Friday, June 28, 2019

• City Council Meeting June 2019: Special Meeting Budget

Before the two hour meeting started, Wildomar's new police motorcycle was revealed. After the meeting the council posed for a group shot around it.
Mayor Marsha Swanson sits on the new City of Wildomar Police motorcycle. From left to right: Councilmember Ben Benoit, Mayor Pro-Tem Dustin Nigg, Councilmembers Bridgette Moore and Joseph Morabito.
The key agenda items included the CR&R rate increase and the coming two year budget.

2.1 CR&R Annual Rate Adjustment
There were 17 emailed protest letters. The protest letters were part of the Prop 218 format that allows rate payers to weigh in on the matter. (12:20 mark of the video)
Thought on Prop 218
I learned years ago that the requirements of Prop 218 make it next to impossible to stop a rate increase. It takes 50% of the ratepayers (one per household) to send in their protest to stop a rate increase.

The 50% threshold might as well be on the moon. I can't imagine ever amassing even half that number, even if the public were well organized and very determined.
The trash rates are pegged to the CPI (Consumer Price Index) and go up almost every year. The key difference this year is that the CPI used had been changed.

The previous CPI was called: Los Angeles/Anaheim/Riverside Metropolitan Area

That CPI was changed to two different CPIs. The LA CPI became Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim Area (which carried over the existing historical data), and a new one, Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario (which was given a new baseline of 100), came into existence.

There were three public speakers, two had donated time from others. The key topic of "senior rates" was brought up and later incorporated into the process when CR&R's Alex Braicovich said they'd be happy to sit down to negotiate a senior rate, as soon as possible. 

I anticipate this coming online sooner than later (that's as close to a pinpoint that I can confidently post at this point).
When it was my turn to speak, I read from my prepared comments:
Uh oh, he's at it again... lol.

Let me state this: I understand the need for inflation-based rate increases and have never had an issue with them, inflation is a fact of our monetary system.  

My primary concern had been regarding which CPI to use this year. 

It was based on the fact that the previous CPI had been changed so that Riverside County was put into a new one, which appeared to be roughly 30% lower than the LA-Long Beach-Anaheim CPI we previously were part of, and that caused the initial stir.

I’ve spent many hours on this topic. I’ve met with residents and I had a meeting with CR&R’s Alex Braicovich to discuss it. 

I was willing to make a big stink about this issue, and then more facts were presented. 

First, at the meeting I had with Alex, and then an email from the BLS (bureau of labor statistics) which confirmed that the new Riverside CPI didn’t have enough data points for year over year comparisons yet, that won’t happen until January 2020. 

Also, nearby cities that have been dealing with the same new CPI, have defaulted to the legacy CPI for this year.

Once I learned that info, I saw more of the picture, and understood better the choice that was made for this rate increase. 

Could it have been more clearly stated from the start? Yes.

Could the mailer have been less confusing, all three times it was sent out? Yes.

But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of the yearly, inflation based rate increase, it’s no different than any other year. 
3.1 Biennial Budget
I love traditional baseball stats and can balance a checkbook, but unless you're a CPA type (which I'm not even close) budget meetings can glaze over one's eyes in no time. 

The preponderance of the budget is to keep the city working. There is very little significant change year over year, so I will be focusing on the eight "decision packages" that were put before the council.
This is a scan of my scoresheet.
All of the items were touched on, but most didn't generate much discussion. Items 1, 3, and 4 were things either already in the works (1 and 3) or things we are compelled to do by the state (4).

Item 2 CDBG
This is where the city is allocated money to distribute to grant funds to local nonprofits (CDBG - Community Development Block Grant). This year there were three applicants: Assistance League, HOPE and Merit Housing (Wildomar Assisted Senior Living).

There was a little over $17,000 available and it was split evenly between HOPE and the Assistance League. 

Item 5 was adopted, but pushed off until the second year of the two year budget.

Item 6 sign code update
This is something I've wanted to see since before I even started this blog. My aim in promoting this is to de-junk-ify Wildomar's main corridors where advertisements are posted at intersections, on fences or just in the public right of way with H-wire frames... feather signs were mentioned too.
We'll see about that.
We currently do not have a temporary sign ordinance and Councilmember Benoit suggested that a subcommittee be formed to work with staff to put together an ordinance that best reflects the needs and desires of the community. 
Let me just say...

I fully support the success of our local businesses, and I know that signage is important in getting your name out there. 

The disconnect comes from a very small percentage of businesses that have chosen to post banners and signs at key intersections. Those signs make our city look shabby. There is also the copycat effect as shown by the following image.
There were no signs here in 2015, and within a few years it's gotten completely ridiculous. What will it be like if we don't demand some standards?
Often times the signs are left up so long that they become frayed or faded, exacerbating the problem.
Item 7 RV Parking Ordinance 
I wasn't sure what was going to become of this item. In many parts of the city, where the residents are part of an HOA, RVs, trailers, boats and abandoned cars are already addressed (or should be). 

In the rest of the city, it's a matter of residents calling in violators of such codes. That's fine, but it hasn't worked all that well in practice.

The original decision package suggested 4 hours a week to look for illegally parked RVs. As much as I wanted this taken care of, I thought it a bit overkill.

Before I had a chance to chime in on the item, Mayor Pro-Tem Nigg suggested an alternative. Basically, instead of 4 hours looking for RVs, he suggested 10 hours of an additional code enforcement officer. 

As with the new motorcop (Officer Hansen) that will be coming online next week, that will systematically address the traffic hotspots in town, I'm envisioning these new hours to be dedicated towards looking for obvious disregard of community standards. A proactive approach to the problem, which would include RVs, and not be focused on them.

It'll cost more than the original proposal, but nice things cost money, and I'm ready for Wildomar to start looking nicer where it's previously needed some TLC.

Item 8 Sedco Basin Park Rehab (1:48:30)
This was not adopted. The $22,000 figure was just to gather information. 

There were plenty of other noteworthy items but I've run out of time for this blog.

I suggest that if you'd like more than my brief recap, please watch the video starting at the 45 minute mark.

Below is the video for the entire meeting. Note, the first seven minutes are dead air.
•                •                •

True, a little bit of wisdom may be a dangerous thing, but a great deal of ignorance is usually fatal.

– EG Marshall CBSRMT 1975

Contrary to popular speculation, Wildomar Rap isn't usually fatal.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

• Camp Out Night In The Park 2019

Wildomar's sixth annual camp out was a huge success.
A small sampling of the camping area.
I lost count of how many people approached me to thank Wildomar for hosting such a fun event. 

Bridgette Moore waves, while young Sarah Gross (in blue) looks on over her right shoulder. Janet Morales is busy looking over the roster of campers as she gets ready to check in more people.
The cost was five dollars per camper, and for that nominal fee each camper received a shirt, two slices of Pie Nation pizza, s'mores, security guarded camping area and Dunkin Donuts coffee, hot chocolate and donuts.
A small sampling of the camping area.
Also available to all park goers were the various games, and the movie... 1985 classic —The Goonies.

A traditional bounce house, and a double tube slip in slide beyond compare.
This was a much enjoyed feature.
Where were these kinds of bubbles when I was a kid?
Testing one's skills on the Wildomar cornhole boards.
Connect Four... like never before.
Tug of war saw small struggles and large ones.
(See sequence image below)
This was the last tug of war battle of the evening.
It was kids v parents.
It wasn't even close. ☺
I've been to all the camp out events, and this was certainly the biggest crowd to date, in fact it was a sell out. Of the 216 that pre registered, only two families were no shows, leaving the total well over 200. I've heard talk that next year could see the limit raised to 250 campers.
We're starting to get spoiled by the generosity of Faith Bible Church and their high quality ice cream products that have been a common sight for more than a year at Wildomar park events.
Clinton Keith Dental Group has been a major sponsor for all of Wildomar's 2019 park events.
Kenny Mayes of Friends of the Library and Wildomar librarian Sandra Brautigam were signing people up for their Summer reading programs.
Families enjoying pizza time. 
Getting a good spot for the movie.
The next morning greeted the campers with coffee, hot chocolate and a variety of donuts from Wildomar's Dunkin Donuts.
Real coffee at the park at 7am on a Sunday?
Lot's of "please" and "thank yous" were heard as DD's treats were handed out.
Little cups for hot chocolate, and bigger cups for the coffee.
This is just one of countless groups of siblings that enjoyed the 2019 Camp Out event.
This event, and most other park events have only been successful due to the patience, steadfastness and determination of a handful of people. 

I can't imagine what our parks and/or events would be like without the countless hours put in by Bridgette Moore, Janet Morales and Daniel Torres over the years.
L to R: Cameron Luna, Daniel Torres, Joseph (nice legs) Morabito, Janet Morales, Christy Bowen (kneeling), Mr. Dunkin Donuts —Mike Stout, Bridgette Moore and two campers.
Of course there are many others that have been invaluable helpers throughout the years, but those three have been the make or break difference when it comes to Wildomar parks and events.

Thank you for what you've done to make Wildomar's parks and events memory making places.
•                •                •

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere, and not a drop to drink... yet.
– Willy Wonka

If Wildomar Rap were a bubble, it would be made of cement and not subject to popping... unlike the soap, champaign, or snot varieties.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

• Paying It Forward: Goodbye Weeds

Community Spirit begins with you, or in this case, with me.

The perfect storm of being between video projects, the weather being unusually mild and forgetting that I'm a lot older than I care to admit, culminated in spontaneously doing yard work in a common area. 
I'd been watching this weed grow for months. It's just west of the light at Cervera on Central.
I've long joked about tumbleweeds being Wildomar's unofficial flower. I just hope we can avoid our own "super bloom" this year.

My original goal was to remove a couple of the tumbleweeds before they got bigger and looked even worse. 
Here is the reverse angle view before I tackled it.
In the spirit of wanting to better the community, I set out from my house (less than a quarter of a mile away) with my green waste can in tow.
It was pretty easy getting this one out, so I went on to more.
Below you can see a before and after view. A lot can be accomplished while listening to a fully charged iPod. 
You can see the debris in the gutter. It's months of accumulated hay that falls from trucks that leave Round Up to the east.
Though it was perfect weather for such work, half way through I had to call my sweet wife Grace to pick me up for a short break and some water. Then worked for another two CD's worth of time (probably 90 minutes) until I got the area cleared. 

What I thought was going to be about 45 minutes turned into three hours. 

It's not easy to see in the photos below because there is a drainage ditch between the dirt path and the house that is clogged with vegetation and dirt. Strangely, the drainage ditch to the east of the intersection is clear (see further below).
Initially I just had a couple of tumbleweeds in mind, but once I started I couldn't stop until I'd cleared from the corner to past the speed limit sign and a little beyond.
Do you remember the classic Christmas movie Home Alone, when little Kevin McCallister made a mess of his house, then managed to clean it all up (yeah right), except for his big brother's room? 

That's basically what happened here. 

Those weeds had to go somewhere and into the drainage ditch they went. Now I'm just waiting to hear, "Kevin!!! What did you do to my room?" 

I mean, "Joseph!!! What did you do to my drainage ditch?" ☺
I bet I could clean that out in less than a year, but I'd probably have a stroke doing it.
Community spirit starts somewhere, and if you'd like to pay it forward, even if just in your own immediate area, consider doing it. It's a lot better option than whining about it on facebook.

In the coming fiscal year's budget there is room for another PV Maintenance full time truck and crew (our contracted workforce) to address street maintenance and I'm hoping that will translate into consistently cleaner streets in the coming months and years.
I have my eye on this stretch of sidewalk next.
One thing I'd like to bring up to city staff is finding out if we can implement our version of "Clean Extreme" like they do in Lake Elsinore. I'd like to see how other cities use volunteers and if it's something we can do here too. 

I'd also like to find out how feasible an "adopt a trail" program is, and if it can be used to maintain parts of our Grand Avenue Multi-use Trail once the leaning posts get fixed.
•                •                •

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.

– Winston Churchill

Wildomar Rap has been giving since day one.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

• CR&R Rate Hike 2019: Clarifications

Where to start on this topic? 

First, understand going in that the following is the way a video/animator guy —turned city council member, tells you what he understands about an accounting issue. 
Another award winning graphic from the WR art department.
If my wording doesn't earn an A+ in your book, I understand... the point of this blog is to dispel some inaccurate information that I've seen circulating out there, not win the Nobel Peace Prize in CPI (Consumer Price Index) interpretation.

Ready? Here goes...

Our trash rates go up every year based on inflation, it's in the contract. The difference this year is that there was a Prop 218 notification because the contract had to be amended. 
Use this link to read more about Prop 2018.
The change was due to the fact that CPI that had been used, was now defunct and a new CPI had to be used.

The previous CPI was called: Los Angeles/Anaheim/Riverside Metropolitan Area

That CPI was changed to two different CPIs. The LA CPI became Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim Area (which carried over the existing historical data), and a new one, Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario (which was given a new baseline of 100), came into existence.

This gets pretty wonky, so let me de-wonkify it best I can.
The above graphic is one I made from three different sheets of paper. It's not a legal document, just something to give you a reference.
Try enlarging the image to read it.

The green arrow is pointing to a missing data point. This index was created in December 2017, given the arbitrary starting point of 100, and therefore there wasn't an average for 2017 to compare 2018 to for the annual CPI. 

There is another view out there, that suggests that there are enough Data Points since the index had a starting position of 100 as of December 2017, but the key column is blank... and that matters (If you're not lost yet, you're in rare company).

The fuschia arrow is pointing to annual CPI for years 2017 and 2018 in the LA CPI. The column under it has the math worked out as percentage differences between years. The circled number (3.8) is the CPI for 2018. 

The blue arrow indicates the language in our contract with CR&R that states, The change shall be measured for the twelve month period January through December.

With the new CPI, there has only been ONE such twelve month period to date. Therefore, the LA CPI, which kept its historical data when Riverside was part of it, was used for the rest of 2019.

Updated with comments on the CPI question by BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

The other problem that occured here is that the Prop 218 notice was wrong... TWICE. The printer, Press Print of Banning, took the blame for the second error, where the first mailing was sent out a second time.

That's the gist of it... I hope that it made some sense.
This is from the Temecula CR&R rate increase, dated June 11th.
They also used the new Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim CPI to calculate the increase.
There were a few other erroneous things posted about the new contract with CR&R that I put to spokesman Alex Braicovich for clarification.

• Trash rates are not going up 100%. For an average home, with three barrels, the rate will be going from $27.11 to $28.09 a month (3.61%).
• There will be no change in the twice yearly bulky item pickups. If you want an additional bulky item pick up it will now cost you $25.16, up from last year's rate of $24.28.
• You cannot opt out of trash service unless you prove that you've gone (or will be going) to the dump, with a receipt, each week (even then it'll be a bureaucratic nightmare getting it set up). You cannot team up with your neighbor(s) and create your own de facto trash company where you say you'll truck your neighbor's trash along with yours. It's a health issue.

Opinion Time:

Inflation is a built into our monetary system and rate increases are a fact of life. That goes for every facet of our lives where money is involved. 

Our houses appreciate thanks to inflation, as do our wages. When I moved to Wildomar in 2001 the price of gasoline was under $1.50 and it's more than doubled. The value of my house has seen the same thing and so too about most other things that money can buy. 

My concern regarding the CR&R rate increase was centered around which CPI to use for this year. 

The argument for switching to the new Riverside CPI was good, but the argument for following the course that was chosen was just more solid, and contractually enforceable.

Though I'd love for CR&R to pick up my trash for free, or at least promise to never raise my rates again... that suggestion only brought a combo raised eyebrow—tilted head—mercy smirk from Alex... all that was missing was him doing the sound of a rimshot.
•                •                •

The trouble with integrity is that it doesn't come in bits and pieces. It's either all or nothing.
– EG Marshall CBSRMT 1976

The trouble with Wildomar Rap is that there is no off switch.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

• City Council Meeting June 2019

The big news that came from the June 2019 city council meeting came with item 3.1 (smoke shop zoning) look for that further down in the blog. 

• Craft Brew Fest Update
Ginger Greaves, of the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve, gave a recap of the Rooted In Nature Craft Brew Fest. There were over 900 tickets sold, with an estimated total attendance of 1556 (that includes volunteers, staff, reps, brewers, etc.)

• Parks Make Life Better
Councilmember Bridgette Moore accepted on behalf of Daniel Torres, Janet Morales, Cameron Luna and Christy Bowen.
Thanking all that make Wildomar Parks a spectacular place.
Other Presentations included one to Former Fire Division Chief Geoff Pemberton, 5 Year Employee Pin- Dan York, New City Employee Introduction- Travis Solorio, and a Library Update. 
Mayor Marsha Swanson praises Daniel Torres (left) for how nice the cemetery always is, as new Wildomar employee Travis Solorio looks on.
1.10 Declare a Vacancy on the Planning Commission 
This is the third planning commission seat that's become available in the last six months. If you're interested in applying for this position, you have about a month to get your application in. 

All applications must be returned to the City Clerk no later than 5:00 p.m., on Monday, July 15, 2019.

Item 3.1 
interim urgency ordinance adopting a 45-day moratorium on the establishment of Tobacco Retailing Businesses or Hookah or Vapor Lounges within the City of Wildomar. (1:12:00 in the video)

Long story short, the city heard the community's outrage over the apparent new tenant at the former Jolie Day Spa, and acted. 
It was suggested during public comments on this item that the city "should have never let them start the process". 

I know that the city didn't "allow" this despite the activity at the location. No permits have ever been issued for a new business in the old Jolie Day Spa building.

City Manager Gary Nordquist confirmed that "[T]here were no permits issued. They began the process [with] unpermitted construction."

Just like some people disregard safe driving laws and drive recklessly, others disregard city zoning ordinances when they feel like it and act as if they've completed the permit process.

Blaming the city for the actions someone else took when no one was looking, resonates about as well as an old, scratched, Singing Nun 45, with a bent needle.
(I bet that most people under 50 have no clue about most of that reference... lol)
The moratorium is for 45 days so that staff can study potential options to the zoning code. That way, in the future, if a landlord thinks it's fine to lease to such a business (that is a scant 150 feet away from an elementary school) the codes will prevent it.

Though the moratorium can be extended twice, for up to a two year period, I don't anticipate that happening.

Speaking for myself, I'm fine with such businesses coming to town, but they shouldn't be near sensitive use areas like schools, daycare, churches and parks.

3.4 Planning Commission Appointment (Councilmember Benoit)
Brianna "Bri" Bernard, seven year resident of Wildomar, will join John Lloyd, Kim Strong, and Eric Filar as Wildomar's current crop of Planning Commissioners. As noted above, another vacancy came about when Michele Thomas stepped down.
Brianna "Bri" Bernard as she was glancing over at City Planner Matt Bassi from the podium.
3.5 Measure AA Citizen’s Oversight Advisory Committee Appointments
Five Wildomar citizens were appointed to the new oversight committee to ensure that the new revenues from the recently levied sales tax increase goes to four basic needs (Police, Fire, Homeless Issues and Roads).

This had a bit of a hiccup, or a wrinkle, in it before it was voted on. Mayor Pro-Tem Dustin Nigg suggested a slate of five candidates where four of them are already empaneled on the Measure Z (parks tax) oversight committee. I wasn't a fan of that idea.

My thinking was different on this issue

Historically speaking, Wildomar has NOT been blessed with an overabundance of volunteers when it comes to the Measure Z Committee. In my time of watching (since 2013) there have been many times that open seats would get ZERO applications turned in.

Often times the open seats were filled because a city council member would make a special request of friends. 

Don't misunderstand me here, that's a legitimate method of finding interested persons for the job when traditional methods yield no candidates, but I bring that up to remind everyone how few people have been interested in such a post without a bit of coaxing/cajoling along the way.

I wanted the first iteration of the new Measure AA Committee to be comprised with as many new, qualified applicants as we could get. 

Because my suspicion is that, in relatively short order, interest in the Measure AA Committee —five years out, will barely be measurable... even with a nuclear stethoscope.

My idea was to bring in fresh blood while there was an ample supply willingly knocking on the door.
I made a motion to have Monty Goddard on the committee, but the motion died due to a lack of a second. 

It would be unfairly speculative for me to get into why I think he wasn't voted in, he certainly has the bulldog tenacity to do the job better than any of the other candidates, but in the end, that wasn't the key factor for the balance of the voting members.

Let's just hope that there isn't a membership drop off from either Measure AA or Z which will then see us asking for more community volunteers when we just turned four away.

Seeing that the Planning Commission will have seen a 60% changeover in under half a year, a position with more prestige and importance, I wouldn't be holding my breath on the Z-AA rosters staying unchanged over the next 24 months.

3.6 Establishment of Cannabis Subcommittee

Mayor Pro-Tem Dustin Nigg and Councilmember Bridgette Moore will comprise the Cannabis Subcommittee. They will work with staff to then later bring back ideas on matters relating to commercial cannabis in Wildomar to the full council.

This is what is known as an Ad Hoc Committee.
Link to web definition.
With ad hoc committees, they aren't held to the same type of open meeting regulations that a standing committee must abided by (1:56:40 of the video). They don't have to have any public meetings.

Much, if not most, of the work will take place in informal settings. Much of it will involve leg work as they gather various facts from various sources in various locales... not at the dais like a standing subcommittee meeting (such as parks, trails and franchise subcommittees).

After hearing City Attorney Tom Jex explain it, I don't anticipate any public meetings for this committee. 

Before thinking that the public is being left out of the loop, the subcommittee will not be making any decisions on its own. That will be left to the full council, at a fully agendized and open meeting, in accordance with The Brown Act.

•                •                •

No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens.
– President Abraham Lincoln

Wildomar Rap welcomes new planning commissioner Bri Bernard to the Wildomar family. She's a fan of Lincoln quotes, so if she ever bumps into this blog, that could be the commonality that turns her into a fan. At that point we can then ponder over what Abe's fascination with felines could've been.

This blog was produced for viewing on a desktop or a laptop. Though it's been optimized for smartphones, the formatting can look odd on a smartphone or if you get this delivered through email (such as missing video links). Link to proper format.

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