Urbanization of rural Riverside County

Freedom of choice. Not everyone wants to live in the big city. In fact there are probably thousands of other Californians who do not wish to live in the “burbs” so they planted their family roots in rural Riverside County where they could be away from the rat race. They prefer living in an area known for having one to five acre lots where they can enjoy riding their horses and having small family farms in towns without curbs and sidewalks.

It’s a new day. From all accounts we are expecting at least 10 million additional people moving into our state in the next decade. Where will they live? Our legislature is actively promoting social engineering, SB 375 and mixed use development associated with nearby rail to get us out of our cars to do our part in controlling worldwide, man-made, climate change.

Other than high rise apartment buildings similar to those found in New York City we are running out of options. The solution. Urbanizing a stretch of land from Lake Elsinore to Perris also known as the Highway 74 community sub area.

How many us heard that old song “Old MacDonald had a farm” as we grew up.

Pretty soon, as we must ultimately accept “change,” the only place we will be able to take our children and grandchildren to see farm animals will be at the Santa Ana or San Diego Zoo’s.

We can no longer permit local urban property owners with their septic tanks to be squatters on this valuable real estate called the golden state. While this horse country with its hillsides are not conducive to urban development, the developers will figure out a way to make it work.

On March 23rd there will be a LAFCO meeting in Riverside to address “local futures.” I was contacted by Gary Grant, one of the leaders of a local watchdog group whose regional organization is called “Riverside County United Communities,” RCUC. Gary told me that $284,250 has already been spent for amending the I-215 Project area.

Following is a letter which they sent to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors:

“We, representatives of the community of Meadowbrook, object to the proposed Amendment to the I-215 Corridor Redevelopment Area. This project is not in the best interests of Meadowbrook and we want you to cease your efforts in RDA for the Meadowbrook community. Our objections specifically are:

The state of California is currently going broke! This is not the time to be creating more debt of any kind! Very few of us live long enough to outlive the debt this Redevelopment Proposal will create for our properties!

The state of California is seizing the funds of Redevelopment Agencies in over 340 cities and counties! The state is literally stealing that money from the citizens who will be responsible to repay it for the next 45 years.

Despite claims by Redevelopment staff, our community loses control over its future because we are only asked for input about our desires. We have no recourse to stop or alter the plans created by the Redevelopment personnel.

Although, at this time, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors mandates that there will be no use of Eminent Domain, there is no guarantee that they will not change their position in the future.

Redevelopment uses the Codes Enforcement Division as the muscle to control the local property improvement–even by private citizens, on their own property.

Once the Redevelopment Area is established and approved, we citizens lose control over our community’s future and must rely on good will of those in control of the Redevelopment Project and the Codes Enforcement Division.

By law, all Redevelopment Projects require debt by the community involved. The debt is created by the sale of bonds which we citizens have no vote to approve or deny.

Our right to have livestock on our property is in danger from the kind of changes this Redevelopment plan will bring. Multi-residential zoning brings apartment buildings where residents don’t want to hear roosters and goats and small livestock.

The Redevelopment Agency bonds are issued using our property and future tax increases as collateral of the debt to be repaid. Realtors are required to tell potential buyers this is a Redevelopment Area–for the next 45 years.

A quick look at the proposed RDA area map shows the obvious design of this plan is to bring commercial development along Highway 74 between Perris and Lake Elsinore. Three of the four communities in the plan are along Hwy. 74.

The Board of Supervisors will use our properties as collateral for the cost of this Hwy 74 development. The county will get additional revenue from business on Hwy 74 from sales taxes. Meadowbrook will lose its rural lifestyle and sense of local community.

Redevelopment requires our community to be labeled as “blighted” which the proposal strictly does! This lowers our property’s potential value to buyers.

Many of our homes are being described as “substandard,” and don’t conform to tract home conditions that are opposite to our rural lifestyle and environment.

The proposed plan for South Meade Valley, Good Hope, Meadowbrook, and Warm Springs (The Grove) stipulates curbs and street lighting which are not compatible with our rural environment and partial and multi-acre parcels.

At this time, the Redevelopment Division has NO specific plans as to exactly how they will improve our community, yet they expect us to give them the green light based on promises that they will line what they come up with.

Redevelopment is NOT free and the staff is not explaining exactly how all these changes are going to be financed-and what the indebtedness means to us as individuals and families.

Redevelopment requires successful commercial enterprises to generate sales taxes to help repay the debt from the bonds. This is NOT a good time to be starting new businesses with borrowed money. The current economic outlook can’t support new debt for our community.”

Gary told me that the county needs sewers to build commercial property along the corridor and that the local urban property owners, who themselves are satisfied with septic tanks on their land, will end up picking up the tab.

I was also told that passage of this amendment requires approval of 25% of their registered voters.

The RCUC web site is www.rcdog.com

Gilbert comments: Some  of their issues sound very familiar.

This summer taxpayers of  Mission Viejo have a ballot Measure called the “Right to Vote”  initiative that deals with major zoning changes that if passed, will require voter approval of said requests.  

As Orange County co-director for CURE, Californians United for Redevelopment Education, I have presented information regarding redevelopment and eminent domain at their local communities group meetings. However, I have not been involved with their current action.

About Larry Gilbert