Temecula City Council moves forward with district voting boundaries, interchange project

Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

By a narrow vote of 3-2, Temecula City Council approved to adopt Ordinance 17-04, which changes the way Temecula will vote for its city council and mayor, as proposed in the July 11 meeting. Previous to the July 25 meeting, no action was taken other than conducting the fourth mandated public hearing after establishing the district boundaries.

The ordinance is in compliance of the California Voting Rights Act, changing the municipal code of city council elections to be determined by district rather than at-large. The ordinance specifically outlined the identification of the district numbers and election order of each district along with the establishment of district boundaries.

In its second reading, the motion carried with two dissenters, Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Rahn and Councilmember James Stewart. The council authorized the transition April 25, and, in part, the city now plans to adopt the “yellow” map version of district divisions.

Mayor Pro Tem Matthew Rahn asked to pull the item from the consent calendar for further inspection.

Later he explained, “I will be voting ‘no’ on the item because I think the analysis and motivation behind the selection of the ‘yellow’ map are not necessarily in concurrence.”

Councilmember Stewart followed suit by voting against the boundaries drawn out by the “yellow” map, while councilmembers Naggar, Comerchero and Edwards approved.

The establishment of a by-district election structure is intended to comply with California Voting Rights Act, offering equal representation of all citizens.

Such action was motivated to avoid litigation by Malibu lawyer, Kevin Shenkman, after several cities were faced with multimillion-dollar lawsuits.

The council also approved with a 5-0 vote a three-year agreement for contractor services with Counts Unlimited for Citywide Traffic Counts Data Collection for the fiscal years of 2017-2020. The contractual agreement is set at $30,000 annually, totaling a $90,000 fiscal impact. The count data collection will assist the Temecula Interchange project by collecting vehicular volume data and peak hour turning movement count data used for evaluating intersection performance at signalized intersections.

The council approved, unanimously, other interchange-related actions, specifically by approving the first amendment to the agreement for Temecula Park and Ride. The project was suspended September 2016 with 40 percent of construction done. The project is approved for additional design services to make extensive adjustments to the originally approved plan, thus causing a fiscal impact of $10,760 for design costs, plus a total contingency amount of $6,817.60.

The city hosted a public information meeting, during which Senior Management Analyst Betsy Lowrey clarified that the current Park and Ride riders are temporarily parking in the Rancho Community Church parking lot until the project was completed.

No contention was raised for either interchange-related items, but the council remained divided upon the establishment of election district lines.

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