This evening was the Menifee City Council meeting. You can find the agenda posted here...
There was a workshop at 6:00pm hosted by Larry Ross, a principal planner with the County. He was there to give a presentation on how the County goes about making changes to the zoning. The main meeting started at 7:00pm.
In addition to Larry Ross, there was also Ron Goldman, also with the County Planning department. I didn't get Ron's title, but he was talking like he was Larry's superior. Both of them gave a pretty good description of how they go about changing the county's general plan and specific plans. The presentation gave the city council an opportunity to figure out how to create their own similar process.
Sounds like there's quite a bit of detail, but Larry and Goldman provided some insight on why the County does what it does when it comes to changing the zoning and why things tend to take so long.
They carved up the entire county into "Foundation Areas". Foundation areas are basically the larger, more general zones. They have five different types, Agriculture, Rural, Rural Community, Open Space, and Community Development. Every plot of land managed by the County falls into one of these foundation areas. Within each foundation area, there can be several specific plans. Specific plans can be created for a shopping center, a housing development, a park, an animal preserve, etc.
Generally, the county uses a two-step approval process on all requests for planning changes. They'll review a request for a change, and then either authorize that developer to move forward, or deny the request outright. If they authorize them to move forward, it's not meant as a final approval, but only to let the developer take their plans into more detail, before finally getting the official approval. It's kinda like the County's way of saying, "Ooooh that sounds good, tell me more!".
They also said that State laws limit counties and cities to making no more than four zoning changes per year. That change could include anything from as small as one person wanting to build a new home, to a developer wanting to build shopping mall. So what they do is bundle up a bunch of these zoning change requests and submit them as one giant change. Hence, it can take several months to get an approval from the county on a zoning change request.
John Denver asked the planners if there was anything requiring the City to honor all of the existing agreements that the County had made with developers. Elizabeth Martyn, the city attorney answered that one with a long drawn out response, but basically saying, "No". There seems to be plenty of tools in the form of laws that allows cities to back out of previously agreed-to deals. Each deal has be to examined on a case-by-case basis.
Clean Up on Trumble Road
Darcy Kuenzi mentioned that the Riverside County Economic Development Agency is seeking grant money from the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up some land along Trumble Road, that's at the north-western most point of the city's limits. That land had once been an auto dealership.
She asked the city council to send a letter of support to accompany this request.
Anne Pica - Advised the council on the creation of city council districts. She pressed the council to establish the district boundaries, rather than put the matter back to the voters for a second time. She threatened to take legal action if the council put it back on the ballot. The city attorney responded that at the next council meeting, there will be a workshop specifically on districts.
Grant Yoder - Started off by saying that the 3 minutes given to a commenter wasn't enough time to express everything someone needed to say. He also complained that the city has not done a good job in explaining the details of the city's newly adopted reimbursement ordinance. He also went on to say that the city is wasting too much time on petty matters like city branding, and credit cards.
Bill Zeidlik - Seemed to advance Grant's comments by saying that the city needs to more advance materials on upcoming agenda items. He mentioned that the city doesn't publish its staff reports anywhere. He went on to press the subject of districts, saying that "we have lifestyle differences" and that "we have six distinct communities". He also asked for advance materials on study sessions so that he can prepare for comments.
Chuck Reutter - Asked a couple of questions, one about a rumor he heard that a developer is planning to build some low-income apartments in Sun City on the corner of Bradley and Cherry Hills. The City Manager responded that he's heard of similar talk, but no such plans have been submitted. Interestingly, I've seen plans for a shopping center there. He also asked the council about a group called, "Blackwater" in the Romoland area. Darcy Kuenzi mentioned that she'd explain that to him after the meeting.
Columbus Day Now a City Holiday
Scott Mann proposed that the city include Columbus Day as an official city holiday, increasing its number of holidays to 12. The council approved this.
Representatives Appointed to Groups
The Mayor identified the which council members will be appointed as represenatives to various outside agencies...
- Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) - Kuenzi, Mann (alternate)
- Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) - Mann, Denver (alternate)
- Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Agency (WRCRCA) - Denver, Kuenzi (alternate)
- Riverside Transit Authority (RTA) - Edgerton, Kuenzi (alternate)
- Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency (RCHCA) - Tywman, Kuenzi (alternate)
- Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) - Twyman, Kuenzi (alternate)
- Public Agency Risk Sharing Authority of California (PARSAC) - Denver, Mann (alternate)
The council adopted an additional chapter to its existing ordinance on purchasing procedures. Chapter 3.30 grants authority to the City Manager to issue RFPs (request for proposals) when hiring private contractors for jobs.
The council adopted an ordinance that aligns all future city elections with the state's existing schedule for elections. That would put November 2010 as the next date for elections.
Southern California Gas Company
The council adopted an ordinance granting The Gas Company all rights and priviledges to move forward on any projects necessary to keep gas supplied to everyone in Menifee. I was kinda confused on this, because I thought the council adopted this at the last meeting.
Roger Zeimer, who identified himself as a representative from The Gas Company, spoke before the council basically to say, "Thanks".
Student of the Month
The council agreed to involve itself in all ceremonies regarding Student of the Month awards offered by all Menifee area schools. They also agreed to issue certificates of achievement to these students. In addition, they agreed to issue proclaimations for school dedication ceremonies. Tywman noted that both he and Scott Mann attended the dedication for Southshore Elementary, and noted that other governing bodies offered proclaimations and plaques, but that the city hadn't done so. They'll be doing something for Quail Valley Elementary this October 28, and will likely hand out a belated offering to Southshore.
City Manager Report
George Wentz only reported that progress is being made on the temporary plan to open up the realigned Newport Road. He didn't offer much specifics only that he insists it will alleviate traffic.
City Council Comments
Scott Mann went on speak more about attending the dedication at Southshore Elementary and how impressed he was with the new school, the enthusiasm of the kids, and all the pomp and circumstance that went on. He urged everyone to attend the dedication for Quail Valley Elementary on October 28.
Darcy Kuenzi explained that the Riverside County Economic Development Agency has some $48 million in funds as part of the Community Development Block Grant, earmarked for "neighborhood stabilization". She wasn't sure if Menifee, being its own entity now, would qualify for any of those funds, but wanted the City Manager to make sure we didn't "fall through the cracks".
John Denver said he attended a meeting at Menifee Valley Medical Center that provides counseling to prospective brides and grooms. He said it was an absolutely wonderful program they provide, and that the city is just filled with other great programs that probably don't get enough attention.
Fred Twyman mentioned that after looking at the city's ordinances, it's possible to afford public commenters with more time than the alotted three minutes, if they feel someone has something very important to say (which I'm sure everyone has).