Thursday, June 22, 2017

• Planning Commission Meeting June 2017

After more than three hours, the planning commission voted 3-2 on four resolutions that are "recommending" that the city council approve the Camelia Townhouse Project.

The meeting saw the biggest crowd that the current council chambers has seen. Even bigger than the State of the City speech which comes with free food and gifts. It was an overflow crowd where every chair was taken.
The back room was filled, while these two young Wildomar residents brought their own chairs.

The crowd size can be attributed to the buzz this project has gotten on, the residents of Grizzly Ridge getting organized about it, and Wildomar resident Trudy Curry spearheading a campaign that included a community meeting at the park and sending out flyers announcing the meeting.

If this is your first time to the subject of the Camelia Townhouse Project and you want to catch up... please click the label "Camelia Townhouse Project" at the bottom of the blog.

Below is the video I was able to get of the developer's presentation. I don't expect anyone to spend their time with it, but I'm just including it as part of the record. 

There was a 3D mock up that tried to show how visible the existing properties would be from the project, pretty interesting, but isn't in the video. The only image from the slide show is the one you see in the screen shot below. You can also hear the set of twins cooing in the background from time to time.

I counted 32 public speakers, many having donated minutes, and only one was in favor of the project. 

I've included a video of the public comments, it's an hour and a half long. Some of the speakers used images that were put up on the big screens, but those don't appear in the video. 

In meetings where there are just a handful of speakers I like to give you a thumbnail sketch of their comments. That isn't going to work here. 
Even though I am not in favor of this project as it stands, I was the only speaker that attempted to poke holes into some of the concerns that were heard. To hear the catcalls as I spoke, here is a shortcut to that part of the video.

After hearing the fear mongering from many of the speakers, you'd think this project was designed to be a halfway house for convicted sex offenders, and other degenerates, with the sole intention to undermine the property values of the surrounding areas.

If the residents of Grizzly Ridge were going to nominate only one person to speak for them, I'd suggest it be Robert Kinsey. He spoke at the April meeting and again at this special meeting. He is calm, cool and collected, and he came with facts, not misinformation, emotion or hysteria. His part of the video starts at the 21:30 mark.
This was a common reaction after a public speaker finished speaking.

At this point the developer responded to the public comments. I'll include a link to the video that runs about 22 mins. 

Right out of the gate he tried to explain away why he snubbed his nose at the planning commission's directive to meet with the residents again. 

I get it, NOTHING was going to come out of such a meeting; both sides are at an impasse. One side wants to build, and the other side wants nothing there (yes, the Grizzly Ridge talking points are that they'd be fine with single family homes, but let's not kid ourselves here).

Even knowing that such a meeting with the residents was going to turn out to be fruitless, you were told to do it, and you preferred the don't ask permission, just apologize later route instead.

This lead into a very important discussion about the differences between the General Plan Map and the Zoning Map. A question was asked by Commissioner Veronica Langworthy about the two. Planning Director Matt Bassi and Chair Stan Smith spoke to it. 

The general plan is the controlling document. Consequently when a developer/applicant brings in a project that's compatible with the general plan, that applicant will do a zone change to bring it into compliance.

Chair Stan Smith

Back in the '70s the state adopted the general plan guidelines, which every city and county in the state of California had to create a general plan. There were seven mandated elements that have to be in the general plan, one of those is the land use element. 

That establishes the land use patterns, for every city and county. That becomes the foundation component of development for the city. In order to implement the land use plan, you create a zoning map that's supposed to match the land use plan.

State law requires that any development project has to be consistent with the general plan. So the zoning that we put in the staff report state that the R-3 zone is compatible with the MHDR plan use designation.

Planning Director Matt Bassi
For the complete exchange about the General Plan and Zoning Map, please watch the six minute video below.
The final part of the meeting had the comments by the commissioners, followed by the vote. Things didn't get fully out of hand, but Chair Smith had to admonish the audience more than once.

"Folks, please, we didn't interrupt you when you were talking, and you did really well, and I know that perhaps some of this conversation isn't going in the direction you were hoping for. You've been real good all night, so I please ask you for some more courtesy. Thank you."

Chair Stan Smith

The video is below, but I'll post the most memorable quotes from each of the commissioners.

We did receive a letter from one of the city planners from Murrieta that has reviewed the plot plan and he is promoting the project, as far as the interconnection. You go to Jefferson actually comes into a curve, goes beyond the last street and goes all the way to the city limit. 

They built it out as far as they possibly can, and aligned it to where it can be connected directly to us. It's specifically for that. So whether this project does that or not, that's going to happen. that's something that's needed for both communities.


I have some problems with the privacy concerns. Driving through the neighborhood, you guys live on a ridge. It's virtually every street is on top of the street behind it. Most streets do have somebody looking into another backyards. 

In an apartment complex where you've gone to the extent where the developer is going, with the landscaping, the [frosted] windows, and all the changes that have been made — in that way you have better privacy then what I saw from looking up into the backyards of all the people that are looking down onto others, going through your neighborhood. 

(After the first motion to adopt the resolution was made by Chair Smith)
The applicant has taken the general plan to heart. He purchased the property knowing exactly what the property was to be used for; what the general plan stated.  The design housing that fits the general plan, that fits the parcel, and they've taken several steps to try and modify — to try create some level of privacy. To try to make it fit into the community, as best they can, for what it is.

Commissioner John Lloyd

I do want to tell everyone thank you for showing up, I know it's been a long night.

It's kind of nice to know that we have this many people in the community that do care, and care about what projects are, and care about how we develop our city, and what's put in. 

As planning commissioners we do have a responsibility to our community, both Wildomar and the city of Murrieta, our neighbors. 

I do understand your concerns, and I want to say that if it was my home [in the existing development] I would have those same concerns of the privacy issues that were brought up, and wanting to make sure that something that was developed in the land across from where I lived would increase the value of my property, not possibly decrease the value of my property. 


(after the motion was made)
I do have some concerns. I have concerns with this being a project in the city of Wildomar. This isn't necessarily as we said in the prior meetings — what you want [to see] when you first come into the city of Wildomar [from the south]. It's not the vision... and the general plan can be changed. 

I understand that they did this based on the general plan, but there's been lots of changes, and things going on, with this property. There were other plans on this property. There are a lot of things going on. So we need to do what's best for the city of Wildomar.

Commissioner Kim Strong

I met with some of the residents, and I went into their backyards, looked at the line, and since have driven back a few times to see what the difference would look like with the new setbacks. 

I have to agree. I think that if it was my home in Murrieta, I'd be sitting right here with you (referring to the audience). It's hard to say that I'd want a project so close [to my home]. 

I like some parts of this project. I don't think it's a very family friendly project. Unfortunately the design itself doesn't have any place to make you feel that you own a piece of property. There's no patio, there's no slab in front of your door. There's nothing there to make you feel like you own anything, so it feels like a rental. 

(after the motion was made) It just doesn't have that feeling of permanence to stay there for longer than a year or two. It feels like a rental. I look at the apartments directly across the street from us here (city hall) and I think they're a nicer looking project. They have beautiful patios. I see those kids walk to school, my kids go to school with these kids here, they walk to school and back. It feels like a home, and it feels right because they're right next to a shopping center, they can walk to the shopping center. So it feels like it's a project that would work, but this doesn't feel right to me.  

Commissioner Michele Thomas

(After a considerably long pause)
There's a lot on both sides. I appreciate that the applicant has made some significant changes, especially towards the facade. Making it look more ranch... the setback, the wall the greenery. Very thoughtful. But we also have a number of people that have expressed concerns too, so... (pause, then inaudible).

Commissioner Veronica Langworthy

Anytime you have development next to development, and you've been used to not having anybody next to you — other than a coyote, you're going to feel offended. You're going to feel like,"Ok, great, but I moved out here for it to be rural". 

But rural disappeared twenty- thirty years ago. 

I'll tell you what rural is. I came here in 1973. There was 1800 people in Wildomar. There was about 3000 in Murrieta, and 3000 to 4000 in Temecula. Elsinore was the only incorporated city, with about 14,000 to 15,000 people. So you want to talk about rural? I know rural. 

In the 1980's, the minute the area started to grow, "rural" disappeared. 


Because of what was out here (rural) everybody says, "Golly, I want to move out there." I understand because that's what I did. As we moved into the area, we changed it. The demand was there so the builders followed it up. 

Chair Stan Smith

The vote begins at the 25 minute mark of the video. There were 4 things to vote on, and all went 3-2 with Smith, Lloyd and Langworthy voting in favor while Strong and Thomas voted against.

The next stop will be in front of the city council. My guess is that it will require a special meeting due to how much time the item will require.

It's one thing to have an opinion, even a strong opinion that you are passionate about. It's another thing to be rude, and think that by being disruptive at a city meeting is going to get you what you want. 

The raucous comportment certainly wasn't something that all the disappointed people engaged in, but just listen to the video to hear how little respect they showed for the process. Again they parked themselves right outside the glass doors speaking at full voice when they'd had enough.

At one point someone from the outside propped the door opened so that their voices could stream into the room unimpeded. Thankfully, Wildomar resident Kathy Bundy was there and closed the door despite the protestations from outside.

Oh, I bet that will change the vote... right? 

Even better, I bet it will sway the city council to vote your way too... is that what you're thinking?

Here's a nickle's worth of free advice, show up to the next meeting(s) en masse, but leave the snowflake level disruptions at home. 

Also, choose your best speakers to make the point. Concentrate on THE FACTS, and leave the grandstanding out of it... or don't. 

No one is impressed by exaggerations or insults, and for every well thought out comment that was heard at the June 21st meeting, there was at least one that counterbalanced it in the wrong direction.

It's going to come down to what the law is, and in this area "The Law" is the General Plan. During commissioner comments, Commissioner Strong mentioned that the General Plan could be changed; ostensibly to prevent a (this) condo project from going in on this site.

Let's just think about that suggestion for a moment. 

This landowner bought the property based on the General Plan, and came up with a project that fits within its guidelines. Imagine the slam dunk victory he'd have in court if at this point the General Plan was changed to ace him out.

Like the project or loath the project, you need to use logic and reason to understand the limited movement that the city has when it comes to such things. 

By all means, lobby the city council; 
The ball's in their court now.

Send them emails, make phone calls, tell them that you will not vote for them the next time they run, but do it with purpose. 

The purpose should be to appeal to their reasonable side, and shouldn't include impugning them or any of the fine people that represent this city. Especially not with base accusations of law breaking (taking a bribe) like I saw at the Wildomar Rap facebook page. You're better than that aren't you?

If your goal is to be dismissed as a crank, this is right way to do it.
I can't wait for the next episode of As the Camelia Townhouse Project Turns. No date has been set at this point. 
Let's hope that the next chapter in this saga finds fewer snowflakes in the audience.
•          •          •

Every man has a right to his opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.
– Bernard Baruch

Wildomar Rap is learning that people disagree with Mr. Baruch by their actions. They love their own facts no matter how far off the mark they are.


  1. My thoughts on the whole process. When you buy a property you ask your real estate agent what is the zoning around my property, what is the rating for schools, what is the crime rate, are there flood plains, etc. My husband and I have purchased a number of properties and never have we been told ignore the zoning map because the city has a General Plan Map (their bible)they use that is in complete opposition with the zoning map.

    While the Planning Commission and City Council state that the General Map Plan is their bible only they and the developers know it even exists. When I discussed it with my city council representative she said she and a committee worked hard to change the General Plan Map for Wildomar to maintain a rural atmosphere. I guess if you remove all rural residential zoning and replace it with low, medium, medium-high, high, higher, commercial and mixed use designations you think that you have done the residents who were promised a rural atmosphere a favor.

    How does Wildomar have a General Map Plan that was adopted from Riverside in 2008 but then revised by them. Were the revisions adopted at a later date?

    Why did the new city of Wildomar put together a commission of residents to create a Strategic Vision Plan which was of a rural community, but now that has been abandoned and replaced with a semi-rural feel.

    No one is uninformed enough to believe that Wildomar will not have residential communities, commercial development and so forth, we all accept that, it is what will create revenue for our city.

    Did our city council and planning commission commit to the listen to the opinions of our residents and actually consider them? Two committed and listened.

    I made one of those snarky comments that you posted and I stand by my remarks. I have a right to my opinion and stating it. Some actions of the commissioners were disrespectful of the residents of Wildomar.

    Negatively commenting on the reactions of the Grizzly Ridge residents is your choice. I can only hope that you are never put in their position. Actually, a few of those residents said that if they did build 1/2 rural residential homes on the property next to them they would consider buying one. It would be prime property for speculation homes with great vistas. Empathy is not a negative feeling.

    I don't believe that the decision by our Planning Commission or City Council will be determined by the angry outbursts of the Grizzly Ridge residents. It appears that last nights planning commissioners decision was not predicated on emotion, but on dollar signs.

    It is better to make no decision than to make a bad decision that will effect a whole community.

    The highlight of the night was when Veronica Langworthy applauded the architect for changing the facade of the barrack like buildings to give it a country feel to match the development on Clinton Keith and Palomar which is now called "the barn". It dawned on me this is what our Planning Commission and City Council were talking about when they said that this developer was following the city leaders advice in keeping the appearance of Wildomar country. Square dancing anyone?

  2. Mr. No Name,
    You make some solid points and all deserve to be answered by the people we've put in power. I certainly wouldn't have such answers, but would be interested in hearing them just as you are.

    "The highlight of the night was when Veronica Langworthy applauded the architect for changing the facade of the barrack like buildings to give it a country feel to match the development on Clinton Keith and Palomar which is now called "the barn"."

    I thought that was pretty pathetic myself. Talk about rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

    "I made one of those snarky comments that you posted and I stand by my remarks. I have a right to my opinion and stating it. Some actions of the commissioners were disrespectful of the residents of Wildomar."

    You have the advantage here, you know who I am and what it is I've said. If you think that being gruff is the better path to the resolution you want, then stay on that path. I guess we'll both find out in due course.

    You'd have to point out to the actions that you're referring to. It's pretty obvious from the way I write that I have no problem calling a spade a spade and if they were over the line, I'd be the first to agree.

    "I don't believe that the decision by our Planning Commission or City Council will be determined by the angry outbursts of the Grizzly Ridge residents. It appears that last nights planning commissioners decision was not predicated on emotion, but on dollar signs."

    Ok, but if that's the case, someone needs to be on the horn to the DA. Those are very scandalous accusations. What you are implying is a felonious action. If our planning commissioners are on the take, I want them tried, convicted and put in jail. Even if it's the venerable Stan Smith.

    Thing is, that is nothing more than slanderous balderdash. No wonder why you chose to be anonymous.

    1. It is not a scandalous accusation to say that the planning commissions decision was based on money, What do you think their decision was based on. Wasn't it you who asked for the commissioners to make known what their decision was based on? Only the two that voted no gave any type of reason, actually they gave really good reasons. I believe that the council members who voted to send the agenda items on to the city council probably based their decision on revenue for the city, and favor working with a long standing developers facilitator like Markham but it really does not matter if it ends up being a bad decision. Everything is not all about the money.

      There is an area on Western Avenue in San Pedro/Rolling Hills area that there were barracks built to house military in the immediate area many years ago also a housing track for the same purpose. After our government shut down these nearby bases these places sat unoccupied for decades. The barracks ended up being section 8 housing and the housing track was occupied for decades with free rent for locals to keep a presence in the area. Both areas have been like slum project housing for decades. Just recently the track houses have all been torn out and $600,000.00+ starter homes are being built in the area because the property is valuable. What I am trying to say is if this development does not sell and becomes stagnant because of pricing it will likely become REIT's and have nothing but rentals or section 8 housing. It is not like the Camelia Project developers care, either way they will be getting their money out of it, but Wildomar might be stuck with something much worse than empty land.

      Maybe Markham is really good at putting together investors, developers, builders and city officials for these types of developments, but this particular one in my opinion has no merit and is a bad fit.
      What one thing that I spoke to would be slanderous or balderdash?
      I am not hiding my identity exactly you would know me by my writing style like I would know you by your sarcasm and wit.

    2. "What one thing that I spoke to would be slanderous or balderdash?"

      The following is from the comment left above.
      "It appears that last nights planning commissioners decision was not predicated on emotion, but on dollar signs."

      If that doesn't mean 'votes were traded for money', which I'm telling you is libelous if untrue, then what were you suggesting by it?

      We have strict laws to protect the community from crooked political appointees or elected officials. If you have something you'd like to report, I suggest you report it to the proper authorities.

      As to whether you're hiding your identity or not I really don't mind when people choose to be anonymous when they leave comments. I can respect that. What I don't respect is when the comments turn to vicious accusations, even if only delivered in an oblique way.

  3. You mention the next door ap frequently. I went on once and because of where I live there was a whopping 17 people in my "neighborhood".

    1. That means that only 17 people in your area have signed on. Maybe someone can come on here and tell you how to read surrounding area posts.

  4. Isn't the point of next door to be neighborhood focused? I guess then I can join a neighborhood on next door for a city I don't even live in?

    1. When I first joined Nextdoor it was basically a ghost town. At some point they started allowing you to see what other local neighborhoods are discussing. I'm not sure how they draw the lines, but I don't think I've been offered seeing things in Lake Elsinore, but have seen the neighborhoods that directly border Wildomar in Murrieta.

      Though there is some valuable info about what business to recommend etc, I've found that it's just another place to whine about things that people don't even have half the information on the topic they are discussing.

  5. I don't know. Where do you live. I think there are a few surrounding areas that are included for convenience.

  6. It is amusing to see so many tract housing dwellers crying to keep wildomar rural. Do they not realize that living in tract housing mean that they are not living rural? Much of the arguing against this project(that I have heard so far) is emotional, nimby and a bit hypocritical. The hypocrisy is from those Murrieta residents who all of a sudden care about wildomar or overbuilding. I wonder if they packed their city meetings to protest projects such as this in their city? I bet not.

    1. When you're, right you're right.

      Though I will say that some of the key Wildomar players are are from the area near Marna O'Brien park and is as "rural" as it gets in town.

    2. And if this project was being proposed for that area of our city I would not think it was a good fit.

  7. Good old Sheila, if they decided to pave Lost Rd. we would hear you scream bloody murder.
    Joseph I have a question about the number of parcels in wildomar, Mr. York with Mr. Bassi agreeing came up with the number about 4,000 at around 1:36 in the 4th video. Was that total parcels or undeveloped parcels.

    1. I took it to be total parcels in town.

    2. That's interesting as there are 12,902 total parcels that either pay the Measure Z Parcel tax or are exempt from the tax listed in the Measure Z Parcel Tax Report.

    3. This is where your credibility takes its usual hit. Either you know that it was an off the cuff question that Langworthy put to them on the spot, that wasn't part of the meeting and are pretending otherwise in attempts to garner worthless points... or you actually think that having that type of information at hand is expected.

      We both know, and the video reveals, that Dan York said he didn't have that number, but there you are looking to make an issue out of something (the number of parcels) that wasn't the point in the first place. The point was how many don't match on the GP and Zoning Map.

      The other option is that my assumption that it was "total parcels in town" was erroneous, and that means your further research was done on nothing more than supposition based on supposition.

      If you could ever get out of your "gotcha" mentality, you'd possibly develop into an asset for this town.

    4. Actually I asked because I couldn't clearly hear the question and answer either on your video or at the meeting. My usual seat was reserved by the developer. So bite me. I'll wait for the audio from the city to see what was said.

  8. Good old Ken. Always ready with a non-sequitor.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. An oldie but a goodie.

    2. I just wish that blogger allowed links to be active links, and with thumbnails too.


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