AVMAC meeting reviews Anza’s place in county cannabis discussions, water rights lawsuits

Anza Valley Municipal Action Council board members Bob Giffin, left, and Gordon Lanik, right, listen intently to Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington’s legislative assistant Opal Hellweg’s county report at the AVMAC meeting, Sept. 13. Diane Sieker photo

The Anza Valley Municipal Action Council conducted their meeting Wednesday, Sept. 13, at the Community Hall in Anza. The meeting was well-attended; the people met to meet and discuss their concerns with the guest speakers, Riverside County Planning Director Charissa Leach and retired Riverside County Planning Department member Jerry Jolliffe.

AVMAC board members present were Sharon Evans, Allison Renck, Bob Giffin, Gordon Lanik and Edison Gomez. About 45 persons were in attendance.

The meeting was brought to order, and the speakers introduced. Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington’s legislative assistant Opal Hellweg talked about county business, namely that the supervisors have been busy with the Service Employees International Union Local 721 strike and the discussion of the ongoing research into the organization of ordinances regarding cannabis commerce within the unincorporated areas of the county. This research is in consideration of the adoption of Ordinances 866.1, 925.1 and 928.1, which clarify the county’s existing cannabis prohibitions and the creation of a regulatory scheme.

Leach took the floor and answered questions regarding cannabis commerce. She said the supervisors were working diligently on the ordinance and tax, fee and permit structures and they were receptive to input from concerned citizens, both for or against. She revealed that special meetings were being planned in certain communities to address the concerns.

“The state has minimums; we can’t go further than that,” she said, in reference to the state propositions regarding medical and recreational marijuana, but the supervisors will try very hard to come up with solutions that “makes sense.”

She explained that the board of supervisors will pass an ordinance, with the electorate able to vote on it in a scheduled election.

“It is a work in progress,” Leach stressed.

AVMAC Board member Allison Renck asked Leach about the impact of zoning on the proposed cannabis ordinance. Leach said the Anza area is mostly zoned rural residential, a designation that encompasses about 582,000 acres within the county. Rural residential zoning allows a lot of freedom in regards to agricultural development and is therefore open to possible cannabis cultivation within the law of the new ordinance.

“I am here to listen, and I will be back on the cannabis issue,” Leach said.

Retired planner Jerry Jolliffe stressed water constraints and said the entire issue is “complicated.”

“Anza is a rural community with a special personality,” he said, and recommended citizens attend as many meetings as possible to have their voices heard on the matters affecting them.

“It’s your call,” Jolliffe said.

He used a large map of the Anza Valley Policy Area to illustrate different zoning tracts and trails and mentioned that the Trail Town designation for Anza would take advantage of the historical flavor of the community and open it to government and private grants for improvements. He mentioned updating the current plan to deal with local issues.

“That’s why these meetings are so important, but people must also have patience and perseverance,” Helwig said. She spoke briefly on the ongoing water litigation said as much as Washington is rallying certain agencies to consider a speedy a resolution of the issue, it is in the hands of the courts.

AVMAC member Bob Giffin said. “We’re in a spot; we can’t move forward,” in reference to county policies limiting commercial development in Anza reportedly due in part to the water litigation.

Jeral Cooley, a business owner trying to open a small coffee shop called Uncommon Grounds in Anza, expressed his frustration over the problems he is facing in obtaining approvals and permits for his project. Commercial development restrictions are denying local people jobs and opportunities, he said.

AVMAC board member Edison Gomez described the new AVMAC website, still under development and expected to be finished in the near future. Gomez has been working diligently to create bright, easy-to-navigate pages with archives, news, minutes and more. He encouraged people to browse the site when it is complete and to have their children and teens do the same.

“Get everyone involved,” he said.

Cahuilla Tribal member Antonio Heredia Sr. introduced himself and spoke regarding the water issue.

“My intent is not to offend the community,” he said, and he went on to describe his feelings regarding the water problems at hand. He stressed his concern with water quality, and the potential commercial growth that might affect it.

“We are all in this together,” he said, “If we can’t drink the water, we don’t have any.”

He went on to remind the people present of a toxic dump site located on the Cahuilla Reservation and said that he felt that it has been ignored by both tribal and nontribal government agencies for too long. He said that this site was created by tribal and nontribal people to receive contaminated soils from EPA-required compliance work on gas station tank replacements in the 1970s and has only partially been addressed by the authorities. He communicated his concern about this affecting the quality of water passing under the site and on to other lands. He ended his short comments amid applause from the people in attendance.

The November AVMAC meeting will feature CalTrans representatives as special guest speakers.

To contact Washington’s office, call 951-955-1030 or visit www.supervisorchuckwashington.com.

For more information on the Riverside County Planning Department, visit www.planning.rctlma.org or call (951) 955-3200.

One Response to "AVMAC meeting reviews Anza’s place in county cannabis discussions, water rights lawsuits"

  1. Robert Kinkade   December 8, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    Gina, We need to set the record straight,
    your quote!

    I agree, but it should be entitled State of California’s War on Indians, given that, you must recognize that you’re talking apples and oranges.

    The statute you’re quoting was a state law, not federal, which did not pertain to lands owned by the federal government, such as the land in the Anza Valley.

    This principle is true to this day, state law in most instances, cannot be applied of Federal property. State and Local Laws are held Preempted by Federal Law.

    Article Four of the United States Constitution
    Clause 2: Property Clause
    The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

    Background history

    On September 9, 1850 California became the 31st state in the United States. However, the federal government owned a majority of land in California, thus was not subject to state laws until the Federal Government sold the property and noted in the statute under which the property was sold or on the deed of sale. (e.g. RR act of 1866 and the 1862 Homestead Act,) which is how most, if not all Anza Valley real estate was released to the state for taxing purposes. States can’t tax the federal Government, unfortunately ) McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316 (1819)

    So no California state statute had any jurisdiction or authority on real property belonging to the federal government in the Anza Valley.

    Once it was sold and the federal government relinquished its right to establish federal law on the property it became the responsibility of the State of California, then and only then could California state law be applied.

    However, where the federal government had already granted clear title, by statute, to the land buyer and those who later purchased it from the original buyer.

    Clear federal title was established as did all other rights continued with the property in perpetuity, unless a later seller of the land, kept (e.g let’s say mineral rights for himself, when he next sold the property.)

    1862 Federal Homestead Act

    Section 6 notes:

    “That nothing contained in this act shall be so construed as to impair or interfere in any manner whatever with existing preemption rights : And provided, further, That all persons who may have filed their applications for a preemption right prior to the passage of this act, shall be entitled to all privileges of this act:”

    (What does this mean? Anyone prior to the passage of this act who filed an application for preemption (stating they already owned the land) would be given consideration under the statute. Filed before May 20, 1862.)

    Mexico seeded California to the United States under The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed on February 2, 1848, so anyone believing they had preemptive right to land held by the U.S. federal Government could have filed from 1848 until the passage of the Homestead Act in 1862, a period of 14 years!

    Thus, like I said before, the Anza valley was settled under the Federal Homestead Act of 1862, there was a 14 year period that anyone claiming preemption of some real property in the Anza Valley had an opportunity to file a claim. On May 20, 1862 that window closed.

    The federal Rail Road act of 1866 is even more specific noting as section 2

    1866, July 27 – 14 Stat. 292, Railroad and Telegraph Line Lands Act

    SEC. 2.

    The United States shall extinguish, as rapidly as may be consistent with public policy and the welfare of the Indians, and only by their voluntary cession, the Indian title to all lands falling under the operation of this act and acquired in the donation to the road named in the act.

    Thus, in 1866 the federal government sold the land to the Southern Pacific Railroad with all property rights needed to run a spur Rail Road line through the Anza Valley from Hemet to Yuma Az.

    The federal government also gave the railroad all those land rights required to facilitate the construction and maintenance of that Railroad line through the Anza Valley, This included all ground water needed to run and maintain the Steam Engines locomotives of the day.

    Thus, all those rights including the water under that property, which come up Batista canyon, were passed on to the Railroad, who in turn, passed them on to the current land owners.
    Given that, the only other legal recourse was to look to what is called aboriginal rights (e.g. we have always been here, rights) unfortunately for the Indians this had to be filed by March 3, 1853 by federal law

    Federal Law (The California Land Claims Act 1851)
    On March 3, 1851, Congress enacted the Land Claims Act, requiring “each and every person claiming lands in California by virtue of any right or title derived by the Mexican government” to file their claim with a three-member Public Land Commission within two years.

    Consequently we are all aware that the Cahuilla Indians reservation was not recognized by executive order (not a federal treaty) until 1875 many years after these Federal laws that established Anza Valley property rights (including Water rights) to their owners went into effect.

    And that’s the truth of it and the group being sued by the tribe should ask their attorneys if this is the case, which it is! and the tribe should negotiate a peaceful solution before some of the cases go before an federal appellate court or the federal supreme court by certiorari, which would establish this principal nationwide effecting many other Indian tribes!


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