Housing stats for Southwest California for January 2011. Sales volume, median price, foreclosures, trends & commentary.
NOW AVAILABLE – PUBLIC REVIEW DRAFT GENERAL PLAN 2035 AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT
The Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 and Environmental Impact Report, along with the Technical Appendices, are now available to download from the project website (www.murrietaplan.info), by following this link http://www.murrietaplan.info/documents.asp or to pick up on CD at the City of Murrieta, Community Development Department.
Copies of the Public Review Draft General Plan 2035, Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 Environmental Impact Report, and Technical Appendices are available for review at:
City of Murrieta
Community Development Department
1 Town Square
Murrieta, California 92562
Murrieta Public Library
8 Town Square
Murrieta, California 92562
Public Review and Comment Period
The Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 and Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 Environmental Impact Report have a 45-day public comment period that begins on February 8, 2011 and ends on March 24, 2011.
Written comments on the Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 and/or Public Review Draft General Plan 2035 Environmental Impact Report must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM on March 24, 2011 to:
Mr. Greg Smith, Associate Planner
City of Murrieta
1 Town Square
24601 Jefferson Avenue
Murrieta, California 92562
UPCOMING HEARINGS ON THE PUBLIC REVIEW DRAFT GENERAL PLAN AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT
Specific dates have not yet been determined; however, public hearings are anticipated to be scheduled over the next few months with both the Planning Commission and City Council. Stay tuned for more information on the website (www.murrietaplan.info) about the hearings.
Planning Commission – Public hearings anticipated in March 2011
City Council – Public hearings anticipated in April 2011
If you click on that little red Realtor Report just above the chart, you’ll get to a slightly larger version of the report which will be easier for your old eyes to read. You’re welcome.
If you live in Murrieta, in addition to a slate of candidates for City Council you will find 3 ballot measures on your card – Propositions C, D & E. As always, I encourage you to get all the facts and make up your own mind – but if you’d like a little help deciding what to do on these three – VOTE NO!
Measure C is a term limit proposal that would limit council members to two consecutive terms, then they’d have to take 2 years off before being eligible to run again. It’s a solution in search of a problem. If you look at the current council, the longest serving member is in the middle of his second term. 3 incumbents are seeking their second term this election. If you want to see what a waste of energy this proposition is, go down to city hall and look at the pictures of past councils. Murrieta has enjoyed regular turnover of council members since it’s birth nearly 20 years ago. I would challenge most of you to even recognize those councilmembers who served as recently as 10 years ago.
It’s not a problem – it doesn’t call for this solution.
Furthermore, as a former proponent of term-limits, I’ve seen the harm they can cause. Term limits for our state legislators was supposed to solve all kinds of problems but all it really did was eliminate one problem while creating several more. Instead of people with some institutional knowledge, people working together to get the job done, Sacramento is now stocked with novices who 1) come with their own short-term agenda, 2) are running for re-election almost from their first day in the seat and 3) are more beholden than ever to lobbyists and special interest groups to fund their elections and then educate them on the issues. It hasn’t worked for our state, there’s no reason to assume it would work any better for our cities.
Besides that, if somebody is really screwing up – there are two definite remedies – 1) the regular election process and 2) the recall process, which did remove on Murrieta Council member 5 years ago.They have proven to be quite effective here.
Measure D would cap a council members compensation at 15% of median household income. Murrieta median household income currently stands at about $90,000 a year which means a councilember couldn’t earn more than $13,500. Today a council member who takes full advantage of their position – meaning salary, travel, health coverage and extra pay for outside committee work could benefit by as much as $23,000/year. In reality, all of our council members are employed in their own businesses (we don’t have any career politicians) and no one has been paid more than $15,000. Their monthly council salary is $600 and the budget for city council salary and benefits is less than 1/3 of 1% of the total city budget. No one is abusing the system ala Bell CA and we have checks and balances in place to prevent that sort of thing anyway – not the least of which is an informed and vigilant population. This is another solution looking for a problem.
Measure E would cap the city manager’s salary at no more than 2.5 times the median household income or about $225,000. Rick Dudley makes somewhat less than that today – about $210,000 – which is right in line with similar cities. If you factor in his other benefits he would exceed that amount by a bit. The police chief and fire captain are right up there as well but this proposition does nothing to restrict their pay. Should we be hiring bargain basement city managers while allowing people working for them to earn whatever the market dictates? Shouldn’t a city’s decision to hire an effective administrator be based on their needs, as well as the competence and qualifications of the applicants rather than what they can hire under some arbitrary salary cap?
Again, this proposition is poorly crafted, addresses a problem we don’t have, unnecessarily restricts the city’s ability to hire quality employees and could potentially cost the city millions in lost opportunities.
We don’t need them. Vote NO on Murrieta Propositions C, D & E.
And while you’re voting, keep in mind that SRCAR supports incumbents Kelly Bennett & Rick Gibbs as well as challenger Allan Long for Murrieta City Council.
Yesterday our Association held our inaugural event in our brand new home. We closed escrow back in March and have been doing the TI’s since then and completed our move just last week. There’s still a couple areas under construction and we’ll bring you more photos when we’re all done.
But timing presented a terrific opportunity for our association to acquire a new facility, to own our own home free and clear and have a great place for our members to meet, to learn and to shop. As I tell folks, it’s always a good market for somebody and in this case, what was a bad market for the Jaguar dealer that previously owned the place turned out to be heaven-sent for Realtors. Big facility, lots (but never enough) parking, nice high-tech gadgetry, a huge meeting room with food prep facilities that can be rented out – a win-win for SRCAR.
So for our kick-off event, we did an RAF fundraiser featuring a panel of four of our local city managers moderated by yours truly. Temecula’s Shawn Nelson, Murrieta’s Rick Dudley, Menifee’s Steve Harding and Wildomar’s Frand Oviedo joined us for the morning providing city updates and fielding questions from over 150 Realtors.
We started the morning with a breakfast put on by our affiliates – including fresh-made strawberry waffles by the one and only Billy McDougal, eggs, sausage & bacon prepared by Judy Edgerton, plus fresh fruit, muffins, juices and coffee from our terrific support team of affiliates. Waffles were so popular we set up back-up waffle irons in the board room to meet demand.
The facility seats nearly 200 at tables, well over 300 in conference seating. The front of the room features two large projection screens to present slides, overheads, video or live feed directed from the media center. There are also 55″ screens strategically placed in the lunch room, the board room and behind the front desk so live events can be played throughout the facility, webinars can be conducted or calendars of coming events and other promotions can be played during normal business hours. For us that’s all pretty cool stuff.
As I noted in my remarks, we are indeed fortunate to have the city managers in place we do. With 5 cities in close proximity, the potential is there (and has been in the past) to compete for housing, compete for businesses and work counter-productively to the well-being of the region. Our city managers and councils have adopted a more cooperative mode the past few years understanding that each location may be a better fit for one particular venue and that a win for one is a win for our region.
Each Manager gave a 15-20 minute overview of where their city is financially, what they have planned, how the housing crisis has both hurt and helped them, how they’re coping with budgetary restrictions, how they’re working with businesses and attracting new jobs to the area. The Managers were uniformly upbeat believing we’ve been through the worst for our area, we’ve adjusted to that decline and are poised to benefit from the pending up cycle. With continued strong demand for housing, inventories of 3 months or less and stable to slight price appreciation for the past 18 months, they are well supported in their idea that, at least for us, the worst may be over.
Questions from members covered a range of topics from healthcare to builder fees to infrastructure improvements. Our cities continue to move forward with civic projects and substantial highway improvements funded by local redevelopment fees because – as one manager put it, if we don’t use it the state will just steal it – as they have done the past couple years.
A great morning was capped by an opportunity drawing including a flight over the valley, a day at Disneyland and an iPad. Everyone who attended took home something from the event, some a little more than others. Welcome members to our new Realtor home.
However, the chart on sales and inventory by price point illustrate that inventory of homes in the salable range under $400,000 is only about a month. The final chart shows our mix of product with REO’s now comprising less than 20% of our market, down from nearly 90% just 18 months ago. Short sales now make up over 50% of our market but have a failure rate of 70%. So backing out the 5 year inventory of $million$$ plus homes that aren’t selling and the percentage of short-sales that won’t sell – our inventory is in desperate need of an infusion. We wish the banks would either foreclose and sell, or get out of the business.
Schwarzenegger expected to sign new $10,000 California homebuyer tax credit
Homebuyer tax credits are almost certainly returning.
Sacramento-area buyers can begin claiming $10,000 tax credits starting May 1 under a bill expected to be signed soon by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The legislation allocates $200 million for more state tax credits – twice what was offered last year to 10,659 buyers of new, unoccupied homes. The state’s newest housing stimulus will grant $100 million in tax credits to first-time buyers of existing homes and $100 million to anyone who buys a new, unoccupied home.
The state Franchise Tax Board on Tuesday estimated nearly 32,000 homeowners statewide might get the tax breaks. Buyers must close escrow or reserve a credit on or after May 1 and before or on Dec. 31 to qualify.
“I think it’s a lot of money in a deficit situation that doesn’t have the desired benefit,” Niello said Tuesday, noting that housing prices are still depressed despite earlier credits designed to stimulate the market.
Niello’s view was clearly a minority one, however.
“This tax credit has a proven track record,” said Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, who authored the bill along with Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield. Caballero said California’s construction industry reported a 39 percent increase in building permits after the first round of tax credits began in March 2009 and proved more popular than expected. It ran out last July 2.
Schwarzenegger spokesman Mike Naple said Tuesday the governor supports the bill “and is expected to sign it.”
The governor signaled his intent Monday while signing two other budget bills. In a signing message, he commended the Legislature for approving the tax credit bill, saying it will stimulate “the housing industry, creating jobs for thousands of Californians.”
Schwarzenegger proposed the housing stimulus in his January State of the State Address to help revive the California economy. The new state tax credit would take effect one day after expiration of a federal $8,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers.
As was the case last year, buyers won’t be eligible for the full $10,000 credit if they owe the state less than that amount over a three-year period. Buyers can get up to $3,333 off their tax obligation in each of the three years after buying a house.
Buyers must be at least 18 years old and be unrelated to the seller. They must live in the home they buy. First-time buyers are defined as those who have not owned a home in the past three years.
The Franchise Tax Board estimates the tax credit will cost the state $6 million for the fiscal year ending June 30 and $69 million next year. For three years after that, it will cost the state treasury $67 million, $54 million and $4 million.
This year’s legislation is different in that it allows buyers of new homes to reserve a tax credit in advance. A buyer signing a sales contract in June can claim the credit in November when the house is completed, a capital-area building industry official said Tuesday.
“In our parlance, that allows dirt sales,” said Dennis Rogers, a vice president at the Roseville-based North State Building Industry Association. “We’ll be able to build new houses now and get jobs going.”
Support – ACA 30 (Jeffries) To abolish the office of Lieutenant Governor.
Self explanatory – this largely ceremonial position requires salary & staff expenses and the duties could be consolidated with the Secretary of State.
Support – AB 1671 (Jeffries) To prevent the Governor from appointing vacancies on the County Board of Supervisors.
A recent example in Riverside County left us without the ability to pass certain bills at the county level while Sacramento played politics with us. Our local positions should not be state appointed.
Support – AB 1672 (Jeffries) To make the California Air Resources Board an elected rather than appointed body.
The CARB is one of the most egregious examples of the lack of accountability on state boards & commissions with the Chair stating publicly that if she had to worry about being elected she would worry about all the jobs cost by their recommendation – but she’s not so she doesn’t.
Oppose – AB 1594 (Huber) To prohibit construction of the peripheral canal.
An attempt to circumvent the wording and intent of the state water coalition recommendation and the Nov, ballot initiative.
Oppose – AB 518 (Lowenthal) Provides incentives for cities and counties to reduce or eliminate free or subsidized parking.
Would prove particularly costly to outlying areas like Southwest County where 60% of our residents commute and are forced to park either at work or when they go shopping. Unintended consequence is a reduction in people going to the malls reducing revenue to shopowners and downstream job market.
Oppose – SB 657 (Steinberg) Require retail sellers and manufacturers to implement policies to eradicate slavery and human trafficking from their supply chain.
Legislation already exists prohibiting slavery and human trafficking. To expect your local grocery store or hardware store to be able to track it’s products back to their origin and potentially take action against some foreign source is ludicrous. Besides, doesn’t Darrell Steinberg have anything better to worry about – like our state budget?
Oppose – SB 810 (Leno) Single payer health care system
We are in agreement that the state should be the appropriate body to determine this issue – rather than the federal government, but this bill is not the answer and would only increase the debt load of the state.
Founded in 2004, the Southwest California Legislative Council is a regional advocacy coalition of the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, Murrieta Chamber of Commerce, Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Wildomar Chamber of Commerce. Its mission is to provide a basis for the four chambers of commerce to act on local, state and federal legislative issues to secure a favorable and profitable business climate for our region.
As a Realtor® you are part of one of the largest special interest groups in this country – the Realtor® Party, and you have a noble cause – preservation of the American Dream of home ownership. You may not like the idea of being a ‘special interest’ and you may disavow any inclination to participate in the political process that supports it, but that doesn’t change the facts.
Pericles summarized the concept in 500 BC when he said “Just because you don’t take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” I’ve updated that somewhat with the Wunderlich codicil “If you’re not at the table, you’ll probably be on the menu.”
If you think the business of real estate is just about buying and selling houses, you only know half the story. The National Association of Realtors® is the largest grassroots political action group in this country representing more than 1.1 million Realtors® in our nation’s Capitol. Last year we invested more money in candidate elections and special campaigns than almost any other group. That’s the other business of real estate – the part that allows you to stay in your business.
A few members have voiced concerns over the recent decision by the California Association of Realtors® to increase our dues by $49 to cover this vital piece of our business. But in reading through those comments (comment summary on $49 investment), I realized some of you are simply not aware of what these critical funds are used for and the direct benefit you derive. For less than the price of 1 latte a month, you are insuring your political survival and generating a real and measurable impact to your bottom line.
So let’s break down what YOU get for that $49 investment.
- Just last week we defeated a proposal from CA Senate President Darrell Steinberg that sought to impose a 3% accelerated withholding tax on independent contractors – that’s you. If you sold a $100,000 condo, the withholding from your commission check would be $90. On a median price home in Temecula last year that would have taken an additional $260.89 out of your check – every check all year long. If it wasn’t for our successful lobbying efforts you’d be paying that already because Darrell tried the same thing 3 times last year. Is that worth $49 to you?
- Have you sold a home to a first-time homebuyer in the past year? Over 1.2 million first-time prospects have become owners since the inception of the tax credit last year – 450,000 of those would not have jumped into the market without that incentive. Who do you think lobbied to get that measure passed last February and then worked extra hard to get it extended and expanded in November against long odds? Selling side commission on a median price home in Murrieta last year was about $8,133. Is that worth $49 to you?
- Last year Canyon Lake proposed an ordinance requiring every Realtor® to pay a $90 business license fee every year. If you worked in, advertised in, sold a home in, or even mentioned Canyon Lake in your website – you would get a bill for $90. We worked hard to modify that ordinance – not just for Canyon Lake but so that other Southwest California cities didn’t get the idea they could just reach into your pocket without a fight. Is that worth $49 to you?
- Last election cycle we supported candidates in 9 local city council races. 8 of our candidates won including 3 Realtors®. Do you think it might be helpful to have people serving on our local councils and water boards who understand property rights issues, eminent domain, sign ordinances, zoning and so forth? How about in Sacramento? Or Washington DC? If we had more legislators in place who understood real estate or banking or appraisal issues do you think we’d be having some of the problems we’re having today? Is that worth $49 to you?
- Would the loss of the mortgage interest tax deduction have any impact on home ownership? How about capital gains tax benefits for home owners? The mortgage interest tax deduction and capital gains benefits are on the table every couple years in Washington DC as a source of potentially significant tax revenue. They will be again this year. Without your NAR lobby, these significant advantages to homeownership would have disappeared along with a chunk of your business during the past decade. It that worth $49 to you?
- Would your business be impacted if a buyer could walk into any bank and buy a home from the same salaried employee who gave them a loan? NAR fought an 8 year battle to eliminate a loophole banks were trying to exploit to do just that. We won that fight in 2009. Is that worth $49 to you?
Those are just a few of the things your $49 does. Here’s a few things it doesn’t do:
- Realtor Action Funds do not support a political party platform or agenda – they support the Realtor® Party. We support candidates who understand our issues at the local, state and national level regardless of party affiliation. Historically our expenditures are split almost down the middle at the federal level.
- Realtor Action Funds do not support issues or legislation that is not real estate related. At the state level our analysts comb through every one of the 3,300 bills submitted in an average session. About 1,500 of these may be flagged as having some potential impact on either Realtors® or property rights. Our state directors discuss each of those bills to determine whether the Association will support it, oppose it, maintain a neutral position or if it really isn’t real estate related at all. We also sponsor our own bills to address specific real estate issues of concern to our members. You can read about the eight bills CAR authored for 2010 here.
- Realtor Action Funds do not support travel by Directors, they don’t pay for lobbyists salaries and they don’t pay for ‘pet projects’. If it doesn’t directly support a candidate or real estate related issue or campaign, it doesn’t come out of these funds. They are too precious to squander and the real need is growing exponentially.
I hope this gives you a better feel for why this latest move was made by our state association. It was not a capricious decision and was discussed in detail for more than a year. In order to continue to be effective at the level our members have come to demand, we
must have the support of all members. 10% or 20% can’t continue to pay for benefits demanded and enjoyed by 100% of the membership. That’s neither fair nor equitable.
We welcome your input and questions and I encourage you to visit http://gadblog.srcar.org/ to take part in the discussion.
In case you’ve been in a post-holiday siesta or simply water-logged, you’re already aware that four of our six cities in Southwest California have women Mayors this year, joining six other cities throughout the Inland Empire. Media outlets have had a field day dubbing our area ‘Estrogen Alley’ and talking about ‘Women Taking Charge’. But the fact is that in most cases our Mayors are not elected to that post, they’re simply chosen by their fellow council members, typically in a set rotation schedule. As Lake Elsinore Mayor Melissa Melendez characterized the situation, “… it’s not some staged take-over, it’s just a unique set of circumstances. It’s more indicative of the fact that women in general are getting more involved in the political process, being elected to city councils in
greater numbers and being elevated to this position with more frequency than we’ve seen in the past.”
Indeed while some, including Murrieta Mayor Kelly Bennett and Wildomar’s Bridgette Moore are serving their first term on the council, Temecula had Mayor Pat Birdsall as far back as 1992 (& 1997) and Mary Ann Edwards in 2009. Canyon Lake’s Nancy Horton follows Mary Craton into the seat and Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel served that city previously in 2006.
The Valley Business Journal recently spoke with some of these ladies about the job and what they plan to bring to the business community and economic development during their tenure. The overwhelming response was that Southwest California cities are ‘Open For Business’.
Mayor of one of Southwest California’s newest cities, Wildomar, Bridgette Moore said their new City Manager Frank Oviedo has been tasked with economic development and growth as a priority. According to Moore, Wildomar has more undeveloped land that many of their neighboring cities along with a real need for business growth in the area. “We recently surveyed our citizens and found that bringing restaurants to the city was first on a lot of lists. We are also encouraging other retail partners, technology firms and medical manufacturers to locate here not just for the tax revenue but to serve the needs of our residents.” …and a hotel.
Moore’s Arizona family had to stay in another city when they came over to attend her inaugural meeting. “Yes, a hotel would be very welcomed here.”
“We’ve also reduced some of our developer fees in line with WRCOG recommendation and we’re streamlining our application and permitting process so there’s no surprises and no delays. You’ll find a real ‘make it happen’ attitude in Wildomar. If it’s a good business, it’s good for Wildomar.”
Lake Elsinore Mayor Melissa Melendez emphasizes the unique attraction of the lake to their community. They currently have a very aggressive specific plan to develop the area around Diamond Stadium and another marina and resort plan for further up the lake. “Unfortunately those plans are on hold right now due to the economy but they’re still solidly in place.”
“We need jobs for our residents right now – that’s our priority. We love the CostCo’s and Target’s, our auto dealers have been terrific but we need an Abbott, somebody with hundreds of jobs to keep our people off the freeways to Orange County every day.” To accomplish that, the city has worked with a corporate recruiter to introduce Lake Elsinore to prospective businesses. The Mayor is also instituting monthly ‘Coffee with the Mayor’ meetings. One series will be in conjunction with the Chamber of Commerce focusing on existing businesses – what they need to succeed and grow and how the city can help. Another series will join city staff and planners with developers and prospective business targets to talk about planning issue, fee structures and what the city can do to make Lake Elsinore a more attractive destination.
“I know we compete, to a degree, with the established master plan communities like Temecula, Murrieta and Corona,” says Melendez, “but we can all work together. We share more than boundaries, we share goals and we share our successes throughout the region. Lake Elsinore is a very different city than it was just 10 or 15 years ago. I would encourage businesses to take a second look at us through new eyes.”
In nearly 20 years as a city, Kelly Bennett is the first women to be elected to the Murrieta city council, thus its first Mayor as well, although she hesitates to put much significance to that. “It simply allows me the opportunity to represent my city in what for me, is extraordinarily important – the attraction and support of viable businesses in the city.”
“I have the opportunity to work very closely with several great groups that help us get the word out. City Staff, including Economic Development Director, Bruce Coleman, the Chamber of Commerce, the EDC and WRCOG. We also attend conferences like the ICSC (International Council of Shopping Centers) and the World Trade Center, San Diego, a group that positions San Diego and regional businesses for international recognition and global market success.’ Bennett noted that Murrieta is focused on three objectives: manufacturing, including nourishing ‘green’ companies; expanding education opportunities, including establishing a local 4 year under-graduate curriculum; and health care. The new physician-owned-Loma Linda healthcare campus, under construction in North Murrieta, is an endangered species under the current federal healthcare proposal. Yet we desperately need medical services and the professional and ancillary jobs it will create. The City is also aggressive in creating outreach programs for businesses. Their Broker Work Group regularly attracts 100 or more local commercial and residential Brokers, developers and planners to its meetings. The City recently introduced the Business Roundtable, and Visionary Workshops to solicit comments on the new general plan review.
“One thing I’m particularly excited about is the potential under AB 811, the Energy Efficiency for Cities and Counties Act. We are developing a program to attract green tech manufacturers providing energy efficient/cost effective products for our homeowners. You’ll be hearing a lot more about that this year.”
While the Mayors readily acknowledge they don’t have any ‘special powers’, they do get to conduct council meetings, sign mountains of paperwork, spend a lot more time on the job, and generally be the public face of city government at numerous events throughout the region and state. One Mayor I spoke to was picking up children from school while another was grabbing late evening dinner at a local (healthful) drive-thru. As with any Mayor, male or female, there’s a delicate balance.
Our Mayors are also united in hoping the state recovers soon, without ‘borrowing’ any more City cash. They are all facing constrained budgets while maintaining services. They are similarly committed to bringing jobs to the region, to retain and grow our existing business base and to keep more of our citizens off the freeway. And they all have a huge ‘Open House’ sign in front of their cities.
Southwest California appears to be off to a good beginning as we enter this second decade of a new century, and in capable hands.
After more than a year absence while Musicians Workshop founders Jon & Jane Laskin opened their new Performing Arts & Music Center, the In-Home Concert Series returned last night with a bang. For those of you not familiar with this treasure of the Temecula Valley, Musicians
Workshop is a non-profit group in its 10th year providing a variety of instrumental & choral music classes for children ranging from 2 – 20. They also offer dance and performing arts instruction, a recording studio and much more to fill a growing niche between what young people need and what the schools are able to provide.
Their In-Home Concert Series is a combination fund-raising effort and thank-you to sponsors that happens 2 or 3 times a year. The concert venue is always a closely guarded secret but the event is held at a different estate home in the hills around town with the location given out at the last minute to lucky ticket holders. Typically attended by fewer than 100 people, the concerts are actually held in the living rooms of these homes with wine & champagne & hors d’oeuvres in an intimate and up close setting. Past concerts have featured the likes of It’s A Beautiful Day, Maria Muldaur, Tom Rush, Alex Ligertwood (Santana), Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, Brian Auger & The Oblivion Express and more.
Last night’s performance was the second appearance of local favorites Scarlet Rivera and Eric Rigler. Rivera is probably best known for being Bob Dylan’s violinist on the legendary Rolling Thunder Tour and on several Dylan albums. She has also appeared with Tracy Chapman, The Indigo Girls, David Johansen and others. Rivera plays a variety of original tunes mostly composed by her late husband Tommy Eyre. Her music today is notable for its Celtic harmonies and influences, especially so when combined with noted Irish Pipes specialist Rigler. Her melodies range from the most melancholy highland dirges to rousing jigs that will set your feet to tapping even if you have no natural rhythm.
Rigler is known as ‘the most recorded bagpiper of all time’, and while I suspect that is not a category for which there is much competition, he does have an impressive resume. Playing with a variety of bands including Bad Haggis and the Young Dubliners, Rigler is probably most famous for his piping on both the Braveheart movie and the title song from Titanic. It’s been said if you hear bagpipes in a movie or on television, it’s probably Rigler.
Fortunately for the small venue, Rigler today prefers the Uillean, or Irish pipes, a smaller version of the infamous Scottish bagpipes. This instrument doesn’t have the drone, the screach nor the power of the larger pipes. In addition to a more subtle yet haunting tone, these pipes have another feature Rigler loves. Because they are not blown into but powered by a bellows attached under the arm, it allows you to play the pipes and drink at the same time, a feature Rigler points out in favor of Irish ingenuity. Rigler may also be remembered as the piper in Amazing Grace at the funeral of Ronald Reagan in 2004.
A wonderful time was had by all last evening as we all enjoyed the wonderful music and the chance to chat with the musicians and see them perform up close and personal. Imagine being able to sit in your living room listening to artists of this caliber and chatting with them between tunes. It’s a unique opportunity and one that only the Musicians Workshop offers. The next In-Home Concert will be on April 17 when we have the opportunity to sit down with Tommy Cash as he presents a tribute show to his late brother Johnny
Cash. For information on how to be one of the lucky ones attending this private concert, contact The Musicians Workshop for more info.
I’ve already got my seat picked out – we’ll see you there.
Hard to believe it’s been 5 years since Murrieta went through the last General Plan Review. It was my great good fortune to Chair the review committee that time around. Three of our committee members, Rick Gibbs, Randon Lane and Gary Thomasian, now sit on the City Council while I sit here and blog about it. I think I got the best end of that deal.
The General Plan, initially adopted in 1994, is the document that shapes public and private development within the community. It is reflective of the communities vision of ourselves and, as Rick Gibbs says – ‘who we want to be when we grow up.’ The General Plan is updated every five years to reflect changes to the city, to evaluate:
- Murrieta’s Vision
- Land Use
- Economic Development
- Ar Quality
- Recreation & Open Space
- Healthy Community
This time around economic development is going to be a primary focus to form the basis for policy issues that will create and expand Murrieta’s future economic prosperity.
ALL citizens should be involved in this process as it affects city policy for the next decade. If you don’t stand up now you give up the right to bitch about it later. The City will be hosting a number of community workshops to solicit your vision, your experiences and your desires for this city. The first one will be held this evening at 6:30 at Murrieta Mesa High School. There will also be one Saturday morning at 9.
I encourage you to stay informed, stay involved – be a part of our community. For more information visit www.MurrietaPlan.info.
The City of Murrieta has launched a new group called the Murrieta Business Roundtable. The forum is sponsored by the Murrieta Economic Development Department in cooperation with SCORE, counselors for America’s small business. The group plans to meet the 3rd Wednesday of the month at 7:30 am in the Murrieta Public Library in the Town Square.
The meetings are open to all businesses and offer an opportunity to ask questions, discover resources and share experiences with other business owners throughout the Valley. For example, at the first meeting the founder of a custom bridal shop asked about the best way to do press releases. Numerous other participants offered a variety of ideas ranging from hiring a PR firm to simply calling the media and learning about their format and requirements so you can do it yourself.
From there the conversation drifted into a discussion on social media, how to best use it to promote and grow your business, which sites are best to target which potential customers and how to use it to drive customers to your own website profitably.
Attendees at the inaugural Roundtable included a mix of new and established businesses, small and large businesses across a spectrum of ‘blue’ and ‘white’ collar jobs including tech and green companies.
Mark your calendar for February 17 to find out how others can help your business grow – and how you can help others. There will be coffee & pastries and both the Roundtable and the parking are free.
The City of Murrieta held their 2009 Veterans Day Parade and Groundbreaking for their Veterans Memorial today. It was a Chamber of Commerce day, hazy skies keeping the sun from blistering the thousands of people lining Washington Avenue while more than 80 parade entries honored our Veterans. Vintage cars carried vintage Veterans, dignitaries paid tribute, the La Mesa Warbirds swooped overhead, there were motorcycle veterans, submariners from the silent service, marching bands, color guards, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts by the troop.
It was my privilege to be one of the parade announcers this year.
Veterans marched, flew and rode by. Some in wheelchairs, some on crutches & canes, some with as regal bearing as when they marched into battle 65 years ago or more.
Members of the US Submarine Veterans paraded a model of the USS Bonefish. (SS-582), the last conventionally powered submarine in the US Navy. Decommissioned in 1988, this model is 1/10 the size of the 219′ Bonefish, which carried a crew of 84.
3 Bands and several marching groups sported color guards and precision flag movements.
Every flag was purchased by an individual in honor or memory of a veteran. The moneys are being used to install the granite wall that will become the Veterans Memorial.
Prior to the groundbreaking, a pantheon of local dignitaries, Mayors, Council members, and guests thanked our veterans for their service. Grand Marshall and WWII Marine Corp Veteran Harold Craig was introduced and over 2 dozen WWII veterans were with him. Among the speakers, Murrieta Council Member and veteran Rick Gibbs gave an eloquent tribute to veterans including many in his family for whom he flew flags in the Field of Honor. Congresswoman Mary Bono-Mack also praised the veterans telling the story of her father, also a veteran who died just last year, who returned to marry his sweetheart against long odds.
In this photo Mary Bono-Mack pays tribute to our armed forces as hundreds of veterans, dignitaries and townspeople gathered against the backdrop of 1,200 American Flags in the Field of Honor.
Overall not a bad day in our little corner of the world. Our hearts went out to the recent casualties at Ft. Hood, great respect was given to those who protect us today, and great tribute was paid to those who have taken up that duty in the past.
Our town is not as small as it used to be – but today the town turned out en mass to celebrate, to honor and to have a few hot dogs and rub elbows with the Mayor. It was almost a Groundhog Day kind of event and everything played out beautifully. The parade started on time, nothing broke down, the horses weren’t (that) messy and the speeches were blessedly short.
The flags waved softly in a cool breeze and all was right in Murrieta.
Hope your day was good too.
By the way, there’s a few more photos at: Murrieta Celebrates Veterans Day.
See you at NAR tomorrow.
Translation: BUILDING MORATORIUM.
I’m not sure if Hoagland actually believes the specious arguments he puts forward or if the whole scheme is his attempt to shock the community into a response. As he summarizes, “We need action from our development community to pressure the Legislature to resolve the state water issues.”
Perhaps he believes his plan to hold the community hostage is what it will take. Perhaps he hasn’t been aware of, or participated in, the numerous efforts by local businesses (including developers), municipalities and Rancho Water District customers to effect comprehensive change with the legislature through numerous letter writing campaigns and personal visits.
Or perhaps he truly is that out of touch with the community he purports to serve. The ‘if we don’t build it, they won’t come’ philosophy went out of favor during Jerry Brown’s last term.
What we do not need is an attempt by Rancho Water or any other group to stifle legitimate development in this economic climate. While Hoagland alludes to ‘vacant malls and commercial centers’ and the high residential foreclosure rate, he doesn’t seem to grasp that these have already had a severe dampening effect on development. Considering that demand for new resources is at a virtual standstill due to the housing and commercial meltdown, this call for a moratorium accomplishes no positive purpose. It’s only apparent purpose is to heap insult onto an already severely injured party – namely the citizens, businesses, municipalities and ratepayers of RCWD.
Yet with our residential housing market carrying an active inventory of just over 1 month, the need for additional housing stock will become apparent before long. Similarly with the lack of funding mechanisms currently available for commercial development, only well conceived and funded projects are going forward, the rest are waiting until the current glut of available space is reduced. At a time when everybody from our President to our Governor to our city leaders understand the need to create job opportunities to return our economy to a more robust footing, Rancho Water is proposing to literally turn off the spigot on the cities efforts to attract new jobs to our region. This is counter-productive at best, idiotically negligent at worst.
We are joined in our efforts by the Cities of Temecula and Murrieta, by our County Supervisor, the Southwest California Legislative Council, The Murrieta Temecula Group, the Building Industry Association and other business and advocacy groups throughout Southwest California.
If you agree that the last slap our community needs right now is a building moratorium, please join me at a public hearing at 6 p.m. on November 9th at the Rancho Water District board room at 42135 Winchester Ave in Temecula (Winchester West of Diaz). Hoagland claims he would like to ‘hear our ideas and views’. Let’s make sure he does – politely and concise.
In addition to our SRCAR email campaign, our partners at the Southwest California Legislative Council have also instituted a letter writing campaign which you can participate in by clicking below.
Nice article in the on-line Sacramento Bee. Plug in your county and city and/or agency and see how much the recently passed state budget will be costing them. Of course it’s not a tax – they are just ‘borrowing’ an extra $15.00 per resident. I’m looking forward to the day they pay that back. They’ve been borrowing from cities and other agencies for years. Anybody who runs their business in a style that actually makes money is likely to see that money stolen – um, borrowed by the state.
On the plus side they remind us that – Some of these lost funds will be offset by A) federal stimulus money and B) the ability of local governments to borrow lost property tax revenue against the state’s promised repayment. So the state taketh and forceth us to rely on yet more Obama bail-outs for subsistence. Like the federal gov’t is flush with cash. Oh, I forgot, they own the mints – they can just make more and it’s, like, FREE that way, isn’t it?
|Government entity||County||Type of government||Estimated amount state will borrow or take this fiscal year||Amount borrowed per resident|
|Murrieta Redevelopment Agency||Riverside||Redevelopment Agency||$2,548,524|
|Lake Elsinore||Riverside||City Government||$684,923||$14|
|Lake Elsinore Redevelopment Agency||Riverside||Redevelopment Agency||$6,970,262|
The Riverside County Assessor-Clerk-Recorders Office has just released a series of reports providing us more information than we could possibly want to know about the state of housing in Riverside County as shown by assessed property values.
If you’re curious about 2009-2010 Assessed Values by City, for example, you’ll find that the local roll shows Murrieta with an assessed value of $10,112,353,803. After backing out exemptions, we’re left with a net taxable value of $9,886,016,688 or a drop of 15.43% from last years $11,689,213,209. That’s a drop in taxable value of nearly $2 Billion dollars!. Temecula dropped 11.6% and Lake Elsinore lost 17.7%.
You might be interested in the Assessed Value by Base Year or the expanded version showing Historical Assessed Value Data. Here the information shows a county-wide reduction of 10.5% from 2008-2009’s record $242,980,389,491 to the current $217,439,570,318. This chart also shows the growth curve which saw property values explode by more than 130% between 2001 and 2007. We sometimes hear this market compared to the downturn we saw in the mid-90’s but this chart clearly shows that in 1994 county values plummeted by .04% and another .71% in 1996. Maybe we really are in uncharted territory.
As Assessor-Clerk-Recorder Larry Ward outlined to our Brokers last month, his office has adjusted values according to Prop 8 on nearly 450,000 properties county-wide, many back to their 2001 levels. His report on Prop 8 Totals by Tax Rate Area shows that adjustments were made to 16,110 properties in Temecula reducing their value by $2,473,228,545. Murrieta saw a drop of $2,902,221,990 on 19,113 properties and Lake Elsinore lost $1,301,701,549 on 8,958 properties. Even our newest cities saw their projected revenue stream drop – $602,365,820 for 4,786 properties in Wildomar and Menifee lost $2,141,053,496 on 17,187 adjustments.
You might not like the numbers but it appears that Larry Ward is doing his job. He has taken a very proactive role in pursuing Prop 8 which, though many homeowners feel is not enough, appears to have been very fairly applied. With a keen appreciation for the impact this will have on our cities revenue stream, he has provided comprehensive and detailed data to allow our cities to address the situation before the actual impact is fully realized during the next tax year.
If current forecasts hold true, Southern California may be through the worst of the crisis and next years reports may be somewhat more positive. In remarks to us last week at our Government Affairs Institute, National Association of Realtors® Chief Economist Dr. Lawrence Yun opined that California appears to have turned the corner. Citing strong sales, reduced inventories and stabilizing median price levels, Dr. Yun cautiously forecast that some areas, especially in Southern California, could see 4% to 5% appreciation in housing values in 2010.
While that may be somewhat rosy given the ramp-up in foreclosure and unemployment activity in the area, local median prices have indeed been stable for several months. Our July inventory dropped to it’s lowest period in years showing existing home inventories ranging from 1.8 to 2.2 months – an unhealthily low level. While more than 17,000 Riverside County homes entered the foreclosure process in the past 120 days, over 7,000 sold. Many properties received multiple multiple offers (20 to 30 is not uncommon, some as many as 60 – 90 with up to 1/3 of those being cash offers). Even if the fabled ‘shadow inventory’ was all released tomorrow, it could handily be absorbed in short order given current sales trends.
Anyway, there’s a lot of data available on the county website. How to avoid fraud, foreclosure information and referral resources and much more. There’s also a raft of current statewide sales data and forecasts available at the California Association of Realtors website and for the latest LOCAL updates and charts, always check the Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors website and blog.
What a glorious time this is – end of a school year and graduation. You meet some of the most delightful young people at this time of year – too bad you won’t see much about it in other media.
This morning I had the privilege of attending the 14th Annual Murrieta Student of the Year award ceremony presented by the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce. Ever month the Chamber, in association with numerous community sponsors, recognize an outstanding student of the month from our three current high schools. Today’s event selects from among those recipients to recognize students who have made a truly outstanding contribution to their school and our community.
WOW! What a group. This morning 6 Murrieta students – a male and female recipient from Murrieta Valley, Vista Murrieta and Creekside, were introduced to a group of education, civic & business leaders. The recognition of their scholarship includes $1,300 in monetary awards per student as well as city, county and state proclamations and gift bags donated by business sponsors.
Here’s a thumbnail summary of the very deserving award winners. I wish I had been taking notes.
- Vista Murrieta grad Brian Choi carries a 6.0 GPA. In addition to nailing straight A’s in Advanced Placement courses, his list of accomplishments and accolades is a mile long. This son of immigrant farmers, Brian will be attending Harvard this fall.
- Creekside graduate Crystal Farr completed a spectacular high school career in spite of numerous difficulties. Among other goals, Crystal plans on volunteering for military service as part of a family tradition. After the ceremony we discovered that the ‘difficulty’ that led to Crystal attending the continuation school was her frequent absences to care for her brother, an amputee veteran. She will be attending San Diego State to be closer to her brothers hos[pital.
- MVHS’ Nikki Salazar will be attending Stanford.
- Vista Murrieta’s Ashley Scott will be attending Berkeley.
- MVHS Jacob Levy plans to pursue a career in law/politics/advocacy. He has not only posted a superlative GPA but has been a student activist on behalf of a number of causes during his matriculation. His teacher and Principal alike praised his ability to get diverse groups to reach common ground. If the state survives that long, I’d vote for this kid in about 20 years.
- Creekside’s Miles Ten Brinke dropped out of school for ‘a couple years’. When he finally decided to re-enroll in the continuation school, he ‘found himself’, as his teacher said. He completed the required coursework in months rather than years and has been attending MSJC since October.
Introduced by their Principals, both MVHS Superintendent Dr. Stan Scheer and our County Superintendent gave some words of encouragement. The students made a few comments on their plans and extended thanks to the sponsors, their teachers and especially their parents. To say these students are highly motivated, focused and possessing of poise far beyond their years would be an understatement. You come out of one of these events with a little more spring in your step – they give you a little more hope for a future generation.
Thanks also due to Margaret Jones, who has served as Program Chair for many years and Rex Oliver, CEO of the Murrieta Chamber for their long-time support of this event. Special thanks to Student of the Month Program, Inc. and its founder, Sally Myers of Sizzler Restaurants. It’s a great accomplishment to make sure these outstanding student and future leaders are recognized and encouraged.
It’s just a shame the only place you’ll read about it is here.
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.
OK. 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.
The 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.
- There is a Seller (or Sellers) who are willing to sell their land
- There is a Buyer (Granite Construction) ready, willing and able to buy the land
- 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.
We 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
You 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.
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.