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Joint MAC Meeting to Address Winter Woes

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2020 10:57 am

Over the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, the mountain communities were hammered by snow and subsequent power outages. Many residents went as long as five days without heat and electricity. At the time, some residents voiced concern about the lack of winter preparedness and the conflicting information given by Southern California Edison. 

The community will have the opportunity to address their concerns and complaints on Jan. 23 during a joint meeting between the Crest Forest and Lake Arrowhead  Municipal Advisory Councils. Second District Supervisor Janice Rutherford will be in attendance, as will representatives from Southern California Edison, Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

During the Lake Arrowhead Municipal Advisory Council meeting on Jan. 7, a discussion began about the lack of information provided during the storms.

“There was no communication coming from any local authority,” said Lake Arrowhead resident Laura Hope. “I was told when I called (Edison) that there was no power outage even though I was sitting in the dark.” 

Hope said that despite writing to Supervisor Rutherford, looking for information on multiple Municipal Council websites and calling Edison, the only way she found information was by milling through conversations on Facebook. She continued, saying she and her husband had moved from Rancho Cucamonga to Lake Arrowhead before Thanksgiving. During the storms, she observed the intimate mountain community aura quickly replaced by a “...significant amount of fragmentation in the community...” and what she called “…almost a level of panic.”

Hope floated the idea for the creation of a website or a centralized location where residents can go to find accurate information.

Hope’s idea resonated with District Representative Lewis Murray who said he planned on sharing it with Supervisor Rutherford. 

“Why can’t we have a one-stop website where somebody -— the county, the state —puts everything together gathering the reports from Caltrans, California Highway Patrol and Edison and posts them. That way we have a running tab of what is actually happening.”

Supervisor Rutherford was among the people who received conflicting information from Edison. According to Murray the county has very limited jurisdiction over what they can do.

“So you have a lot of areas of jurisdiction — Edison is a perfect example. (Supervisor Rutherford) got bombarded with calls and complaints. She was trying to get information from Edison, but the county has no jurisdiction over Edison; it’s governed by the State of California. So really, where are the State representatives in all of this?”  Murray said. 

The California Public Utilities Commission, a State agency, is responsible for overseeing utility companies like Edison. 

State Senator Mike Morrell and State Assemblyman Jay Obernote each remained quiet during the holiday outages. When the Mountain News asked why the Senator had not addressed the public, Senator Morrell sidestepped the question.

“Weather is unpredictable and it can cause problems, especially with road access. These storms are reminders of the need to be ready for any kind of emergencies or natural events..,” he stated. 

Council Chair Scott  L. Rindenow expressed interest in designating specific buildings, like school gymnasiums, auditoriums and churches, as warming centers. Each center would be equipped with a generator, ideally provided by the county. 

“Maybe somebody could pick up a bunch of their neighbors and take them over to a center and hang out there,” Rindenow said. 

Rindenow hopes the joint municipal council meeting will bring about solutions to the problems the community encountered and allow community members the opportunity to suggest how snowstorm response is handled. 

The meeting will be held on Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the San Moritz Lodge.

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