Thursday, June 2, 2016

• Planning Commission Meeting June 2016

Only one real bit of business on the agenda for the June 1st planning commission meeting. Baxter Village, which at one time was known as Baxter Crossing (under a previous developer). 

In brief, The project, as it is currently configured, is comprised of 70,000sf of commercial retail. With four sit down restaurants included in the mix. The northwest portion has 66 single family homes and on the northeast part of the project will be 204 apartments that go up to three stories. 

To know more of the specifics of Baxter Village, check out the January 2015 blog about it at the following link. (click the image)
link to previous blog... just click it.
The Project still has many hurdles to go and years before anyone will be calling that area home, or going to one of the proposed eateries. 

However, there is a hot button topic tied to this project.

The Brown House
If you've ever traveled west on Baxter from the freeway, you know it as the old haunted house that sits behind chain link fencing in a field near some eucalyptus trees.
The Brown House has been sitting in this location for ten years.
First and foremost you need to know that this is NOT a city issue. It's between the Wildomar Historical Society and Strata Equity Group (owners of the land).

When the house was originally moved, it was slated to be in a development known as Baxter Crossing, but the recession hit and the land has changed hands since then.

During the planning commission meeting this subject took up the largest chunk of time. It was mentioned in the staff report, Strata's presentation, the public comments and discussed by the commissioners.

I've uploaded several videos with complete comments (links are below), and will cherry pick out for print, the parts that made my ears perk up. 

First up is a snippet from planning director Matt Bassi and planning manager Mark Teague.

This project is in no way proposing to demolish the Brown House or do anything with it. It's not really part of the project description, although it's on the site so we did want to address it.
—Planning Director, Matt Bassi

We evaluated [the Brown house] against the thresholds in the CEQA guidelines for historic structures, and it seems pretty clear that... it didn't rise to the level of significance for CEQA.
—Planning Manager, Mark Teague

Public Comments came next
Ken Mayes was first to speak.

This flawed report shows that this house has no proven historical significance, along with it being owned by a disorganization that has no means to restore it. It needs to go the way of the Wildomar Hotel; dismantled, packed on a train, and shipped elsewhere.

Kristan Lloyd got borrowed time from three people, for a total of 12 minutes. She presented a slide show and I caught most of it with the video camera.

I'm not going to transcribe her time at the podium, that's what the video link is for, but I do have a couple of pull quotes. One being a nice thought, but a bit out from left field in my eyes.

It's right in the middle of the project. It is a gathering place where local artisans can come, people can come and learn about Wildomar. It can also be used as a community space. 
  —Kristan Lloyd

It's also a place for people to gather on a front porch. We could have evening events there where we could listen to old radio programs and share the history [of the house].    
—Kristan Lloyd

I have a question here. How big is this spot in the Baxter Village project going to be? 

It doesn't look big enough for "events" that very many people could attend. 

As far as the "old radio programs" go, I love listening to those programs. My Wi-Fi radio has two presets to stations dedicated to such things, but I'm a bit of an oddball when it comes to such things. I've met very few people under 50 that even know what they are, much less actually have heard any.

The idea got my imagination into gear, so I made a video of what that might look like in the future. I'm sure that no one will take a lighthearted video the wrong way... right?

With that bit of fun out of the way, please watch the video below to get the full scope of what the Wildomar Historical Society has in mind.

Vice Chair Stan Smith made some very interesting comments about the house. Considering that he actually knew David A. Brown (Dave to him), I think his words should be given serious consideration.
What you might consider in this little plaza, in this center, perhaps build a skeleton of the water tower. use some of the wood from the  existing water tower, some of the wood from the house and you can build a replica of the water tower and it won't be expensive. Don't spend hundreds of thousands of dollars restoring a house that has no significance.
—Vice Chair Stan Smith

Last of the videos is Commissioner John Lloyd, husband of Kristan Lloyd. 

The actual main building, that was first built back in 1886, is a solid structure. It would need to have a lot of work done on it, there's no doubt. The interior would have to be completely refurbished.

At first I was not at all impressed with the house just from driving by, but when you actually get inside and look around, it's solid, it's a good solid structure that could be refurbished. Where the funds come for that —I have no idea.
—Commissioner John Lloyd

Brown House Commentary

I like the idea of a Wildomar Heritage Museum/Visitors Center, especially at the proposed location. I just don't know how practical it is to try and restore an old building, especially one that has not had proper upkeep for the last 10+ years, attempting to bring it up to all the modern codes when building a replica would be a much easier way to go, and probably cheaper too.

Nothing can happen without money, and the Brown House would take serious money to make look good enough to be the centerpiece of a new development. 

This is one of those moments where you either deliver or walk off the stage. A conservative estimate to make this building worthy of being a centerpiece in Baxter Village is one million dollars, though I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out to be far more than that in the end. 

If, by some miracle, it turned out to be less. The donated monies could be returned or used as future maintenance funds for the Wildomar Historical Society.

If at least the lion's share of that sum can't be amassed within a reasonable time frame, say 18 months, then it would only be fair to pare back the plans, or scuttle them altogether.

•        •        • 

Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.
— Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013

Wildomar Rap and Molly would have been a great old time radio program, as would have been The Great Wildomar-Rappersleeves.


  1. Good Morning Joseph,

    So glad that the presentation was able to get your imagination into gear, that was the intention. The Wildomar Historical Society is a non-profit and public benefit corporation that currently owns an eligible historical resource that is currently listed on the Historic Resources Inventory for Riverside county. Therefore, the community also has ownership in the Brown House. All ideas for the space are welcomed.

    There will always be those who do not want to put effort or money into a project but I can tell you how much gratification it is to help build something that will hopefully outlast us. John and I have both been here since 2001 as well and have worked on getting parks opened, closed, opened, closed, opened, etc...and worked and supported incorporation efforts.

    Although, I may not agree with everything that has occurred while we have been a city, we have local representation with our tax dollars being spent locally where we have oversight.

    But every single time I drive or go to Windsong Park and see it filled in the evening with kids playing soccer, basketball, riding bikes, people picnicking on the lawn, kids using the play equipment (which is most nights when the weather is good) I receive the biggest joy that is sometimes overwhelming knowing that we helped create something good for the community.

    Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I've seen it and been part of a synergistic group that wants good things to share with the community.

    Go back to how it felt to imagine the possibilities of what we could have there for the community. I'd love to meet you and Grace there to sit on the patio and listen to a good ole' timey radio program. Come on board, we could use all the help we can get.

    1. Kristan,
      You have a great spirit and are a true asset to the community. Though I don't share the same enthusiasm for the Brown House, I do wish you well, and success in your endeavors regarding it.


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