Locals Fight to Keep Community Rural In Midst of Change

Update: The number of signatures for GPA 925 has been corrected. Local resident Randy William...

Update: The number of signatures for GPA 925 has been corrected.
Local resident Randy Williams, one of those opposed to smaller lot sizes, points out areas on a map.
A community meeting was held Tuesday, July 8 for residents of Murrieta and adjacent unincorporated county areas to address concerns about new housing developments that could potentially alter their rural lifestyle.

Hordes of people came out to Monteleone Meadows on Briggs Road to support rural residents who are in opposition of a developer's proposal to build half-acre lots among their 5-acre farms just east of Leon Road. The proposal, known as county General Plan Amendment 925, could also affect some Menifee residents because the city's borders are nearby the lots in question.

The meeting was held to receive input from both supporters and those in opposition to GPA 925 before Riverside County officials make their final decision on July 16. The discussion was monitored by John Petty, a county planning commissioner, and led by consultant David Jeffers and long-time rural resident Randy Williams. Speakers were also allowed to voice their opinion on the amendment.

Jeffers based his presentation on land compatibility and desire for change. Although the meeting was mostly attended by residents in opposition of the amendment, Jeffers pointed out that about 220 rural residents in the area are actually in favor of building new homes with smaller lots.

"The vast majority are requesting change because they see development coming into the area," he said. "They want a different lifestyle for the area, and they see an opportunity for change."

Jeffers said about 30 rural residents signed an application in 2008 in favor of GPA 925, and there are several more applications of change in progress nearby. Later in the evening, a speaker questioned the validity of those signatures and asked if those residents still felt the same way.

Clara Asimakopoulos, owner of Flagship Real Estate, was one of the speakers in favor of change. She's been a Murrieta resident since 1989 and has sold many rural residential homes in the area. Although she owns property across the street from Williams, she's not on his team in opposition to the amendment, as many of his other neighbors are.

"Whether you like it or not, your rural lifestyle is going to change," she said, causing an uproar from the audience.

Her son Aristo also spoke, adding that his parents' home now overlooks tract homes.

"It's unrealistic to say it can only be used for rural purposes," he said. "Things can't remain static."

Many people on the opposing side want their rural residential areas to remain static because they believe it helps preserve the valley's history. But Andy Domenigoni, a member of the expansive land-owning family w