Riverside County's Integrated Planning Effort Spurs Incorporation Movement
Negative reaction to Riverside County's integrated planning effort is spurring an incorporation movement in Menifee Valley, on Interstate 215 about 30 miles south of Riverside.
Incorporation proponents submitted about 7,000 signatures on a cityhood petition to the Riverside County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) in September. About 5,400 valid signatures are needed to force a vote on incorporation.
The Riverside County Integrated Project (see CP&DR, January 2002, February 2000) places a great deal of housing and mixed-use development in Menifee. The community, which lies between the cities of Perris and Murrieta, would grow from about 42,000 people to nearly 200,000 people under the county's plan.
The county "is trying to inundate us with a bedroom community — low-income housing and housing where our businesses should be," said Marc Miller, chairman of the Menifee Valley Incorporation Committee and a member of a local economic development organization. "The supervisors aren't listening to the community."
A 1995 study found that Menifee Valley was not fiscally viable as a city, said LAFCO Executive Officer George Spiliotis. Since that study was completed, the area has experienced substantial residential growth, but not a great deal of commercial development, he said.
Miller dismissed the 1995 study and said proponents can prove a new city would have enough money to survive.
Caltrans has filed a lawsuit over the environmental impact report for the City of Irvine's "Great Park" project at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Caltrans contends the development — which includes roughly 3,700 housing units, 3 million square feet of commercial and office space, and extensive public development — would generate about 500,000 vehicle trips per day. The EIR pegged daily vehicle trips at 148,000.
The Caltrans litigation is the second lawsuit over Irvine's plan. Two groups that backed a proposed civilian airport at El Toro have also challenged the EIR and hope to halt Irvine's annexation of the closed base.
The corruption case against three San Diego city councilmen took a turn in September when an adult nightclub owner pleaded guilty to wire fraud and agreed to testify against Councilmen Ralph Inzunza, Charles Lewis and Michael Zucchet. The plea agreement from Cheetahs nightclub owner Michael Galardi came only a week after the club's manager, John D'Intino, pleaded guilty to weapons and wire fraud charges, and also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
A federal grand jury in August indicted the three elected officials, alleging that they took improper campaign contributions, and that Inzunza and Zucchet extorted contributions, in exchange for voting to relax adult nightclub regulations. Lewis also allegedly accepted undisclosed trips to Las Vegas. All three have pleaded not guilty.
The City of Oceanside has paid developer Douglas Manchester $2.2 million to settle a lawsuit that the hotel developer filed against the city. A sharply divided City Council voted 3-2 to pay Manchester.
Five years ago, the city signed an exclusive negotiating agreement with Manchester for development of a 12-story beachfront hotel and an inland golf course (see CP&DR Local Watch, November 2000). But when the Coastal Commission rejected the proposed hotel in 2002, the city dropped the project. Manchester then filed a suit alleging that the city had breached the agreement by not allowing him to modify the proposed development and that the city negotiated in bad faith, as evidenced by some officials' negative public comments about the project.
The Bakersfield City Council and the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted jointly and unanimously to increase metropolitan Bakersfield traffic impact fees in mid-September. Not only did the fee increase have the support of both elected bodies, it also had the endorsement of — or at least lacked opposition from — the Sierra Club, the Smart Growth Coalition, and the Kern County Building Industry Association and Board of Realtors.
The fee increased from $2,466 per unit to $5,813 in outlying areas. Builders within a defined core area, which includes both city and unincorporated territory, will pay $2,882 per unit for roads.
"We ought to not be charging the same fee for infill as for development on the periphery, where the need is all new," Bakersfield Development Services Director Jack Hardisty explained.
The Governor's Office of Planning and Research (OPR) has released Local Agency Formation Commission Municipal Service Review Guidelines. The three-part document covers LAFCO preparation of local guidelines for addressing municipal services, reviewing services and adopting a local plan.
The Legislature's 2000 overhaul of the law concerning government organization, now known as the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act, required OPR to prepare the new guidelines by July 1, 2001, a deadline the agency missed by nearly 26 months. The guidelines are available at www.opr.ca.gov/planning/LAFCOReform.shtml
Voters in Redlands will decide on a revenue-sharing and municipal services agreement between the city and San Bernardino County regarding development in the 1,100-acre "Donut Hole." The city, county and city residents have fought over development of the property for years.
The county has approved a 54-acre shopping mall on a portion of the property. The agreement approved by the City Council and Board of Supervisors in August would give the city 90% of sales tax revenue in exchange for providing water, wastewater, fire and police services.
But councilmembers wanted the contract to be untouchable in the future by the City Council, which has swung back and forth on Donut Hole development. "When voters pass this initiative, it'll put an end to this subject once and for all," Councilwoman Susan Pepper told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
The Redlands Association, which has opposed all Donut Hole development until the city annexes the land, has indicated it will fight the ballot measure — even though rejection of the revenue-sharing agreement means the county will receive all sales tax revenue unless the city annexes the territory, which is anything but assured.