The issues staring at Murrieta City Council candidates aren’t rhetorical or hidden. Those issues can be found in the rows of dying lawns, stagnating pools and empty store fronts spanning the cities.
On Nov. 4, voters will get their chance to decide what they want in council members as seven candidates fight for two open seats.
Incumbents Douglas McAllister and Warnie Enochs are running against Nancy Knight, David Landriscina, Randon Lane, Paul Clay and write-in candidate Emilia Rychener.
McAllister and Enochs have not always agreed on issues in the past but both said they want to see through what they started. Three of the candidates have run for City Council in the past and Clay and Rychener are newcomers.
Clay and Rychener did not return e-mails and phone calls requesting comment.
The signs of the foreclosure crisis are evident in Murrieta. City officials have stated that one in eight homes is in foreclosure or about to enter the process within the boundaries.
All neighborhoods have been touched, with some blocks full of dead lawns and real estate signs.
While the city can’t step in and regulate foreclosures, candidates said the city has done a good job being proactive in trying to protect the community.
Enochs and McAllister said the City Council has worked hard to find institutions alternatives on protecting the value of homes in the area.
“We have to continue working with banks and private institutions to help these people and keep these communities up,” Enochs said. “We are doing everything we can and trying everything we can to help our residents.”
Landriscina said a new city law fining financial institutions for not taking care of homes is great but won’t have an affect for a few months.
“The idea of volunteer residents taking care of things… We need to expand on that,” he said. “We all have a common interest in protecting our property values.”
Knight said she has an out-of-the-box idea of a way to make homes in the area more affordable.
She is suggesting that the city create a law that allows a property owner to purchase the side yard of a neighbor to increase the land of their home. She said it would raise the value of homes of those who want more land and make the other homes more affordable.
As the economy falters, the city has seen its share of commercial stores and restaurants go out of business.
City Council candidates said the biggest issue is bringing in quality economic development and job growth.
Planning Commissioner Lane said he has watched commercial projects go through the city’s planning process and believes there are too many steps involved in important projects.
He would like to focus on bringing quality economic development to the Antelope area near a proposed hospital and in the Golden Triangle area.
He said a good way to improve the sales tax base is to keep residents from commuting to neighboring counties.
“We need to focus on bringing in regional and national businesses to keep our residents from commuting,” he said. “And we should be talking to businesses throughout the Inland Empire to bring those jobs here.”
Knight said the key is offering incentives to bring more industry and high-tech sector jobs to the area. She said too many residents, including herself, have had to take jobs in San Diego and Orange counties to earn a living.
She said the city could work with venture capitalists to encourage startup companies and suggested the area along Interstate 215 in northern Murrieta as the perfect place to focus on development.
“So many people want to focus on commercial development, but it’s about industry,” she said. “You have to have the industry to have that restaurant crowd to allow restaurants and stores to survive.”
Landriscina said the first step he would push for is turning Murrieta into Charter City. He said the status would allow the city to bid for public projects without having to go through the existing cumbersome process.
“Under the current law, the bid for a project gets the same rigmarole for a $10,000 project as a $10 million project,” he said.
McAllister and Enochs voiced their shared opinion that the City Council has shown economic growth in the past few years.
“We have a hospital going in bringing in jobs and finally are moving ahead with the Golden Triangle,” McAllister said. “We are finally seeing the results of all our hard work. I want to be on the City Council to make sure they get completed.”
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