‘Man Camps’: Ridgecrest continues playing the role of poor stepchild to the Navy

July 8, 2020

Ridgecrest, California

The Man Camps are coming and the Ridgecrest City Council bent over backwards yet again for the Navy. They twisted and turned the definition of “employee housing” to apply to contractors rebuilding the base. The temporary use permit housing will soon appear on various parcels of land in and around Ridgecrest for the next year or more. If you’re selling your home anytime in the next few years, good luck. Let’s go to the video beginning at 1:58.

By remaking the ordinance to fit the circumstances, City Manager Ron Strand has executed a strategy giving himself effective authority over permitting, bonding and other matters such as complaints from residents. The Mayor and Council became his handmaidens the day they hired him. Rule number one for City Councils: Never hire the police chief to be city manager.

Since being hired, Mr. Strand, along with the City Attorney Mr. Lloyd Pilchen have effectively become the most powerful and influential people in town. They are calling the shots, not the Mayor or the Council.

With all the talk of unity and community during earthquakes, pandemics and street protests, the only things missing are the pom-poms.

The Mayor, with nothing to show in four years but schmoozing and cheerleading, is still plotting to annex south Ridgecrest all the way out to highway 395. She and Mr. Strand have a vision but they won’t tell you what it is until they spend $60,000 for a consultant to lay the groundwork for their scheme. This sounds like another Parks Tax failure in the making.

The City’s attitude is clear, it’s not their problem if it’s on the other side of the line in the county. It’s not their problem if we’re running out of water, it’s the water district’s problem. The City will certainly welcome you to shop at Walmart and pay the sales taxes they rely on and they are certainly looking forward to charging the contractors for the City’s “services”.

Parochialism is a game of fools and Ridgecrest has plenty

There will be no true economic development or growth in the Indian Wells Valley anytime in the foreseeable future. Much of what hinders Ridgecrest is beyond our control because we have ineffective leadership with no ideas and a population of subservient workers in a company town. We get what we deserve.

One or two of us watched the budget meeting two weeks ago. Mayor Breeden and Mr. Strand quietly hatched their latest plan for Annexation out to highway 395. Let’s go to the video:

Annexation is apparently needed because millions of travelers are driving by Ridgecrest without stopping when we could make a buck selling burgers and coffee, I challenge the Mayor and City Manager to save us $60k and go sit out at 395 for eight hours, count passers-by and then tell us how feasible your plan is. By the way, how much money was wasted on the failed Parks Tax? We never got an answer to that question.

Put simply, Ridgecrest will continue on it’s slow decline into more blight and decay, just as it’s done for the last 40 years during Mr. Strands entire tenure as a police officer, chief and now City Manager. He knows everything that goes on in the City and he’s fully vested. It’s not his money that he’s spending, it’s yours, and poof, it’s gone.

The City will have always have ups and downs, mostly downs, and the Navy will talk of the need for recruiting, retention and housing, but nothing meaningful will come from it. Here comes the new boss same as the old boss. The current Mayor and Council are no different from any of those in the past and they make the same mistakes by allowing the City to become a servant to the Navy, all while ignoring the rest of the Indian Wells Valley.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost and Ridgecrest has lost control of it’s water supply and hence, it’s viability as a City. We can try to ignore it and let the Indian Wells Valley Water District take the heat, but the City and the Navy are mutually responsible for the demise and blight in Ridgecrest and it’s about to get worse.

The Navy, DOD and their employees have their water secured. Kern County residents who aren’t in the IWVWD have their water wells.

The good folks in Ridgecrest and their Mayor and City Council don’t realize that the City of Ridgecrest is dry and everyone in the water district is going to pay dearly for water from here to eternity unless the Navy comes to the rescue and the City Council wakes up to the fact that they must cooperate with the IWVWD to mitigate the damages.

Correction: Changed City attorney’s name from Floyd Lemieux to Lloyd Pilchen