Help Save CalEarth

Details & Timeline


Dear Friends,

On May 6, 2019 we were able to re-open our campus! We are thrilled but there is still some work to be done, and approximately $35,000 left to fundraise.

For those that have not been following along, on December 12, 2018, the CalEarth campus was closed down by the San Bernardino County Fire Department. We were required to complete a set of civil improvements for an estimated cost of $214,000.

We have launched an urgent fundraiser on the website and social media to raise the funds and we need your help. In addition to the civil improvements we are working with the ICC (International Code Council) Evaluation Services to develop a standardized procedure for testing and assessing SuperAdobe, thus fulfilling a new requirement by the City of Hesperia and the County of San Bernardino in order to allow SuperAdobe permitting. 

One of our father’s biggest goals was to secure permitting of his structures, which he was able to do successfully on multiple different designs. The building codes change approximately every 3 years, and as such we have been in an ongoing cycle of research and revision to meet the changes each cycle. For the past 3 years we have been involved in a complicated permitting and review process with the City of Hesperia, the County of San Bernardino, and the ICC with many unexpected factors that have brought us to the current moment. See below for the detailed timeline of events, the costs associated with them, and the next steps in the process. 

We are committed to raising the funds to complete all the civil improvement requirements from the City of Hesperia, completing the ICC evaluation process, and returning to the County with that approval to re-submit our plans for approval.

We remain steadfast in our commitment to the integrity of our father’s legacy. As always, our primary mission remains to empower the individual through education and transfer of technology, as housing solutions for homelessness and climate change. Thank you for your support as we mobilize in this important time.

Sincerely,

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Dastan Khalili & Sheefteh Khalili


 
HOW YOUR SUPPORT HELPS

As an educational resource and non-profit, CalEarth supports most of its operating costs through our online courses and workshops. But as we face new challenges to bring SuperAdobe mainstream, we need additional help:

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Improvements to our Hesperia Campus

We were able to complete the first phase of our improvements and reopen the campus on May 6, 2019. However we still need to raise approximately $35,000 for the remaining improvements by August 2019.  We also have plans to expand the campus in future phases to include additional student housing and classrooms.

View Civil Improvements Plan

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ICC Testing and SuperAdobe Permitting in San Bernardino County (and beyond)

After years of permitting SuperAdobe structures, the San Bernadino County Buildings Department has requested new testing by the ICC (International Code Council) Evaluation Service before approving any new SuperAdobe structures. This means you cannot legally build with SuperAdobe in San Bernadino county at this time. We are currently working with the ICC and the county to arrange testing of our structures.

View ICC timeline

 

Table of Contents

CITY OF HESPERIA CIVIL IMPROVEMENT PLANS

June 2015: The City of Hesperia Code Enforcement cites CalEarth for not having an updated site plan on file. The original site plan from 1991 didn’t reflect the buildings currently on site, and not all buildings were permitted. The history of events between 1991 and 2015 is beyond the scope of this statement and will be addressed if necessary at a later time. The main thing to note is that there were many “understandings” between the City of Hesperia and our father (Nader Khalili) that failed to transfer over after his untimely death in 2008, but there was no communication from the building department between 2008-2015 expressing concern or issues of any kind. 

May 2016: CalEarth site plan submitted with plan for civil improvements and permitting of existing buildings, plus a multi-phase campus expansion.

November 2016: After multiple meetings and countless rounds of revision by our engineers, the City of Hesperia issued the conditional site plan approval (Plan # SPR16-00005). In addition to the site plan and building permits, they said CalEarth needs to add paved fire pathways throughout the entire site, and a parking lot with ADA parking spaces on the east side of the site including full curb, gutter, and sidewalk to match the rest of the city streets. They also indicated that in order for CalEarth to get permits for the existing buildings as well as any new buildings, they would require that we get ICC approval for SuperAdobe. All of this was to be accomplished in one year.

November 2017: After multiple rounds of submission and revision, the City of Hesperia continued to ask for more changes to the civil improvement plans. CalEarth applied for an extension of time from the City of Hesperia.  

January 2018: CalEarth received an extension of time with a seven month deadline. The timeline required that all civil improvements (curb, gutter, sidewalk, parking lot, fire pathways, etc.) be completed by August 2018 but that ICC approval and subsequent permitting could be extended to January 2019 based on the ICC timeline (see below).  

June 2018:June 23, 2018 was the deadline to get approval for the civil improvement plans- after five rounds of submission and revision, the City continued to request changes, therefore we could not begin construction. 

July 2018:Cooley Construction provided an estimate of $154,209 and a timeline of 6 weeks to complete all necessary requirements of the civil improvements. The contractor requires an APPROVED plan from the City to begin. 

September 2018: City of Hesperia requested additional changes to the plans (already revised and resubmitted five times, on February 6, 2018, May 22, 2018, May 27, 2018, July 18, 2018, September 17, 2018) so CalEarth filed for an additional extension of time on the recommendation of the City. 

October 31, 2018: The City of Hesperia planning commission denies the extension, the County Fire Department cites CalEarth for not having proper fire access and gives 30 days to complete the fire lanes or be shut down. 

November 2018:Cooley Construction once again confirms they can begin the project and complete all requirements from the City of Hesperia once the City approves the plan.

December 6, 2018: Over two years after the initial submission, the City of Hesperia approves a portion of the civil improvement plans for grading. The street plans are in final review. 

December 12, 2018: San Bernardino County Fire Department issues official notice of violation for lack of proper fire access roads, requires immediate shut down of CalEarth campus. City of Hesperia has yet to approve the final portion of the civil improvement plans, required for the contractor to begin this project.

March 7, 2019: City of Hesperia gives final approval permit for civil improvement plans

April 1 2019:  Cooley Construction is slated to break ground. Our goal is to raise 50% of the amount owed prior to the project begin date (first payment is due by end of first month, final payment due at end of project, approx. 8 weeks later) 

May 6, 2019: Final inspection passed, campus given permission to re-open.

June-August 2019: Expected completion of phase two of civil improvements

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CIVIL IMPROVEMENT PLANS

The civil improvements to the CalEarth Hesperia campus include fire access roads throughout the property, ADA accessible parking, and a full curb/gutter/sidewalk on the east side of the campus on Topaz avenue. Click the link below to view the entire plan detail.


SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY PERMITS

November 2015: County reaches out to CalEarth with notification for renewal of EcoDome and Earth One design stock blueprints (stock plans are renewed annually).CalEarth submits the renewal for the San Bernardino County stock plan, which had been approved in the County since 2010 (under the 2010 and then 2013 building codes)

December 2015: County returns the plans with redlines and a series of requested revisions

April 2016:Second round of review and revision from the County, followed by a series of meetings and discussions about the seismic testing and ICBO comments upon which the original permits were issued

November 2016: Third round of review and revision. County indicates no more permits will be issued on the 2013 codes, and requires a formal plan review using the 2016 code for any additional permits (this was a renewal up to this point)

March 2017: The County of San Bernardino officially denies the stock plan permit, indicates they will not permit any more SuperAdobe structures until ICC approval has been acquired. “If in the future you would like to submit plans for this type of alternative construction method using alternative construction materials, provide proof of approved testing from a recognized testing agency for both the materials and method."

Since this decision was made we added information to our website indicating the status of permits with the county and immediately stopped selling blueprints to anyone who wanted to build in SB County. See ICC timeline below—this must be completed before we can return to the County for another formal plan submission. 

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ICC EVALUATION CRITERIA APPROVAL

November 2016: City of Hesperia indicates that in order for CalEarth to get permits for the existing buildings as well as any new buildings, they would require that we get ICC approval for SuperAdobe. 

March 2017:CalEarth engineer connects with ICC Evaluation Services and begins the evaluation report process

May 2017: ICC Evaluation services accepts CalEarth’s application and begins discussion of how to conduct evaluation 

October 2017: ICC evaluators continue to determine how to review SuperAdobe, which is a unique case unlike any other. Proposes February 2018 as a realistic target for development of the evaluation criteria. 

February 2018: ICC evaluators were unable to meet the February deadline- extended timeline though end of summer

May 2018: The ICC engineer continues to work with CalEarth engineer to research and evolve plan for reviewing SuperAdobe, multiple rounds of discussion and document analysis

August 2018: After 10 months of review and discussion, the ICC Evaluation engineer assigned to our case retires from his position at the ICC and our project is reassigned to another engineer 

September 2018: CalEarth project reassigned to new engineer with ICC Evaluation Services who determines an appropriate acceptance criteria and begins process of putting together revised application. 

October 2018: ICC approves next phase of SuperAdobe review, submits proposal to present to the committee. CalEarth begins process of working with sandbag manufacturer on quality control, manufacturing processes, inspections and assessment as part of the ICC requirements

February 5, 2019: President of CalEarth, Dastan Khalili and consulting civil engineer Vicki Gray presented to the International Code Council (ICC) and received approval to develop evaluation criteria and perform final testing on SuperAdobe. This is a HUGE step toward making it easier for anyone to build permitted SuperAdobe structures worldwide. While there are still a few steps left in the approval process, this is a monumental win for CalEarth and the future of SuperAdobe. Moving forward, we will work to establish evaluation criteria for qualifying cement stabilized earthbags as an alternative to adobe masonry for use in the construction of single-story residential structures under the 2018 International Residential Code. SuperAdobe will then join Strawbale as one of the only sustainable building techniques with ICC criteria.

September- December 2019: Expected dates for testing required for ICC

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Additional Information about CalEarth

Cal-Earth, the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture, is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to providing solutions to the human need for shelter through research, development, and education in earth architecture. We envision a world in which every person is empowered to build a safe and sustainable home with their own hands, using the earth under their feet.