The Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors recently hosted their ‘5th Annual Breakfast with the City Managers’. This popular event always packs the Realtor House with members eager to hear updates on what’s happening in our local markets from the people who guide our cities.
Lake Elsinore’s Grant Yates devoted his time to discussing the successful branding effort that city has embarked on – The Action Sports Capitol of the World – and the positive impact that has had on recreation, business and housing in the area. The oldest city in the region at 125 years, Lake Elsinore is showcasing its most unique feature, the lake, and the variety of outdoor activities that occur in and around the lake including a much anticipated sports complex that will cater to the increasing need for softball tournament venues. Yates also emphasized the renewed push for business in the city and their position as the gateway city for travelers from Los Angeles.
Murrieta’s Assistant City Manager Kim Summers brought the audience up to date on what’s happening in that city including an award winning school district, sports and family parks, hiking and equestrian trails and a city government encouraging and fostering entrepreneurial spirit with its Murrieta Innovation Center. Despite budget cuts necessitated by the recent economic downturn, Murrieta maintained its level of service to residents, expanded events designed to bring the community together and remains justly proud of again being named one of America’s safest cities.
Aaron Adams spoke of the return of jobs to Temecula. With more than 49,000 local jobs, Temecula provides more than half of all employment opportunities in Southwest California. They are also proud of an exceptional school district, master planned communities and numerous parks including the regions only park developed with special needs users in mind. Adams also touted the success of development in and around the Old Town core, revitalizing a segment of the city often overlooked as growth spreads further away from the historic center.
Representing one of the regions newest and smallest cities, Gary Nordquist presented the region as a ‘Magical Kingdom’ with Temecula as ‘Fantasy Land’, Murrieta as ‘Tomorrow Land’, Lake Elsinore as ‘Adventure Land’, Canyon Lake as ‘It’s a Small World’ and Wildomar as ‘Frontier Land’. He proceeded to portray his city as being on the frontier in terms of business attraction, job growth and housing development with a bright future ahead.
After years of sometimes acrimonious relations between Southwest California cities, it was refreshing to see a continuation of the sense of cooperation and goodwill shared by our cities today. All four cities are experiencing renewed commercial and residential development and job growth. They understand that a new business in Murrieta doesn’t hurt Temecula or Lake Elsinore, it provides a much needed boost to a region in which we are all interdependent. Our Realtors sell homes in all cities in the region, maintaining a high quality of life across the region is critical to our success.
Each city voiced concern about the current drought and detailed what their city is doing to cut water usage including such things as turf replacement in parks, eliminating some median landscape and switching to drought tolerant xeriscape at municipal buildings and encouraging others to follow suit.
In addition to water issues, another problem common to most cities is the escalation of public safety budgets. Most cities devote from 45% to as much as 60% of their total budget to contract services with Riverside County for Police and Fire protection. Those contract prices sometimes exceed the increase in city revenue. Most would like to increase the level of public safety in their cities but find it a battle just to maintain the same levels. Murrieta is the only local city with its own Fire and Police departments but even Murrieta isn’t immune to the increases in manpower and equipment needed to maintain a satisfactory ration of officers to citizens This is particularly true in light of recent state prison ‘realignment’, which shifted many state prisoners back to the county, and last year’s passage of Prop 47, which decriminalized several previously serious crimes to misdemeanors, resulting in an influx of prison releases to the communities.
Once again, our Breakfast with the City Managers was a most enlightening event providing insights to how our cities are working for the betterment of the region and coping with the challenges presented. As those charged with implementing the dictates and whims of the City Council, as well as overseeing the personnel and programs in a city, City Managers have a tough job. Fortunately in Southwest County, we have City Managers who are up to the task.