In 1969, Jack Garner sold land in Garner Valley to a development company.

Not wasting any time, like Idyllwild Community Recreation Council (ICRC), they cut down all the heirloom trees and sold them for lumber. They submitted the plans for zoning change to the Riverside Planning Commission.

They knew that few Garner Valley residents would resist. The plans were for 3,400 houses, 26 miles of paved roads, white fences required, horse trails, an artificial lake, a four-story Howard Johnsons motel, and an 18-hole golf course.

This absurdly greedy development company was on the verge of getting their zoning change and plans approved. We residents of Garner Valley and Idyllwild joined together and formed the Mount San Jacinto Conservation League (MSJCL). We had about 45 members.

We proceeded to attend every planning commission meeting in Riverside and raised our objections firmly. Back then, we knew there was not enough water in the Garner Valley aquifer to provide for such a population and raping of the land.

We got politicians on our side. Former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel and Representative Shirley Marx helicoptered in and had a press conference.

Right before the Riverside County Board of Supervisors was going to vote and approve the monstrosity, it was discovered that inappropriate and possibly illegal transfers of money went from the development company’s lawyers to three county supervisors — Floyd McCall took $2,500, Norm Davis took $3,500, and the third inconsequential supervisor took $2,500.

The money was transferred by $20 travelers checks, causing suspicion. Norm Davis was indicted, had his case transferred to Santa Ana where a friendly judge dismissed it. Concurrently, with legal problems, the supervisors scheduled the vote on the acceptance of new plans, which the development company submitted due to MSJCL vigilance. The new plans were zoning 20-acre and 5-acre minimum plot sizes, like today.

As people probably know, there is barely enough water in Garner Valley to water the people, much less the horses. MSJCL saved Garner Valley.

We must look carefully at the plans the ICRC is ramming through Riverside County Planning Commission. If there are no objections, those bureaucrats just rubber-stamp developers’ plans. ICRC has nothing to do with the community of Idyllwild, it is just another “development company.” They just pasted the word “Community” on their plans.

If we don’t pay close attention, they could put a circus sideshow in there, in my opinion.

T. S. Bennett
Mountain Center