Mayor emphasizes community pride in 2017 Temecula state of the city address

Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards presents a State of the City Address to outline the city of Temecula's recent achievements and future plans at Pechanga Resort & Casino, May 11. Shane Gibson photo
Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards presents a State of the City Address to outline the city of Temecula’s recent achievements and future plans at Pechanga Resort & Casino, May 11. Shane Gibson photo

“Community pride is evident throughout the city in our neighborhoods, businesses, schools and service organizations,” Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards said. “It is contagious and empowers us to set and achieve the highest standards with the confidence of knowing we are united in the common goals of making Temecula the best it can be. We are all proud partners in Temecula’s success and the resulting community pride is what unites us.”

Title sponsor for the event was Temecula Valley Hospital, 2016 Platinum Business of the Year. Program sponsor Pechanga Resort & Casino hosted the event Thursday, May 11. Twenty-five local organizations participated in the “Nonprofit Expo” held prior to the breakfast buffet.

Brian Connors, chairman of the board for the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce, introduced Edwards as “the longest-standing female council member to ever serve in the history of the city of Temecula … 2016 Woman of the Year for the state of California and the first and only woman to serve as our Temecula mayor three times.”

“Since Temecula’s incorporation in 1989, the city has invested hundreds of millions of dollars building infrastructure, developing roads, creating beautifully landscaped streets, sidewalks and medians, manicured parks and facilities that we enjoy every day,” Edwards said. ”Our job now is to reinvest back into the community to preserve the high quality of what we have built together. The voters of Temecula approved a one cent sales tax measure to preserve all of what our community has created, and to very importantly maintain excellent emergency response times, and increase police and fire protection to keep our community safe and uphold our high quality of life.”

Edwards noted that the passage of the measure has resulted in ten new law enforcement officers –two dedicated to the Homeless Outreach team, $2.3 million for road rehabilitation projects and $2.6 million on park and community facilities maintenance, including replacement of the synthetic turf at Birdsall Park and replacement of playground equipment throughout the city.

Edwards reported that once again Temecula received the Distinguished Budget Award from the Government Finance Officers Association, the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.

“Many large infrastructure projects are in the queue,” Edwards said.

These include the $50 million Temecula Parkway Interchange, the widening of Butterfield Stage from Rancho California to La Serena with a new traffic signal, phase one of the Overland Drive extension, Margarita Road rehabilitation from Rancho California Road to Temecula Parkway, slurry sealing neighborhood roads and upgrading traffic signal controllers to synchronize with Cal Trans on- and off-ramp intersections to improve traffic flow.

“We’ll never forget the flood of 1993 when Old Town was under water,” Edwards said, as she reported that two decades of pushing the federal government will finally result in Murrieta Creek modifications completed by the end of 2017 to assure Old Town Temecula will never again be flooded.

Edwards shared the trails and bikeways master plan is progressing with shared auto-cycle lanes, buffered bike lanes and a feasibility study for a “Waves to Wineries Trail” connecting wine country to the beach in Oceanside. She also stated that plans are underway for a pump track at Ronald Reagan Sports Park. Temecula’s Trail Master Plan received an American Planning Association award and is being considered for a state award.

Thirty percent of Temecula’s population is under 18 years old. The city offers several youth workforce programs with real-life skills, including internships, youth in government, leadership academies, future physicians and lawyers programs, vocational programs and one of the largest annual college and vocational fairs in the area. The latter event attracts over 220 colleges, universities and vocational schools and over 8,000 visitors. The Spero Vineyards partnership is a vocational program in which 90 percent of 115 special needs students have graduated and have obtained meaningful employment.

“A city is only as good as its school district, and Temecula Valley Unified School District is a huge reason why Temecula is successful,” Edwards said. She recognized TVUSD for having the highest graduation rate in the county; its students score among the highest on standardized tests; it has the highest “A through G” completion rate of college-bound course requirements; it is a California Green Ribbon School Silver award recipient and its schools are consistently ranked in the top ten percent in the state. She noted the new culinary arts program at Temecula Valley High School is the first of its kind in the area.

Edwards turned her attention to local development, citing plans for Uptown Temecula along the Jefferson Avenue corridor.

“Uptown’s first project is the most beautiful auto spa you will ever see,” Edwards said. “The architecture is very reminiscent of our City Hall.”

Edwards noted that “the tourism sector has also taken notice of Uptown Temecula” with hotel applications on Jefferson for over 300 rooms, including Staybridge Suites and Hilton Garden Inn.

Pechanga’s $285 million expansion, providing an additional 568 rooms, will be completed by the end of 2017. The Pechanga tribe has also contributed $5 million toward the expansion of Pechanga Parkway and local roads as well as $9 million in funding for additional public safety.

“In Old Town, the most stunning boutique hotel development is in the planning stages,” Edwards said of the Truax Hotel. “It’s a 151-room, luxury full-service hotel with architecture more impressive than many 5-star resorts.”

“Town Square Marketplace” will add 78,000 square feet of new retail and restaurant space on the two lots in front of City Hall. The Stampede will be renovating their exterior facade.

“A brand new beautiful three-story, mixed-use building broke ground yesterday on the corner of 4th and Old Town Front Street,” Edwards said.

Edwards also mentioned the Ambient Communities project, 270 acres west of Old Town, “with up to 1,500 residential units of varying sizes, a new elementary school and more.”

She noted that there are 250,000 square feet of industrial buildings in the pipeline. She also said that senior living options will double in Temecula with a 510,000-square-foot congregate care project in Harveston, the Generations project on Rancho Vista Road behind Linfield Christian School and the HighGate Senior Care facility on Rancho California Road.

Rancho California Road will also be home to Aldi Food Market, currently under construction, and a proposed 65,000-square-foot commercial center with an additional 160-unit apartment community.

“Temecula retail does amazing,” Edwards said. “Our per capita retail sales rank in the top 15 percent in California.

“Luxury auto dealers are obviously taking note of Temecula’s retail success. Mercedes Benz of Temecula was the most successful start-up in the history of Mercedes-Benz. Three years later, Hoehn Motors has now completed construction on a beautiful Audi dealership. Toyota of Temecula Valley is the fastest growing Toyota dealership in terms of new car sales in the country. Paradise Chevrolet/Cadillac received a Top Dealer Award out of 4,500 other Chevrolet dealers in the country.”

Edwards then congratulated Temecula Valley Hospital CEO Darlene Wetton for receiving an “A” grade for Patient Safety and Hospital Quality their second consecutive time. The hospital has been open for 3 1/2 years and is investing an additional $40 million dollars to expand their cardiac, neurosciences and surgical operations by another 28,000 square feet. This expansion brings their total investment in the community to nearly $200 million. They are directly responsible for over 750 jobs and indirectly responsible for another 130,000 square feet of medical office space near the hospital.

Kaiser Permanente added another 9,000 square feet to their facilities on Madison Avenue.

“We have formed a Regional Cancer Services Task Force among our southwest cities, hospitals and healthcare professionals to assess how patients can take full advantage of the many quality cancer services offered in our region and what might be done to attract additional types of cancer services,” Edwards said.

According to the state’s Economic Development Department, Temecula has the highest number of jobs in its history at nearly 53,000, Edwards said. Temecula’s unemployment rate of 3.9 percent is consistently lower than county, state and national rates.

The Temecula Valley Entrepreneur Exchange incubator has housed twenty-four start-up companies that have created a cumulative economic impact of over $4 million. The resource center has provided over 375 workshops with 7,000 attendees and 1,200 one-on-one business consultations via a partnership with Inland Empire Small Business Development Center.

“Part of our business attraction strategy is to be business-friendly in terms of cost,” Edwards said. “Temecula is among the top 5 percent lowest cost cities in California to do business.”

The former City Hall building also houses satellite campus classrooms for Mt San Jacinto Community College and California State University San Marcos.

“Students and earn an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in four years without ever leaving Temecula,” Edwards said.

The tourism industry continues to thrive with 2.7 million visitors and travel spending reaching nearly $700 million, Edwards said. She also congratulated South Coast Winery as the four-time “State Winery of the Year,” Ponte Winery for being recognized by Trip Advisor as one of their Top Ten-rated hotels in the USA, The Restaurant at Leoness Cellars for being named “Best Restaurant” of the Inland Empire for four consecutive years and No. 1 Winery Restaurant by USA Today Reader’s Choice and the Flower Hill Bistro at Miramonte Winery for their recognition in that category.

“We have award-winning breweries, too,” Edwards said, noting that, “Our nine craft breweries are making a name for themselves and winning medals at the National Beer Festival.”

“Temecula’s slogan of ‘Old Traditions and New Opportunities’ is alive and well and has been a top priority since day one,” Edwards said. “We are thankful for the invaluable relationships created with our business community, local nonprofits and thousands of residents and volunteers who give their heart and soul to Temecula, its people and its causes. Volunteerism and our nonprofit organizations play a vital role in the fabric of our community. Our local businesses are the forefront of Temecula’s success. Without you, Temecula would not be who we are today. Together, we look towards a bright future!”

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