Menifee City Council Meeting - March 3, 2009

The city council met yesterday. Scott Mann was not present. Here's a recap... Words of Inspiration Pastor Jim Amador from Heritage ...

The city council met yesterday. Scott Mann was not present. Here's a recap...

Words of Inspiration

Pastor Jim Amador from Heritage Christian Church gave some words of inspiration.

New Hires

City Manager George Wentz introduced Julie Woodruff as the new Executive Assistant, and Mike Butler from Winzler & Kelly's San Francisco office to help for 5-6 months with engineering stuff. Winzler & Kelly, if you remember, is the company the city hired to provide a city manager and all related staff.

Riverside County Regional Detention Center

County Supervisor Jeff Stone gave a presentation on a new detention center proposed along the I-10 freeway in Whitewater. He was on hand trying to earn the support of cities throughout the county. Menifee was the last city on his tour.

riverside county supervisor jeff stone
He gave out statistics illustrating a situation where county detention facilities are so overcrowded that the Sheriff is having to release convicts well before their sentences have been completed to make room for new convicts. In 2007, they released 6,000 convicts early, and in 2009 they expect to release 9,000 early.

The proposed facility will be large enough to house 7,200 detainees, which is double the capacity of the county's current inventory.

He said the new facility will be paid for with cash on hand that they've been saving for, and no financing will be needed. It'll create 1,500 jobs.

John Denver asked what Mary Bono-Mack thinks about this new detention facility, considering it's located just outside of her hometown. Stone said that she's not happy. He explained that they offered to put the facility elsewhere if she would offer up some BLM land to the county, but she never responded.

The Powerpoint presentation that Stone brought went on to show that they considered four other locations, including Mead Valley, Gilman Springs, San Timoteo, and West Badlands.

Fred Twyman asked how long it would take for the surrounding trees to grow up to a tall enough height to hide the new facility from view. Stone said about two years. They'll be planting mature trees, and not saplings.

Chuck Reutter stepped up during the public comment period, and asked Stone what he and the public could do to help fast track this new facility. Stone summarized his efforts to win support from all city councils.

The city council finished by adopting a resolution to support the new facility.

You can learn more this facility on the county's website: http://saferstreets.countyofriverside.us

Public Comments

Chuck Reutter, started off noting that Proposition 8 passed, yet elected officials are trying to get it thwarted through the courts. Then he related that to Menifee voters passing Measure G (districts), and the city council opting to study options through a Blue Ribbon Panel rather than honoring the outcome of the election. He went on to say that our country was founded on taking a stand to oppose government.

Ann Weston, began by acknowledging Chuck Reutter, and that she knew what she voted for (in reference to districting). She went on to describe Procinctu, the private military training facility located just outside of the city limits, but perhaps one day within the city's sphere of influence. She noted that there was no environmental impact report, no citizens oversight committee, and that it was fast tracked at the urging of Supervisor Ashley. She described some kind of license for 27 years, sniper training, and an firing range.

City Manager Wentz responded that Procinctu is outside of the city's sphere of influence.

Bill Zeidlik, asked the council if they've ever taken a look at the inventory of TUMF fees available, what they are for. He brought up issues of taking a population of the city. He noted that we're way behind on getting a Planning Commission, and wants a Planning Advisory Group. He also asked if the city knows what's going on with Bundy Canyon. There were other things he tried to cram into his 3 minutes, I just couldn't write them all down, or understand what he was saying.

Blue Ribbon Committee

Darcy Kuenzi announced they had assembled the Blue Ribbon Committee. They fielded 30 applications in all. From that field, they looked at where people lived, and also tried to create a gender balance.

The Committee comprises of Betti Cadmus, Daniel Taylor, Bill Beeman, Todd Reed, Lois MacGregor, Bekki Kroenke, Dawn Prather, Matthew Liesmeyer, and Thomas Giedroyce.

Greg August had originally applied, and was selected, but rescinded his membership, and Thomas Giedroyce was named in his place. There are also two other alternates, Ernest Rondeau, and Louis Mazei.

Greg August, was allowed to issue a public comment, offering congratulations to Scott Mann for being appointed as Mary Bono-Mack's California Republican Party Delegate, and noting that Mann declared districting would set up "taxation without representation", yet illustrated the Blue Ribbon Committee as thwarting the will of the people, and wasting money on an already decided issue.

Anne Pica, spoke as the president of the newly formed "Citizens for Fair Representation", saying that they collected 773 signatures and addresses in the last two weeks for a petition to dissolve the committee. She read the petition, which stated the formation of the Blue Ribbon Commmittee "violates our federal constitutional and statutory rights", referring to the delay of Measure G's implementation. The petition also noted that the council is ready to spend $20,000 on the Blue Ribbon Committee, and up to $45,000 on a special election, and that this is an improper expenditure of public funds for what she described as "the disenfranchisement of 3,345 voters" who voted for districts.

Bill Zeidlik, mentioned he's talked to some college students on how many people actually live in Menifee, and has seen numbers suggesting 62,000 to as much as 80,000. He also noted there was a 1% margin of difference in between districts and at-large. Then he asked the council if the Blue Ribbon Committee knows what they are instructed to do. Darcy Kuenzi answered that their instructions were printed on the application.

Sherman Road Accessory Structure

This matter concerns a homeowner who owns an acre of land and wants to build a couple of outbuildings, one of which is very huge, 8,000 square feet of storage space in a metal building, with four roll-up garage doors. The other a small 512 square foot building containing a toilet.

The city's planner noted some problems with the initial plan, which had called for a height of 24 feet, but got the applicant to accept a lower 20 foot height. And because it was a metal building, got the applicant to paint the walls to match the homes in the area. However, one bone of contention was that the building could only be used for residential uses, meaning, it had to support purposes that would coincide with what a typical homeowner would use it for. In other words, no commercial or industrial stuff.

The applicant took the stand and said when they bought this land, they forsaw a need in the future for a massive structure as this to store equipment, or perhaps vehicles, or even a nursery, so as to consolidate costs. What I got out of the discussion is that this particular piece still remains an unresolved issue, or perhaps I didn't hear what the resolution was.

However, Leroy Parsons, who lives next door to this property appeared and spoke in opposition to this project. He said the applicant's property already has water drainage problems, and is frequently having to pump water off of their property after rainfall. He said the construction of this building will likely divert water on to his property.

John Denver asked Carmen Cave, the city planner, if this building would create water drainage problems. She responded that the County Flood Control department approved this project, though not specifically addressing water runoff onto Leroy's property. John Denver tried to be more specific, asking Carmen if she can tell him specifically that this new structure would not create a water drainage problem. She couldn't answer.

And from that Denver began a discussion that the city pays a lot of money for its city staffing to figure this stuff out. The council also made the point that plans involving outbuildings and accessory structures really don't need to involve the council, except in cases where unresolved issues arise.

The council didn't approve this project, instead they directed the city planner resolve this, and issue approval/disapproval.

Fred Twyman asked Carmen Cave about public notices, in the context of this particular project, and which neighbors are notified that a public hearing is taking place. She said that they typically take a 300 foot radius from the property in question and notify neighbors in that radius. Twyman asked what happens when the property in question is 300 feet long or wide, does anyone get notified then? She said they typically extend that to 600 feet.

Prohibition of Fireworks

The city adopted a ordinance banning all fireworks in the city, except for those where the city grants a permit.

Ben Adams was allowed to make a public comment asking the council to provide for adequate enforcement, illustrating a case in Alaska, where he previously lived, that a house caught fire after a bottle rocket was launched.

This is not a new law, previously Menifee was under a similar county ordinance. The city's definition of illegal fireworks includes sparklers and firecrackers.

Ordinances for Consideration for Adoption

This is about what more laws do the council members want. City Attorney Elizabeth Martyn read off a laundry list of ordinances that other cities tend to adopt, and entertained recommendations from council members on what they felt were more urgent.

Ideas for recommended ordinances, and more urgent ordinances, include off-roading laws, tobacco sales, sludge, graffiti, smoking, roadside vending, day laborers, business licensing, and golf carts.

Regarding smoking, there's concern about smoking outdoors in parks and playgrounds and other city owned property.

Regarding day laborers they felt a good way to enforce that is to prosecute it as people trespassing on private property to seek employment, or seeking employment on public property without permits.

Regarding roadside vending they want to find a way to bust people selling cars, and people selling flowers, but not bust the people selling strawberries or lemonade.

Media Relations

The City Manager presented the council members with draft policies and/or ordinances on how city officials and staff interact with members of the media. It would eventually graduate into some kind of policy or ordinance down the road.

Public Safety Committee Report

John Denver, who along with Scott Mann, comprise the Public Safety Committee, and Denver gave a report on how things are going.

He said that because Menifee's population is increasing, the city needs more cops. He cited a figure of $323,123 in additional funds needed to boost police services, along with an additional $29,162 in traffic patrols.

For the next contract with the Sheriff, they would like to add ATV patrols, and get a gang taskforce. They'd also like to put more police vehicles on the road, but can't decide on getting more cars, or getting some motorcycles.

He also talked about homeless people in the context of public safety. He talked about homeless people hanging around the Vons in Sun City and presenting some kind of physical threat. He didn't give out any specifics, but noted that he and Mann are looking at "alternatives".

Fred Tywman asked Denver about the population increases requiring more cops, and wondered what data did he and Mann use to figure this out. Denver deferred to City Manager Wentz, who named off the State Board of Equalization (sales taxes), along with the Registrar of Voters.

Fred then mentioned that the lines drawn for voters precincts should be considered for drawing district lines, since districts are going to have to coincide with all that stuff.

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