Desert Studies: What have we wrought?
(Originally published in the Hesperia Star Tuesday, January 9, 2007)
Premise: This three-part series focuses on how the local communities, particularly the City of Hesperia, are handling community development and the growing population and how the community is impacting the surrounding desert. How does Hesperia compare with other local communities?
I have lived in Hesperia since June 1964, and have been witness to a lot of the development. At that time we had fewer than five thousand people, and a distinctly rural atmosphere. In 2007, 43 years later, we have about seventy thousand people and we are gradually losing our rural feeling, particularly along the main arteries of: Main Street, Bear Valley Road, Peach and "I" Avenues, Hesperia Road, and 3rd, 7th, 9th, 11th and Maple Avenues, both north and south of Main Street. Some of the progress in Hesperia, "City of Progress", is good and some of it, predictably, isn't.
The City of Hesperia has always emphasized single-family homes, each on a minimum of one-half acre, not tract development or apartments. And we should continue that trend. Tract development is okay, but it tends to look too urban and loses its rural feeling and views of the surrounding desert. Apartment development of all kinds should be suppressed. Homeowners take more pride in their properties, and apartment renters as a general view don't care. Apple Valley and Victorville exercise too little caution along those lines and we don't want Hesperia to look like them!
In my opinion, the Hesperia Recreation and Parks District has always and continues to do a terrific job in providing facilities and services for growth. I applaud their efforts and we should continue to support them. Surrounding communities have not done as commendable a job.
We do need another high school in the City. And some additional elementary and junior high schools. The Hesperia School District has always done a great job, but parents need to get more involved. I halfway think the country as a whole should offer schooling only to those students who want it. This would deduce the load on the schools and teachers and reduce the drop-out rate. And parents and guardians need to be involved in their children's lives. This is a national problem.
The City of Hesperia has a bad problem with streets and highways and transportation. This problem has persisted over the past forty years and will probably continue to be annoying. Part of the problem is that the desert climate takes its toll on asphalt, causing it to prematurely fail. The persistent sunlight and heat and cold all contribute. The City is doing a passable job of maintaining our streets, but we started almost from square on nineteen years ago, and it will take awhile yet to get it all under control.
We also desperately need some additional east-west corridors, particularly since the railroad tracks divided the community. Main Street and Bear Valley Road are far too congested and Apple Valley commuters are a big part of the reason why. It has been estimated that fifty percent of main Street traffic comes from Apple Valley. Maybe we should act to permanently close Rock Springs Road. The railroad dislikes the idea of dangerous grade crossings, even with signals and gates, but at least until the planned Ranchero Road under crossing is completed, the City has made good progress at the I-15 interchange and the extension and improvements on Summit Valley Road in easing some of the traffic problems.
Police and Fire protection services have significantly improved in the past 43 years. Although I believe we would do better with more local control, at least the Police Department has done wonders with its community-oriented approach. The Fire Protection District is very good and both the Police Department and Fire Departments deserve our complete support.
City government appears to be very effective and the City of Hesperia is doing an exemplary job at maintaining local control at almost every level. How well do our government leaders, including city council, listen and respond to the citizens? That would depend on the individual and viewpoints, but it appears to be that city leaders do respond and are listening. If you disagree, attend city council meetings and make your voice be heard. That's how city government works.
NEXT UP: How High Desert cities cope with natural resources, water, drainage, geography, and disaster preparedness.