Menifee staff presented a virtual stakeholder workshop Friday, April 10, designed to help leaders from the commercial, industrial and retail areas understand and utilize the city’s “Zero Stop Shop” permitting center to move forward with their projects during the coronavirus pandemic.
The workshop was moderated by Cheryl Kitzerow, community development director, and brought more than 30 participants, including city department heads, to hear about the city’s permitting process and how the city developers can still proceed with their projects even though the city hall is closed for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis.
Department heads stood by online from their own city hall offices or homes to explain how developers can go about submitting project plans, obtaining building permits and paying their fees without coming into city hall. City staff also presented the most up-to-date activities, hoping to keep the stressed economy in the city moving forward.
The participants were also asked to share their difficulties and ideas how the city can better serve them with their individual projects.
Available to answer their questions and hear their ideas were city manager Armando Villa, assistant city manager Jeff Wyman, deputy city manager Rochelle Clayton, economic director Gina Gonzales, senior building inspector Craig Carlson, city clerk Stephanie Roseen and Jonathan Smith, director of public works.
After the presentation, a number of the business community leaders and developers gave the city staff an update about how their businesses have been affected by the lock downs. Not all the updates were good, but business owners showed optimism for when the crisis is over.
William Sacriste, director of forward planning for Lennar and one of the participants, said while there has been a 50% reduction in their home sales since the pandemic began.
“We are very concerned about our welcome home centers,” but he added that people are continuously calling about the homes and the builder is still working with their trade partners to move the Menifee projects forward. He did request the city consider extending the new building code fees for at least 60 days.
Gordon Mize, senior vice president of Lee and Associates Commercial Real Estate, said they were not funding many people at this time and without some fee deferments it could become even more difficult. He said the move to e-commerce or commercial transactions conducted electronically or on the internet is helping and recommended more to take advantage of it.
Lyn Robbins, a real estate agent, said home sellers have been reluctant to place their homes on the real estate multiple listing service during the coronavirus pandemic without being able to have open houses safely.
A caller from the Riverside Building Industry Association joined the workshop, praising the city for the virtual city hall “zero stop shop” project and how it is helping the industry keep moving forward in these times.
Kitzerow explained that by visiting the city website, https://www.cityofmenifee.us/virtualcityhall, developers and other businessmen can learn more about what select services and permit applications are offered online or by telephone since all walk-in services have been suspended on the order of the Riverside County Health Department until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides. Calls are still being accepted at Menifee City Hall at (951) 672-6777 and being directed to the various departments for information when possible.
Kitzerow said there will be other virtual city hall development workshops in the future as the coronavirus continues.
Tony Ault can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.