Thursday, August 10, 2017

• City Council Meeting August 2017

The meeting started with a moment of silence for planning commissioner Stan Smith who had passed away the evening before.
Wildomar City Council honoring the memory of Stan Smith before the meeting got underway.

The room was filled, it was a packed house, but not all the chairs were filled, and there certainly wasn't any overflow crowd of hundreds that was promised and prepared for.

There were three comments on non agenda items.

• Ken Mayes has attacked the character of Stan Smith multiple times (though never with the courage of his convictions by using the man's name), and did so again during his three minutes. This cretin has no shame, no dignity and isn't worth more time than that.
• Sheila Urlaub spoke about dirt that is still on Lemon St that washed up there during the rainy season. She added that she "was shocked that anyone would take any kind of a dig at any community member who gave as much to the community as [Stan Smith]", she said that was "just disrespectful". 
• Miss Miller did what Miss Miller does best... she was Miss Miller. She was talking about the state of California passing "an aggressive climate change bill" and then bemoaned "anyone that depends of fossil fuels for transportation." I guess brooms don't use fossil fuels, so she's in the clear.

She blamed climate change on developers, and pointed out developer Bill Lo by name... which she nicknamed Bill "Lou".
Though this meeting was primarily about the Camelia Townhouse Project, I'm going to add the video of her commentary here. It's as entertaining as it is convoluted —sorry, no singing in this one. It's apparent, by each and every comment she makes, that she's nothing more than a misanthrope.

The first order of business was Mayor Tim Walker cautioning the crowd. "As Mayor I have the authority, if people are unruly, we can ask you to leave. We don't want to ever do that [...] but we need to make it civil. We're still all people who live in this valley, and we're all Americans."

It never got out of hand, though the peanut gallery was in full force throughout the meeting... to the point that they (the Murrieta residents) basically jeered Alan Long, their own council member that came and spoke at the meeting.

I noted two reasons why things stayed within the lines. 

First, the council isn't the planning commission, and weren't intimidated. Second, and probably more weighty, were the two uniformed deputies, along with the Chief of Wildomar police standing near the door. Not to mention the local Rotary president there too, that looked like he might be a government agent. ☺

Let me sum up the meeting here, then break it down afterward.

Bill Lo, the developer, came in with even more concessions than before, and even included a visual screen (75% opaque) that would stay up until the trees fully grew in (the comparison was to a screen at a driving range). 

Before the night was over, he even agreed to pay for a signal light out of his own pocket, a non reimbursable hit of $250K

Even after all his effort to find middle ground with those of Grizzly Ridge, it all fell upon deaf ears. The opposition were (and still are) well past obstinate. None of their comments, save the first one, which was by their lawyer, even acknowledged the changes. 

They just read from their prepared scripts and repeated the same tired lies they'd been bleating for the past few months. It was pathetic. 

One woman, that made a fool of herself the last time, outdid herself here. Out of courtesy to her grandchildren, I won't point her out... if you watch the video of the public comments you can decide for yourself which one I'm talking about... you'll know which one I'm referring to by the uncontrollable laughter her statements engender. 

Then Larry Markham, spokesman for Bill Lo came back and answered the various questions raised. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that my prediction from the last blog, that someone would do a document dump, came true. It was the old Bridges and Burkette team, I guess they thought they'd lend their wisdom (cough) to the process. 

Thankfully, the developer didn't blink and asked for the meeting to go forward... though, let's be real... this is going to end up with greenbacks being exchanged somewhere to call off the dogs before it's over.

Then the council started their discussion. After enduring both Councilmembers Marsha Swanson and Dustin Nigg being disrespected by the audience, Mayor Pro-Tem Ben Benoit basically laid them all out for their disrespectfulness. It was well overdue and appreciated by many in attendance.

From there, after discussion and debunking more of the disinformation involved in the matter, the council voted in favor of the project.
A glimpse at what the development will be paying out.

The video of the developer's presentations is about twenty minutes long if you'd like to watch and hear how it transpired in real time. I'll mark out the highlights below.

  • Barbecue areas removed as requested by the opposition.
  • Increased the setback to a minimum of 50 feet.
  • Green wall to be on a raised grade of 2 feet, and the block wall will be 8 feet instead of 6 feet. Which equals a 10 foot visual buffer along the entire south property line. 
  • Very first construction item will be a visual screen where it affects the south property owners, about 15 feet high. Similar to a driving range screen that is 75% opaque. Which would remain in place until the trees grew into an adequate canopy.
  • Install an acoustic blanket to reduce construction noise.
  • Construct buildings 1 through 10 last as to maximize the screening from the landscape.
  • Improve Jefferson/Palomar (on their side of the project) from the project out to the culvert to the north which would be widened to its ultimate width.
There are forty-two minutes worth of public comments. Take a look at them if you'd like. The people from Murrieta did what they've done from the start, summed up in one word: NIMBY. 

Then there were the Wildomar cranks. I'll discuss them later on... suffice to say, they didn't disappoint. Especially when Trudy Curry repeated her anger with being excluded from a private meeting with residents from a housing tract that she's miles away from. Even my ego isn't that big.

The one comment I'd like to highlight was from longtime Wildomar resident, Rick Estes. 

He wanted to remind the audience that "there are alternatives to this project... If you were to turn it down, it would be forced to go into some other direction, it could certainly be worse, I suppose that in theory it could be better, but I mean you may have to live with something totally different. [...] What are the alternatives? Because the alternatives are not keeping it rural [either]. I just want to make that point, because I think it needs to be said."
After the public was done speaking, and there was a brief intermission of just a few minutes so that the developer could discuss the Bridges/Burkette letter, Larry Markham came back to answer any questions that arose. 
  • Addressing a comment from the last speaker: This is not a high density apartment project. We are slightly over 6 units to the acre (where 5 to 8 are allowed). It's the lowest density range that is allowed in the general plan.
  • Addressing concerns about bus service and bike lanes: There is a bike trail and trail system that has been worked out between the three developments in play. To the best of his knowledge RTA hasn't requested a stop.
  • Responding to Gary Andre's comment about entry monuments: There are entry monuments at both entries.
  • Responding to comparisons to the apartments going in on Mission Trail in Lake Elsinore:  That is a subsidized "affordable housing" project. Camelia is not an affordable housing project. It's a for sale project. "I'm not really sure how to compare the two."
  • "Miss Miller's contention that somehow this hillside is in the floodplain, I'm not really sure how that would work. We are not in a floodplain, I can guarantee you that." 
  •  "Looking at the CEQA letter that was submitted by Miss Bridges, we feel very comfortable that all the issues, in consultation with Mr. Stark who prepared the environmental document, Mr. Bassi, Mr. Jex and my applicant, that we are comfortable with moving forward."
  • Addressing Miss Miller's concerns regarding archaeological studies, he made it clear that all such studies have been done (there was a 110 page report in the agenda packet dealing with this).
  • Councilmember Moore asked, "[After your individual meetings] was the feeling that the residents were ok [with the project]?" At this the crowd got vocal before Mr. Markham said, "There's no question, the residents next door have basically said, I mean, several even said, they'd prefer the no project alternative; nothing be built. There're others that say, "Well, we would prefer a single family residential project.""
The last part of the meeting was the council discussion and vote. I'll highlight the various council member's key comments. I'm not going to go chronologically, but lump all the pertinent comments, each member made, in their own highlighted content box.

Let's start with Councilmember Swanson. She's always steady as a rock and backed with decades of local hand's-on experience.
Marsha Swanson

• I keep hearing "rural" and "we want to keep it rural" and "our general plan really isn't our plan." The general plan has been the plan since the city became a city. Bridgette and I were at the visioning meeting in 2008. 

I don't know were everybody was six months ago, we had visioning meeting right here, and we do have a vision statement: The city of Wildomar will be a safe, active community, responsibly grown, with quailty infrastructure, while keeping a hometown feel. I don't think there's one person on this council that doesn't want to live in a rural area.

• I moved here forty-three years ago, and we built our house on a hill, that's a nice place to build, on six acres.  There was nobody around us, but I looked right into the backyard of the closest home and it was a black angus ranch, and he had a pond. It's all gone. It's [the development known as] Windmill now.

• I don't even think there is a date of when they're going to be built. Mr. Lo is trying to entitle this property right now. And when he entitles it these conditions will go with the property to whoever buys it.

• In a condo, they only own the airspace within their unit. They have an HOA that will keep the grounds up, will keep the roof up, will keep it painted. There will be no junk in the yards, because there are no yards. You won't have to look at any of that. 

Single family residences can have six cars in the backyard, they can do whatever until code enforcement repeatedly and repeatedly goes to make those things go away. The condos you're going to have [next to you] will have the outsides totally maintained. And there is a demand in Wildomar for that kind of living. 

One really has to love Councilmember Nigg's approach to the job and his dedication to it. I bet it's a wee bit more than he was expecting, but I'm glad to see that his sense of humor is still there... and so will you if you watch the video. ☺
Dustin Nigg

• I told Michele [Thomas], my planning commissioner, months ago when this was brought up, "that I think it's incumbent upon us, as a city, to be good neighbors to Murrieta. I think there is a middle ground that we can all come to." 

I didn't know what the answer was, I told her "that was part of her job" to try and get us there, and I really do think that the middle ground has been met. Actually, I think we're past the middle ground. Now I think we're like at the 70 yard line with the developer making the concessions. 

• I was at a friend's house a month ago; a one story home. I walked into their backyard, [they have a] six foot fence and there are two story homes all around them, with windows. They're still people. 

Regardless if you live in a townhouse or a house it's still people that have windows that can look into your backyard. I don't know what everyone's doing in their backyards that...(laughter from the audience and the council)... I get it, pull a Trump, build a bigger wall. (more smiles and laughter)

• I took pictures. You've got to be kidding me [I thought]. This is actually worse [than Camelia]. They're butted up against each other. 

(Motioning to the Grizzly Ridge group) You're looking at 50 feet away with a big mesh net, and 8 foot wall, a bunch of trees that are being planted - that are already grown essentially, triangulated so you can't see anything. 

On top of that you have frosted windows. So, to me, the whole privacy thing is out the window. Well, not out the window, drastically mitigated. (then responding to something) It's behind the window. (to which more laughter was heard. How can you not love this guy?☺)

• (This was a fun comment that is best watched in context on the video) I'm a reservist in the Marine Corps. I have to be on base Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The more rank you pick up, the more stuff you have to do during the month on your own time; it's a service to your country, to your Marines, training them —all that— so they can fight and kill people. I look at city council the same way. It's a service to the community, we don't kill anybody, but uh... (to which the crowd and council gave a good chuckle at)

To me, the following was the take away part of the meeting. Outside of all the disinformation that had been dealt with, Ben Benoit's comments were what has been needed to be heard for the longest time from dais.

He basically laid out the audience, and those that have been spreading vicious rumors on social media sites. I'll cull my favorite quotes, but it's well worth your couple of minutes to listen to them as they were said in the video below. 
Ben Benoit

• I'm absolutely disgusted with the people that come into this room and decide to boo and yell back at the council members here as we try and deliberate the problem that's in front of us. It's rude, [...] and I would never even dream of going into any building and doing that, other than to just say, "I'm going to stick it in your eye," and I just don't understand that. I've taken the time to go out in this community, I was tramping out in the hills up there today, looking this project over, yet all I hear is disrespect from the group that's asking us, of something. 

•  The point of tonight is that we go and we deliberate up here, and we look at what is best for our entire community. Not just one neighborhood. Not just one area. Not just one family.

• I find it also very offensive when I find things in my mailbox that say things like, "Your city council doesn't know what the zoning map means." I know exactly what the zoning map means, and to find that in my mailbox —is pretty untrue, and it's also very offensive.

• When I look at this project, and see that it fits within our general plan, and I look at all the concessions that Bill Lo and his team have done, and all the hard work they've put into it, I take offense when people come in here and do nothing but boo and chatter and get upset that you think we're, somehow, taking money for all this.

It's just offensive, and comments like that were made about our planning commissioners, and directed directly at Stan Smith, my planning commissioner, who passed away last night.

Councilmember Moore brought several important points to the conversation, while delivering them emphatically where needed. Her steadfastness is what got the final concession, at the last possible point before the vote, when developer Bill Lo agreed to put in the traffic light. 
Bridgette Moore

• When I was [driving south] on Jefferson, and then it forces you to make a left onto Grizzly Ridge, to me it seems like that would be a cut-through. Residents who are [traveling] on Jefferson, now cut through Grizzly Ridge, it's a downhill slope, and then they get out to Washington —which turns into Palomar. Having Jefferson go through, to me, seemed like that would actually make Grizzly Ridge safer because you wouldn't have that cut-through.

• I'd actually like to have a signal. Just a couple of months ago we were reviewing a project on Bundy Canyon that also didn't have a signal. 

No one's ever had to stop there, so that's already going to be a big change; residents having to stop. Then to have a three way stop come in, I can picture the back up, especially when Sycamore gets out, to be very long. Even though it doesn't warrant a signal, I think a signal's needed.

• (Looking at the general plan land use map that is on the wall in the chamber) The general map is on the left hand side, and if you look at it, it's primarily yellow and green. That is medium density [yellow] and mountainous green, that will stay that way. If you look at that map, it's about 80% yellow and green.

We are rural. We're only talking about this little triangle (where Camelia is located) at the very end that is medium high density. That has been that way since —even the city council member from the city of Murrieta says— since 1989. We are not changing any rural. We're not. 

• The zoning map [designation] R-R was a holding [designation].  If you say, "Well, spend the money and change the zoning map [to match the general plan land use map]" well look what happens. 

If we change the zoning map, spent the money, and they matched. We wouldn't really have anything to discuss tonight. This gives us a voice. 

[Had the zone already been changed to match the general plan] the project could have built ten feet from the property line. That would have been the law, and that's what they would have put in. 

You wouldn't have gotten [increased] setbacks, you wouldn't have gotten frosted windows, you wouldn't have gotten mesh screens, you wouldn't have gotten any of that. 

This gave everyone a voice, and it's a better project for it because it didn't match and you have to go through this process. 

• This project is already medium high density residential. He's only changing the zoning to match that, and that is by law he has to do that. We're not changing rural. We're not getting rid of rural. We're not changing the general plan. 

Now, if this project wanted a general plan amendment, then yeah, a lot of things said tonight [during public comments] would be true. But this is not a general plan amendment. He's only changing the zoning to match the general plan and it's been that way in the general plan since 1989. 

Wildomar's not changing anything. I'm not changing my stance on [being] rural. It's 80% yellow and green. We're still rural.

Mayor Walker did a great job of keeping the order, even when the catcalls got above a low roar.
Tim Walker
• I've been here since '79 when we bought here. We didn't like anybody moving to my town. (a bit of laughter) But we knew it was coming because they built a freeway while I was living here. I thought, uh oh here we go. 

• I'm on two and a half [acres], I still have neighbors right above me looking in my backyard, and I told them, "Hey, I swim in the buff at nighttime. If you want to come out, full moon, it's not a safe place to be." (which brought a hearty round of laughter)

• What we can do as a council is we can approve the projects that go along with our general plan and hold the standards up and say, "This is what we want [for the community].

The concessions [for this project] were amazing. They didn't have to make any of the concessions. I think people forget that this is property owned by people

There are property rights in the United States, and if I own a property I should be allowed to build something on my property. Now, when you're in a community like this (Wildomar), the community decides how much you can build, and [if] it's on the general plan. 
In the video you'll hear —what can't be described as anything other than poorly trained, adult children, around the 3:00 minute mark of the video. Absolutely despicable they way they behaved. 

There's no point in respecting people that clearly demonstrate that they don't understand the concept themselves.
When this project first hit my radar I was against it. Even at the start of the meeting I was still a little bit against it... and just like there's no such thing as being "a little bit pregnant" my "little bit against it" still meant I was against it. 

Then I heard the concessions. 

What kind of person makes demands, gets the demands, and then remains unbending anyway? 

Well, in Wildomar they call themselves Warriors, and most of those are part or Willie Mar's infamous Cantankerotti.

Who are Wildomar's Cantankerotti
Good Ol' Kenny Mayes, mugging for the camera with his (ever so clever) circle slash "no Cameila" print out that was pinned to his shirt. In the middle is serial litigant Martha Bridges, chatting with new inductee to the club, Trudy Curry (in fuchsia). Congrats guys, you lived up to your dismal reputations.

I coined the term "Cantankerotti" almost four years ago. It's a portmanteau that brings "cantankerous" and "glitterati" together.

It describes those that have been haunting Wildomar [usually] since before cityhood. All grinding their individual axes for one cockamamie reason or another which invariably harms the greater good of the city and its residents.

The meeting was like a class reunion of the rejects from Welcome Back Kotter. 
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back!
Not the fun sweathogs that we all knew and loved like Vinnie Barbarino, 
Arnold Horshack, Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington or Juan Epstein... 
but the ones no one remembers. Who were they again?
In tow were the hall of famers including Martha Bridges, Ken Mayes (duh! he's always there), Gary Andre and last minute arrival Miss Miller. Had to get a kick out of Bridges donating her two minutes to Curry. 

As badly botched as her time at the mic was, talking about her apparent approval of high density/low income apartments in Lake Elsinore —across the street from Wildomar, and how they're better than the Camelia project, then claiming that the city did this to score $4,000,000, which sounded almost as if the money was going to be divvied up between the council and staff from her description. 

Still, through all that, I'm sure that Trudy spoke much more sanely than Martha was capable of.

If there was ever a doubt about the Warriors of Wildomar, it evaporated quicker than mist on an August's sidewalk after their performance at the meeting and the weeks leading up to it. 

Anyone that would listen to them at this point, for even half a second, is either new to the situation and doesn't know any better, or they're just a bona fide moron. 

If you think I'm a big meany and a real stinker for not tolerating pigs like the warriors, and your heart breaks for them... please allow me to remind you that you are NOT welcome at my blog. Stop reading it now. Who told you this was required reading in the first place?

Seriously, get your Wildomar information from Kenneth over at Nextdoor, or wait for the bimonthly articles on our city in the Press Enterprise.

The meeting was adjourned in memory of Stan Smith.

•          •          •

Being around people with whom you feel a connection, on many levels, not just a professional one, is very relaxing. Your ears are more open to someone who is not a cantankerous bastard.
– Jacqueline Bisset

Wildomar Rap  kindly reminds you that when people stop listening to you, it could very well be that your cantankerous bastard reservoir is overflowing again.


  1. I am pleased by the city council's decision. I am displeased with the behavior of the opposition. They seem to avoid fact checking, prefering instead to believe those with a proven history of being antagonistic towards the city and flat out wrong about most details. I pity those who actually believe the disinformation. They seem to avoid any discussions with those who might challenge their false statements or preconceived notions. What are they afraid of? People finding out their motives are not altruistic? People finding out their motives are based on bitterness, desire for control, or to feel self important? Certainly doing document requests from the on a constant basis shows a strange obsession and incredible amount of free time that could be used in a more positive manner.

    1. Just to further show how obstinate they are, and stupid at the same time, someone shared an exchange with me between the leader of the Murrieta group and the leader of the Warriors.

      The snippet I got showed the following. Presumably referencing Stan Smith's potential replacement.

      TC: I too am hoping that a Wildomar resident with integrity will apply for this position. We need another thoughtful caring person who will consider what good development for our city is.

      PK: Trudy for city council or the planning commission.

      TC: This is an appointed position. Just who do you think would appoint me? Maybe Bridgette Moore.

      I get the guy from Murrieta egging her on, what else is left for him to do? Is he really going to kvetch about this for the rest of his life?

      But the response was golden and it displayed the endless ignorance of the writer. How dumb can she be as to suggest that Bridgette Moore would be the one that would appoint a commissioner to Ben Benoit's open seat?

      As if she'd actually have the courage to submit an application in the first place. The jokes just don't stop from that quadrant... though I'm bored with them myself.

      They aren't even worth a quality yawn at this point.


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