Thursday, June 11, 2015

• City Council Meeting June 2015

The meeting started with a moment of silence for marine Sgt. Eric Seaman, who died in a helicopter crash in Nepal; Wally Edgerton, the first mayor of Menifee; and Joe Semon, a Wildomar city staffer. 

Presentations
• Recognition of the 2014 Miss City of Wildomar Queens.
If you go to any city events, you're bound to see these young ladies there.
• Fire Department update
Fire Chief Joel Vela reminded us all about the drought conditions and the ever present fire danger. He also reminded us about fireworks, and that ALL fireworks are illegal in Wildomar. Something tells me that the people that love to shoot these off really don't care about the danger they pose to others. 

Public Comments
This is where comments about things NOT on the agenda are given by residents.
• Pam Nelson spoke about the Sierra Club and the recent ribbon cutting ceremony for Murrieta Creek Regional Trail being a success.
• Ken Mayes spoke about the Murrieta Creek Trail.
• Patti Hatch spoke about the proposed name changes to the streets.

Council Communications
Mayor Ben Benoit mentioned that we got a grant from RCTC for $250,000 for the bike path on Grand project.

2.1 2015 development Impact Fee Update (DIF Fee)
This was the most interesting part of the evening and it was the most energetic I've seen the council get about something in the last 20 months. There were two public speakers on this agenda item. Ken Mayes and Nathan Miller.

I uploaded a video of it [the link is below] if you'd like to see the public comments and the council discussion and vote.

(The start of the video) The take away quote from Mayes was in his final words, as he was clearly in support of this: "Developers should want to build in Wildomar not because it's cheap, but because it's a nice place to live."

(Starting at 2:12 in the video) Nathan Miller, basically a shill for the Riverside County Building Industry Association, let the council know that he his group are against any fee increases. Well knock me over with a feather, who'd a thunk such a thing to be possible? He basically did his best hand wringing/woe is me act for the remainder of his time at the podium.

The council members all had good points, but I sympathized more with the Bob Cashman/Bridgette Moore side that felt the DIF Fees needed to be raised now. The other side of the point had Tim Walker, Marsha Swanson and Ben Benoit not wanting the fees hiked (or at least not as proposed).

DIF fees are what is charged for those that want to build in an area. Historically speaking, Wildomar has had some of the lowest fees by far. Low fees are attractive to developers because that is less money they will have to payout (ie MORE PROFIT). One problem with such low fees is that not nearly enough money gets collected for things that a modern city needs (take a look at present day Wildomar and you'll quickly see what low fees do to an area).

So you have two basic choices here. Either keep the fees low to appease the developers, or boost them up to what the neighboring cities are charging and stop being a doormat for them.

We all hate taxes, but we live in a modern world and to pretend that we can live on the cheap is silly. Life costs money, and most of us want to live in a nice city. Sorry, but I'm tired of being the Building Industry's booty call. If they want to build here, let them pay the same as they would pay to build in other cities. 

The upper portion of the graphic is our current DIF fees. The lower one is what was voted on tonight.
A 76% increase from total fees, with a 657% increase in the Parks Improvements portion.
You can see in the graph above that the Park Improvements fee went from $597 to $3,926. An increase of 657%. Thing is, we were WAY under what neighboring cities charged and it's time we stopped acting as if we were happy to be treated like a rented mule.
As you can see, the new fees take us from the bottom of SWRivCo to top dog here.
Sorry about the image quality, this was rehabbed from a cellphone pic of the presentation.
Below are a few pull quotes from the City Council. 

Bob Cashman (6:24 in the video) We don't have to build all the houses this year. There's no problem building the houses because they're going to come some time or another in the future. We don't have to have special rates to make sure we get more houses this year when I know these houses are going to come later.

Bridgette Moore (7:55) As I said last time, I'm for it and (looking towards the developer rep) I understand and I hear you, but they're building in other cities and their prices (fees) are higher than ours. I don't see why our city should be shortchanged.

Marsha Swanson (8:20) Again, this is a really tough decision for me. I see both sides of it... I cannot support this unless we phase it in. Maybe even just a three year period. 

Tim Walker was fiery in his opposition, particularly about the Park Improvements increase. He spoke of how people (like his kids) won't be able to buy a home in the city they were raised in.

Tim Walker (10:22) I see it [the proposed increases] as a negative, with the numbers, because my kids won't be able to buy a house here in Wildomar. They can't afford a $400,000 home, it's not possible.

My problem is that it's going to be $12,000 and that doesn't include school bonds and everything else. By the time you're said and done [a new house] is costing $50,000 more than it should.

I'm just not for it. I'm sorry but unless it can come in slowly or something I'm going to be against it.

(13:35) Walker started talking about people "not paying their fair share." Sorry, but I disagree. Where is the precedence that people that bought their homes years ago, and paid the appropriate fees then, are supposed to be hit with more developer fees as new houses go in? If you want to make things fair, propose a new city-wide tax.

Ben Benoit  (15:00) It's a huge price tag and whether or not it can be burdened or not is a question for anyone coming out here to buy a home someday. They look at that bottom dollar and [ask] can they afford it?

Here's something that I wish Cashman or Moore would have reminded their colleagues: Wildomar property taxes are generally much lower than they are in the surrounding cities and that would be a big incentive for people to choose Wildomar even with the newer DIF fees.



So what was the final upshot?

The new higher fees did pass with a 4-1 vote, but they are going to be phased in over three years. The first third on January 1, 2016, the second third in January 2017, and the final percentage in January of 2018. 

The funny thing is that Cashman voted against resolution since the fees were being phased in. I say it's funny because he voted in opposition to what he wanted, as did Walker from what I could tell.

Considering how slowly things move in government, this should be considered a win for those that wanted the fees hiked and a loss for those that wanted them to remain lower. Now let's see if there is a rush of pillow talk from developers to get their projects in the pipeline, with the old fee structure, while they still can.

2.2 Accessory Structures Code Amendment
This was discussed in the past meeting. It was to remove the need for a plot plan application for outdoor buildings larger than 20'x20', which had cost $3,940. This passed 5-0.
←•→

Below is a short video snippet that happened during 2.2. Since they referenced the camera, I decided to upload the clip... even though I didn't quite get it. My guess is that they seldom agree on matters...?

 

Remember that there is a Movie in the Park at Windsong this Saturday evening. Also, on June 23rd, the Mayor is having a community coffee at Starbucks (near D'Canters). Get your gripes primed and ready so you can pepper him over a latte.


•      •       

Since trifles make the sum of human things,
And half our mis'ry from our foibles springs.
 — Hannah More

Wildomar Rap wants to wish Sharon Heil a speedy recovery from her recent heart attack.

6 comments:

  1. The council will squawk a one time fee of 12K that pays for a myriad of items but had little or no problem saddling new homeowners with an additional 3K annually in Mello Roos Assessments, CFD 2013-1 (over and above regular property taxes). A portion of this assessment (police and fire service) will increase annually by 5% thereby doubling in 14 years.
    One talked about how his un or under employed children could not by a home here, seems to me they couldn't by a house anywhere under those conditions.
    Low fees in the past have wrought what we have today, no parks to speak of, practically dirt roads, and drainage referred to by engineers as sheet flow to the lowest point (the middle of town).
    Kenny Mayes

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    Replies
    1. Good points. Both Marsha Swanson and Tim Walker mentioned "paying their fair share" but we DID pay our fair share. Development fees shouldn't have to be paid over and over again. After the meeting I was talking to another council member and mentioned the recurring CFDs, and that I could see how that wasn't "fair".

      I hate taxes, but just once I'd like to hear someone saying "pay their fair share" would also remind people that a tax increase across the board is the way to get that done (but it's as if the very words "tax increase" have become the new third rail by their very utterance.)

      I'm sorry that many people can't afford the current housing prices. I know that zero out of three of my kids would be able to buy anywhere in California without some kind of 50 year mortgage.

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    2. Being a Loan Officer for 30 yrs. I know first hand that is almost always difficult for first time home buyers. That never changes. We, that are fortunate enough to own our home do not want to pay for someone else to get there brand new home, neither does the developer so, of course, they pass that cost onto the new home buyer. It is up to the new home buyer to pay it or not. However; to increase it by such a large degree because "we have been shortchanged" is silly, we do not have the same amenities as Murrieta or Temecula. I guess that is why they plan to phase it in, which probably means builders are going to build sooner rather than later. I love the fact that we are still considered "Rurual", did you know that the USDA considers most of Wildomar as Rural? That means in those "rural" areas one can get a 0% down loan (and its a good loan). Once we get all citified we be taken off that map and that privilege will be taken away! Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, and Temecula do not have this advantage!

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    3. Nancy,
      You make some solid points there. I often wonder what will come of the housing market and the stock market in 30 years. A lot of wealth is owned by the Baby Boomers and when they all get old at the same time, and need to cash out all at once. I wonder how well the current values will hold up if there aren't others (the younger generation) there to purchase.

      At the current rate of home prices to wages, the only ones able to own property in the future will be groups of investors that then rent out to people.

      I've always raised an eyebrow at the notion that Wildomar is rural these days. There are pockets of it, but in all, I don't call weed choked fields "rural"... and that's what you see down streets like Palomar, Mission Trail, Central/Baxter and Grand. We're only "rural" if compared to LAX. :)

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    4. Nancy
      It has nothing to do with raising the fee because we were shortchanged in the past, it has to do with not continuing the pattern of shortchanging the future.
      The proposed DIF's in Wildomar are still far less than many areas in California and in my opinion wholly inadequate to provide for the changing lifestyle in America.
      Kenny Mayes

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  2. Ken! Hyperbole much? "The DIF's are inadequate to provide for the changing lifestyle in america!" That is laugh out loud funny! How about we look at the lifestyles in wildomar and not America? The sort of thinking that says "lets raise our fees just because others are higher" tosses us into the same bucket as cities with larger build outs or more value and amenities to offer their citizens. Of course our fees are far less than many areas in the state- and they should be, but then they should also be higher than some places. The issue for this city council should be determining what is right for us and the reality we face and the future we want. During the deepest part of the recession(which is when we became a city!) it would have been ridiculous to raise them. I think phasing in increases is very reasonable. It doesn't matter what you raise them to the cost will get passed down to the buyer. And while everyone says "who cares" I think we need to look at the potential unintended consequences we face by doing that. Lets imagine for a minute a whole tract where the prices are pushed so that houses have to sell for $400,000+ for developers to make money. Then lets say they build those properties. They will be bought, but probably not by many locals or kids of locals. So what happens? Those buyers come from elsewhere(OC, San Diego, or even Murrieta/Temecula) and they want amenities that their cities have. Things like better code enforcement, more regulations, more businesses and restaurants, more lights, etc etc etc. Then they start complaining about things like cars or trucks parked on side streets, neighbors with lots that look like they could be junk yards, properties with horses or chickens or goats, properties with all sorts of stuff going on. They get involved and start pushing to have city codes changed or enforced even! Remember right now it is against code to ride a bicycle in a city park. You think I am wrong? just talk to people who live in the newer and nicer tracts. Do you think they like mobile homes? Or seeing houses in desperate need of paint jobs? Or the "rural"(but in many cases ramshackle is really a better word) feel you can get when driving down many a public street/road? Saying we should charge what Temecula or Murrieta charge is silly and ignores common sense. That is like telling someone to spend the same amount of money on a solid chevy as they would a high end Mercedes. Now many might prefer the Chevy(i know I do!), but you can't deny the luxuries and comforts of the Mercedes. I like the direction the council is going in. I think the fact that they are debating and discussing the issue shows an understanding of the big picture and not a narrow, obstinate view. Which in the long run is good for our community. Sheila

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