Monday, July 17, 2017

• Camelia Townhouse Project: The Opposition

Still looming above the city council is the oft discussed Camelia Townhouse Project 

In short, it's a project that is set to be at the southwest end of town on the city line shared with Murrieta. The proposed project sits on about 26 acres and calls for 163 units that will also see Palomar/Washington connected to Jefferson, creating a T-Intersection where the three would meet. 
The orange circle is the location of the proposed T-intersection. 

If you're a regular reader of Wildomar Rap you've seen a lot of cyber ink dedicated to this issue. You'd also know that I've done a field trip to the site (link to blog with pics) and have spoken in front of the planning commission and the city council with my one man's opinion against it.

Is there anything new to share at this point? 

I guess it depends on what makes you tick. There has been a concerted effort against the project, and I've felt myself agreeing with several of the key points raised in the past. Traffic safety on Palomar is chief among my concerns. 

Along with the legitimate worries has come a deluge of specious ones. Some are the standard things that every modern development faces. 

Claims of diminished property values in the adjacent areas, increases in crime, less privacy, etc. Interesting points, but based on nothing more than pure conjecture, at times bordering on hysteria.

If you'd like additional details, read some of the past blogs on the subject by clicking the following link (LINK TO BLOG), or at the bottom of this blog where it says Camelia Townhouse Project.

Then there are the claims that can't be categorized as anything but misinformation at best, and disinformation at worst. 

In June there was a postcard sent to some residents in the city. Knowing it takes planning and money for such a thing, I asked 'who sent out such a card', at a social media site where it was being discussed, and the response was, "why does it matter?"

I don't know about you, but before listening to the agenda of a group, I want to know WHO is in the group or who funds it. 

Maybe you don't check such things, but I do. 

If I hear that a message is coming from the ACLU, I have a pretty good guess at what they'll be pushing, same would go if a message was being paid for by the NRA, or the California Teachers Union or the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
Since the issuing of the above postcard, it can be assumed that it was done by a new group in town calling themselves Warriors of Wildomar. (Gotta love the use of alliteration)

I'm willing to cut some slack here. Let's say that in the author's haste, they mistakenly described Palomar, which is a 2-lane road in that section, as a single lane road. I get it, a single lane in each direction... but it sounds like the suggestion is that the other roads mentioned were four lanes in each direction. Still, I'm willing to call it an innocent typo/brain fart. 

But what about the claim of 30,000 more cars? That was debunked in the conversation with Planning Director Matt Bassi. (LINK TO BLOG) One person claimed 60,000 cars as they spoke in front of the planning commission (that's in the video below).

Then there is the rest of it. 

As it was discussed at the June 21st planning commission meeting, that road is slated to extend at some point in the future. It most likely would already have been done had it not been for the economic downturn in last decade.


Here's the skinny on it. There is a townhouse project on the southwest end of town, and I wouldn't vote to approve it if I were in a position to do so.

Not because of any of the predictable caterwauling about "wanting to preserve open space" or "we'll lose our privacy" because we all know those are just poorly disguised ruses. 

At a March community meeting at Sycamore Academy, where the developer met with residents near the future site, it was clearly heard from the audience:
We'd prefer not to have any project, but if we were to have one it would be rural residential.

There are basically two groups that comprise the opposition

The first is a group of Murrieta residents that will be sharing a wall with whatever future development ends up there. I've met many of them and they have all shown themselves to be fine individuals. People I'd be happy seeing move in next door to me.

As a group, they come equipped with the standard NIMBY reasons to oppose a development of a nearby piece of property. Claims of loss of privacy, lower property values, a rise in crime and more. Things that sound good on the surface, but don't hold up under some cursory scrutiny.

Don't misunderstand. I'm sure that most people, that are facing a similar change where they live, would have similar visceral responses. However, that's why we have well defined procedures on how to handle such things. Which require the arbiters have no direct interest in the case at hand. 

They are charged to look at the facts, and see if the proposed project fits the general plan for the city. If so, it's kind of hard to tell a landowner he can't use his land. Last I checked, this is still the United States of America... though in California it's easy to forget that at times.

Behind my house is a huge open field, with a for sale sign on it. It's slated for mixed use. I fully expect there to be something other than additional single family homes there someday, and I'll miss the open field where we used to walk the family dog, but we knew that was an eventuality when we bought our home.

One person that spoke in front of the planning commission said that she'd been told by city officials that if they want to control what goes on [at the Camelia site], buy the property yourself. Her response was, "We're homeowners, we can't afford to buy the property."

Yes, welcome to real life. That's the same boat all my neighbors and I will be in when the above property starts getting developed.
The second is a group of misinformed Wildomar residents that call themselves Warriors of Wildomar. 

I'm not sure of their genesis, but before they adopted that name I even made a flyer for them to advertise a "community meeting" at Marna O'Brien park about this project. I then posted it on the WR facebook page.

Both groups have said that they'd be okay with single family homes on the site, but not multifamily dwellings. 

Thing is, that acquiescence knocks down two of their key claims. 

The first, wanting to preserve open space (last I checked, single family homes take up open space. This is one of the tenets of the Warriors.)

The second, the suggestion that single family homes would be acceptable. Let's be real, single family homes, set closer to the property line than multifamily dwellings, would come with at least the same invasion of privacy as would condos with frosted windows. 

Here's how I see the Murrieta residents' association with the Warriors of Wildomar. 

It's known as The enemy of my enemy is my friend. That's why when I've tried to tell some of them who they are buddying up to, I get the deaf ear. 

I'm sure that if they could find a reputable group to join forces with, they would... but they can't, so they have to make due and settle with whatever slop is available.

They know that there isn't much real hope to stop Camelia if standard protocol is followed, so if misinformation is what it takes, being pushed by an angry man and a misguided lonely widow from another city, what difference would it be to them? 

If they can get enough people angry, and bully the council the way they did the two newest members of the planning commission, there's a shot that the hill behind Grizzly Ridge will remain the way it has for eons.

It's worth a shot. In football it's known as a Hail Mary.

Is that a cynical view? 
Most likely, but until it's proven otherwise, I'm sticking with it. I see no lasting association between the two camps once this is no longer a rallying point.
I've compiled a video of head scratching claims made during the public comments portion of various city meetings. 

If you spoke some of these lines, you may be making my highlight reel. The comments have been snipped out and edited together. They may be out of their specific context of that particular comment, but they are ALL in the general context of over-the-top negative claims about multi-family developments near existing homes.

You have to watch/listen to some of these claims made by educated adults, to other educated adults. They run the gamut between concerns over stolen recyclables, all the way to rape and murder, all the while watching the housing prices for miles around sink if the proposed townhouses were to ever be built.

  Who are the Warriors of Wildomar and should you join them?

This is where it gets dicey for me. The woman that seems to be spearheading the opposition to Camelia, Trudy Curry, is a very nice person. I've met and chatted with her several times. She reminds me of my kindly grandmother when she was alive.

I can't imagine why she's allowed herself to be taken down the path she's on. It's truly sad. Seemingly imbued with ample amounts of credulity and few signs of critical thinking to counteract it; an unenviable mixture.

Though she's not cut from the same cloth as the long standing cranks in town, if she insists on running with them, she has to expect a degree of blow back.

Aesop didn't come up with birds of a feather, flock together for nothing.
Please, by all means, judge me by the company I keep.

Here's what convinced me that I want NO part of that group.

First, they've proven to repeatedly deal in misinformation —mixed with emotion, and I've yet to see them retract any erroneous statements they've made, or have been made by those in their cause.

Second, I've read many things from their leaders that disturb me, including the praising of Martha Bridges. 
What does that tell you? Those are clearly the words of a severely under informed person. In the world of AM Radio, it's what is known as a Low Information Voter.
I'm sure Ken also thanks her for costing the city many thousands of dollars too. On one suit alone, the cost to defend a lawsuit was over $110,000 before it was done. But hey, that was money well spent... following her heart while diligently ensuring that Wildomar stayed on the right course... right Ken? 

Heck, if you want to be part of a group that thinks the current elected officials don't have the right "answers" or that they "don't make sense", and that Ken Mayes and, through extension — Martha Bridges, are the voices of reason in this town... then sign up for their club. 

Seriously, if you think along those lines, click off of my blog now and never come back. You aren't welcome here. 
This was in response to me telling her that she'd been given false information about the Wildomar Chamber of Commerce. Fault was found with others, but not with the person that was gleefully spreading lies on the internet. Believe me, after this blog, I'll be the bad guy in some quarters... and that's fine by me. 

Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of room for widely varying opinions, but fringe-nuttery simply isn't something I'm willing to abide. 

If you don't like the direction that this city council has been taking us in, then vote them out of office. In 2018 there will be three seats up for grabs, but with the new districts we were forced to adopt, you can only vote if your district is up.

Those will be districts 1, 3 and 5. Ben Benoit, Tim Walker and Marsha Swanson respectively. 

Start getting your candidates ready now. Start making yourselves known. Be sure to elucidate the reasons why you're better suited and qualified for the job than one of those already there (assuming they will be seeking reelection that is). 

It's a real easy job being a city council member, just ask any of them. It's a walk in the park and you even get $400 a month for your troubles, plus healthcare. Sounds like a win-win. Be a new member of the city council, and then you can appoint your own planning commissioner and nix any/all projects that come before you.

Funny thing... I didn't even have a chance to throw in an additional kicker I'd been holding onto. 

I guess I'll squeeze it in here. For a group that is so worried about "high density" housing coming to town, they seemed to be asleep at the switch with what just got approved in Lake Elsinore, on Mission Trail, smack dab across the street from Wildomar. Arguably as close to the heart of Wildomar, only north instead of south, as the Camelia project.
Mission Trail Apartments would consist of 81 units in four structures that would be built on a vacant 5-acre property. The triangular parcel is directly south of the Summerly tract.

An 81 unit apartment complex on FIVE acres. That's roughly 16 units to the acre, and I never saw a word from them. Before someone says, "Yeah but... that's in another city."

That didn't deter the folks from Grizzly Ridge. Where was the social media blitz trying to get Wildomar residents to go to the Lake Elsinore meeting where this got approved? 

Could it be that the snow job only works on the most vulnerable, and even Mountain Man knew his act wouldn't work outside of halls of W'mar? Who knows, who cares. 

What you've all been waiting for... my opinion.

I'd vote against this project because adding an additional 900+ car trips onto an already burdened 2-lane section of Palomar isn't in keeping with our city's newly adopted vision statement. 

That's the real deal here, not the emotional smoke and mirrors being bandied about that is clouding the issue.
Are there other meanings to "responsibly grown" and "with quality infrastructure"?

Unless you can demonstrate how the 2-lane, future bottleneck, right next to a pre K thru 8th grade school, is in keeping with our shiny new vision statement — on two counts no less, then I can't see how this project can be approved.

That said, if the developer proposed that he'd be willing to make all the improvements to Palomar upfront (being paid back when future projects get developed), or if other financing for such improvements could be found, then I couldn't see a reason to further deny the project; emotion driven NIMBY reasons discussed above notwithstanding.

For a recent story about the housing crisis in California, and what's being batted about in Sacramento to curb local municipalities from blocking projects such as Camelia, click this link the article. It's rather timely. 

•          •          •

Is there any threat worse to sanity than the unknown? And yet, faced with the prospect of death by any factor of the known, which of us would not gamble and reach for the unkown, as an alternative?
– E G Marshall, CBSRMT 1974

Wildomar Rap knows that the unknown is best conquered by facts instead of fiction.


  1. Did I miss something? Why would any rational person think you are the "bad guy"? Is it really so hard for adults to disagree on an issue without it becoming personal?

    1. You're right about that, I was hearkening back to the days of 2013 Patch where some of those regular idiots said it was abusing senior citizens when calling out Sister Matha for her actions since she was 70 years old.


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