Sunday, June 28, 2015

• Camp Out Night In The Park 2015

A great turn out for the 2015 Camp Out in the Park at Marna O'Brien Park.

The community enjoying a balmy Summer's evening before the show.  Photo courtesy of  Bridgette Moore. 

105 campers checked in, and it was estimated that 200 were in attendance for the movie, which was Penguins of Madagascar.

You can see the camper's tents in the background. Photo courtesy of  Bridgette Moore. 

Before the movie, the kids were entertained with various games by The Game Master, a popular part of many Wildomar events. Among the favorite games is the egg toss and the tug of war.
Can you see the egg that is midair in the picture above? 

The snack bar had two special treats.

In the evening, slices of Pie Nation's Pepperoni and BBQ Chicken pizza were being sold for $2 each (and they were pretty good size too).

The next morning, breakfast burritos from El Comal were had for $5 apiece. We got one of each, an egg and chorizo and an egg and potato. Both were great, especially with the salsa!
Mrs. Wildomar Rap, Grace Morabito, chowing down on an El Comal BB (Breakfast Burrito).

The snack bar was run by Wildomar Chamber of Commerce.

Our city officials were out in force as usual for this event. For the movie I saw City Council Member Tim Walker, Mayor Pro-Tem Bridgette Moore, and Mayor Ben Benoit. Also Planning Commissioners Bobby Swann and Stan Smith. Also there was EVMWD board member George Cambero, City Manager Gary Nordquist, City Analyst (I think that's her title) Janet Morales and parks man extraordinaire Daniel Torres.

Of those, Bridgette Moore, Janet Morales and Gary Nordquist all slept at the park... in separate tents of course.

Thanks again to all those that made this event a success. The people of Wildomar appreciate your valiant efforts.

•      •       

Camping is nature's way of promoting the motel business.
― Dave Barry

Wildomar Rap was the master at building forts from couch cushions, pillows, blankets and end tables.

Friday, June 26, 2015

• Meet Wildomar's Top Cop: Captain Leonard Hollingsworth

I've been a homeowner in Wildomar since 2001. Wildomar wasn't a city then and our policing was provided by the county. Today, Wildomar continues to contract with the Riverside Sheriff's Department as our police agency, and we have a Chief of Police...

His name is Captain Leonard Hollingsworth. He's a family man, and between he and his wife they have five kids and four grand kids with another on the way. I recently had a chance to chat with him to ask him how his first year as Wildomar Chief has been.

 WR  Let's start with the basics, tell me a little about yourself.
 LH  I grew up on a dairy. I went to CalPoly and majored in Dairy Science and my whole life had intended to be in the dairy business. In 1986 we sold [the dairy] and I found myself in the position of, "What am I going to do?"

I raised calves, and things like that, but law enforcement had always been in my mind too... so I looked into it. I had been self employed for a few years, and after looking into it [law enforcement] I saw how much I'd be making, and it wasn't much, but it was probably twice as much as I was making working for myself (said with a grin).

I started that journey and it took me, from the time I made the decision to pursue it till getting hired, took over four years. Working my way through the process. I came in through the reserve deputy program with the Sheriff's Department as a reserve out in Hemet.

I started off as a deputy in the jail in Riverside. From there went to [what used to be] the Banning Station, it's now the Cabazon Station and worked patrol, investigations and some search and rescue.

Then was promoted and came out here to Southwest Detention Center as  a sergeant. Worked there for three and a half years in floor operations in the main part of the jail, and I also worked as administrative seargent. Kind of away from the jail, working more with inspections and paperwork and personnel.

From there I came to Elsinore Station, before Wildomar was incorporated, worked here for a few years and was promoted to lieutenant and was back in Temecula at the Southwest station. Worked with Temecula PD, in the wine country, as liaison with the Pechanga Tribe, the casino and law enforcement. Then I got transferred to the training center. I was the administrative lieutenant there.

[My next promotion was to] Captain and back to the Southwest Detention Center. [Having been there before] I didn't have to learn the jail, I just had to learn how to be a captain. I ran the jail for about a year and a half. It was a big [assignment] with close to 1100 inmates and 300 employees.

From there I went to the Gang Task Force, and ran the Gang Task Force for two and half years. It has eight regional teams all over Riverside County. I was all over the county with different events, meetings, liaisoning with all the different PDs and all the contract cities. There are people from nearly every contract city, the sheriff's department, the DA's office, federal people that are involved in this task force. It was a big thing to manage.

From there, a year ago March (2014), I was transferred over to the Lake Elsinore Station where I run the Lake Elsinore county area and I'm the Chief of Police for Wildomar and Lake Elsinore... and here I am (with another smile).

Wildomar Chief of Police, Captain Leonard Hollingsworth

 Sometimes a Police Chief is from out of the area (like Bratton was when he came to LA) but it's really nice that Wildomar's Chief of Police has actually put many years on the job here.
 LH  I didn't have to learn the area. I had to learn a few new people, and what I have learned since being here is that there is a core group in this area that goes from Wildomar to the north end of Lake Elsinore of about 40 to 50 people that are involved in everything. There are others involved too, but there's a strong core of active civic leaders.

 WR  When, or how, did you know you were cut out for a leadership role in the department?
 LH  I can't really pinpoint anything... I guess I'm here so I must be.... I suppose (said with an inviting and self deprecating tone), but [leadership] in our business is taught from the day you start, and it's ongoing. It was taught from the day I started the academy, all the way up to yesterday.

 WR  How has your first year as Wildomar's Chief of Police been... any highs or lows?
 LH  I'd say it's been all highs. It's such a cool place to work. The people in this town, the group of leaders —Wildomar just has a core group of strong leaders in this town that are involved and the city is like a family. City staff are like family, the city council are like family, it's just a neat place to be.

 WR  Can you name something that has been different than you anticipated about being Wildomar's top cop?
 LH  It's an interesting thing with the contract [between the city and the department] that I am a Sheriff's Captain, and as a Sheriff's Captain I'm commander of the Lake Elsinore Station, and as that I act as the Chief of Police for Wildomar and Lake Elsinore. So, in the department I'm a captain... my boss is actually a chief. At the same time, for the cities, I am their Chief of Police. So it's sort of a confusing thing  [though] I perform the same function as a chief of police of any other city just with different rank structures.

So to back up, I always knew that this job was busy, I just had no idea how busy it was. It's incredibly busy but I'm used to it now. When I started, and I took over from Shelley Kennedy-Smith, you hit the ground and you're already doing 90 miles per hour. It took a month or two to get my body up to speed to that 90 miles per hour,  but now I don't really notice it. Even though I knew it was going to be busy, I had no idea [what that was going to be like until I took over].

Captain Hollingsworth's "boss" is Chief Deputy Kevin Vest (seen on the far right just above)

 Being the Chief of Police for two cities, do you ever get any down time?
 LH  You're always plugged in. Once in awhile, every few months or so, I'll try and take a weekend where I shut the phone off at home or on vacation. I'll still get a call because I want to know when major things happen. 

There is a work load, but my deputies are doing all the work. They're out there all night long... rain, snow... we had snow this year... whatever the case, they're working all the time. My biggest concern is their safety. That's my 24-7 feeling I have "how are my troops?"

 WR  What are the biggest challenges you face being in charge of the policing in Wildomar?
 LH  The loss of the VLF funding (1.8 Million dollars that the governor took away from Wildomar 4 years ago) really hurt this town, but we're still maintaining a pretty safe community. The officers that work out here really buy into it, and they want to keep Wildomar safe. 

 WR  Video cameras are everywhere these days, how do your officers deal with a rude or aggressive person with a camera that is trying to bait them?
 LH  The fact of the matter is we talk to our troops all the time. We remind everybody that cameras are out there, and they've been there for a long time. We carry our own. Our officers wear the body cameras. Quite often, if someone is filming, there're two people filming. It can be difficult because video only shows what's in front of the lens. It doesn't show everything that's going on. The direction is to always stay professional. 

 WR  Any messages to the residents of Wildomar?
 LH  The city leaders, the City Council, really have public safety in mind for this city. It's very high on their list, and I think they're (the residents) are in pretty good hands. I hope I can do several years here, but it's a big department I work for, so you never know. It's the core group of leaders in this city, I see it every day, they honestly care. My message to Wildomar is, you live in a pretty good town. 

—   •   —

Those were all the questions I had for him, though we did chat longer with the recorder off. He's really a down to earth guy that can balance the duties of his job while maintaining a good disposition... probably not an easy thing for some.

I've long touted that I'm very pro cop, but I am not pro bad cop when they are discovered. It was good to hear that the same is true for our chief, and basically all the other officers out there. If someone isn't doing their job properly, it reflects on the whole, and they really don't like that.

For all the trouble that the media seems to want to stir up involving police these days, it was good to have it affirmed that our agencies here take their duties seriously, and enjoy their good reputation, and look to guard and maintain it. 

•      •      •

I played cops and robbers and pirates and all the rest when I was a kid, but I didn't want to grow up and be an actor and play cops and robbers and pirates. I wanted to grow up and be that, be cops and robbers and pirates. — James Spader

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

• Coffee With The Mayor

Did you miss Coffee with the Mayor Tuesday evening from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the west side Starbucks?

I'll answer it for you → Yes, you missed it. There weren't very many citizens that actually took advantage of tonight's opportunity to discuss the issues with Wildomar Mayor Ben Benoit.
Mayor Ben Benoit speaking with a couple of  Wildomarians about local concerns.

After all the incessant whining on FaceBook about Walmart, street conditions, lack of police on the streets I've heard, it's amazing how when you people have a well publicized chance to discuss your concerns with our elected officials, you are all no shows. Nothing lamer than Keyboard Commandos.

Also in attendance, and willing to discuss issues were EVMWD Board of Director member George Cambero, Wildomar Planning Commissioners Bobby Swann and Stan Smith.

What I was hoping for was an event similar to what Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez does with her community coffees. She has several points and goes down the list one by one about what's been going on in Sacramento, then has questions and answers for the balance of the time.

I guess it's a good thing that the mayor didn't spend his time developing such talking points when there weren't more than a handful of new faces in attendance.

Wildomar, do you even have a pulse?

It's official now, no one wants to hear your petty gripes about the city when you refuse to avail yourself to speak to the people that matter most on such matters... but something tells me you will anyway.

Though it isn't touted, if you have concerns about the city, you can approach your city officials at city events too. So if you were too busy to make it tonight, which is understandable, but still would like to kvetch about something city related, come on down to this Saturday's Camp Out in the Park and look for one of them.

Thanks to Ben Benoit, Debbie Lee and Janet Morales for putting in the effort to make this come off, even if 99.9% of Wildomar slept through it.

Oh, just to be clear, most people have no beef with their local elected officials, and my words here do NOT pertain to you. My words are for the people that like to cast aspersions from the peanut gallery yet never actually speak to those in charge... not for the average hardworking Wildomartini that is busy with family concerns.

•      •       

How sacredly reputation must be guarded. How fragile a thing it is, and should it be lost is rarely regained. 
E.G. Marshall

Wildomar Rap has only one speed → GO!

Friday, June 19, 2015

• Windsong Wendy

Windsong Wendy is a children's book about a hatchling that gets separated from her mother and ends up at an adjacent farm, Windsong Ranch. She was rescued by a kind lady and is named Wendy by the house cat called Pepper. She is then introduced to the outside world where she is slowly accepted by the other animals. It's a charming story of a nearly lost soul that finds herself.

It seems like a story that is most suitable for young kids. I find that this is more of a storybook (where you read it to your children) than a reading book where they would read it themselves. Officially the target demographic is between the ages of 7 and 11.

The author is Windsong Valley resident Margie Amos and I had a chance to ask her some questions about the book.

 WR  What was the inspiration for the story?
 MA  About three years ago my daughter and I rescued a little chick in our front yard. One of the hens from across the street (she lives in the Windsong Valley development where it edges up to a pocket of rural homes) came across and laid a clutch of eggs in our sidewalk area. One was a runt and got kicked out so we rescued it. We got a little box, set up a little heat lamp, put a little water in there. We chased around Wildomar looking for some mash —actually for someone to take her, but it took a couple of days until we found her a home.

A lot of the animals [came from our life], like Pepper was our cat's name. Annie is based on our dog JoJo, Sheila is based on a dog we had 15 years ago. When I was young I raised a hawk for a few weeks, so I put a hawk family in there. Sparky the sparrow, with the dart through its wing, was an actual sparrow that lived in our backyard for awhile.

 WR  Tell me about the illustrator Victoria Barras.
 MA  She's our friend. We go camping with them. She likes to draw and she's very good at it. We were talking about it one time. I said, "It would be cool if you could draw some pictures for me for my book."  So we sat down at one of our camp outs and we went through the story chapter by chapter. 

 WR  What was the publishing process like?
 MA  Initially I started to write the story because I like to write. I like creative writing, I've written articles for our car club. When I got inspired to write this story it just kept growing and growing and growing and I thought, "Well, this is long enough to, maybe, get it published." 

I was looking at publishers and mainstream publishing, if you're a nobody out there, is impossible. They even tell you upfront, "You send us a manuscript, we probably won't even look at it."

So I looked into self publishing. After calling and emailing a couple, I chose Archway. They are affiliated with Simon and Schuster, so if the book does well, they can pick me up for mainstream publishing.

 WR  How can I get a copy of the book?
 MA  You can go to Archway Publishing, they have a bookstore there (here's the link). It's also available on and Barnes and Noble. I do have a website for the book (link) and a FaceBook Page (link). Any bookstore can order it. We were surprised to go online and see it on ebay where someone in Australia and someone in England were selling it.

Margie Amos seen personalizing a copy of Windsong Wendy.

If you'd like a personalized copy visit the facebook page and leave a message. For those that don't do FaceBook, use this link to the "contact" page on her website.

•      •       

A Jewish woman had two chickens. One got sick, so the woman made chicken soup out of the other one to help the sick one get well. — Henny Youngman

If regular strength Wildomar Rap makes you roll your eyes at times, they might actually get stuck in that position if you were ever to peruse any of my creative writing attempts.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

• CERT Safety Sessions: Ham Radio

Tonight's CERT safety session was about Ham Radios in times of emergencies.

Karl Gronbach and Tim Crowder of Golden Triangle Amateur Radio Club gave the presentation after being introduced by Wildomar Public Works Superintendent Les Chapman.
Les Chapman (L) speaking about the importance of CERT training while Karl Gronbach (R) looks on.
CERT members were encouraged to get their Ham Radio Lic. The license is free, but the test is $15. There is a study book that costs about $30 but you can get all the same info online. There are sites dedicated to getting you ready for the test (HamExam link).

I enjoyed seeing the different radios that Karl had in his Go Box. A lot of expensive gadgets to be sure, though he was mentioning a good hand held that you could get for $50 too. Like with any other hobby, if you get the bug, you'll probably end up with an array of items that cost a pretty penny.

This Go Box is battery equipped and ready to go to work even when all power in the world is out.

The next CERT safety session is the second Tuesday in September (9-15-15). If you're a CERT member, please make a point of coming. 

Also for CERT members, Saturday June 27th, from 9am to 2pm, is the City of Temecula Annual CERT Exercise (read flyer for more details). It'll be a good refresher course and if you've been through CERT training, I'm sure you don't want to forget it... right? ☺

For more information on Golden Triangle Amateur Radio Club please visit their website (link).

•      •       

People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
  George Orwell

The first annual Wildomar Rap "best pizza in town" contest has yet to be scheduled... but it just may happen.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

• Movie Night at Windsong Park: Home

Max Capacity at Windsong Park to see the Dream Works picture "Home"

This was easily the largest crowd to attend a Wildomar movie since the parks reopening last year... even larger than any at Marna O'Brien Park. The estimates were 250 to 300 people. 

There were so many families in attendance. It was great to see so many kids at play in the peaceful setting of Windsong Park. Running around in the grassy area, playing on the playground equipment, using the basketball courts and one family playing a net-less volleyball game.

I'm thinking that next year's movie at Windsong might want to have a concessionaire too. ☺

The pictures don't make it seem as crowded as it was, but it was wall to wall people. Click the pics to see more detail.
A look from the screen towards the play area.

I was chatting with Bob and Margie Amos under one of the pagodas about a children's book she's written (spoiler alert: That'll be a topic for a future blog) and my back was to the screen. When our conversation was over I turned around and couldn't believe all the people I was seeing. I was asking city staffer Janet Morales, parks man Daniel Torres and sound guy Doug Gates how many people they thought were there and the consensus was close to 250.
Looking from the street.

Before I left I saw city council member Tim Walker and I asked him for his guess and he scanned the crowd for about ten seconds and put his guess at 250 also. Then he looked at the play area and revised it up to as much as 300. When I reminded him that the movie license was for 250 people, he smiled and said, "Well, we can't count kids under eight," with that patented Tim Walker laugh punctuating it.

Reminder that the next movie in the park is at Marna O'Brien Park on June 27th. The movie will be Penguins of Madagascar. It'll also be Camp Out at the Park Night too.

•      •       

When people ask me if I went to film school I tell them, 'no, I went to films.'  Quentin Tarantino

Wildomar Rap is neither a lender nor a borrower nor Laertes nor Hamlet .

Friday, June 12, 2015

• Memorial Service of Marine Sgt. Eric Seaman

Today was a most somber day out at The Diamond (AKA Storm Stadium) in Lake Elsinore. At 10:00AM the funeral for Marine Sergeant Eric Seaman started with the family walking in from the area behind the fence in left field, down the line and to the infield where they had seats set up just behind the home plate area.

He died on May 12, 2015 while on a mission of mercy, delivering aid to the people of Nepal, when the helicopter he was in crashed.

The American flags were flying as the pallbearers fulfilled their duties.

Then the pallbearers brought the flag draped casket, containing Eric Seaman's body, to a central spot between the podium and the grieving family.

There were many fine eulogies by those closest to him. I especially liked the one from his brother-in-law Brad Case. He touched on how they were friends since high school and that Eric had talked him into playing football... and not long afterward he chose soccer instead; a lighthearted moment illustrating Eric's ruggedness.
A moment that was difficult to go through... and I'm just a stranger.

The eulogy that was the most inspirational came from Eric's widow Sam Seaman. It's hard to choose highlights, so let me invite you to listen to her own words in the video I put together below. Please forgive the echo of the stadium and some ambient crowd sounds. The video portion is a slow montage of images taken during the procession. It's about nine minutes, and well worth a listen.

If you're a human being, of course you'll well up while listening to her words. I suggest that you take a moment to listen to them and then reflect. Reflect on the service he gave to the country, and that he lost his life while trying to help others. You may just feel moved enough to dish out a round of hugs to your family members and lavish them with smiles and kisses too. ☺

A wide angle look from just behind the third base dugout.

Extraordinary Moment I

During the final few moments of the service, three marines dressed in their finest uniforms, noticed something that none of the rest of us did. A gust of wind was about to send the flag that was draping the coffin to the ground, and in unison... as if it were planned, they all three took a few rapid steps and dove to keep it from hitting the ground. 

If it hadn't been for the overwhelming reverence for the day, I'm sure that the crowd would have given them a standing ovation for their diligence.

A large banner for people to write thoughts onto was hanging just inside the turnstiles on the right hand side.
Extraordinary Moment II

As the chaplain was finishing up his remarks a series of shrill cries could be heard from the air above. It was three birds of prey that were rejoicing that the lead bird had something in its talons. Then the bird perched in the light standard directly behind the first base area. 

A moment later, it came swooping down and dropped the mouse and it was hurtling towards the crowd. The hawk then dove and caught it just yards above the heads of the crowd and then soared back up and perched itself on the center of the net lined up with the coffin and the podium. (as seen at the end of the video).

It sat there throughout the last few moments of the service and the closing prayer. The chaplain asked that all would remain in their seats until the family had left the field. After the pallbearers had returned the casket to the hearse, and the family was about 80% down the base line, the hawk then took to flight and followed them, making a sharp left turn at the restaurant near the foul pole disappearing from sight for a moment. Then returned halfway between the foul pole and third base and hovered for a few moments and then was off.

•      •       

In closing I ask this, that each and everyone of you here today honors Eric's legacy by simply being good, honest, hard working, loving and loyal people to one another. I ask that we honor Eric's life by doing what he did when he lost his. Helping others when they need it no matter the costs. Be there for the people you love when they need you no questions asked.  Be a hero... be Eric Seaman.
 — Brad Case, Eric Seaman's brother-in-law

Wildomar Rap wants to express our deepest condolences to Sam Seaman and her two children Roman and Ryleigh, and all those that will be missing him for the rest of their lives

• Neighborhood Watch: RAID

Tonight's Neighborhood Watch meeting was dealing with auto theft.

There was about an hour's presentation by the county RAID team: 
Riverside Auto-Theft Interdiction Detail.

The first thing I noticed when we got to the parking lot was that there were some tough looking hombres lurking about. We made a beeline to the front door of City Hall and was relieved to see a uniformed officer. Those toughs were going to have to behave themselves now.

Oh wait, those big bad men were actually on our payroll. They were undercover officers that work the car theft detail. I figured it wasn't a good idea to photograph them, so I did a hasty sketch to give you a rough idea.

Investigator JJ Rodriguez and Detective Moll. 

Investigator JJ Rodriguez was the average size man while Detective Norbert Moll looked like Grizzly Adams, after forgetting to shave for an additional 3 years while pumping iron almost as often as he visited the tattoo parlor. He has to play the roll of badass convincingly... I was convinced, and he knows he's doing something right when ladies clutch their purses and men cross the street as he approaches.

The powerpoint presentation covered a lot of things that most of us wouldn't consider in the world of stolen cars and chop shops.

Detective Moll  broke down the stats this way. 31 chop shops a year is 3 a month. 403 arrests is more than one a day. This is from their task force, not just the overall auto theft stats in the county.

The key takeaway points from the meeting include:
  • Don't leave your car running unattended, even if it's in your driveway.
  • Mid '90s Hondas are the easiest to steal.
  • Be wary of car deals that are too good to be true. Craigslist is just one place that can have ads for hot cars. Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) should be your motto no matter where you're making the purchase.
  • Don't buy anything of value from a person that won't show you their ID.
  • When buying a car (or other high dollar item), use your smart phone to take a picture of the seller's ID.
  • When buying a used car, suggest that the transaction take place in the local police station parking lot.
  • If you come across a chopped car, don't touch it. Call it in. If it's in a rural area, use your smart phone to get the GPS location to give the police.
  • Painted over, or removed, ID numbers on heavy equipment, or a boat, is a bad sign.
  • Don't hesitate to report suspicious activity. Call the none emergency number.
  • Be careful when dealing with car thieves. If you suspect something, let the police handle it.
In response to one person speaking about taking a picture of a license plate of a suspected car thief, detective Moll replied:

Be careful. I'm glad that you're filled with piss and vinegar, and you're ready to do battle, but when we were doing the storefront (undercover operation) and were dealing with car thieves on a regular basis, they also had guns, they had drugs, they had done prior crimes... shooting people, stabbing people... these guys are criminals as living.

  • RAID task force has 10 members for all of Riverside County (once you discount supervisors).
  • Lojack is a good device to recover a stolen vehicle. 
  • Don't leave garage door openers in cars that you park outside. For the ultra cautious, you may consider taking the door opener with you when out shopping, dining, the movies, etc. Some brazen thieves will break into your car just to get your opener. Once they get your address from your car registration, they can have easy access to your house with the opener.
  • The Club is a good deterrent for random car thefts.
  • Tracking devices can be purchased for about  $150 that can be hardwired into your cars.
  • Soon the RAID task force will be starting up a facebook page.
  • It's good to use social media (FaceBook, Nextdoor App) to keep up with what's happening locally.

Investigator Rodriguez related a story about a local theft of some heavy construction equipment. 

The location of the heavy equipment sounded like it was at, or near, the Subway construction area off of Bundy Canyon during early phases of construction. It was a Saturday and the perp got dressed in construction vest and helmet, sauntered onto the property, acted like he belonged there. Fired up the tractor and drove it from the site to his home on the east side of the freeway. His intentions were to finish the work on his property and then return the equipment by Sunday evening, but didn't finish in time. On Monday morning the workers discovered that the tractor was stolen and reported it. It had Lojack and they tracked it and found the thief using it. He admitted to the theft.


If I can make a suggestion to the fine people that are organizing these Neighborhood Watch meetings it would be this: Please prepare a Wildomar specific report, and let's have a brief question and update about our specific area. I enjoyed the information from the first meeting (Gangs and Drugs) and the presentation by RAID on auto theft was good info too, but I think it would be much appreciated to get to the active local concerns as much, or more, than the prepared info.

The meetings are quarterly and the next one will be in September.

Use the Non-Emergency number 951-776-1099 to report suspicious activity and NOT the emergency 911 number. If you see something out of place, they want you to call and report it.

•      •       

And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving.
[rips off his rear-view mirror and throws it out of the car]
What's-a behind me is not important.
  Franco Bertollini, Gumball Rally, 1976

Wildomar Rap remembers fondly the elderly security guard that was guarding the new construction site where we used to play pick up baseball games (1978). The problem was that our home runs would end up in his yard and he eventually got tired of us (we were hitting more homers than the major leaguers at the height of the steroids era). Tip o' the cap to Chogie.

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. 

• 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.

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