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Bowen Ranch violates county codes

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March 03, 2003 02:04PM
Unbelievable what the county did to this couple who were charging to watch person's vehicles as they accessed the public lands. Nothing is done about the Bowen Ranch where thousands of people access, there is only an illegal cesspool and no facilities whatsoever. Talk about unequal enforcement. Believe me complaints about these code violations were made to the County Supervisor's office and Code Enforcement and NOTHING WAS DONE. Why, more protection from any and all regulations or laws for Mike Castro? That's right, Mike Castro is a protected informant. Protected from any and all laws.

Monday, March 3, 2003

Community rallies round ranch owners

By CHRISTINA L. ESPARZA/Staff Writer

LUCERNE VALLEY — Lorraine Cross walks through her barn. Pebbles pave the floor, and about 10 tables adorned with red-checkered tablecloths and faux flowers in vases are empty of guests.

The barn also has a very small stage, where her patrons used to come in and sing karaoke. The R&L Cross Ranch in Lucerne Valley used to be teeming with horse lovers, who would park their recreational vehicles and horse trailers on the property, then ride out on Bureau of Land Management territory adjacent to the ranch.

"People would go out and park on the BLM land and ride. When they'd come back, their vehicles were vandalized," Cross said. "So they asked if they could park here because they knew their rigs would be safe."

By word of mouth, people started coming to the ranch; which sits off of Highway 247; and asked Cross and her husband, Bob, if they could park on their land.

"We thought we could make some money doing this," Lorraine Cross said.

The Crosses starting charging people $5 to park their vehicles on their land. They also had empty corrals for horses, and charged $10 for those.

People came from all over the country, Lorraine Cross said. One couple even held their wedding reception there.

"We were beginning to make a little money, and we enjoyed doing it," she said.

But about three to four years later, county code enforcement officers knocked on their door and branded the ranch an illegal business.

"Technically, that's operating a commercial business," said Paul Tavares, the county's code enforcement division chief. "People are charging money and providing a service."

If people got hurt, or if their vehicles got vandalized, the Crosses could be liable, Tavares said.

The Crosses set out to get a business license, but soon realized they would have to make a lot of adjustments to get up to state code in order to run the services again, Lorraine Cross said.

They had to build two handicapped rest rooms, another septic tank, showers and a dump station. They also had to rezone their 20-acre property from agriculture to commercial. In all, the adjustments would run upwards of $40,000, Lorraine Cross said.

"The biggest problem is that there is nothing in the county code that covers this type of business," she said.

The Lucerne Valley Economic Development Association — along with the local Equestrian Trails International Corral; rallied around the couple, who had to close down their ranch in 2000, Lorraine Cross said. The two had sunk their entire life savings into fixing up the ranch to accommodate their patrons, and lost about $25,000 a year in business.

LVEDA helped the Crosses through the "maze" of county government, and asked Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, to draft a bill that would make an equestrian camp exempt from such stringent state laws, Lorraine Cross said. ETI Corral 70 held a fund-raiser to help pay for reopening the business, raising about $3,500.

"I love this place," said Delton Cast, a local feed-store owner and member of the ETI Corral. "One of the big attempts in Lucerne Valley is to bring money from the outside into the community."

But Lorraine Cross said she doesn't know if she's willing to pursue opening the ranch again. Bob Cross has terminal cancer, and the process of bringing everything up to code is "overwhelming," she said.

"It's a pretty daunting undertaking at this point," Lorraine Cross said. "When Bob got ill, I couldn't focus on the battle with the county and battle with his illness at the same time."

Christina L. Esparza can be reached at christina_esparza@link.freedom.com or 951-6233.
SubjectAuthorViewsPosted

Bowen Ranch violates county codes

katrina island 848March 03, 2003 02:04PM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

LaughingBear 584March 03, 2003 04:14PM

LaughingBear defends Mike Castro's right to place hotspringers health at risk

katrina island 552March 03, 2003 08:09PM

Re: LaughingBear defends Mike Castro's right to place hotspringers health at risk

katrina island 562March 04, 2003 01:16AM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

Wizard 545March 03, 2003 08:24PM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

Wizard 557March 03, 2003 08:45PM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

katrina island 603March 04, 2003 01:18AM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

LaughingBear 1178March 03, 2003 09:38PM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

Wizard 651March 04, 2003 08:48AM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

LaughingBear 549March 04, 2003 09:42PM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

katrina island 1009March 05, 2003 01:03AM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

LaughingBear 600March 05, 2003 06:23AM

Re: Bowen Ranch violates county codes

Wizard 1602March 05, 2003 08:49AM



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