The Menifee City Council met this evening with a workshop at 6:00pm, and the regular meeting at 7:00pm.
The first part of the workshop dealt with scheduling future workshops. Gary Thompson, the acting City Manager, handed out a schedule of workshop topics...
- Planning Approval Matrix - January
- Visioning & Goal Setting - January - Extended Session
- Employee Benefits/Credit Card Policy - January
- General Plan Process - February
- Planning Commission - February
- Signage Policy - March
- Council Districts - Survey Results - March
- Community Support Policy - April
- Budget Updates/Workshops - February Update/April & May Workshops
The second part of the workshop dealt with the issue of illegal sign posting. A slideshow presentation was given discussing the existing laws and ordinances that the city can use to remove these signs.
The signs specifically in concern are those posted on public property, and those that create some kind of public danger. A danger might include signs that block the view of drivers, or where someone posting a sign could be in danger of hurting themselves and thereby setting up a liability for the city.
Fred Twyman noted that while liability is always concern, the real issue here is that these signs are ugly. Acting city manager Thompson agreed, but seemed to suggest that countering ugly signs is tough to enforce, and that using public safety gives the city a reason to remove signs.
Scott Mann and John Denver commented that there are already laws on the books that allow the city to remove these signs, and asked why the City Manager isn't already enforcing them. Thompson replied that he intends to enforce the laws, but that since our community is so used to putting up signs without retribution, it might create a shock to the people. Therefore, he recommended the city publish a warning to all sign posters that they're about to lose their signs if they don't take them down right now.
In fact, twice he referred to using the press to issue this notice, and everytime he said "press" he looked over at me. So, I'm making it my civic duty to put all sign posters in Menifee on notice that you have been officially warned.
The presentation also included photo examples of illegal signs posted in Menifee (I assume these are the ones that create a public danger)...
Diana's Dance Co.
John Denver also went on to say that there's a need for these signs, and expressed his desire that the city set aside an area or two where commercial signs can be posted. He said that Hemet has something like this right now.
In my opinion, since we're talking about public property here, I wonder if the city can charge a fee to post signs. Then it becomes a revenue generator, and if someone didn't pay their fee, the city automatically has reason to remove the sign, danger or no danger.
Lt Ruffcorn Awarded
Lt. Ruffcorn of the Menifee Police Department was given an award of recognition from the city for his services. Ruffcorn is leaving the city to provide service to the Northern California town of Auburn. Here's a photo of him receiving the award...
Ann Weston - As in the city council meeting two weeks ago, Ann expressed her disdain for Procinctu, the private military training facility just north of Menifee's borders. She this time added that there are laws against companies like Procinctu, and that there is no wall surrounding the company to prevent stray bullets. She also said there are indian artifact's on Procinctu's property that the nearby tribes don't know about. Mayor Edgerton responded by saying that any matters beyond Menifee's borders are beyond the city's control.
Gary Reller - President of the Board of Trustees at the Romoland School District, stepped up to congratulate the City of Menifee, and described his district, and mentioned topics very dear to him like public safety and economic development. He shared the podium with Bobbie Plough, the district superintendent who said she's looking forward to working with the council, and then invited them all over for a tour of the district.
Terry Friedman - Asked the council to create a future agenda item to discuss neighborhood watch programs. He said he wanted to get some special time to speak when that subject comes up. Mayor Edgerton went ahead and asked the City Manager to pencil it in for December 16th.
Victoria Woods is the name of a new apartment complex going in along Antelope Rd, just in front of the Oasis community. The land that it's going to sit on is currently designated as "single family dwelling", which is what the Oasis is designated as. The developer wanted the council to approve a zoning change to "general residential", allowing them to build the apartments. Today, the council was asked to give its final blessing, which they did.
Two weeks ago, a full presentation was given by Carmen Cave, the city's planning director, who recommended the council approve the zoning change. One member of the public, the Oasis association president, stepped forward to give their support for the zoning change, saying the developer held several meetings with Oasis homeowners, and made a number of concessions, which basically hinged on lowering the complexes from 3-stories to 2-stories. There will, however, still be at least a couple of complexes with 3-stories.
There was also at least one Oasis homeowner who spoke out against the zoning change two weeks ago, saying that he bought his home at Oasis under the idea that the surrounding community was zoned for single family homes, and felt it's wrong for the city to let him down on his piece of Heaven. He went on to say there are many other homeowners who are also against this, but they were not present to voice their opposition.
The council's response to this homeowner had the tone that because he was the only dissenter present, they would go ahead and approve the zoning change. I'm not sure that was truly their intent, but it sure came off sounding like it was. That lead the homeowner to argue that the city provided no advance warning to Oasis homeowners of this discussion. But the city staff provided argument that it did notify certain homeowners within a certain radius from the apartment complex, which apparently amounted to only a fraction of the total Oasis homeowners.
Okuma Parcel Map
This involves a property owner with 2.5 acres of land on Okuma Rd, not too far from Murrieta Rd and Scott Rd. He wants to subdivide his property in half, and needed council approval. Carmen Cave, the city's planning director, recommended the council to approve it.
The existing zoning currently calls for parcels at a minimum of 1 acre in size, so subdividing it wouldn't be an issue.
Bill Zeidlik, spoke up saying that if the council approves this, they'll open up a can of worms causing everyone to want to subdivide too, which is probably likely due to the state of the economy. He noted the infrastructure problems it would create in that area with increased demand for water, sewage, and traffic. But he also went on to say that he's in favor of this request.
Ken Gulley RV Barn
Ken Gulley owns property in the J-Bar Ranch area, by Scott Rd and I-215. He wants to build a barn to house his RV. Existing law requires him to keep the barn 75 ft away from the property line. But based on the existing structures on his property, and the way his property is configured, he can't meet that 75 ft requirement. So, he's asking the council to consider a "variance", which is planning-speak for breaking the rules. Instead, his barn will be 45 ft from the property line.
Carmen Cave, the city's planning director recommended the council approve the request, and the council did so, but with Edgerton voting no. His no vote was actually a commentary that he was trying to avoid setting a precedence.
That discussion came up due to Carmen Cave asking the council for some guidelines on how to proceed with these "variance" requests. That is, she wanted the council to provide its vision to her, so that she can process these requests with some working knowledge. Her request brought up further dicussion that approving these requests could set a precedence, encouraging other property owners to demand special consideration for their building projects. Edgerton already knew that three other council members would vote "yes" on this request, so he opted to vote "no" as a way of sending a message to other property owners that such requests are not automatic.
Whether his strategy will work remains to be seen. But there's an old saying that laws are meant to be broken. Submit your variance requests to Carmen Cave.
The Shops at Scott
The Shops at Scott is a proposed shopping center targeted to go in at the corner of Scott Rd and Zeiders Rd. The developers were here to get a zoning change request so that they could move forward with building it. But because Darcy Kuenzi was not present this evening, and that she really wanted to hear their presentation, the council agreed to move this for the next meeting.
Cable and Video Franchising Fees
The council voted to adopt an ordinance that would collect a 5% franchise fee from cable and satellite television providers. Mayor Edgerton was careful to remind the audience that the council is not levying a new tax, but that we're all currently paying this fee on our bills. It's just that the county is collecting it, not the city. The ordinance authorizes the city to start collecting it.
Extending County Ordinances for One Year
The council approved an ordinance that would call for extending the county ordinances for an additional one year. When the city officially formed, it adopted all of the county ordinances as its own ordinances. This new ordinance simply extends that adoption for another year. Scott Mann explained to the audience that this gives them more time to do "due diligence" in forming new ordinances that "Menifee-ize" the county ones.
He actually coined that term.
Invest Monies into the Local Agency Investment Fund
The council adopted a resolution to invest its extra cash into an interest-earning account. The City Manager says that we currently have money sitting in our checking account doing nothing.
The council was asked to approve the final map for a new housing development called "Gallery". I'm not sure where it's located.
The City Attorney advised the council that because the developer has satisfied all the requirements of the tentative map, it is required by law to approve the final map.
Nonetheless, the council entertained arguments from the audience against the final map. Bill Zeidlik commented that the slopes separating each house are so tall and steep that it presents a flood danger. A representative from the developer rebutted that they've installed drains that will eliminate that problem. However, Debbie Manion, who says she lives a couple houses away from this development, commented that she's already seeing her property flooded from the runoff created by this development.
The city council voted to approve the final map, with Fred Twyman giving a rather hesitant "yes" vote. Seems like he could have voted "no" to avoid setting a precedent, since the others voted "yes".
Newport Road Realignment
The City Manager reported that he's met with a developer to begin building the temporary realignment plan for Newport Rd as early as this January. This is the plan that will have the realigned Newport Rd running one-way only (see details). However, he conditioned that by saying the developer might delay that by another 3 months due to issues with contracting issues.
In my opinion, this one-way temporary plan will not create a significant net improvement. There may be a small improvement, but not significant enough to warrant this expense and effort. The city may as well leave it alone if it can't make the realigned Newport Rd two-way, and just wait for Audie Murphy Ranch to get back on track.
John Denver asked the City Manager to keep the pressure on the developer to finish the Newport Road realignment because all of the council members ran on a platform to make road improvements.
He also asked the City Manager road getting freeway signs in place denoting the boundaries of Menifee. The manager responded that he's been in touch with Cal-Trans, but that it takes them about 2 years to get these signs in place.
Denver also asked the manager about getting booklets that provide council members with some facts on what the city's budget is, and where the money is coming from.
Finally, he reported that he's been working with the Police Chief with respect to the "Explorer Post", a way to get kids involved with local law enforcement. He said this program is being implemented as he spoke.
Scott Mann responded to Denver's request for city budget booklets that he doesn't need too many details, just an overview, perhaps quarterly.
He also congratulated Phoeba Irey, who was in attendance, on her service with the Menifee Union School District.
Fred Twyman commented that he's been working with Darcy Kuenzi in ironing out details on the Subcommittee Subcommittee. This is the subcommitee to figure out what subcommitees we need. He says the public will soon be given a chance to involve themselves in civic duty.