Liberty Quarry & Private Property Rights

I don’t personally care if you’re for or against the Liberty Quarry Project proposed for the foothills southwest of Temecula. All I ask is before you engage me in a discussion, please have some facts at your disposal. I get real tired of emotional arguments proferred as facts, out-and-out lies and mis-statements masquerading as the truth, and NIMBY and environmental whack-jobs trying to sway me to their cause by increasing the volume of their rhetoric. Simply yelling BS loudly does not make it a fact – it merely makes it loud BS.

BODOK. Now that we’re clear on the ground rules, the Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors has been evaluating the Granite Construction project at Liberty Quarry. This is a major project that may be a neighbor to our community for the next 75 or 80 years. To that end, we have had a presentation by members of the anti-quarry group Save our Southwest Hills and yesterday 4 members of our Board took a tour of Granite Construction’s Indio Quarry and then trekked into the southwest hills to look over the proposed Liberty site.

homesThe BOD has not made a decision on whether or not to support the quarry proposal itself. There are numerous facts in evidence to justify support as well as some negative concerns. But I suspect that based on our criteria, the issue will be adjudged ‘not real estate related’. Though the foundational use of aggregate underlies real estate in Southwest County, our homes, businesses and infrastructure, the subjective issue of quarry location is not in itself a Realtor issue. You can make up your own mind as to need & location but I encourage you to get ALL the facts before making that decision.

What is an issue for us, however, is a private property rights issue concernoing the proposed annexation by the City of Temecula of the land on which the quarry would be sited. That issue is fairly simple.

  1. There is a Seller (or Sellers) who are willing to sell their land
  2. There is a Buyer (Granite Construction) ready, willing and able to buy the land
  3. The land is zoned ‘rr20 w/mining allowed’ as it’s highest and best use. The zoning is appropriate for the intended use by Granite Construction.That zoning pre-dates the existence of the City of Temecula and recognizes the critical role that mining plays in our economic structure.

map1We are looking into the property rights aspect of this issue by trying to make sense of the documents that all parties have/or will submit to LAFCO prior to their June 4 hearing on annexation. In addition to concerns of a taking – and – downzoning by the City, there are also concerns with the letter of the annexation law. For a city to annex land (remember Temecula/Redhawk & Murrieta/East Murrieta), they must be able to prove that the acquisition will be productive – in other words, you can’t just acquire something that will put a negative drain on city resources – there must be some common good.

The City states that their annexation plans are valid and justified and would not result in an appreciable change to the underlying zoning, it would merely provide the element of local control on the land. And in part, the city may have used some sketchy numbers to pad up the numbers in the report by including plans for the construction of 81 custom homes on part of the land. Now if you’ve seen the area you know that the area:

  1. is simply not conducive to residential/estate development due to the steep rocky nature of the land, lack of access and utilities. If it was that damned easy and attractive, the current landowners would have built there years ago.
  2. the City claims they will have no responsibility for infrastructure or development in the area. If residents want to build here, they are responsible to bring in their own utilities, roads, power, etc. It’s not too surprising that many of the current landowners are all in favor of this  project. Let’s see – on the one hand we can keep this worthles pile of gravel we bought that we could never afford to build on – on the other hand we can sell to this big company for a tidy sum. Hmmmm, tough call, eh? The City offers one further scenario – they maybe can sell it to a wildlife preserve for probably a less tidy sum.
  3. will NEVER pay for itself because residential property is a drain on city resources, not a benefit. In a nutshell that’s why the City of Temecula is in better fiscal condition that Murrieta – because they have a larger commercial base whereas Murrieta is primarily relying on a residential base. But in this case they seem to be playing against type.

map2You should also know that 85% of the area is already zoned for habitat and open space. Granite Construction is planning to buy about 400 acres and, in compliance with county, state & federal mandates, their quarry will be confined to just 150 of those acres – none within line of site of any area of Temecula, the I-15 or much of anywhere other than aircraft.

Again, you can choose to believe or disbelieve facts pertaining to air quality, silica dust, asphalt production, traffic reductions, the cost of aggregate to our local market or any of the myriad of pertinent issues. I encourage you to visit some of the websites on the issue to get your own facts and make your own informed decision as to the quarry itself.

However, if someone tells you it will be the largest open pit mine in the country, that they will be blasting 24 hours a day with baseball field lights on all night, that it will encroach on the wildlife preserve or the Santa Margarita river watershed, that it will increase truck traffic or that we simply don’t need or would not benefit from local access to aggregate products, they’re dissembling.

For more information please visit: Granite Construction , The City of Temecula, or LibertyQuarry Facts.

Please plan to attend the Granite Construction presentation at our Tuesday morning marketing meeting on April 21st and bring your questions for the  Q & A. And our special guests on 4/28 will be Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards and City Manager Sean Nelson.

On the issue of private property rights, there can be no question where Realtors stand.

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  • I should also point out that the Environmental Impact reports prepared both by Granite Construction AND by the City (at taxpayers expense), support the project. An economic model prepared by pre-eminent local economist Dr.John Husing also supports the project and numerous health studies all indicate no negative health effects from the location.

  • Luis Hernandez

    I’ve been living in Temecula for the last 7 years. I drive to San Diego at least twice a week. I can’t imagine a quarry in this beautiful place. This is terrible. Why don’t they consider the numerous rocky hills on freeway 8 (going to El Centro from La Mesa)?

  • Anaiah Byrd

    What about the dust expelled from digging up this granite, its deadly not helpful. The granite can be found else where we dont need granite right now the main demand is in building houses our economy is to bad to be worrying about digging for granite. Does this Dr. john even live in temecula or around the granite quarry area and what “city” do you mean because the people of Temecula concious of what this could do to our environment are not for this proposal!

    • I’ll just address a couple fact-check issues in your post – the main demand for aggregate is not for building houses but for general infrastructure. In spite of the economy demand continues for roadway and other projects requiring aggregate. Dr. Husing is a long-time and well respected Inland Empire economist. His opinions and prognostications were well received by the City before he published his economic analysis and I suspect his opinions will be valued again after this process is over – regardless of which party wins the day. As you may also be aware, the cities (Temecula) attempt to annex the property was denied by LAFCO. The decision is now in the hands of our County Supervisors.

  • Anaiah Byrd

    Explain the damage caused by the silica dust, and the emissions of diesel fuel it will take to transport all of this aggregate!! Silica dust is lethal even in small amounts inhaled, and the smog from the fuel emissions is cutting into our ozone layer which is already being depleted by the current aggregate transport system we have going (as well as other factors) you can’t possible believe this project will help that!

  • Amy Capehart

    Interesting how the responses is’nt immediate now!!

    • If you want immediate response I’d suggest you read the EIR, ask Granite Construction or the City of Temecula. This is a real estate website. We have attempted to present both sides of this issue as it impacts our community both on this site and at our meetings. If you want expert opinions on silica and emissions you should have attended the Granite open houses last month where the authors of the EIR were present to answer your questions.

      And please don’t trot out the old canard that Granite paid for the EIR therefore it’s biased. Granite is mandated by law to pay for the EIR (as is the developer of any other project in the county). But they must select from a group of companies provided by the county to do the actual work – they don’t get to pick their own experts and shills. The EIR is prepared in privacy, provided to the county for review and only after the county has had a chance to pick it apart or request additional information is Granite and the public allowed to see it.

  • Jonnie

    In reference to G.W.’s comment of 9/4/09, the Liberty Quarry EIR consultant WAS NOT on the approved list of companies provided by the County prior to Granite Construction’s application. I believe you will find they were placed on this list only after Granite requested this.

  • Jonnie

    THE VERDICT IS FINALLY HERE…we know longer need to question whether or not the proposed Liberty Quarry would have a positive or negative effect.

    The below quote is extracted from Riverside County Planning Department’s cover letter for the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on Liberty Quarry. This statement is also contained in the DEIR itself, written by Granite’s consultants:

    “DEIR No. 475 (Liberty Quarry) determined that the proposed project would result in significant and unavoidable impacts to Air Quality and Traffic/Transportation, which cannot be mitigated to below a level of significance. In addition, the DEIR determined that the proposed project would contribute to cumulatively considerable and unavoidable impacts to Air Quality (criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases), Biological Resources (wildlife movement), Traffic, Transportation, and Utilities (water supply), which cannot be mitigated to below a level of significance. As a result of the potential significant and unavoidable impacts, adoption of a Statement of Overriding Considerations will be required in order for the project to be approved.”

    Read this twice if necessary…No more debates….please!

    The Temecula Valley is currently known for its clean air, wineries and destination tourists. The question now is: What affect might these significant and unavoidable impacts which cannot be mitigated to below a level of significance have on our economy as a whole, our housing and commercial industries, and/or loss of tourism revenue currently generating over $600 million/yr. resulting in $23 million/yr. in state, county and local taxes, and employing over 6,000 people? (Figures from commissioned 2008 Study by Dean Runyan & Associates using 2007 figures)

  • Marelle Dorsey

    The Indio Quarry is not a blasting quarry and not in downwind from a wind tunnel. Silica is really quartz, which is a major component of granite. We see it in our beach sand. When blasted it breaks into microscopic crystalline silica, a carcinagen that the lungs can not expel. OSHA states after 15 to 20 years of even low exposure, silicosis( inability to breathe) happens. 155 local doctors signed individual petitions against Liberty Quarry were presented to Commission. Will people want to move here when the facts are disclosed? Buyers are already cancelling!