Tuesday, January 30, 2018

• Grand Avenue Multipurpose Trails Update

If you've been driving on Grand Avenue anytime in the last couple of months you've been noticing some work being done on the west side of the road. 

It's the emergence of the long touted multi-purpose trail that the city has been working on for years now. 
Heading south on Grand, not far from Corydon.
This was first mentioned in Wildomar Rap back in December of 2013 when I shared a Press Enterprise article about it (link to blog)Back then it was mostly about the bike lanes, and not a multi-purpose trail.
Heading south on Grand, not far from Corydon... from about 20 feet in the air.
This blog is chiefly of the photos I took on January 29th, as the construction was about half finished. Interwoven are thoughts on the progress of the project by Assistant City Manager Dan York.
Looking northeasterly towards the strip mall at the corner of Corydon and Grand.
There are about two dozen photos, and some may appear a bit repetitive. Don't worry, there won't be a test later, so you can just buzz through the ones that don't interest you. ☺
Across from Bryant Street.
"The project is really going well.  The contractor started the heavy work on the Phase II Section coming down from Corydon.  We should see him shortly string the rope for the lodge pine fence and install the bridge crossing."
Across from Bryant Street.
"The city secured multiple funding sources to deliver this project."
Just south of Sheila Lane.
"Each fund source has different criteria for reporting and for approval to proceed with each step of the process."

South of Sheila Lane, standing in the southbound lane looking north.

"So even though it seems certain steps took a while, that was only because we had to coordinate the different fund sources with the different entities."
Workers ready the DG path at the corner of Grand and Owen.
Across from Celeste Way looking south.
Just north of Wilson Street.
South of Sheila Lane looking south.
Just north of Victory Circle.

North of Gruwell Street.
Just north of Gruwell Street.
Just north of Gruwell Street looking south.
Near Gruwell Street.
Just north of David A. Brown Middle School.
Just north of David A. Brown Middle School. Same location as above, just from a different vantage point.

"He (the contractor) has started the initial grading on Phase I.  There were more private property and utility relocation impacts in this section."
Just south of David A. Brown Middle School.

"So for the coming weeks on this section will be grading, and relocation of private amenities and utilities."
Just south of David A. Brown Middle School from about 35 feet in the air.
"The paving portion for the bike lanes is lagging a bit for a few reasons. Primarily because we have multiple contractors in the area we like staggering them a bit."
North of Rudolph Lane looking south.
"You should see the shoulder grading work for the bike lane paving in the coming weeks."
North of Rudolph Lane.
"Because there were so many private encroachments into the public right of way, including service laterals, a significant amount of effort was required to work with each property owner."
South of Rudolph Lane looking south.
There aren't any firm dates for completion yet, but Dan expects it to be in the late March/early April time frame. Once it's complete, expect the city to have a ribbon cutting and mini celebration to commemorate it. 

While putting these images together I was consulting Google Maps to get an idea where some of the locations were. Even without the project completed, it's amazing how much nicer Grand Avenue is beginning to look. 

If you're doubtful, click this link to get a street view look for yourself.

Once this project is all nailed down, and the ribbon cutting ceremony is in the books, I'll post pictures of the completed multi-purpose trail. Next time I'll try to keep it to less than a baker's dozen. ☺

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It's sort of like eating a bag of chips. You know it's never going to make you full and at the end you're sick, but you want to go back for more.
– Mac from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia aka, Rob McElhenney.

Wildomar Rap is even worse than eating a bag of chips. You know you're not going to agree with most of it, and at the end you're sick, but there you are, reading it again and again.

Monday, January 29, 2018

• Bus Stop Dilemma

To catch you up to speed on this issue, here's what I know of it. Sometime last year Wildomar Senior Assisted Living asked if the long time bus stop in front of their business could be relocated. Early in January the bus stop was relocated to the corner of Elm and Palomar. 
The red arrow indicates the location of the bus stop.
The concerns of those that live nearby are multiple. 

First, the buses have been going down the smaller streets (Maple and Illinois). You might be asking, "What's the big deal with that?" 

Those are NOT city streets. 

The city doesn't maintain them (there are quite a few streets like that throughout Wildomar). Any maintenance is paid for directly by the homeowners, and the streets aren't in tip top shape to begin with. Also, the safety of the neighborhood kids was mentioned more than once.
A look at the newly painted red curb, that removes about 80% of it from parking cars.
Second, the red curb (bus zone) was far longer than one would think it should be. By changing the color of the curb to red, it's made the customers of the store either park across the street or risk a ticket by parking in the red (yes, this is Wildomar, and we only have one cop and all that, but the point still stands). Also, the vendors that supply the corner store face the same thing. 

With that established, local resident Sandy Gibbs didn't let much time go by before she started emailing city councilmember Bridgette Moore about her concerns. She also took to posting on a couple of the local facebook pages.
Brian Gibbs looks on as his wife Sandy hands a copy of a signed petition to Jim Kneepkens (off camera) of RTA.
Though councilmember Moore was working on this from the outset, Sandy didn't hesitate long before putting together a petition that her neighbors signed outlining their views on the new bus stop location.
A busy location for a community meeting, but it worked well and gave a chance for the officials to see exactly what the neighbor's were talking about.
Before the informal meeting got started, I had a chance to ask Sandy for her thoughts on the matter. She showed me a time stamped image of an RTA bus using Maple that very day, even though the drivers have been told not to use them before.
Part of the printout that Sandy Gibbs handed to Councilmember Moore.
The meeting was in the vacant lot on the northwest corner of Elm and Palomar. It was attended by a dozen of the neighbors, and in addition to Councilmember Moore, Assistant City Manager Dan York was there as was Jim Kneepkens of RTA.
From left to right, Jeff (I didn't get his surname) Dan York, Bridgette Moore, Jim Kneepkens, Brian Gibbs.
It started with Councilmember Moore giving a brief background as to why the bus stop was moved, and also why their streets aren't maintained by the city. 

Brief background: Parts of Wildomar were built way back when, and the area in question is the original part of town that hearkens back to the beginning, more than 100 years ago. The streets weren't built to modern standards and the county never accepted them as official streets. When Wildomar became a city 10 years ago, they followed suit and didn't accept them as fully dedicated streets either.

It's an interesting concept how they aren't public streets and they aren't private streets either. There is a way to have those become part of the city street scheme, where they would take over maintenance, but that would require an increase in property taxes... and I'm not sure how that actually works if all the residents aren't on board with the idea.

It was asked by Bridgette Moore (and later Jim Kneepkens) if RTA could wait to move the stop until May, since they've just printed up the schedules, and they would be doing so again in May.

The words were scarcely out of her mouth before one of the residents emphatically replied, "No! No it's not ok. You asked, and I answered. No, it's not ok, that's way too long." (The same resident later threatened to park her car in the street, so that the buses couldn't pass, if necessary.)

Councilmember Moore wanted to make sure that the bus riders weren't going to be getting outdated info from printed materials that weren't accurate, and wanted to avoid the needless costs of reprinting guides that will be updated in a few months.

Brian Gibbs offered, "Can't you put a sign on there (the bus stop in question) saying the stop [has been] moved across the street?"

There is a bus stop in front of the post office that runs the same route, about a stone's throw away.
A convergence of three buses were all stopped at the same time while the meeting was going on. There were quite a few riders that got on and off them.
At that, Jim Kneepkens jumped in.

I'm taking blame for what my drivers are doing. I apologize and it will stop tomorrow. We will get out of your neighborhood as soon as we can. We'd like till May, but if you need us out earlier, we can make that happen. 

— Jim Kneepkens, RTA
Though one person wanted the changes sooner, "Tomorrow's good".

Mr. Kneepkens responded that he's going to notify his customers, since they depend on RTA, before any changes are made.

Here's where local resident Jeff (he didn't offer his last name) tossed out something that seemed quite reasonable, "We've got to allow them to have the process, but please, please, for my children's sake, please don't run those buses through Maple anymore."

In the end, it was agreed that the stop will be moved, and that until that's done, the buses will no longer be using the undedicated roads to get to the existing stop.  

As long as the residents had the ear of the locals, they asked several more questions ranging from the streets, graffiti, flooding, and even last year's big sensation — the Camelia Townhouse Project and zoning. 

They should have been reading Wildomar Rap all along and at least that question could have been skipped. ☺

I asked Sandy Gibbs if she was pleased with the outcome of the meeting, and she sure seemed to be. Even before this blog could be finished she'd already posted an update at facebook about it.

Observation time: 

I saw Wildomar city officials, and one from RTA, come to an offbeat location, as the sun was disappearing, to speak to the residents. This meeting lasted about 45 minutes and throughout it all the officials listened, and responded. Even to all the other issues that were introduced.

I don't know. Maybe this is something that happens everywhere else. Maybe LA's Mayor Gil Garcetti meets with a dozen residents too. LOL

Seriously, a big thank you to Bridgette Moore, Dan York (who gave many detailed answers to questions, and invited them all to City Hall on Valentine's day - it being a regularly scheduled city council meeting and all...☺), and to Jim Kneepkens for caring about the community.

What I'd like to see, even if only a dozen or so people show up, is to have townhall meetings in such "offbeat" places as this. Be it at the park, a Starbucks (or the new Bean at the Barn), or an open field, each of the city council members should be doing this once a year, and the Mayor could be doing it twice a year.

The public comment portion of the city council meetings is fine, but how much more grand it would be to have less formal opportunities to speak to the electeds, and some of the higher ranking city staffers. Sure, I know that you're very approachable at city events (which there are many), but others don't know it, and sometimes you're needed in several different directions at once (all five of you, though one of you more than the other four ☺).

If nobody shows up to your townhall meeting (which is an even bet most of the time) then at least you put in the effort.

•                •                •
As of February 11th, the bus stop in question had been removed and the red curb painted over. 
Photo courtesy of Sandy Gibbs.
A look at the new location for the bus stop, across from the Jolie Day Spa.
•                •                •

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."
– Ayn Rand

Wildomar Rap avoids the consequences of avoiding the consequences by eschewing the consequences instead.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

• City Council Meeting January 2018

A few interesting notes came from the January city council meeting, though nothing was all that pressing.

It started with the ceremonial handing over of the gavel from 2017 Mayor Tim Walker to 2018 Mayor Ben Benoit. 
Tim Walker's infectious smile was on full display as he handed over the Mayor's gavel to Ben Benoit.
The 2018 Wildomar City Council. 2018 Mayor Ben Benoit holds the Mayors plaque while Tim Walker displays the gavel he used during the 2017 meetings.  Above is Bridgette Moore, Dustin Nigg and Marsha Swanson.
Public Comments (on non agenda items)
Not sure if this is the way it'll be done all year or not, but had to enjoy hearing the Mayor announce who was speaking. Then reminding all others in the audience that this was the time to fill out a public comment card if they'd like to speak. 
• Ken Mayes got borrowed time and discussed the Friends of the Library. Membership is $100 for lifetime membership, $5 yearly for seniors or $10 Yearly for others. They meet on third Wednesday of the month at 2:00pm. If interested, either call the library for more info (951) 471-3855, or try their facebook page.

He then brought up several other concerns of his. Fire hydrants, RVs illegally parking all over the city, the city's website, Malaga Park, and the guardrail at Mission Trail and Palomar.

• I wholeheartedly agree with him about the RVs that are everywhere. Just tread lightly, if you point out such things on Facebook, be ready to have people call you a meanie for not wanting such things in your neighborhood.

 It was promised that the website will be up and running before February. Councilmember Nigg pressed the point and got assurances of such.

 I've never been a fan of the Malaga Park concept, there's nothing park-like about any of it to me, but to each his own. 

 As for the guardrail: yes, money... but is that thing ever going to be repaired or not? Three years seems a bit long to wait before fixing it? What about the person that hit it? Isn't that what insurance is for? 

3.2 Update Local Goals & Policies and Appraisal Standards Concerning the Use of the Community Facilities Act of 1982
Though this issue will have no impact today, and may not for a number of years, its potential still could be quite huge depending on if, and how, it were to be applied in the future.

It's definitely a heady subject and not easy to wade through. I've included the video so that you can take you're own stab at fording the minutiae of it all. 

The point of this was to update the goals and policies of such CFDs (bonds to the layman), and get input from the five city council members. 
Questions from Assistant City Manager Dan York for the council to consider:
• Is there an interest for the council to dive deeper into what a CFD means? If so, we could set up [...] a future agenda meeting where we could bring in some of the professionals who could give you the pros and cons of CFDs at a deeper level.

• [We'd like input on] the general direction to staff as to how we work with land developers. Do we work with them towards sparking a deal to present back to council on a CFD or do we tell them that the city's position, pretty much, still is that we're not interested in administering [a CFD]?

Responses of Mayor Ben Benoit

• I look at the work I've had to do in WRCOG chasing down CFDs over in Beaumont, and I can tell you that organization is looking at [...] all the misdeeds that were done in that city. WRCOG is going after those banking organizations [suggesting] "Hey, you should have known, you should have been upfront with us, it looks like you're actually hiding stuff by not releasing information." So, it's important to hire the right counsel for that. It's important to hire the right people and make sure that the five of us know what we're doing, and what's going on. 

• It's amazing what a bad city can do with a tool like this, that could be very misused, and I'll be darned if that happens here. If we're going to move forward with this I want to make sure we're taking every precaution necessary. That we're using the right counsel, that we're using the right people and that if that's the path we're going to have to go down to see some housing tracks move forward —especially the ones on Bundy Canyon— where you've got a lot of infrastructure that our city desperately needs, and if that's the last piece to that puzzle, I think we at least have to be willing to talk about it. 
City Councilmember Marsha Swanson

I too, like you (looking at the Mayor), see both sides, and it's a slippery slope. The council we have now, I have no problem, we'll pick good people. We'll vet them, and go up one side and down the other, but there are future councils. Once this is done there could be other people, other staff members that would need a keeping an eye on. I'd like to move forward, but I'd like to hear more information.
The scary part about the CFDs I've heard go through the council, generally affecting new development and public safety, has the CPI (Consumer Price Index) at 5%. 
Screen capture from the slideshow presentation.
Maybe it isn't the end of the world, but at a 5% yearly increase, that tax... I mean CFD, will be doubling every 20 years. OUCH! Makes my humble home in Windsong Valley all that much more appealing since such things aren't on my tax bill in the first place.

3.3 City Manager Pay Increase
The City Manager, Gary Nordquist, got a boost in pay as provided in his contract. Being a public servant means your salary is there for all to see. He's done a great job, and Wildomar has benefitted from his steady hand, demeanor and approach to the job.
From the online agenda packet.
Other bits of information worthy of a mention

• Continued talk about improving Bundy Canyon: inching closer to reality.

• Three seats on the Measure Z committee are needing to be filled. (Two of the seats were just filled a short time ago, but those were for the remainder of the term. Hopefully Scott Rux and Shelley Hitchcock will stay on).

• The city's 10th birthday party is already being planned out, committees are being formed.

• Santa Rosa Plateau Nature Education Foundation is still on track to host their fundraiser in the fall. A craft beer tasting event at Marna O'Brien Park.

• City Hall will be closed on Monday, January 15th, to honor Martin Luther King's birthday.

•                •                •

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice, there is.
– Yogi Berra 

Wildomar Rap avoids practice and calls it a day.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

• Fundraiser At Go Nutz Donuts

Go Nutz Donuts raised around $200 for fallen fire fighter Cory Iverson. 
This family photo shows Cory Iverson, his wife Ashley, and daughter, 2-year-old Evie Iverson. Ashley is expecting their second child.
You may remember that he died of thermal injuries and smoke inhalation incurred  while fighting the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

Station 75's Captain Jeff Griffith and crew stopped by to pick up the money and pose for a couple of pictures at the same time. Also on hand was Wildomar mayor, Ben Benoit.
Left to right, Mayor Ben Benoit, Fire Fighter 1, Go Nutz Dounts head honcho Henry Silvestre, Captain Jeff Griffith of Station 75, Fire Fighter 2.
I asked Henry what motivated him regarding this cause. As it happens, he went to school up in Ojai and was closely following the news of the Thomas fire. Some of his former classmates lost their homes or were otherwise displaced. 

When he heard the bulletin about the death of a fire fighter named Cory from San Diego county, that rang a bell. He has a regular customer named Cory, that is also a fire fighter from the same general area, and he hadn't come into the store for awhile.

Captain Griffith stopped by and mentioned that Cory Iverson had gone to the academy with one of the guys from Station 75. 

Knowing how much money it takes to raise kids, and there being one and another on the way, Henry decided to put out a fireman's boot that people could put money into for the Iverson family. 

All the fire departments in San Diego County came together for one "boot drive" [started by] a couple of fire captains in Poway. They raised over $285,000 in one day.    

Captain Jeff Griffith, Station 75
Looking north from the Baxter overpass. You can see many cars that had stopped on the side of the road to get a glimpse of the passing hearse. 
•                •                •

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
— Michelangelo

Wildomar Rap has never missed the mark.

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