The Apple Valley Town Council on Tuesday is expected to review two new redistricting maps before selecting one. The council voted in February to transition from five council districts to four with an at-large mayoral election every two years.
In addition, the council on Tuesday will consider hiring an architectural firm to design an observation deck and open-space trail once the iconic Hilltop House atop Bass Hill is demolished.
One proposed map dubbed the “Tan Map” was prepared for the town by a consultant, while “Map 101” was submitted by a resident of Apple Valley.
Each map divides the town into four voting districts. The town, according to the 2020 Census, has 76,063 residents, and each district represents about a quarter of the total population.
Apple Valley is about 45% white, 38% Hispanic, 9% Black and 4% Asian American. Citizen voter registration in 2020 numbered 43,996 individuals. Of those, 62% were white, 26% Latino, 10% Black, and nearly 3% for Filipino and Asian surnames.
The Tan Map
General boundaries for District 1 include Morro Road to the north, Yucca Loma Road to the south, Interstate 15 to the west and Navajo to the east.
District 2 boundaries include Falchion Road to the north, Poppy Road to the south, the Mojave River to the west and Deep Creek/Rincon roads to the east.
District 3 boundaries include Morro Road to the north, Sitting Bull Road to the south, Navajo Road to the west and Joshua Road to the east.
District 4 boundaries include Sitting Bull Road to the north, Ocotillo Way to the south, Deep Creek Road to the west and Central Road to the east.
General boundaries for District 1 include Morro Road to the north, Yucca Loma Road to the south, Interstate 15 to the west and Dale Evans Parkway to the east.
District 2 boundaries include Falchion Road to the north, Poppy Road to the south, the Mojave River to the west and a combination of Apple Valley/Kiowa roads to the east.
District 3 boundaries include Morro Road to the north, Poppy Road to the south, Dale Evans Parkway to the west and Central Road to the east.
District. 4 boundaries include Ottawa Road to the north, Ocotillo Road to the south, Apple Valley Road to the west and Navajo Road to the east.
On Jan. 24, the town entered into a contract with National Demographics Corporation to perform redistricting services, including the drawing of maps.
Several public hearings were held and the public was also invited to create potential district maps, with a final adoption date of April 12.
The town is presently divided into five districts, which were based on factors including geography, the use of major roadways as dividing lines, and the consideration of future growth areas.
In Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville, voters elect council members in their respective districts, and the councils later vote to appoint one of their own as mayor and mayor pro tem.
The council on Feb. 22 voted to transition to a four-district voting map with an at-large mayoral election scheduled every two years.
The 3-2 vote came with the support of Mayor Kari Leon and Councilmen Scott Nassif and Larry Cusack for the first mayoral election since the town was incorporated in 1988.
Mayor Pro Tem Art Bishop said he ultimately voted no after hearing the phrase “If it’s not broke, why fix it?” from a number of town residents.
Councilman Curt Emick said he was not sure the mayoral election was the best scenario, and that many residents didn’t know the voting district boundaries, the district they resided in, or their district representative.
In the High Desert, the cities of Adelanto and Barstow have at-large mayoral elections every four years.
New district maps and the mayoral election in Apple Valley will be in effect for the November general election.
Appointment and elections
In 2019, the Town Council adopted an ordinance approving a five-district map. During that time, Cusack found himself representing District 1 and Bishop representing District 2.
Bishop and Cusack were first elected in 2016 and reelected in November 2020 as they ran unopposed during the town’s first by-district election.
In 2018, incumbent Scott Nassif was reelected along with Emick, who first won his council seat in 2014. Leon also won her first election.
Nassif, Emick and Leon do not represent districts, but that will change in November should they choose to run for reelection.
Currently serving his 5th term, Nassif first earned his seat in 2002 and won reelection bids every four years through 2018.
To learn more about the district maps and process, and to identify your potential voting district, visit av.town/redistricting.
Hilltop House project
The Town Council will also consider hiring Architerra Design Group to design an observation deck, as well as an open-space trail atop Bass Hill.
The project that would repurpose the iconic house and property would begin sometime after the condemned Hilltop House, which was built in 1957, is demolished.
On Feb. 17, the town issued a request for proposals seeking a design consultant to survey property boundaries, prepare an aerial survey and create a concept design and imagery boards.
The town received three proposals and interviewed the two most qualified firms, with Architerra Design selected by staff as the most qualified to proceed.
In a written statement, Town Manager Doug Robertson said the town’s goal has always been to repurpose the property into a usable public space and observation deck.
“We know how important this property is to the history and legacy of our community, and this next step will move us closer to preserving that story safely and interactively,” said Robertson, who added that the town is excited to continue that work.
Architerra Design Group
Based in Rancho Cucamonga, Architerra Design billed itself as a professional landscape architectural and site-planning firm serving California, Arizona, Oregon, New Mexico and Nevada.
The design company has been recognized as one of the largest landscape architecture firms in the Inland Empire.
The company was established in 1991 by Richard Krumwiede, a licensed landscape architect with more than 45 years of experience in the landscape design and construction industry.
One of Architerra Design’s many projects is the renovation and redesign of two rooftop gardens at the Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Facility.
Razing the Hilltop House
In March, the Town Council voted unanimously to demolish the Hilltop House in preparation for the construction of an observation deck.
The council decided to raze the dilapidated house, constructed along Highway 18, mainly because of the structure’s safety and liability concerns.
Town staff did not state a demolition timeline. Still, it did say the estimated price tag to raze the town-owned structure is $150,000 to $200,000 using abatement funds and allocated Community Development Block Grant funding.
The Hilltop House was built mainly by Newton T. Bass and also business partner Bud Westlund, the owners of the Apple Valley Ranchos Land Development Company and founders of the town.
Bass first used the house — situated on nearly 21 acres — to lure potential average and celebrity homeowners such as Bob Hope and Dean Martin.
Property faced fires, abandonment
After a fire nearly destroyed the home in 1967, the structure was rebuilt and was used mainly for office space.
The home’s ownership changed hands several times. The building was used as an entertainment and conference center, hosting events such as meetings, weddings, school activities, receptions, and parties.
A fence erected around the house has been frequently broken into by trespassers, vandals, and the curious. Some have stolen recyclable materials from the structure, town officials stated.
The town has spent tens of thousands of dollars securing the hilltop property and abating the graffiti and vandalism that has plagued the structure.
For more information on the Hilltop House repurposing project, visit av.town/hilltophouse or call 760- 240-7000 ext. 7051.
Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. inside council chambers at Apple Valley Town Hall, 14955 Dale Evans Parkway. The full agenda and meeting can also be viewed online at AppleValley.org.
Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.