City Council Meeting - February 17, 2009

I attended the city council meeting of Feb 17, 2009. Words of Inspiration Tony Truax of Revival Christian Fellowship gave the words of in...

I attended the city council meeting of Feb 17, 2009.

Words of Inspiration

Tony Truax of Revival Christian Fellowship gave the words of inspiration.

Eagle Scout Presentations

Councilman John Denver presented certificates of recognition to three recent Eagle Scouts, Thomas Spencer, Anthony Beck, and Nathan (?). I couldn't hear Nathan's last name. Denver went on to describe these three people's service in the scouts.

Menifee Police Department Quarterly Report

Police Chief James McElvain gave the quarterly report consisting of three parts, the first part was an introduction of the staff, the second a description of the Police Explorer Program, and third were crime statistics.

As for the introduction of staff, he described his department's "zone policing" system, whereby the city is divided into four zones. Each zone has its own team of officers. In most cases, officers focus on their zones, but in certain cases they can assist officers in other zones. He also introduced every officer, and sergeant, and read their service history and experience.

The Police Explorer Program is similar to the Army ROTC, except it's part of the Boy Scouts. Boys ages 15-21 years can enter into the program and help out the police department. They do help with traffic control, search for lost persons, assist at crime scenes, assist at DUI check points, fingerprint kids at events, and dress up as McGruff the Crime Dog. It's supposed to be a recruitment tool into the police department. McElvain says it would cost the city about $26,000 per year to run.

Opinion: Sounds like a good program, but it also sounds like the city would be paying money to recruit people into the county's Sheriff department. If that's the case, would the Sheriff discount the city's policing contract by $26,000 per year?

As for the crime statistics, McElvain said that in October 2008, we had 2,907 calls, of which 157 were "Part 1 Crimes". Part 1 Crimes are those of a highly serious nature whereby the FBI would get involved. In November 2008, the calls decreased to 2,721 calls and 100 Part 1, and in December it shot up to 3,149 calls and 156 Part 1.

Average response times had improved from 2007 to 2008, with "priority 1" calls, which are life threatening cases in progress, taking only 7.2 minutes to respond. McElvain didn't explain what "respond" means, but I'm sure with priority 1 calls, it means putting a person on scene in that amount of time. With priority 2 calls, which are less threatening, the response time was 10.3 minutes. Priority 3 calls, which are past events and totally non-threatening, took only 13.6 minutes.

Traffic citations in October 2008 amounted to 288. In November it dipped down to 240. But in December it shot up to 349. McElvain says that the reason why it dipped down to 240 in November is because residents were testing the new police department with calls, and hence had to take more officers off of traffic patrol. I was puzzled by this because a couple of paragraphs above, he said that calls in November dipped down from October. So who knows.

And with traffic collisions during the last quarter of 2008, there were 48 non-injury collisions, 17 injury collisions, 2 fatal collisions, and 21 DUI arrests.

Mayor Edgerton chimed in and asked McElvain if increasing the number of citations brings in more revenue for the city. He didn't really have the answer to that question, so city attorney Betsy Martyn took over and basically said "yes", but explained that the city only gets a small portion of that money. The money actually goes to the county court, who then dispurses it to the County, who then gives a small portion of it to the city. On top of that, State lawmakers are right now considering legislation to take even more of this money away from cities to address the budget.

Public Comments

These are public comments unrelated to anything on the agenda...

Eric Dorati, says he has driven to all four corners of the city and is amazed at how big it is, and complimented the city council members for taking on such a big task. Commented on what he described as "the two naysayers who show up twice a month", which I think he's referring to Chuck Reutter and Anne Pica, and then finished by saying, "You cannot steer this into a great city by looking in the rear view mirror".

Donna German, a Sun City resident, complimented the Mayor for "trying to disband the Blue Ribbon Committee", and then went on with some very harsh words for the remaining council members making such statements as "you appear to have little to no experience", "an embarrassment and disappointment", and "cockamamy committee", among several others. She finished by saying that she voted for cityhood, but didn't vote for any of the seated councilmembers.

Nick Zar (sp?), alerted the council to what he sees as possible illegal business activity without a license. He was citing daylaborers on the corner of Scott and Murrieta rds. He also noted graffiti in his neighborhood. Councilmember John Denver advised him to address that with the City Manager.

Bill Ziedlik, talked about a business development going in on Keller Road, and the number of jobs it was bringing in, and said that the first business to go in this area would set the standard in terms of other businesses coming in. He described it as a storage facility that will hog up a large plot of land, but only create two new jobs. He was pointing out businesses that create a disparity in land consumption versus job creation. He also mentioned that there are certain persons authorized to use the local trails, but are being busted by the cops anyways. Somehow, the police need to be aware.

Betsy Duncan, asked for waiver of code violation. She says her property measures about 2.5 acres, and that she has a metal storage shed. She was cited by the city because apparently you have to have at least 5 acres in order to have a such a storage shed. City Attorney Betsy Martyn chimed in saying that the County adopted this ordinance only a year ago, and that it was grandfathered into the City. The Mayor advised Duncan to speak to the City Manager about this.

Romoland Ranch

This is a small 5.5 acre plot of land, on the corner of Antelope Rd and Watson Rd in the Romoland area, being subdivided into 17 single family homes. The developer, Romoland Ranch, LLC, is seeking approval of a tentative map.

One issue the city planners had is that there's a tiny portion of this plot that the developer could not purchase, for reasons unknown to me. The city had wanted the developer to buy this, but because it wasn't possible, the city asked the council to approve the tentative anyways. Councilmember Darcy Kuenzi expressed concern because it could lead to a piece of blighted land adjacent to a new residential development.

Bill Ziedlik made a public comment about the layout of the tract, noting their unusual configuration, and even described it as "looking ghetto". He said it was out of character with the other homes in the neighborhood, and that one particular property was unusually long compared to its width. Mike Naggar, who represents the developer, said it just wasn't possible to draw the tract any other way and still be in compliance with city and county ordinances.

Ultimately, the tentative map was approved.

Yard Ladd Construction

Yard Ladd Construction is a local contractor who owns about 5 acres of land along Ethanac Rd, Antelope Rd, and Dawson Rd. He currently uses it as storage for some of his equipment. He was cited by the County back in 2005 for illegal use of land. At issue was lack of landscaping, in particular plants and trees, and a fence too close to the road.

He's moving the fence back, and is promising to plant trees. The city is requiring him to water the trees for at least 6 months. He says he can do that, but after 6 months the trees will die. He has to hire a water truck to water them, because the land has no facilities to bring in water. Councilmember Darcy Kuenzi wanted the requirements amended to water the trees for 12 months. Councilmember John Denver noted the requirements should be for him to maintain these trees permanently, not necessarily water them for a limited period.

The motion passed.

AB 885 (Septic Systems)

The City Attorney addressed the council saying that AB 885 could be delayed until October 2009. The council expressed its support for purusing the matter through Assemblyman Cook's office in getting it killed.

Mike Vergeto (sp?) made a public comment saying there are better ways to address faulty septic systems, and offered a suggestion of creating a "septic tank district", whereby property owners with septic tanks within the district would pay an assessment of about $30.00 a month, which gets their tanks emptied and repaired.

Dark Sky Ordinance

This is a law that defines what we have to do to reduce nighttime lighting so that astronomers at Mt Palomar Observatory can still stare out into space. City Planner Carmen Cave said that every city has to have this law. She said there are certain requirements for cities within 15 miles from Mt Palomar, and those for 45 miles of Mt Palomar, and finished by saying that Menifee is within 45 miles.

Tattoo Parlors

The council was asked by city staff to adopt an "urgent ordinance" to temporarily ban any new tattoo shops within the city. Councilmember Kuenzi asked why is there such an urgency. City attorney Martyn went into some lengthy discussion about other cities seeing problems with tattoo shops, like attracting shady clientele, gang members, and drug users. The mayor joked that there was trouble in River City, and that starts with a "T", and that rhymes with "P", etc... City planner Carmen Cave added that it's a health hazard because it involves poking the skin, and that we wouldn't want something like that next to a child care center.

John Denver noted that dental offices involve blood also, and asked if there should be a moratorium on those too. Cave answered that dental offices should indeed have special rules and regulations.

Martyn brought focus back by saying this ordinance doesn't permanently ban tattoo parlors, it only gives the city extra time to draft a complete set of regulations.

The matter was approved with a 4 to 1 vote, with Denver voting no.

WRCOG Red Team Foreclosure Report

This is an initiative by the Western Riverside Council of Goverments to stem the tide of foreclosures.

City Manager Wentz described his plan on how we can implement this into Menifee. He described a plethora of strategies, dubbed a "strike force", all designed to prevent foreclosures from happening, to getting foreclosed properties sold, and even getting dead grass green again.

City Seal

The City Manager said that they've whittled down the entries to a smaller group, but said that there was no si