Wildomar council agrees to change time of meetings, approves market research study

The Wildomar City Council agrees to change the time of city council meetings while they are held via teleconference to 5 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month. Valley News/Courtesy photo

While the state of California remains under gathering restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wildomar City Council agreed to change the start time of upcoming meetings held via teleconference, Wednesday, Aug. 26.

The closed session of the meetings will now begin at 4 p.m. and the public session will open at 5 p.m.

“The hope would be that we do this, we implement it,” Mayor Dustin Nigg said. “The primary benefit I’m hoping for is more increased public participation. I think besides staff we had about 10-12 people attend the last regular meeting. So, the idea would be to see if this increases the participation, but also I’ve noticed that the Zoom calls have increased the length of the meetings.”

Councilmember Ben Benoit also mentioned that it would help get staff members home earlier in the evening.

“(Some) live far away. I want to keep the focus on the public participation and we will revert back to 6:30 p.m. if we don’t get that increase and we’ll test it up for a few months,” Nigg said.

The council also adopted a resolution authorizing the abatement of all weeds on properties declared to be a public nuisance at a prior meeting, by the city.

Assistant city manager Dan York gave the staff presentation and reported the city has had conversations with one of the properties on the list of parcels found to be in violation of city code.

“The list before you tonight is Step 8 of the 10-step process,” York said. “We completed the first four steps, which then led us into the abatement process. And then we’ve gone through the four steps of the abatement process. What passes tonight gives us the legal authority now to abate the properties. We will continue to work closely with the residents if they want to go ahead and abate. If not then we will have to abate for them, but there will be a few more steps before we get to the abatement process.”

Benoit asked for a clarification on the timeline, York said fire marshals will head out to the violating properties over the next couple of weeks.

“They’ll do an inspection,” York said. “They will inform us which properties have been taken care of, get our authorization and then their contractor will come in and start abating. Actions should start happening in the next couple of weeks.”

Bridgette Moore, mayor pro tem of Wildomar, was in favor of the resolution.

“I’m glad to see this,” she said. “This is something we’ve needed and so glad to see it coming to fruition.”

The council voted to approve unanimously.

The council also approved a professional service agreement for Kosmont Companies to conduct a market research study in Wildomar after hearing a presentation by city Kimberly Davidson, economic director of Wildomar.

“I can go out to developers all day long and just as we did in 2019 at ICSE (International Council of Shopping Centers), and we can make claims that Wildomar rocks and Wildomar is the best place for your development, but until they actually see the data to back up those claims, they’re not bringing their millions here to do that development,” Davidson said. “They want to see the data. So, this type of study allows us to be proactive about our development instead of being reactive. It will also be primarily focused on our miracle mile, which is also the super commercial corridor or between Tanaja and French Valley with not only a lot going on there already, but it’s still a lot of opportunity on that corridor. The data, even though the data will be focused mostly on what we considered to be the miracle mile, it will be useful data to all of Wildomar.”

Benoit asked when the economic development department come back to the city council to request another market study, wondering how long the data will be relevant.

Ken Hira, the president of Kosmont Companies, chimed in.

“I think if we can pull data today, that allows you all to see what are the metrics that show supply and demand within the marketplace today,” Hira said. “And I think you can use that information not for five years, but for a shorter period of time, but you can use that information to your advantage depending on what it tells us. And then I think updating information is not that significant once you have the data in your possession. I think that you’ve got to report that’s going to be good for a year or two, but it also depends on the twists and turns of the economy and what happens next. The other point is I think a lot of these retailers and hoteliers, they’ll do their own studies as well on top of it, but this is a starter kit.”

Councilmember Marsha Swanson was in support of funding the study.

“This is just an introduction to Wildomar by a third party, not by us,” she said. “They’re not just going to rely on this study. They’re going to do their own research too. And they’re not going to ask us to continue to do it unless it’s way outdated. But this is an introduction to Wildomar. They don’t know who we are, where we are, or what we are.”

The council approved it unanimously.

The council also heard a presentation from staff regarding the proposed approval of the updated 2020 Parks and Community Services Special Event Dates.

The presentation was given by Daniel Torres, coordinator of Parks, Community Services and Special Events.

“The pandemic hit us all by surprise and to comply with state and county mandates because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city had canceled and even postponed a lot of its major events,” he said. “So, with these proposed four events, they’re a whole different venue than normal. Usually September, October and December are some of our highest attended events.”

Torres proposed first a “Let’s Talk Astronomy” event, a prerecorded interview shown on the city of Wildomar Facebook page including a Q&A session Saturday, Sept. 12.

He also proposed a Halloween Laser Drive-In Show at Marna O’Brien Park Saturday, Oct. 24, a Military and Veterans Appreciation prerecorded event Wednesday, Nov. 11, and Santa’s Coming to Town, with Santa visiting several communities within the city.

The council approved the events unanimously.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at jpack@reedermedia.com.