Three Big Bear City property owners will have their day before the county Planning Commission in an ongoing battle against a soccer field at The Ranch.

On Thursday, Oct. 17, the San Bernardino County Planning Commission hears the appeal filed by Gary Castle, and Fred and Elaine Tresemer. They are appealing the county land use services staff decision to process a site plan permit for construction of a rest room facility and future paving of the parking lot at the park. Staff is recommending the commission deny the appeal and uphold the staff decision.

The Ranch is the former Tennis Ranch in Erwin Lake, purchased by the Big Bear Valley Recreation and Park District in 2007. The park district is a special district of San Bernardino County. 

The Tennis Ranch included a field that at the time of purchase was overgrown and unused. The park district refurbished the field, creating a soccer field. 

Adjacent neighbors have complained about the soccer field since it became operational, claiming it was never properly permitted, that the use is not in compliance with zoning and that users have been unruly and inconsiderate. Additionally, the surrounding neighbors have issued complaints about increased traffic and dust since the park district took over the property.

In April the park district filed a site plan permit application for proposed construction of the rest room and parking. Staff made the determination that the application met the criteria for processing as a site plan permit, according to information in a staff report. The appeal was filed in August claiming the project may have an effect on the environment and is not exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act.

According to information in the Planning Commission agenda packet, staff states that the county Development Code allows for site plan permits for structures that meet certain criteria, which staff contends that the rest room and paving the parking lot fall under the criteria guidelines.

As far as not qualifying as exempt under CEQA, staff states the project qualifies for Class 1, Class 3 and Class 4 categorical exemptions. Class 1 is an exemption for the minor alteration of existing facilities involving negligible or no expansion of use. Class 3 is an exemption for construction of small structures, and a Class 4 exemption is for minor public or private alterations in the condition of land, water and/or vegetation.

Castle and the Tresemers want the Planning Commission to overturn the determination that the project can proceed under a site plan permit and instruct staff to prepare an initial environmental study.

Documents included in the agenda packet provided by the appellants’ attorney, William Ward, state that the property in question is being operated contrary to zoning. The document also states the park district has improperly lowered the water table in the area so surrounding residences are without sufficient water pressure.

Included in the background material submitted by the appellants is information that states the property was a “pretty shoddy-looking vacant parcel.” The appellants claim the soccer fields never existed prior to the park district creating them as new construction. Neighbors were outraged, the document states. In 2011, residents were led to believe that a conditional use permit would be applied for, but that has not taken place.

In conclusion, according to the documents provided by the appellants’ attorney, the property in question is zoned RS1, which they claim does not allow for a multi-field soccer complex.

The Planning Commission meeting is at 9 a.m. at the County Government Center, Covington Chambers, in San Bernardino. The meeting is open to the public. County Government Center is at 385 N Arrowhead Ave., First Floor, San Bernardino.

Contact reporter Judi Bowers via email at

(2) comments

Bear Country
Bear Country

The Ranch, ie The Park District, has not followed the rules put in place by US (the public) to ensure the Health, Safety and well being of everyone. We have laws to follow in the form of Use Permits, Site Permits, Building and Safety permits. We have zoning laws for a reason. The Park District believes that they can do anything they want regardless of rules and regulations. We have asked if the County has to follow the same rules and laws as the Public has to follow. We have been told by everyone EXCEPT for ONE person that we all have to abide by the same rules and laws.

There are other issues as well, when the Park District "refurbished" the field they sterilized the field with POISON, regardless of the fact that most of the residents rely on their wells for drinking water. The Park district TOLD NO ONE that they did this, they just did it.

There were 55 gallon drums on the East end of the property that the Park District removed. They did not test them to find out what was in them, they just took the drums off the property, if you ever wonder WHY the grass does not grow to well at the East end of the property.. why not ask the Park District what was in the drums... we have and have not been told.

Every bill we get from the CSD or the DWP asks the residents of the Big Bear Valley to conserve water, whether you are on a well or have city water. The Park District was watering the ENTIRE field each and every day all day long. There are several people who's wells are compromised.

The Ranch POISONS the gofers, by putting down pellets on the field, all over the field not just in the holes and as a result there are birds, dogs and other animal life that are dying from the poison.

There is also the small matter of the roads here in Erwin Lake, Erwin Ranch Rd is a single car width in places. Lakewood is a single car width when the road turns to dirt. There is only one other way in and that is Woodland. All of the roads in this area are RESIDENTIAL there are kids on their bikes, people walking their dogs, there are people running or biking. With all the increased traffic this is a accident waiting to happen. We have asked for speed limit signs from the County and have been denied. We have asked for stop signs and have been denied.

The Ranch has not done any of the infrastructure that goes along with the utilization of The Ranch. They have no permits, we have asked several times for copies of the permits and have been given nothing, we have checked with the county and we cant find any, except for the one with the WRONG APN # and wrong address.

All the residents surrounding "The Ranch" are asking, is for The Park District do this according to the law.


I think is is awesome the County took the time to do a full multi-departmental review of the proposed soccer field site and decided it was compatible with existing neighborhood, in the interest of the public good and in-line with the general plan.

Without an entity to represent the public good there would only be self interest in public development. thanks SBCO![smile]

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