chain businesses in Joshua Tree. The absence of generic formula retail is the defining aspect of our unique community character, which the Joshua Tree Community Plan seeks to protect.

•    Joshua Tree’s tourism economy has been on a positive trajectory for several years, even during the recession. Since 2006, when Joshua Tree National Park opened an official Visitors Center downtown, over 100 new businesses have started up – including restaurants, retailers, art galleries, yoga studios, health food stores, a certified farmer’s market and dozens of vacation rentals — all generating tax dollars and hundreds of jobs. As San Bernardino County reeled from the financial crisis, Joshua Tree was part of the solution, not part of the problem. We need to stick to our plan – our Community Plan – to assure continued growth.

•    Joshua Tree’s small business owners live in the community, so all profits stay in San Bernardino County, generating more tax revenue and jobs. Profits from the Dollar General will flow out of state.

•    Tourism in Joshua Tree generates Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenues, which flow directly to San Bernardino County. The County needs to grow these revenues, not threaten them as Dollar General does, by making Joshua Tree a less desirable tourist destination.

•    The community is already well-served by discount retailers, including two other Dollar General stores. These stores are appropriately sited in Yucca Valley (already open) and Twentynine Palms (planned). Other nearby chains selling similar goods to Dollar General include Rite-Aid (two stores), Walgreen’s, Big Lots, Dollar Tree (two stores), Vons, Food4Less, Stater Bros. (two stores) and a soon-to-be-completed Walmart Supercenter (five minutes from downtown Joshua Tree).

•    For these reasons, and because of problems with the project size, location and design, the project does not meet the County’s standards for a Conditional Use Permit (County Code § 85.06.040). Most importantly: the project conflicts with the Joshua Tree Community Plan; there is not adequate access for patrons and delivery trucks; and the use will impose substantial adverse effects on the small homes and the densely-developed neighborhood adjacent to the site. All this also means that the approval violates CEQA requirements, because the Planning Commission did not identify, analyze or even attempt to mitigate the many negative impacts this project will bring to the community. The Board of Supervisors must use its authority to overturn this approval.

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