REGION: Temecula annexation gets green light

By DAVE DOWNEY - ddowney@californian.com | Posted: June 24, 2010

The city of Temecula is set to grow 25 percent, encompassing 35 square miles, with Thursday's approval of an annexation of the Riverside County portion of Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve and a handful of rural residential properties.
But the 4,502-acre annexation approved 6-0 by the Local Agency Formation Commission doesn't include the site of the proposed quarry that Temecula officials earlier sought to bring into the city in order to control the fate of the controversial project.
For the annexation to move forward, the city must file another application within 90 days to pull 169 acres of the quarry site out of the city's so-called sphere of influence. A sphere is an area designated for possible future annexation, but such areas don't always become part of cities.
The subtraction wasn't part of Temecula's revised annexation proposal, but something that had been requested by Granite Construction Co. ---- the firm proposing to build and operate the sand-and-gravel mine.
The agency's staff recommended the commission not act on Granite's request, saying an analysis of the environmental impacts of such a change must be completed first. But Commissioner Robin Lowe, a Hemet councilwoman, said she wanted the quarry's removal from the sphere tied to the approval. Other commissioners also pressed for that requirement.
According to a report prepared by commission staff members, that area has been inside the sphere since Temecula's early days as a city.
In 1991, the commission adopted a sphere of influence that took in the line of steep hills west of the city, all the way south to the county line, for the purpose of giving Temecula some control over the scenic escarpment.
Referring to the portion of the quarry property that is within the sphere, the report stated that "these boulder-strewn hillsides provide a dramatic entrance into the city from the south."
Temecula Mayor Jeff Comerchero initially said Granite should pursue removal from the sphere of influence separately. But after seeing that commissioners wanted to tie the two issues together, the mayor said the city would offer to take the lead.
In response, commissioner Phil Williams of Lake Elsinore proposed waiving the $4,600 fee the city would be charged to file the request.
Comerchero said after the meeting that the Temecula council will probably address the matter July 13.
Despite the condition, city officials saw the decision as a victory, given that the commission last year rejected its proposal to annex 5,000 acres, including the entire 414-acre quarry property.
George Spiliotis, the commission's executive officer, said by telephone later the annexation could go forward as early as August. But first, he said, the agency must hold a protest hearing ---- essentially a meeting where letters of protest from affected landowners are reviewed.
For such letters to prevail and derail the annexation, they would have to represent properties that, combined, add up to more than half of the total assessed value of the annexation area.
According to the staff report, the San Diego State University-managed ecological reserve makes up 95 percent of the annexation land. And the university favors annexation.
However, Spiliotis said that, because the reserve is public property and off the tax rolls, the commission will have to determine how much the 4,284 acres of reserve land covered in the proposal is worth.
Matt Rahn, San Diego State's field programs director, said the reserve is known around the world as a premier research center for climate change, earthquakes and wildfires. And he said it is one of the few remaining places in the region where the environment is largely undisturbed.
Referring to the Santa Margarita, he said, "That is the last fully protected, free-flowing river left in Southern California." He mentioned that the reserve is home to a type of shrub ---- rainbow manzanita ---- found nowhere else in the world.
"It is unique. It is a one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable resource," Rahn said.
He told commissioners it would be beneficial for the reserve to be inside Temecula's boundaries because the city's police officers and firefighters can respond more quickly than county employees can to wildfires and vandalism calls.
"We've had a lot of damage to rocks and cultural sites along the river," Rahn said. "And our weather stations and towers tend to attract baseball bats."
Comerchero said the city stands to benefit from the relationship, too.
"It will become a source of pride for our residents that there is a world-class research center within our city," he said.
He dismissed a suggestion by a commissioner that patrolling the reserve would leave urbanized parts of the city unprotected. He said at times, calls on the reserve might pull police officers away from important calls elsewhere, but there should be plenty of manpower to handle the needs in the neighborhoods and business districts that compose the department's primary responsibility.
The city's contract with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for police protection provides for 105 sworn officers.
At the outset of the meeting, two Boy Scouts went to the podium to urge approval.
Eric Smith, 13, of Temecula, said, "To us, just kids standing on the outside looking in, it just makes sense."
Once complete, the annexation would boost Temecula's size from 28 to 35 square miles, said city Planning Director Patrick Richardson.
But according to a commission report, it would increase the city's population by only 19, from the current estimate of 105,029.
The annexation area includes 225 acres of private property, where there are only a few scattered homes and the topography is so rugged that very little development, if any, is expected there, the report said.
Granite Construction officials attended the meeting but did not speak.
Later, by telephone, aggregate resource manager Gary Johnson said he viewed the sphere of influence removal as "a positive step that LAFCO recognized should be done. ... It's a cleanup item that is very appropriate."
Call staff writer Dave Downey at 951-676-4315, ext. 2623.



Annexation of land flanking mine site may quiet contrast past hearings

Tim O'Leary
Valley News Staff

Friday, June 18th, 2010. 

Unlike a pair of contentious previous clashes, a hearing to add a 7-square-mile swath to Temecula's southern boundary may proceed quietly next week.
No organized opposition, and perhaps scant public comment, is expected at a June 24 hearing by a Riverside County boundary-setting agency. If that occurs, the session will stand in marked contrast to a hearing about a year earlier that lasted nearly 10 hours and drew comments from more than 100 speakers.
An ecological group that has played a prominent role in Temecula's annexation bid expects to remain low key.
"We're pretty much going to leave it alone," Jerri Arganda, a leader of the Save Our Southwest Hills grassroots group, said in a recent telephone interview. "I'd like to see it be done."
Another key player, a mining and construction company that once was at the center of the annexation controversy, also faded from view.
Even the level of advance written communication has dwindled sharply.
"I think the majority of them are in favor," George Spiliotis, chief executive of the county Local Agency Formation Commission, said in a Tuesday telephone interview.
The stage was set for the upcoming meeting on Feb. 23. At that time, the Temecula City Council pressed forward with its revised plan to annex a 4,510-acre granite-strewn hillside that is largely composed of an ecological reserve.
There was no opposition, and several members of the audience and the City Council spoke in favor of the renewed effort.
"Let's go on to LAFCO and get that (land) into the city," Mayor Jeff Comerchero said during the discussion. "It's incredibly important that we succeed."
If next week's hearing goes as expected, and no subsequent organized opposition surfaces among landowners within the proposed annexation area, the property could be added to Temecula's city limits by the end of this year, Spiliotis said.
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boost Temecula's size to about 35 square miles. The 20-year-old city's population jumped and it grew to 28 square miles years ago when the Redhawk, Vail Ranch and Roripaugh Ranch annexations were completed.
The proposed Santa Margarita annexation has been debated for years. Temecula will have spent about $400,000 throughout the process on annexation-related studies, reports, application fees and other costs, city records show.
Granite Construction Co. spent more than $300,000 fighting the proposed annexation. The company initially battled the annexation because its proposed Liberty Quarry project would have come under city control if the area was annexed. It softened its opposition when its development site was removed from the annexation area after a contentious LAFCO hearing about a year ago.
The 155-acre mine site anchors a rock-strewn bluff behind a California Highway Patrol truck inspection and weigh station near the San Diego County community of Rainbow.
Granite hopes to extract 270 million tons of sand, gravel and other materials over a 75-year period from the site, which would be surrounded by open space land the company would purchase.
The mine site flanks a sensitive San Diego State University nature reserve and research station that is split by the Santa Margarita River. The river, which is formed by the merger of several creeks, flows about 27 miles to the coast.
The withdrawal of the quarry plan from the annexation area means that county officials will continue to review the mine development plan.
The current timetable calls for the first hearings on the quarry plan - which has drawn widespread opposition from council members and area residents - to begin later this year.
The initial land use review hearings will be held by the county Planning Commission. That panel would make approval or denial recommendations to the county Board of Supervisors.



Hidden beach welcome surprise at preserve

Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 12:04 a.m.
It seems improbable, but I came upon one of the county's sandiest beaches about 15 miles east of the Pacific Ocean.
It's wide open, with deep, soft sand, lots of shells and not a single beachgoer in sight.
It fronts the Santa Margarita River in Fallbrook and was the highlight of the 2.5-mile trail in the Santa Margarita County Preserve.
The 220-acre preserve is part of the county's Multiple Species Conservation Program. In partnership with the Fallbrook Land Conservancy, the trail is open to equestrians, mountain bikers, hikers and dogs on leashes.
However, I can't imagine mountain biking, at least on the part of the trail I hiked, since it was so deeply sandy most of the way.
From the trail's southern entry point off De Luz Road, hikers enter a dense riparian habitat, where arroyo willows make bushwhacking off the trail virtually impossible, and where big old sycamore trees and coastal oaks provide some welcome shade.
Lots of yellow wallflower blooms add color to the trail, with an occasional purple phacelia and evergreen wild grape vines clinging everywhere. A little more color popped in with a blue Western scrub jay, while a little black crested Phainopepla bird perched on a limb.
The Friends of the Santa Margarita River website (fsmr.org) notes that the Santa Margarita River basin boasts impressive diversity, including more than 500 plants, 236 species of birds, 52 species of mammals, 43 species of reptiles, 24 species of aquatic invertebrates and 26 species of fish.
I hiked on the sandy trail heading straight ahead for about a mile, crossing the river at one point across a line of rocks, following the map offered at the trail head. But the dense willow and other foliage made it impassable beyond that point.
I retraced my steps and followed a trail spur to the west, where a sign is posted with the preserve rules.
This short spur led directly to that wide-open beach and the free-flowing river - a genuine surprise.
Deer and other large mammals are said to make their homes here, relying on the fresh water from the Santa Margarita River.
It's one of the last free-flowing rivers in Southern California , according to Friends of the Santa Margarita River. The river's upper watershed begins at the confluence of Temecula and Murrieta creeks in the Santa Margarita Mountains, Santa Rosa Plateau and Palomar Mountain, eventually emptying into the ocean on Camp Pendleton.
It's also one of the largest riparian systems in Southern California, according to the county, covering about 1,500 acres along its 27 miles. A primer on its ecology on the Friends of the Santa Margarita River website notes that riparian is derived from the Latin word, "ripa," meaning bank or shore. A riparian habitat characteristically surrounds a stream, creek or river.
"Nowhere else in Southern California is there a comparable unbroken length of riparian environment and its complement of plant and wildlife species," the website says.
After walking the length of the sandy beach, I had to return to my entry point and continue along the main trail.
Reaching the parking area again, I took the smaller trail just to the south of the main trail to see where it led. Again through thick willow groves and heading right at the T-intersection, this trail was far rockier, as though it were once a creek bed. It quickly ends up at another point on the river itself, where I could see a trail on the other side of the deep water but couldn't navigate my way there.
I retraced my steps, and this time took the left at that T-intersection, which wasn't a very good idea. This was a short spur, filled with spider webs and dense foliage, evidence that it doesn't get much traffic, and it quickly dead-ended anyway.
Trail head: To reach the main trail head, from Interstate 15 north, exit at Mission Road/Fallbrook, heading west. At the light, turn right onto Mission Road. Continue for about five miles, turning right onto Pico Avenue (one block after Main Street), which immediately turns into De Luz Road. Continue about two miles; at the intersection with Sandia Creek Road, stay on De Luz Road (which curves left), where you'll see the sign for the Santa Margarita Preserve.
To reach the northern trail entry, at the intersection with Sandia Creek Road, turn right onto Sandia Creek Road, continue for about a mile and you should reach another preserve parking area.
Hours: Open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. from now through summer; at other times of year, it closes half an hour before sunset.
Difficulty: Easy. Allow at least an hour and a half.
Priscilla Lister is a freelance writer from San Diego.



Tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to protect San Diego County's drinking water

BackgroundThe San Luis Rey River and its aquifer are threatened by the Gregory Canyon Landfill. This critical drinking water source faces pollution by toxic chemicals that could leach from the proposed 300-acre landfill.
Although the project has been in the works for over two decades, it has yet to obtain any of the required permits. Last year, thanks to your action, the regional water board postponed its decision on that permit.
Now, the landfill is seeking a permit under the federal Clean Water Act        from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps is seeking input on the type of environmental review to give the project. We need to make sure the Corps takes a hard look at this flawed project, and evaluates a broad range of alternatives.
Action Requested
Please tell the Army Corps to protect the San Luis Rey River, uphold the Clean Water Act, and ensure clean drinking water for the San Diego region. Send an email to the address in the sample letter (or mail a hard copy). Deadline is June 18, 2010.

Sample Letter
June 4, 2010
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Regulatory Division, Ventura Field Office
ATTN: CESPL-RG-N-2010-00354-SDM 
2151 Alessandro Drive, Suite 110
Ventura, CA 93001
RE: Gregory Canyon Landfill Project
Dear Dr. MacNeil:
I am deeply concerned about the proposed 300-acre Gregory Canyon Landfill, which would be built right on the banks of the San Luis Rey River. This project is a serious risk to the region's drinking water supplies, which must be protected at all costs.
In applying for the federal Clean Water Act permit needed to start construction, the landfill's proponents first tried to use an abbreviated        "nationwide permit" to avoid meaningful environmental review. The Army Corps has correctly abandoned that streamlined process and committed to conduct a full and comprehensive environmental review.
I commend the Army Corps for taking a hard look at this flawed project. However, this review will only be meaningful if it includes a broad range of alternatives to managing San Diego County's waste, such as increasing waste diversion and recycling, and using existing landfill space more efficiently. These alternatives would have far less impact on the environment, and would more effectively address San Diego County's waste issues, than building a new landfill on the banks of a river.
Thank you for your consideration of my comments.
Thank you for taking action 


Noise Complaint Form


Hi Rainbow Church Family, (photos: Waterslide, 4th annual hike to Cross, Ivan and Steve Repelling [David Bolt wants to know what he has to do to get his picture in the emails like Ivan.  David: go down the waterslide!]) 
Pastor's SERMON: Battling our Desire for Superficial Christianity (Phil. 3:1-9)
Communion Sunday.
Offertory Worship: Justin and Lily
Fellowship Lunch: Angie's World Famous Chicken Rollups

JUICE YOUTH NIGHT THIS FRIDAY, (games, Bible, fellowship, fun) from 6:30-8:30pm at church.  All ages welcome. Food will be served.  Call Pastor Dale for more info: 760-689-8807 (cell)
BRINGING UP DAUGHTERS.  This is the message for our Father's Day service.
SETTING BOUNDARIES WITH YOUR FAMILY.  Every Fall I like to address issues of family and parenting, so in September we'll start a series on setting Boundaries.
WOMEN'S SUMMER BIBLE STUDY begins June 16 with BETH MOORE'S new study on REVELATION.  VBS FOR THE KIDS DURING THE WOMEN'S STUDY.  Contact our Women's Director Beth Sousa for details: bethsousa@sbcglobal.net 
BAPTISM. Father's Day (June 20) at the Ohlsons will be our next Baptism service. We have 3 people being baptized so far. Please let me know if you would like take this step of obedience and public confession to Christ. 

MEN'S Bible Study, New Study starting this Tuesday at church, 6pm to 7:30pm (see Pastor Dale for info) 
Teens Weekly Bible Study at church. Thursdays 6pm to 7:30pm (See Pastor Dale for info)

Our 2010 Church Prayer focus: Individual Holiness (from today's Victory Bible Reading Plan)
Pr 3:27 Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act. Be Holy for our God is Holy, Pastor Craig



A San Diego County Heritage Community Since 1880          
                                                 Keeping Rainbow Rural
             Advising The Board of Supervisors ~ San Diego County
                                      Notice of Meeting                           


         Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 7:00 PM at the Rainbow Grange

      If there are any changes an updated version will be posted at the Grange Hall at least 72 hours prior
        to this meeting.

    I.      Call to order and Pledge Allegiance – Paul Georgantas – Chairman

    II.     Call for a Quorum
         III.    Approval of Previous Regular Meeting Minutes
        IV.    Open Forum: Opportunity for the public to speak on items not on the agenda.
                    Each speaker is limited to 5 minutes. Speakers should address community land use    
          V.    County Action Items:
                           1. Correspondence from county
        VI.    Old Business
      1. I-15 Advisory Committee ~ report
      2. Pala Raceway noise pollution issues and Supervisor meeting date of June 21.
      3. Request for traffic study SR395.
      4. Post Office petitioning for Rainbow.
      5. Liberty Quarry issues.
      6. High speed rail line update.
       VII.      New Business
      1. Reimbursement requests.
      2. Nominations for seat #4.
      3. Graffiti issues.

       VIII    Call for July 21, 2010 agenda items
        IX     Adjournment until July 21, 2010