March 14, 2008

High Desert fastest growing region in county

RYAN ORR Staff Writer
Victorville Daily Press

SAN BERNARDINO — The Victor Valley is the fastest growing area in San Bernardino County and is expected to retain that title for some time.

For residents of the Victor Valley, that means an ever-changing community. However, with the rapid increase in population, it may change the 1st District more than some expect.

If the supervisorial districts were redrawn right now, 40,000 residents would have to be cut out of the 1st District and added to another, said 1st District Brad Mitzelfelt.

The districts will be redrawn after the 2010 census, when that number will probably be much larger.

That means that there are some communities currently in the 1st District — which includes the entire Victor Valley — that won’t be in two years.

The purpose is to make the district equal, so that each one comprises roughly one-fifth of the county’s population.

“The foreclosure increase is a temporary setback,” said Mitzelfelt. “We will be the fastest growing area in the community for the foreseeable future because we have the most land.”

Mitzelfelt would not speculate on which communities may be excluded when the districts are redrawn. After the 2000 census, Joshua Tree was cut out of the 1st District and Wrightwood, where Mitzelfelt resides, was added.

Despite the 2000 redistricting evening out the populations in each district, the California Department of Finance estimated in 2007 the 1st District had 445,530 residents. That’s 67,000 residents more than the county’s 5th District.

San Bernardino County’s charter calls for having five districts, which leaves out the possibility of adding a sixth.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there were three well-organized yet unsuccessful drives to make the High Desert into its own county.

The motivation then, for what would have been called Mojave County, was not population growth, but keeping tax dollars in Victor Valley communities, said Dick Pearson, who was involved in the movement.

Mitzelfelt said that currently the High Desert benefits from being part of San Bernardino County.

“If we became our own small county, I think there would be more attention paid to our local problems. However, there would be a lot less money to solve those problems,” said Mitzelfelt, who added that some time in the future it could be more of a benefit to form another county.

The much anticipated High Desert government center will be like having a county seat in the Victor Valley, Mitzelfelt said.

The 55,000-square-foot center slated for Hesperia will house the majority of county agencies that Victor Valley residents now have to drive to San Bernardino for.

That, combined with the growth of the Southern California Logistics Airport and the jobs it will create, is proof that the Victor Valley will continue to be the fastest growing area in San Bernardino County.