With redistribution, a push continues to connect the western part of the San Bernardino National Forest with adjacent foothill communities, which are forced to deal with overflow forest issues such as trail access, water management, wildfires, traffic and vandalism. .
But building a formal relationship between the communities of Upland and Rancho Cucamonga in Congress with the vast federal forest land north of their borders isn’t as easy as tying a knot.
Because the 2020 California Civil Redistribution Commission must account for the voting rights of minority communities, keeping districts equal in population and other factors, a member of Congress is required to represent nearby foothill towns as well as adjacent wilderness. does not always match.
In fact, as it is today, the congressional districts surrounding Western Valley cities are a tangled mish-mash, often leaving the mountains—the major federal recreational land used by millions—to float on their own. .
For example, the San Gabriel Mountains in the San Bernardino National Forest are in the 8th Congressional District, a vast district that extends to Death Valley and includes Hesperia and Barstow, but not Upland and Rancho Cucamonga.
Similarly, Uplands, a city of 80,000, is split between the 27th and 31st congressional districts, represented by Judy Choo, D-Pasadena, and Pete Aguilar, D-Redlands, respectively. Rancho Cucamonga, population 176,379, is also in Aguilar District. But if either city wants to talk about wilderness issues, they’ll have to turn to Rep. Jay Obernolt, R-Big Bear, in the 8th District.
Upland City Councilwoman Janice Elliott sees this as a disconnect in the representation of the immediate area. Acting as a private citizen, she wrote a letter to the 2020 California Civil Redistribution Commission, asking that Upland and Rancho Cucamonga be in the same congressional district as San Gabriel that borders the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests. are located in some parts.
“These foothill communities south of the San Gabriel Mountains share many common characteristics and a very important relationship with our adjacent San Gabriel Mountains. This makes our cities ‘communities of interest’, a congress similar to the San Bernardino Mountains. So we have a member of Congress representing how the forest is managed and protected,” Elliott wrote.
Elliott, who sits on the board of the West End Consolidated Water Company, which pumps groundwater in the foothills, says the forest could affect water quality. In addition, Upland San Antonio Water Company owns 74%, and has a vested interest in the mountain’s water flow, water quality and quantity.
In Cucamonga Canyon, Elliot was part of a Sierra Club cleanup in which old cars were pulled out of a creek.
“Waste affects the water. All the oil and fuel is dumped into Cucamonga Creek,” she said in an interview.
She would prefer that the border of Aguilar’s 31st district be redrawn to take in nearby forest land. She said Upland and Rancho Cucamonga already have ties to Aguilar because he represents residents in both.
“Whoever is in that office, I would like them to also represent that part of the mountains,” she said.
Cucamonga Canyon has been closed by the US Forest Service for nearly 10 years due to fire concerns and since it is not a loop to evacuate people from the canyon in case of wildfires. In addition, when it opened in 2014, thousands of visitors blocked the road and caused parking hazards. Many people view access to this valley as much as a US Forest Service issue as a city issue. He said having a congressional representative who knows the cities and that part of the forest can help solve access problems.
John Monsen is a member of the Sierra Club, appointed as an advisor by a non-profit called Nature for All, to Congress in both the Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests to include nearby cities. Advocating for the redrawing of borders. He called the creation of the 8th district in 2011 “a bad mistake”.
“Congressional District 8 had gone crazy,” Monsen said. “The nearest city of any size is Hesperia. They are not interested in how (the forest) is managed. The people interested in how it is managed are not in the district.”
Another example of asymmetrical drawing is Mount Baldy Village, divided between two Congressional districts. Two thirds of the residents are in the 8th district and one third are in the 27th district. Upland is a short drive from Mount Baldi.
Upland Mayor Bill Velto said he would not tell Rancho Cucamonga or Mount Baldy Village who would represent him in Congress. “I’ll leave it to them,” he said.
Also, he said, going to two or three members of Congress can be beneficial. He said that Obernolte knows about forest land because he lives in Big Bear, a mountainous community in the San Bernardino National Forest. In his September 6 statement to the U.S. Forest Service about closing down forests in the state to prevent fires, Obernolt blamed “poor forest management practices, which have elevated more than 80 million acres of national forests.” Given that, there is a possibility of fire, and there is a dire need of proactive management.”
Monsen said congressional districts that match wilderness with foothill towns are appropriate, as the forest is federal land.
“You can’t go to your mayor or state senator,” Monsen said. “They have no rights.”
He said that by drawing the districts into two adjacent towns of forest land, people living nearby could speak to their representatives, increasing local influence on everyday forest issues.
“The bigger the cities that dominate the forest, the better,” Monsen said.
According to Monsen, new congressional district lines will be drawn in September and October. The maps will be available for review at the end of October.
Information is available at wedrawthelinesca.org.
Upland will be speaking on this topic on Monday, September 13 at 7:20 pm at City Hall, 460 N. There will be a public hearing in the Council Chambers at Euclid Avenue.