Joshua Tree, August 26, 2008 -- In response to widespread community concerns over a proposed large-scale housing development in Joshua Tree, residents have joined together to form the Joshua Tree Development Oversight Group, Inc. (JTDOG). According to its core founders, JTDOG will educate and inform the public on land use issues, and mobilize the community to participate in the process from an early stage.
"The formation of JTDOG is a direct result of the community's outspoken opposition to the proposed Katz project," said downtown Joshua Tree business owner George Kopp, one of JTDOG's founding officers. "Over 300 residents showed up at the public meeting last March, and not one spoke in favor of this project. Putting 2,700 homes on a square mile of pristine land, and causing the destruction of over 10,000 Joshua trees, is unacceptable to our community, and contrary to the Community Plan."
Kopp stressed that the Katz project, dubbed Joshua Tree Villas, is by no means a done deal, and that organized community opposition could derail it. "There is a mistaken assumption that because Katz's land is zoned for 2,700 homes, he can build whatever he wants," Kopp said. "In fact, he has many hurdles to surmount, and it will be years before he can put a shovel in the ground. Now is the time for the community to get involved."
To assure that the permitting process is followed properly, JTDOG will closely monitor government entities, including the Board of Supervisors, county planners, the Dept. of Building and Safety, and the Joshua Basin Water District. JTDOG will keep the public informed of open meetings and other opportunities for public participation and comment.
"So far, the developer has dominated the conversation with county agencies," Kopp said. "The community is entitled to have its say."
JTDOG will hold its first fundraiser, a screening of the award-winning documentary, "The Unforeseen", on September 23rd at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center (formerly Mentalphysics), directly across the highway from the proposed housing project. "The Unforeseen" relates the saga of a mega housing development in Austin, Texas, and its unforeseen impacts on the community. JTDOG, Inc. is a non-profit California corporation, and has applied for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)3 of the tax code. More information is available online at www.jtdog.org.