Vehicle Burglary Prevention Tips

Dep. Christopher Varela out of the Perris Station submits these vehicle burglary prevention tips.

He says vehicle burglary is a crime statistic that continues to be a problem for Menifee. Most of the time it's due to people leaving valuables in their car. I talked to him over the phone and he said that there are actually residents leaving their wallets in the car, in plain sight.

Interestingly, just this morning our neighbor found her car window smashed in with her GPS gone. Perhaps there's this idea that Menifee is a rural neighborhood far from the city, and that's creating a false sense of security.
In the City of Menifee one of the largest crime trends is theft from vehicles. This continues to be a constant problem for the residents of Menifee. Below is a list of simple prevention tips every resident should use to help prevent vehicle burglary.

  • Lock all the doors and secure all the windows to your vehicle.

  • If you have an alarm on your vehicle please activate it at all times.

  • Remove all valuable items (GPS systems, lap tops, wallets, money etc.) from the vehicle. Simply "hiding" them in the glove box does not work.

  • Do not leave keys, garage door openers or paperwork with identifying information in the vehicle.

  • Try to always park your vehicle in the garage. If this is not possible then purchase a light that will completely light up your drive way.

  • If the vehicle is parked in the garage, then please still complete the above listed bullet points.

Theft from vehicles continues to occur in Menifee because the above listed simple prevention techniques are not being followed. It would appear to be common sense to lock and secure all doors and windows to a vehicle, as well as remove all valuable items but I can tell you it is not being done.

The thieves walking around the neighborhoods are looking for vehicles with unlocked doors and unsecured windows. They are looking for the vehicles that have valuables in plain sight. It is fast and easy to smash open a window and take the valuable items lying in plain sight within a vehicle. It is even easier if that vehicle is not secured.

If the residents of Menifee begin to follow the above listed prevention tips I am confident theft from vehicles will decrease. Thank you for your time.

Submitted by:
Deputy Chris Varela of the Menifee Police Department

City Council Undecided on Special Election

This evening, the city council was to adopt official council districts, and decide on holding a special election to overturn the results of Measure G.

Measure G was the ballot measure voters decided on a year ago, choosing "by district" over "at large".

In the end, the council adopted district boundaries, but a motion to hold a special election went down in defeat, with Mann, Edgerton, and Twyman voting no.

The audience cheered. However, the cheering was quickly quieted when Mann asked if he could offer an alternative motion. He said he still supported holding a special election this November, to overturn the results of Measure G, but wanted more details in the special election.

That is, the reason why he voted "no" on the special election is because he felt the details of that special election was not definitive enough. John Denver made the original motion as simply, "should we adopt at large council elections, yes or no".

Mann wanted more detail, including other options such as "from districts", and how the mayor would be elected. Mann thereby motioned that the city council hold a special council session, sometime between now and August 4, to iron out the details of what that special election would be about.

Considering that both Denver and Kuenzi at this point had been defeated in their quest to create a special election, they had no choice but to hear Mann out if they still wanted to seek that goal.

Mann said that he would not support a special election if it was simply going to be a yes/no vote on at large. That had the effect of giving Mann some power to dictate the terms of the special election. It also made Mann the swing vote, with Edgerton and Twyman voting no, and Kuenzi and Denver voting yes.

Kuenzi however, stated that there certain alternatives to governance that she would not support. But nonetheless, seconded Mann's motion to have a special council session to iron out details on this special election.

In the end, all five council members voted to hold a special council session.

However, the council could not immediately agree on the date of the special session. Edgerton stated there were certain days he could not be present. Denver stated that he too had days he could not be present. Douglas Johnson, the consultant they hired to look at all this, also has a limited schedule. It's still not known at this time when that special session will be.

Council Member Positions

When the council voted on the original motion, for a straight up yes/no vote on adopting at-large elections, the council members explained their positions...

Fred Twyman said he would be open to having an election to overturn Measure G, however he would not support having such an election this November. Having it this November would make it a "special election" because it would be held at a time when there were no other elections. That would therefore cost the city about $38,000. However, he'd support that election if held in 2010, on a date when there were other elections, which would then spare the city that expense.

Darcy Kuenzi said her support for switching to an at-large city council election has nothing to do with protecting her political career, but that she genuinely feels that is the best choice for Menifee, and pointed that she's been resident here for many years, and plans to be a resident for many more, even after retiring from elected office.

John Denver said that he learned a lot from the work Douglas Johnson performed. Johnson is the consultant from National Demographics Corporation, the company the city hired to iron out all the details of city governance structures, and came up with recommended district maps. Denver pointed out that cities the size of Menifee are typically ran at-large.

Wallace Edgerton said that while he had expressed his preference for at-large elections, he noted that the voters had already spoken through Measure G, choosing districts. He said that even though the vote was close, it was still a majority vote, and decisions should not be overturned just because they're close. He also expressed his unwillingness to spend money on a special election on something the people already decided on.

Scott Mann did not originally explain his opinions, but instead rebutted the notion that this special election was costing us unecessarily. He said that when the city created its 2009/2010 budget, they set aside money to cover this special election.

Edgerton responded back that it's still money we don't have to spend, especially at a time when the City of Menifee was just barely able to stay within budget this fiscal year.

District Boundaries Adopted

Before the council decided on the special election, they had actually adopted district boundaries.

They adopted a map called "NDC 4", which you can download and view here...

This map was originally drafted by Fred Twyman. But was modified by Douglas Johnson of NDC. Johnson made modifications to make it more "clean". That is, Twyman's original map had some neighborhoods carved out of others for the sake of making each district contain as equal number of residents as possible. Johnson smoothed out the district boundaries such that they tend to follow major roads, and keep some communities unified.

This map puts each council member alone in their own districts.

All but John Denver was happy with this map. Denver's district (District E in yellow), is perhaps the most convoluted. Johnson admitted that whenever district boundaries are drawn, there's always a district that becomes the runt of the litter, and Denver's district was it. Denver will represent the most diverse district, including a chunk of the Sun City Core, the family areas along the north-east I-215 corridor, and the rural areas along Ethanac.

This map also puts the Oasis retirement community into the same district with all the family communities (District C in blue).

Finally, this map also slices Sun City Core in half with Murrieta Rd as the dividing line. Mann would represent the western half, and Edgerton the eastern half. Denver will actually represent a small chunk of the Core too.

Public Comments

There are were some public comments made with respect to the district boundaries...

Anne Pica, argued the council should not have this discussion listed under "Continuing Items" since in fact several of the items to be discussed were never actually agendized previously. Even though they had been talked about in council meetings, all previous discussion was never under an agenda item. The council did not respond, but then again, the council was under time constraints, needing to have all these details dicussed and voted no later than August 7. Pica also noted that Kuenzi should not be allowed to include Romoland in her district since she's employed by Supervisor Marion Ashley, who represents Romoland, and argues it presents a conflict of interest.

Bill Zeidlik, spoke in support of Anne Pica's assertion that this discussion should be listed as "New Business" and not "Continued Items", since technically these topics were never agendized before. The strategy for arguing this is that it makes it more difficult for the council to have details ironed by the August 7 deadline.

Louis Mazei, asked the council to adopt such boundaries that would place his home and his neighbors into a district that does not include Sun City Core. He said he lives in Sun City, but not in the core area, and does not want to be represented by the core.

Bob Duistermars, spoke on behalf of the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce, urging the council to approve a special election to overturn Measure G. He said the board of directors at the Chamber all want an at-large elected council, along with a mayor elected every year. Interesting, Mayor Edgerton asked Duistermars where he lives. He humbly said, "Hemet", which drew a collective groan from the audience.

Richard ?, I couldn't make out his last name. He stated he originally voted for districts, and then decided to research the matter more closely, and still supports districts. He said he wants to be represented by a council member who lives in his area. He said he doesn't want Menifee to grow to 250,000 residents, and that he doesn't want to live in an "economic engine".

Douglas Johnson Presentation

Before the city council voted on anything, Douglas Johnson had given a lengthy presentation of his findings and recommendations.

Johnson works for National Demographics Corporation, the company the city hired to research all the details and come up with recommendations on district boundaries.

He said the ideal district should have about 12,932 residents. He also pointed out the Voting Rights Act, which requires each district to have equal number of hispanic voters. His recommendation is that each district have between 19.5% to 26.5% hispanic voters.

There were about 30 maps submitted in all, including 11 from Joe Daugherty, 17 from actual Menifee residents, 2 from city council members, and 4 created by Douglas Johnson.

Johnson then ran each map into a set of requirements, and was able to eliminate several maps. There were several requirements, but those that seemed to be the most discussed was each district had to have less than 10% population deviation, the districts should be reasonably contiguous (no wild zig zag lines and loops), and that council members should each be in their own districts. In the end he had 10 maps by which the council could choose from.

A very interesting point that Johnson made is that when we had the original cityhood election in June 2008, several voters cast ballots on Measure F, the cityhood vote, but chose not to vote on Measure G, the district versus at-large vote. He said that while most voters cast ballots for or against cityhood, they simply didn't bother to choose between districts or at-large. Some 1,741 voters left Measure G blank, about 14.4% of the voters.

He surmised that many people had their minds made up about cityhood, and simply didn't think it was necessary to vote on anything else. Had all those people cast ballots on Measure G, there could have been a larger mandate for districts, and we wouldn't even be talking about this right now.

Johnson also said that cities are required by law to present ballot measures as a "yes or no" vote. Therefore, if we are to have a special election to overturn the results of Measure G, the city would have to present a new governance structure on the ballot form, and then ask voters yes or no.

He advised there be three separate ballot measures, one for at-large (yes/no), another for by-districts (yes/no), and one for from-districts (yes/no). He said the only way a ballot measure could pass is if one of those measures received greater than 50% "yes". If somehow two measures got more than 50% yes, the one with the greater votes wins. In my opinion, if that being the case, it makes it difficult to overturn Measure G. If all three are presented, it would split the vote three ways, making it very hard for one measure to get more than 50% yes.

Johnson also said that if no measure received greater than 50% yes, then the city must stick with "by district".

Denver's original motion to present a special election to adopt at-large elections, yes or no, would probably be easier to fetch a 50% or more yes vote, since it's the most simple. However, that motion has already been defeated, and Mann already put himself on record as saying that he wouldn't support that measure. So whatever the council comes up with in this upcoming special session, is going to be more complicated.

Sunrise Over Menifee

I woke up early this morning, and didn't feel like sleeping in. So, I put on my shoes and went out for a walk, and snapped these photos...

sunrising over menifee

sunrise over menifee

The first one was taken around 5:50am. The second at 6:02am.

This is along La Ladera Rd, looking east. The water is EMWD's water reclamation basin.

At this time of the morning, the loudest sounds filling the air are those of ducks, coots, and other water fowl, and the solo of a coyote in the hills behind me. But I could still hear the cars moving up and down the I-215 from a few miles away.

Hope your weekend is a good one.

City Adopts New Police & Fire Contracts

The city council today held a special session to adopt new contracts for police and fire.

The existing contracts expired June 30, 2009, but the city was able to continue on a one-month "memorandum of understanding" that extended the service to July 31, 2009.

The new police contract goes into effect immediately, costing the city nearly $8.7 million, for the 2009/2010 fiscal year.

The contract also include a provision whereby the city and the Riverside County Sheriff will meet in the first quarter of 2011 to discuss the possibility of moving Menifee's police headquarters from the Perris Substation to the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta. Currently, Temecula's police department operates out of there, but there's an expectation they'll be moving close to the new city hall building.

The new fire contract runs through the same period of time, but at a cost of nearly $6.9 million.

Riverside County's fire services is provided by the California Department of Forestry.

Councilman Denver asked if the fire department will adopt the city's name and city seal on their trucks and uniforms, similar to the police department. City Manager Wentz replied that he's had discussions on that. However, a representative from the California Department of Forestry happened to be on hand, and said that their department has a policy against putting any city's name and insignia on their property or uniforms.

California Close to Seizing Property Taxes

After the contracts were adopted, the Mayor called for council member comments. No else spoke up, so the Mayor asked the City's financial consultant, Gary Thompson to provide a status on the State of California's attempt to seize local property taxes, as well as gas taxes.

Thompson said the State Legislature is trying hard to get the required the 2/3 majority vote to seize city property taxes, however if such an attempt passes, Menifee will not be affected because the city has no historical property tax data by which the State can determine how much to take.

However, nearby cities like Temecula, Murrieta, Perris, Hemet, could be hit really hard if the State takes all of their property taxes.

But Thompson thinks there's a good chance it won't happen, because the Governor is already against seizing such monies, and because Democrats are going to need several Republican votes to pass the measure, which is very unlikely.

Breakfast Club of Menifee Now Open

Last Wednesday, Breakfast Club of Menifee opened its doors.

This morning my wife and I ate there.

As expected, there was a lot of people there. We managed to get in around 8:30am, and by that time folks were waiting in line. By the time we got out, the waiting list was longer, with folks standing outside, and other folks sitting at the firepit and patio, all waiting to get in.

Overall, we were quite happy with the food and the service, and the prices are very reasonable. In fact, breakfast for two seems to be about the same price we usually end up paying for IHOP or Coco's.

The tables are all covered with cloth, and then covered again with paper, which is nice because they just lay a clean sheet of paper when cleaning off a table instead of wiping it down with a mucky rag.

They had three wide screen televisions that I could see, but I don't think anyone was watching. The noise level inside the dining room was quite high, which could be a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it. The atmosphere was quite lively.

Service was excellent. The servers kept us well attended, very well courteous, kept my coffee filled. Breakfast came out promptly.

The tables are grouped rather tightly together, allowing just barely enough room for servers and customers to get around. As of right now, they still have rented, collapsable chairs, as their permanent chairs have yet to come in. A little girl seated at a table next to us, fell through her chair somehow and hit the floor.

The morning sun tends to shine through the windows, and even with the blinds drawn close, the dining room manages stay rather warm.

Food was very good I thought. I ordered the Southwest Taco Omelette, which had ground beef, lettuce and onions, topped with tomatoes and guacamole. It came with the breakfast potatoes, which I was told was Tracy's own recipe, which has a very fresh taste to it, with very little (or perhaps no), seasoning.

My wife had the apple cinnamon pancakes, which came with the pancakes in small bite sized pieces, and slices of apples. She ordered a side of breakfast sausage, which came in a three count, in the larger size.

They have a patio on the side if you'd like to eat outdoors.

The parking lot in that part of the shopping center has a lot of cars pulling in and out and navigating around now that Breakfast Club of Menifee is open. Once that Hana Sushi opens up, there's going to be a lot of activity.

The side patio has service, however folks seated there were waiting to get in. The restaurant needs a wrought iron gate to around the patio.

Every table was taken inside, and the place was hoppin'

Biscuits and jelly is served while you wait for your meal.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

Southwest Taco Omelette, with breakfast potatoes, and sourdough toast. The sausages were a side item my wife ordered.

Still priced in the same ballpark as IHOP, Coco's, or Denny's. The omelette is priced $2.00 less than IHOP.

Menifee Real Estate in the News

MSNBC ran an article today about one family in Menifee whose property is deep in the tank (link)...
Daniel Arevalo would love to sell his home in southern California, so he could move closer to his three young children. They live 45 minutes to the north, with his ex-wife.

But Arevalo can't sell his house. The real estate market in Menifee, about 65 miles north of San Diego, is in the tank. Home values "are dropping like a rock," said Arevalo. And even if he could sell the home that he bought five years ago for about $250,000, Arevalo doubts he would get the $175,000 needed to pay off his mortgage.

"I'm stuck," he said.
Well, considering home values in the greater Riverside County area are expected to fall even further going into 2011, Arevalo might as well get comfortable with Menifee.

EMWD Launches Restaurant Campaign

The Eastern Municipal Water District today announced that they're going to local restaurants and asking them to stop serving water, unless specifically requested by a customer.

The campaign is focused on cards placed on tables which state, "Thirsty?", and lists water saving tips and ideas. The thinking is that if folks start thinking about saving water at restaurants, they'll think about how they can use water more wisely in their homes.

Use Water Wisely Cards
Interestingly, the EMWD cited a statistic that it takes 4 glasses of water to wash one restaurant glass...
Research has shown that it takes four glasses of water to clean just one glass. By refusing water you are potentially saving thousands of gallons each year.
Which makes me think that if restaurants used tall-sized paper cups instead, which can be thrown away, they'll save even more water. So I'm thinking the EMWD will get more mileage with a "glass for paper" exchange program, where they supply free paper cups if a restaurant turns in their glass.

So far, only two restaurants, both located in Moreno Valley have opted to display these "Thirsty" cards on their tables. If you have a restaurant, and you want these cards, contact the EMWD at...

Roxanne M. Rountree
(951) 928-3777 x4391

Menifee Mailing Address Still Unclear

A Heritage Lake resident wants to know what it's going to take to get the US Postal Service to recognize his/her address as being "Menifee" instead of "Romoland"...
We moved here (Heritage Lake) just before the cityhood election. We are so glad to be Menifee residents now. We'd just like to have the busineses we deal with, recognize our address as being in Menifee!

Our mail (bills too) consistantly is addressed to our street in Sun City or Romoland! We live in Menifee! Why can't the Postal Service include us in the Menifee zip code? We'd be happy to include the 4 digit extension just to be able to use the Menifee city name!

Who do we petition to get this accomplished?
We've discussed this issue on Menifee 24/7 before.

The US Postal Service is not going to issue an official explanation on this, simply because as far as they're concerned, nothing has changed here. That is, they see areas of land in terms of zip codes, not as place names. They're still operating just as they've always have.

The answer is that you've always been able to tell your friends and family to change your mailing address to "Menifee". In fact, you've been able to do this prior to Menifee becoming a city.

For example, I live in the 92584 zip code, and even though I use "Menifee" as my mailing address, I still get mail delivered to me with "Sun City" on it. That's been happening before and after Menifee became a city. Obviously, the Post Office is still capable of getting the mail to my house, no matter what place name is on there.

Another case in point. Quail Valley and Canyon Lake share the same zip code (92587), and each have their own post offices. Yet, the US Postal Service is still capable of figuring out which post office to route mail to, despite both having the same zip codes.

Another case in point. Temecula has several zip codes, and yet everyone in Temecula still gets their mail, even though they all use "Temecula" as their mailing address.

So, it's pretty obvious that people in Romoland, Sun City, and Quail Valley, can use "Menifee" as their mailing address, despite having different zip codes, and you'll all get your mail.

If you want the Post Office to guarantee delivery with "Menifee" as your place name, even though you live in Heritage Lake, you'll never get a guarantee from them. And that's because the Post Office is not perfect.

So, if you want all of your incoming mail to say "Menifee" on it, then simply tell your friends, family, and anyone else sending you mail, to use that name.

But if you're going to wait for the Post Office to issue a public statement, you're going to be waiting for a long time.

Building Homes versus Building Jobs

Councilman Scott Mann wrote an op-ed piece for, explaining the City of Menifee's strategy to build revenues through offering low home building fees, and waving "Menifee Money" to families looking for a cheaper place to live (link)...
In May, we unanimously passed a comprehensive plan that slashes homebuilder fees by 65% and lowers the cost of the permitting process by 20% to incentivize development in Menifee. ...But we didn't stop just on the supply side, we also needed to look for new ways to attract new residents and stimulate sales tax revenues. The answer: "Menifee Money".
Considering it is we taxpayers of Menifee who are fronting the "Menifee Money" that will be given freely to newcomers, I'd like to ask councilman Mann what we're going to get back in return for such investment?

The obvious answer is additional property taxes. But getting additional property taxes is not a 100% profit gain. Adding more bodies to Menifee only increases the traffic, adds more burden to schools, demands more police and fire, and makes us wait even longer to get a table at a restaurant.

I tend to like the size of Menifee as it is. I don't really want more people here.

I think the better solution is to incentivize the growth of industry. Establish a business park, more industrial. Create a tourist center, like get that aquatic center going, find a place for an "Old Town Menifee".

Building more jobs here means employees will be patronizing the local eateries and stores for lunch, and buying gas. Instead of relying of Menifee residents to put up the tax base, Menifee can increase its take from people who live outside of town.

I've yet to hear a councilmember explain to me the strategy behind building more homes. Simply telling me that it will increase tax base just doesn't explain enough to me. Why should the city rely on taxing its own residents, instead of attracting outside dollars?

At this point, I'm withholding my vote for any councilmember who continues to show favoritism to homebuilders, until he or she can explain the advantages of building more homes, instead of more industry.