Divided City Council Votes to Consider Minimum Lot Size

Mayor Scott Mann (left) and deputy mayor Wallace Edgerton discuss a proposed limit on lot sizes ...

Mayor Scott Mann (left) and deputy mayor Wallace Edgerton discuss a proposed limit on lot sizes in Menifee.
Virtually everyone in Menifee agrees there should be some kind of control over the remaining undeveloped land within city limits.

The extent of that control -- and the process by which that extent is determined -- is a hotly debated topic, however. And that starts right at the top of city government.

Council member Wallace Edgerton, who once told a reporter to note how well the current council members got along, found himself in the middle of a heated conversation in Wednesday night's meeting. A discussion item placed on the agenda at his request turned into a lengthy debate behind the dais over housing density in the city.

The ensuing discussion resulted in a 3-2 vote setting in motion a public hearing proposing minimum lot sizes of 15,000 square feet and no additional apartments in the remaining un-entitled land in Menifee -- roughly 11-15 percent of the total land in the city.

The topic of land density is not a new one. However, Edgerton drew the ire of mayor Scott Mann by sending out an email under his private account to 24 individuals in the community, urging them to attend Wednesday's meeting and speak in support of his planned motion.

The email, obtained and read to the audience by an angered Mann, stated that the "possible motion" in support of such a moratorium would be, in part, for the purposes of:

-- Easing traffic.

-- Stabilizing Menifee’s home prices.

-- Generating more city revenue from higher income buyers.

-- Protecting the city's water supply.

The email concluded by saying, "If you believe in such a policy, you are encouraged to come to the meeting (Wednesday the 6th) and speak to the issue. The full council will not vote for such a policy but the majority might."

Edgerton's motion during the meeting was seconded by August and was read from a prepared statement, which he left the dais to hand-deliver to reporters at the press table. It proposed that:

-- All future housing developments must have a minimum lot size of 15,000 square feet (roughly one-third of an acre).

-- The rural area shall have a minimum lot size of one acre.

-- A moratorium on any further development of apartments shall take effect immdediately.

-- An amendment be made to the city's general plan, if necessary, to accommodate the changes.

Mann voiced strong objections to Edgerton's tactic of inviting selected supporters via private email, as well as to the email's description of a "possible motion" for what was listed on the agenda as being "for discussion only."

"For you to incite public commenters to speak to this issue is irresponsible," said Mann to Edgerton, seated right next to him. "You've