Wednesday, August 15, 2018

• Fun And Inspiring Reading Program

Have you ever heard of Huey's Heroes Reading Program? 

It's service provided Saving Huey Foundation and happens at Animal Friends of the Valleys.
Kids and canines benefit from each reading session.
"What better way to work on your kiddo's reading skills than to share some reading time with the fur babies at the shelter? They need the attention and love you can give with just a little bit of your time. Come and be a Hero!"

Every Wednesday. The times are now from 3:00-4:30 and any donation or $5 will get you a T-shirt. Ages are from babies to adults. ☺

From the website
Huey's Heroes Reading Program was designed to help readers of all ages improve their reading skills, while sharing those skills with animals in a shelter. 

Participants can use the program to learn the fundamental basics of reading (early stage readers), increase their ability to read to a non-judgmental listener (elementary readers), and/or share their love of reading (advanced readers) with an animal that longs for and benefits from companionship. 

The Saving Huey Foundation not only provides the reading program but also rescues extreme medical cases of abuses and neglected animals.

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Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must finish him.
– John Locke

Reading Wildomar Rap is part of a nutritious breakfast for your mind.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

• Various and Sundry Things Vol 6

As the Holy Fire has been raging to the north of us, displacing many with evacuations, there were a couple of recent fires in Wildomar. Thankfully they were both put out before they had a chance to spread.
Friday, August 10th there was a fire near Giant RV.
Mayor Ben Benoit arrived on the scene and took some pictures.
Saturday morning (August 11th) there was a fire that destroyed a double-wide, displacing three people, while no one was injured. This was near the Bundy Canyon Christian School and was fully contained before 10am.
Photo courtesy of Wildomar City Councilmember Bridgette Moore.
While out looking in the area of the Giant RV fire, I happened upon some graffiti that has been on a cell tower for many months. Have you seen this from the freeway? 
This has been visible most of the year. How do we get this removed?
Calling it in hasn't helped so far.
As long as I was out driving around I went to check if Wildomar's famous chimney still had its tag. Yes and no... it seems that the previous tag was tagged over again. Looks like those spray can hooligans are in a virtual danse macabre of some type. I hope they both lose, or win... whichever is worse. 
If you've ever wondered what the other side of this chimney looks like, now you know.
For the uninitiated, this is directly to the south of the Elks Lodge on Mission Trail.
Right across the street, there was another impressive tag. I wonder if it'll remain up into 2019?
Do we really want all the traffic that uses Mission Trail to see this on a daily basis?
On the way from the Giant RV area to Mission Trail, I happened upon the intersection of Grove and Cherry. 

There I found an interesting sign for trails. I saw the sign, but am not sure where the trail is or leads to. Perhaps it's just the street? Since it's in District 3, and I'm running for city council in this district, I'd better get familiar with such things post haste. ☺ 
A hearty thanks to Ronnie's Jewelers for "adopting" the trail.
 Still, I wonder what such an "adoption" entails?
On the other side of town, I saw a new palm tree at Wildomar Square that had succumbed to all that high heat we've been having. I've seen plenty of dead trees in my lifetime, but never one that bent over like it was just punched in the stomach. 
If I had been out in that 110+ degree weather every day, I'd be in far worse shape than that.
UPDATE: After my lovely wife Grace read the blog, she reminded me that she got a (better) photo the day before. It looks like one of those wacky waving inflatable tube guys after someone has unplugged it.
While driving over the freeway, I couldn't help but see the new landscaping (cough) that Wildomar Square is sporting these days. We all know that the tumbleweed is Wildomar's official flower and all, but had no idea that the new center would be displaying them so prominently.
First, too few parking spaces, now tumbleweeds adorning Wildomar Square.
What will they think of next?
I headed over to the emerging Clinton Keith Village (the corner of Clinton Keith and soon-to-be Wildomar Trail) to check out their construction progress. They got a lot of the grading done and are well on their way to getting that corner ready for retail.
A look from about 60 feet in the air.
Funny thing is, last November I was talking to a guy on the site that presented himself as some type of super, and he had been telling me that he was expecting buildings to be up by August 2018. Hmmm... missed it by that much.
This shot was from just north of the project.
I'm not an electrician, and I've never played one on the radio, but isn't a missing meter like that (indicated by the red arrow), on the dangerous side of things? This was across from Clinton Keith Village (to the west). Maybe it isn't live... I wasn't interested in testing it one way or the other. 
Any thoughts on the matter?
While in the area I drove through Hartford Park. What a nice neighborhood! 
I happened to see a sprinkler of theirs malfunctioning, so I thought I'd toss that in here in hopes that someone in their HOA will see it.
It was a tad early, and a bit out of sight.
While out flying my drone I went over to Marna O'Brien Park to practice some maneuvers. The good news is that I noticed the sign that touts the remaining 4 park events of 2018.

They all look like fun, and I recommend that you try to attend at least one of them... if not all four.
I'm looking forward to the Mariachi Night. This will be new for the city.
The bad news, or at least the "what the H was that" news, was that either I was being paranoid (yeah — NO!), or there were some unsavory characters that were spending an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom... "washroom" to the Canadians out there.

Upon arrival at the park, I made use of the facilities and heard what could be described as snoring coming from the far stall (if not snoring, then some other oddball sound... but I prefer we stick with "snoring")

As I exited, another guy went in, and about 10 minutes later a third guy went it. A couple of moments later they all came out and went over to a car. (maybe one of them lost their play book for the big game or something, and the others were helping him look for it before the coach found out)
A screen capture from my drone.
Yes, I'm sure it's normal activity for skeevy looking twenty-somethings to do on a Sunday morning around 10:00am, bro'ing down in a park lavatory, but I guess I'm just from a different generation since I don't get it.

If I didn't know better, I'd almost swear that some type of transaction had happened in there while I was wringing out the last bit of juice from my drone's battery. 

Which reminds me... If you live in Windsong Valley and would like to be part of a revitalized Neighborhood Watch program, please join the new FaceBook group. We're hoping to have the first meeting in early September. We're just waiting for Officer Baca to put us on her calendar.

You don't have to be part of FaceBook to be part of Neighborhood Watch, but it just makes communicating with each other much easier. 
This group is primarily for Windsong Valley residents. It's not a general group that people from all over are encouraged to join. Most areas in town have similar pages that are geared towards their neighborhood too.
Last on the list of things I noticed while out this morning includes the first sighting of a campaign sign for the November election. 
Wildomar city council hopeful, Joseph Morabito, hung his first sign (sorry about speaking in the third person, it seems to be a habit now)This was at the corner of Palomar and Gruwell. The Little League sign is new, but it seems as if Dr. Norman Quintero didn't get the news that he finished a distant third, with only 8.25% of the vote, back in June.

Speaking of campaign signs, while walking on Clinton Keith, these were just off the road. Woody was even further behind Dr. Norman with only 4.83% of the vote. Come on man, clean up your mess.
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"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
– Arthur Schopenhauer 

Wildomar Rap prefers to skip the needless rigmarole of stages one and two and accept reality at first blush, self-evident or otherwise.

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Thursday, August 9, 2018

• City Council Meeting August 2018

The highlights of the meeting include: 

• The approval of the proposed one additional cent sales tax increase for the November ballot. (now it's up to you to decide)

• There are only four candidates (for three seats) for this year's city council elections. (unless someone shows up at the last minute)

• The city was given an award by WRCOG (Western Riverside Council of Governments) and Wildomar has made the next step in buying our street lights from the power company.
Mayor Ben Benoit displays the "Gold Award" plaque presented by WRCOG.
But the big impact of the meeting came from the seven Briarwood neighbors that spoke during public comments about the effects of a nearby homeless encampment on their neighborhood. (Briarwood is east of Kaiser off of Prielipp Rd)

• Becky Frederick mentioned that the troubles began about a year and a half ago. They've since started a neighborhood watch, have an active facebook page to communicate with each other, cameras, and residents that walk their pets in the early morning hours to shew away suspicious people. She added, "but we really need help in our Briarwood community."
• Kim McKinney talked about homeless guys harassing people at the hospital waiting room and in the Albertsons shopping area as if they owned the place.
• Paul Shield shared a story about a guy trying to enter his front door in the middle of the night (see edited video below).
• Chelsea Bachinski shared a compelling story about encountering the man from the attempted break-in, mentioned above, then called the police. The upshot of her story is that the Wildomar Police didn't get back to her for several hours, and by that time, the issue had been [somewhat] resolved by the Murrieta Police.

She added, "I don't know if it's going to take someone to be killed or to be attacked, but I'm a small individual that could possibly get hurt on my way to work (she starts very early in the morning) and I don't want that to happen."
• James Jucoa 20 plus year resident, told of how his mother-in-law's car had been stolen, then later found at the homeless encampment. In the car, they found stolen goods, credit cards, purses, drugs and she still hasn't had her car returned.
• Danielle Pedroso her mother was the victim of the car theft mentioned above, and she works at a dental office in the Albertsons shopping center. She talked about the homeless problem there, where they will often be sleeping in front of the office door. The account of how a homeless guy was washing himself in the flower bed near her place of business was galling, to say the least. 

She also related a story about some very suspicious, and dangerous looking, homeless people that had 

been at Denny's while she was there.
Councilmember Marsha Swanson jumped in, already apprised of the situation, and assured Danielle that Denny's management was working with Wildomar Police to prevent a recurrence.
• Colleen Wisdom told the council about the theft of tools from her husband's truck, and how the lock to the gate to her backyard was missing and the gate left open... which was worrisome since she has a pool. (the reason the padlock was not secured was to allow the pest guy access to the backyard that day)

At this point, Mayor Benoit broke with protocol and responded to the speakers. (For those that don't know, there are statewide rules that prevent discussion of matters that are NOT on the agenda commonly known as The Brown Act).
• "[Sadly] you're not the only group that has come in and complained about that particular camp, the industrial park just to the west of you, along the freeway, has also come in and explained to us that they are seeing rising theft and tracking it back to the same homeless encampment by the hospital." 

"That property owner has not been the most cooperative. We've had issues getting him to sign some letters to say "homeless people cannot be here" [...] he hasn't signed those letters to my understanding."

"He has also not been trimming the trees like some of you've asked. He'll tell you that he's not allowed to trim the trees. There are limits to the tree trimming because it is an environmentally sensitive area, unfortunately [...] of course they (the homeless) are down there trashing the area. You can't win with some of these state laws."

• "I want to come out and meet with you guys. Maybe an HOA meeting, I'd be happy to come, we'll bring Dan Anne, our police chief back there, along (pointing to where he was sitting in the audience)."

"We have a Coffee with the Mayor [event] and Dan Anne [too]; we just had one a couple of weeks ago and we have another one coming up. I encourage you to come there too."
— Wildomar Mayor, Ben Benoit
Wildomar Rap opinion time

Coffees are nice, but The Bean can't accommodate very many people. There are about 15,000 registered voters in the city, and if only one or two percent show up. That would be 150 to 300 people. Even one-quarter of one percent would be about 35 people. 

Yes, it can be a logistics nightmare to put together and fully advertise a town hall meeting, but that is the proper forum to discuss the homeless issue if you want public input.

Like it's been stated before, this issue is well beyond the scope of our city. It's a problem that has been created in the last few years by poorly thought out legislation and propositions. 

The kicker was Prop 47 which was allowed to have the absurd nicknamed The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. What a joke, it should have been called, The Destruction of Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. That gem passed with a 59-41 margin. 

I don't blame our officials for a problem that other people created. I see this as a difficult situation that will (most likely) only get worse before it gets better, but they need to remain on top of this and be seen as being proactive, even if most of it will only be for show.

These issues need to be headlines in a city-based newsletter, and discussed at town hall meetings, as well as be included in social media administered by the city.
I encourage you to watch the 22 minute video to get a feel for what the Briarwood community has been dealing with.
The only other meaty issue (Item 2.1) was the final approval of the additional one-cent local sales tax ballot proposal. 

For some reason, I thought it was going to be a long and drawn out matter, but it was over and done with... including public comments (2) and council discussion, in under 15 minutes. That item picks up at the 21:00 mark of the video below.

Public Comments: 
• Monty Goddard discussed his tepid support for the tax increase and that even with the increase, we won't be able to address [all] the needs of the city.

• Joseph Morabito (me), candidate for city council, supported putting the measure on the ballot, and encourages the voters to approve it... but understands if the voters are sick of tax increases and choose to vote it down. That if the city needs an increase in revenue, why continue to block the commerce of a legal commodity (cannabis)?

The only comment from the city council on the item came from Tim Walker. He talked about being a conservative, "I don't like taxes". That encouraging commerce and businesses in town was, "the way to do a city".  Then touched on differences between the county and Wildomar. 

Please watch the video (starting at the 30:45 mark of the video), I'm not really sure what his point was as he seemed to touch on many things. In the end, he was for putting the question on the ballot.
"I'm not a one cent guy, never have been, never will be, but this is a fact that the city has to take on and it's got to be the voters that decide it. My personal opinion is that I don't like taxes."

"I said from the get go, the only way you're going to make a city thrive, is by commerce, commercial businesses. But the people in our audience here, and people in this area sue everything. Stall everything, and cause nothing but grief in the city."

"Then everybody comes to us and says, "why can't you do this, why can't you do that?" well, there's your reason right there. If we're not fighting the lawsuit —perfect example, the Subway on Bundy Canyon. One business in a big complex. One! Because he fought that fight for a year, and still ended up paying for something that didn't even need to be done. It's over and over again in the city (the lawsuits)."

"All we can do as a city is make it easy for businesses to get here and get started and produce income, that's how you raise tax money."

"When it comes to the sheriff's, yeah, Riverside County has one to whatever —whatever the ratio is, of course they have that, but they have a lot of money too, besides what we have. [...] To compare us with the county, [that has] billions of dollars, and a small city with not so much, and fighting the fight, and fighting to get people to open here (businesses), to get commerce going, and collect income. That's how you do a city."
— Wildomar City Councilmember Tim Walker
Wildomar Rap opinion time

Tim, when it comes to your points about the city getting sued all the time... yes, welcome to cityhood. 

Pro Tip: ALL CITIES GET SUED at least as often as Wildomar does. If defending lawsuits is enough to derail a city from fully functioning, that should be a clear indication that the long ago naysayers of cityhood may have had a point after all... but we're here now.

Allow me to suggest that we add "We always get sued" to the list of things that none of us in town EVER want to hear again. The other key comment that needs to be sent to the showers is, "Governor Brown stole $12M from us." Those statements are about as pertinent as saying "Ralph Garr hit a home run in batting practice" (something that occurred in 1977).

Councilmember Walker wasn't part of the WIN committee, so maybe he doesn't remember their claims that becoming a city wouldn't come with tax increases.

That's why Monty Goddard was discussing the dismal ratios of sworn officers to residents in the city, and then comparing them to what unincorporated areas have in 2018. 

I believe his numbers were: 

In the county, they have 0.75 officers for every 1000 residents, and Wildomar has 0.54 officers for every 1000 residents.

Since no one on the council disputed Mr. Goddard's numbers, I take it that they are as solid as the rock of Gibraltar.
The video below is (HOPEFULLY) the last that I'll have to upload to keep my pledge of posting all the meetings until the city starts live streaming them... that's supposed to be in September... we shall see.
The other items on the agenda were things covered in previous planning commission meetings. The new sign that Inland Valley Hospital will be getting, and how the city will be dealing with EOTs (extension of time requests from developers). 
During the City Manager update, three things were shared. 
1) There will be an adult coloring group at the library on September 4th.
Come one, come all!

2) Astronomy Night is coming up: August 18th, at Marna O'Brien Park.
3) City Clerk Debbie Lee announced that there are only a total of four candidates that have qualified for the three city council seats (districts 1,3 and 5). 

The city clerk will be available tomorrow (August 10th) to accommodate any latecomers. Just remember, you're going to need to get 20 valid signatures to qualify, and if you're still considering a run, you're cutting it very close.

If there are no further candidates, that means Ben Benoit (District 1) and Marsha Swanson (District 5) will not face a challenger. That's really pathetic when you also throw in that Bridgette Moore didn't face a challenger in 2016, and for all intents and purposes, neither did Dustin Nigg in 2016. Why is there such deep apathy here?

It appears that the only contest will be in District 3.
 the matchup will be 
upstart challenger
Joseph Morabito
longtime incumbent
Tim Walker
On your marks, get set, GO!
I have to give the smile edge to Tim, and his ability to balance his glasses on his head, but I think my beard gets the nod over his. Plus, check out my industrial strength forehead, not to mention that it's hard to go wrong with a lovebird as a sidekick.

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One last note: Wildomar Marketplace will be this Saturday, August 11th, from 9am to 2pm. There was some doubt as to whether or not this was going to happen in Wildomar (something about ordinances) but due to the efforts of city councilmember Bridgette Moore, she was able to keep it in town; nice work. 

Now time to get that ordinance done, so something so basic doesn't have to be fraught full of grief along the way. 

Due to the fires, the Wildomar Marketplace had to cancel for August 11th. The next scheduled Wildomar Marketplace will be October 13th.
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"I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters."
– Frank Lloyd Wright

Wildomar Rap is the first to point out that blogs are written with keyboards, not typewriters.
This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

Monday, August 6, 2018

• EVMWD Capacity Fee Increase

There was an interesting meeting at EVMWD this morning at 10:00am. I wasn't sure if I was going as blogger guy or as a candidate for city council. As it turns out, a bit of both since you're reading this now. 
I added the red numbers and underline.
Number 1 indicates the current cost per house to hook up a 3/4 inch water line and sewer line. Number 2 is the current proposed rate. A difference of $2590 per new home. Larger supply lines will cost more. One inch was said to cost between 1.5 and 1.7 times what's listed above.
The meeting was more of a workshop dealing with a proposed fee increase. The EVMWD board of directors were in the audience, and not in their normal seats at the dais. 

It also was apparent that much of this information had already been shared with the various agencies/cities involved. Though there were several questions at the end, it seemed more like a formality to me.

The proposed fee increase was NOT something that will be affecting ratepayers, just new construction.

Pro Tip: If you've got a project in the works, and you want to save a few grand per, I suggest getting to it before September 1st. That's when the new fees are set to take effect.
To ensure enough water for those that already live here, and to be able to supply the anticipated growth over the next 20 years, there are several projects that need to be built. One of the reasons why the proposed increase was reissued with a smaller increase is that two additional projects have been removed from the list above. Though they are quite likely to be added back to the list in the coming years.
Most of those that attended were either part of the cities that EVMWD services (Lake Elsinore was represented by Mayor Natasha Johnson and Councilmember Steve Manos; Wildomar was represented by Mayor Ben Benoit and Assistant City Manager Dan York; and a council member from Canyon Lake was there too), or had some other vested interest. 
A look at the cost of developing the new sources of water. It was stated that those costs are only for the actual water supply and that there are also other costs that go along with them. Things like pumping costs, storage costs, transmission costs that are part of the capacity fee, the above is just the water supply piece of it.
In addition to elected officials, there were representatives of the BIA (Not - Bureau of Indian Affairs, but Building Industry Association), and other developers. Groups that aren't too sanguine with proposed increases that will directly affect their industry. The BIA rep asked if this could be phased in over time, but that was basically rejected out of hand.
Many people would suggest that the above might suggest easing back on growth for the time being.
The bulk of the meeting was conducted by EVMWD's Government Relations Officer Greg Morrison. He went over issues dealing with the need to increase the fee. It was also stated that EVMWD wanted this fee increase process to be as transparent as possible. It was also noted that in the past such issues would have been addressed in closed meetings.
It was stated quite clearly that they are raising the capacity fees to prevent the surfacing of the "M" word: moratorium. If you've ever thought that we already have enough development in most of this valley, understand that the powers that be don't agree with you. 
This meeting was to let the cities and developers see why the increase in Capacity Fees is necessary. Two numbers were tossed out when it came to buildout. I heard both 40% and 30%. 

EVMWD can promise service, delivering water to the area, through 2040. Makes me wonder what happens in 2041? (other than the 100th anniversary of the US entering WWII that is)
By delaying the implementation of the fee hikes, it'll be costing the district the difference. 
Currently, according to the powerpoint slide, the district has had to supplement the costs by about $2.4M since 2017. If they delay the increase another 6 months, it'll be another $600K. 

They currently are making up the difference out of their share of the property taxes that we all pay. Money that is supposed to go to other needs.
A ray of sunshine to those of us that are already here.
Lake Elsinore city council member Steve Manos asked, "Have you looked at getting a piece of the water bond that voters approved recently, to help finance the infrastructure? Have you looked at local bonding to finance the infrastructure, defraying the costs over a period of time? We live in an area where the sewer rates are the highest in the region, the water rates are the highest in the region."

Greg Morrison thanked Mr. Manos for his question but basically said that bond measures don't usually go towards new growth/development type projects and that it wasn't an apples to apples comparison. 

He didn't address the issues of our area being charged the highest rates in the region. 
We all need somewhere to live, but I'm going to have a difficult time working up any tears for the developers that are going to see their costs increased in order to add the needed infrastructure the area will need if they build. 
A couple of other tidbits I gleaned from the 45 minute meeting...

The fee will be good for about three and a half to four years from what Greg Morrison said, then another increase will be considered. That doesn't include the yearly indexing that will happen as needed.

My favorite line started this way, "If this fee is adopted..."

Come on, we're all adults, let's don't play make believe here. Of course, it's going to be adopted. It'll happen this Thursday evening at the meeting of the EVMWD board of directors.

For more information about this, the topic has its own website:
Wildomar Rap opinion time

We all hate fees, and the only thing we hate more than fees is higher fees.

At the same time, we don't like having our costs go up because of someone else's business needs (in this case: the developers), or newcomers entering the area.

These are basically developer impact fees, but these are the ones that the water department are charging, compared to the ones that the city charges.

If there were no new development, there wouldn't be the need for increased supply of water or sewer or increased Capacity Fees. If there is going to be continued development, the costs shouldn't be added to the balance of the community that doesn't need them. 

When our homes were built, the costs of infrastructure were added to the price of the homes at that time. If you want to avoid paying 2018 fees, buy an old house.

It's clear that the countless fees that are added to every new domicile in this state are part of the reason why housing costs are in the stratosphere in California (ie, the housing shortage), but it's something that emanates from Sacramento, and I don't see any way to avoid them. 

As for the buildout of the area, it's only going to get more and more difficult to live here as we get near the projected top end.

The freeway is already a mess most of the time, and when another 20,000 people are added to Wildomar (buildout is about 55,000), and another 150,000 people are added to Lake Elsinore, just imagine what that will look like when trying to drive somewhere, yikes!
Like I said at the top of the blog, I wasn't sure if I was going as a blogger or as a potential city council member. If elected, I would be attending many similar meetings like this every week. Meetings that don't always have a direct effect on the average resident in town.

It's just part of the territory, being up to speed with things going on in the region, and it's also the type of thing that would be included in an e-newsletter that I've mentioned in my campaign. If you like this level of involvement, consider voting for me if you're in district 3.
Use this link to visit my campaign website for more details.
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"The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy."
– Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz

The backbone of Wildomar Rap is fusing speed with accuracy, and a soupçon grating humor.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

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