Pioneertown, Perambulating down Mane Street

By Ray Rodriguez

A September stroll along this preciously dusty street was enjoyed by “Mane Street Historical Overlay” advocate Ben Loescher, while accompanied by San Bernardino County Executi ves, Mark Wardlaw, and Heide Duron. Much has been said and published about San Bernardino County’s proposed generic zoning and how it affects this notably unique historical town where Roy Rogers was known to race his famously smart steed, Trigger, through its dirt roads.

If step one in any civic effort is getting attention, and step two is developing understanding, kudos to all involved in that remarkable ramble.

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Ben Loescher, the man spearheading efforts for a zoning plan that pays respect to the unique concerns of Pioneertown, is a Pioneertown resident and Architect. He and his wife are also the landlords for the Red Dog Saloon on Mane Street. Loescher is armed with a degree in Architectural History and twenty years’ experience in Land Use. While spending almost a decade doing professional and community work within San Bernardino County, he initiated and was the project manager responsible for The Friends of Pioneertown’s effort to get Mane Street on the National Register of Historic Places. Local leaders like Loescher and fellow advocate, Carrie Aley, and just about anyone else with long roots in the area, have for years steadily solicited San Bernardino County to protect the unique character and charm of their homes, community, and the internationally popular Western tourist experience.

In that spirit, the overlay preservation effort, initiated in 2019, has remained resolute, patient, and realistic, with Loescher and Aley readily acknowledging County challenges, including:

1) Human Resource turnover brought along by Covid or simple retirements, leading to a temporary loss in chronicled understanding of the effort.
2) Pioneer Town’s minutia amidst the sprawling complexity of S.B. County.
3) The concern of other communities demanding similar protections.
4) The simple dollars and cents reality of civic resource allocation.

With a petition of support, now featuring 2,571 signatures and growing, there has been a developing sense of optimism over several discussions this summer between Loescher, Aley and Joshua Tree Voice. A perception that County leaders are developing an understanding that Pioneer Town is worth the extra effort.

And then, there is the enthusiasm recently expressed by Loescher who characterized this latest communion with Wardlaw and Duron, as “super productive” and while quick to state that nothing was promised, “there was a conversational sense that some version can happen.”

This sounds like a great time for a community to again encourage their elected officials and civic servants as to the rare qualities of Pioneertown.

Further promise is found in the “light of day advocacy”, right out on Mane Street, for any to see. All considered, a neighborly walk may indeed be several steps forward.

For detailed information on the Mane Street Historical Overlay and how to get involved:

Ray Rodriguez, Principal for Joshua Tree Voice, has been a successful businessman and restaurateur in the desert for over 30 years as well as a lifetime community and civic leader.

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