Temecula council votes to send recovery plan, advocacy letter to county

The Temecula City Council discusses stay-at-home orders and reopening parking lots at public parks in a meeting conducted via Zoom on April 28.

The Temecula City Council on Tuesday, May 12, unanimously voted to approve a draft recovery and reopening plan to be sent to Riverside County officials.

The city’s proposal for reopening is based largely on California’s four-stage Resilience Roadmap put forward by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office, and was drafted with input from local business leaders to include content specific to Temecula-area businesses like the Promenade mall and the tourism industry.

As noted by the city council, state officials currently hold that California is in “early stage 2” of the four-stage plan.

According to the state’s website, that means “retail (curbside and delivery only), related logistics and manufacturing and essential businesses can open with modifications.”

The city also drafted an advocacy letter to be sent to county officials, the stated purpose of which is to “provide general direction and preferences for local recovery and reopening efforts and directed staff to return with a recovery and reopening plan for their consideration.”

“We know that you too are envisioning a reopening of our region to alleviate community suffering,” reads a draft of the cover letter for the proposal approved by the council, addressed to Riverside County Board of Supervisors Chairman Manuel Perez. “As such, we remain ready to stand with you in action and advocacy to get our community back on its feet. To start, we are sharing our Community Recovery and Reopening Plan with you. In partnership with our community leaders, and local business and tourism industry, we have spent weeks discussing and developing thoughtful recommendations for your consideration and community use. Those efforts are reflected in the attached plan which is a living and breathing document subject to change in a world where change is rapid and inevitable.”

The council also asked for language to be added to the advocacy letter declaring it to be the city’s belief that all businesses are “essential,” though that declaration would have no legal effect on what businesses are allowed to remain open.

At Councilman Mike Naggar’s request, the council also called for Temecula, Murrieta and the Temecula Valley Wine Country to be designated as a sub-region for potential reopening of businesses sooner than surrounding areas. Naggar states his belief that it may be possible for the local area to meet the governor’s criteria that no coronavirus deaths have occurred in the last 14 days for areas to be able to move further into phase 2.

While there have been reported deaths in Murrieta in that time frame, Naggar said he thinks that would not be a difficult bar to reach moving forward — there have been no reported coronavirus deaths at all in Temecula so far.

The unanimous vote comes after a split 3-2 vote at the council’s meeting last week, in which Naggar, Mayor James Stewart and Mayor Pro Tem Maryann Edwards voted to carry on with this year’s July 4 fireworks show over the objections of councilmembers Matt Rahn and Zak Schwank.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the Temecula City Council did not call for Temecula, Murrieta and the Temecula Valley Wine Country to be designated as a “sub-region.” Valley News regrets the error.