Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sierra Santa Margarita Letter about Altair project to: The Hon. Michael S. Naggar, Mayor City of Temecula

Santa Margarita Group
31915 Rancho California Road
Ste. 200-133, Temecula, Ca. 92591
(951)506-9607; fax (951)506-4497 

                                                                                      June 17, 2016
The Hon. Michael S. Naggar, Mayor
City of Temecula
41000 Main St,
Temecula, CA 92590

Dear Mayor Naggar and Councilmembers:

The Santa Margarita group of the Sierra Club (San Gorgonio Chapter) has been a willing and pleased community partner with the City of Temecula on many projects and endeavors.  We admire and appreciate the City’s ongoing efforts to improve and protect the quality of life for its residents. We gratefully recognize your strides to make Temecula an environmentally-friendly place to live as shown by your ongoing support for the Murrieta Creek Regional Trail and other Sierra Club projects, the Jefferson Corridor plans and the improvements to your city-trail system.  Thanks, too, for your willingness to provide continued contact and information to our group and the public, a very important service to the community.

But we have been contacted by several highly reputable entities that are concerned about the Altair project, particularly about the significant impact that the project would have on wildlife movement in Linkage 10 (upland connection), constrained Linkage 13 (Murrieta Creek connection) between the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve and the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve and in constrained Linkage 14 (start of Santa Margarita River – Temecula Creek – Pechanga Creek connection.

Wildlife movement between the Santa Ana Mountains across Interstate 15 to the Palomar Mountains has been a concern for decades.  We are now at a point where it appears that the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve is in the center of the last viable linkage for wildlife that connects the Inland Mountains to the Coastal Mountain Range. We must face the fact that enhancing our last wildlife corridor system may be the only way to save the wildlife that are now stranded on the west side of Freeway 15. 

Unfortunately for the Altair project, the south end of the site’s footprint intrudes on land that could possibly be the area for a wildlife corridor system that could alleviate the problem. The area that must be enhanced and protected involves the intersection of Corridors 10, 13 and 14. The easiest first step is to plan for the widest corridor possible on this site while the Western Bypass, the Temecula Parkway clover-leaf and the Altair projects are in the making.

The City of Temecula could do what the MSHCP failed to do; plan for the wildlife corridor infrastructure.  Transportation infrastructure was the theme of the Plan, but there were only “linkages” described—not a true infrastructure for wildlife movement.  Temecula could be the Champion of the MSHCP and show others how a City can take the Plan a step further and actually implement a working “linkage”.

Several changes to the project could accomplish this.
1) Moving the Villages A and G and the South Parcel (Civic Use site) to the east of the Western Bypass.
2)  Any mitigation of land parcels should have equivalency to a formal Criteria Refinement as the MSCP describes, if a “Biologically Equivalent or Superior Determination” cannot be made for a proposed refinement, or if there is a reduction in Criteria acres, then an amendment to the plan must be sought, with concurrence of the wildlife agencies. The 270 acres of land proposed in the DEIR for protection near Corona is not satisfactory habitat or siting for this purpose.  Land parcels that could enhance Linkages 10, 13, and 14 or lands adjacent to I-15 that would enhance those linkages would be appropriate.
3) Funding for a complete “Project Study Report,” to be prepared by
Caltrans to preliminary engineering standards, proposing a system of wildlife crossings for I-15 should be provided.  Parcels to be acquired, culvert improvements and a connection from the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve and the Temecula Golf Course Plan that would make a viable Temecula River wildlife corridor would be studied.
4) Endangered Habitat League has suggested a Corridor Recovery Study be a condition of approval for the Altair project. “This would be conducted by the City, and informed by ongoing mountain lion research being conducted by UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, within a reasonable period of time. It would assess the Temecula Creek Inn golf course and proposed development project, and how to restore movement for mountain lion and other species on this property so as to make viable connections between Linkage 10 and Constrained Linkages 13 and 14”.  We strongly support this proposal.

We feel that your primary goal and ours coincide, that the City of Temecula be in compliance with the MSHCP
Once that goal is met, Temecula can show the region how the Plan should be responsibly implemented by putting our recommendations into effect. Temecula would be an example to all participants in the MSHCP, which would be beneficial to everyone.


The Santa Margarita Group of the Sierra Club
Pam Nelson, Chair
951 767-2324

Altair Specific Plan and the Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

Notice Announcing a
City Council


A CITY COUNCIL WORKSHOP has been scheduled for July 28, 2016 to provide information to the City Council regarding the proposed Altair Specific Plan and the Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

Case No:                                                         Planning Application No. PA14-0159 (Altair Specific Plan)
Applicant:                                                        Rob Honer, Ambient Communities
Location:                                                         South of Ridge Park Drive and westerly of Pujol Street.
Proposal:                                                         A workshop to provide project information to the City Council, and to obtain input.  The proposed Specific Plan by Ambient Communities, referred to as “Altair,” includes 270 acres in the southwesterly portion of the City of Temecula west of Old Town.  The proposed plan will include the four-lane divided Western Bypass, approximately 1,750 residential units, an elementary school, civic site, a small amount of neighborhood commercial, a clubhouse, parks, trails, and hillside preservation.
                                                                                    In addition to the Specific Plan, this project will include a General Plan Amendment Subdivision Map, Development Agreement, and City-managed EIR.
Environmental Action:                                     Environmental Impact Report
Case Planner:                                     Matt Peters
Case Engineer:                       Roger Bhatia

Vicinity Map

PLACE OF WORKSHOP:      Temecula Conference Center
41000 Main Street, Temecula, CA 92590
DATE OF WORKSHOP:        July 28, 2016
TIME OF WORKSHOP:         9:00 AM

All interested parties are invited to attend this workshop.  However, the workshop is for informational purposes only. Public comments will be taken, but the City Council will not make any decisions at this workshop.  The proposed project application and associated materials may be viewed at the public information counter, Temecula Planning Division 41000 Main Street, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.  Questions concerning the project may be addressed to the case planner, Matt Peters, at the City of Temecula Planning Division, (951) 694-6400.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Fourth of July Parade: How and Where

From: Margaret Meyncke
Thanks to all of you for registering for our first annual SIERRA CLUB 4th of July Parade with the City of Temecula.  This is our largest outreach event of the year.  We want visibility and Impact!

Tee-shirts have arrived and will be available for pickup at two separate locations on two different days!
   SATURDAY, Temecula Public Library, 3:00 to 5:00.
   SUNDAY, Murrieta Public Library, 3:00 to 5:00.
If neither day works for you, please call me and I will make other arrangements.

Details:  Plan to arrive at the staging area at 9:00 am.

We will be parking at the Community Center on Pujol Street and walking one block to the staging area behind the Stampede.  (Map attached.)

Check-in will begin at the staging area at 9:00 am.  When you check-in, you will be asked to sign a release waiver from the City of Temecula. (Please see attached.)  At this time, you will receive:
1. A Sierra Club umbrella. (one per family)
2. A Kazzoo (one per participant)
3. An American Flag

1. Water
2. Umbrella
3. Stuffed Animal

Wear comfortable clothes and shoes for walking six blocks!

I am also attaching a Youtube version of ..."This Land is Your Land".  Please memorize if you plan to sing with us.
Please RSVP to this email to let me know when and where you are picking up your tee-shirts!

Attachment: 1

Parade Entry: This letter confirms your entry into the 2016 Family First Independence Day Parade on Monday, July 4th at 10am. Please read the following information carefully and pass it along to your participants. Everyone in your entry is expected to comply with these guidelines. ∗ Please find your entry number, staging time and location on the attached parade line-up. Please check-in with a staff member once you have arrived at your staging location. We encourage you to be on time but not early! ∗ LIABILITY FORMS MUST BE TURNED IN AT CHECK-IN FOR EACH PARTICIPANT (young and old). ∗ The parade will step off promptly at 10am. Everyone must be checked in, staged and ready by 9:45am. ∗ No candy or any other objects may be thrown before, during or after the parade. Participants shall not distribute flyers, business cards or other materials to spectators along the parade route. ∗ Unless otherwise noted, staging will take place in the Stampede parking lot. ∗ Parade vehicles must enter into the staging area via Pujol Street from Rancho California Road (see attached check-in directions). ∗ Participant parking will be available at the parking structure located on Mercedes Street. Please enter via the north end of Old Town Front Street and turn left onto Main Street and right onto Mercedes (the parking structure will be on your left hand side). Handicapped parking will be located at the parking structure with additional handicapped parking in the 6th Street parking lot. ∗ Portable restrooms will be located throughout the staging area. ∗ Performances are permitted in front of the judges and are limited to 30 seconds. Please look for the red line on the street to indicate the judging area. No additional stopped performances throughout the route are permitted. ∗ Please keep your group somewhat narrow when marching as the curbs jut into the route at each cross street. ∗ All participants should be able to withstand the entire parade, staging and de-staging route of about 1.5 miles. ∗ Parents and spectators of participants should not walk along the route with the group. This blocks the view of other spectators. ∗ The parking lot at 28601 Old Town Front Street will serve as the parade committee headquarters and first aid area. Judges will also be located here under the big, white tent. The tent will be on the left side as you make your way along the route. ∗ Due to the possibility of high heat, please plan accordingly with water, sunscreen, etc. There is very little shade in the staging area. Please pass this information along to each participant in your entry. Attached please find and review the following: line-up with staging times & location, check-in directions, route map and liability waiver. Should you have any questions, feel free to contact our Special Events staff by phone at (951) 240-4268 or via email at Thanks so much for choosing to spend your 4th of July with us! 

Attachment 2:

Family First Independence Day Parade Liability Waiver I realize every precaution is taken to eliminate any injuries or hazards; however, in the event of an injury, I hereby waive, release and hold harmless from any liability for damages of personal property including accidental death, as well as from claims for property damage which may arise in connection with the above named activity, against the City of Temecula, its agents, employees and volunteers. I further permit the use of activity/event photography and/or video for media promotion. The City of Temecula and any otherwise officially named sponsors shall not be responsible to compensate, indemnify or pay damages to an applicant for any reason whatsoever, including, but not limited to cancellation of the parade due to foul weather, power outages and/or police action. It is understood that an applicant enters, invests in and/or plans for the 2016 Family First Independence Day Parade at his/her own risk. In case of accident or emergency, personnel of the Community Services Department and/or its agents are hereby authorized to secure medical care deemed necessary as a result of accident or injury for the participant. I further agree to pay any and all costs incurred as a result of said treatment. Adult/Guardian 

Signature__________________________________ Date_____________________________________ Child’s Name_____________________________________________ Entry Name______________________________________________ For more information, or to return a completed entry form, please contact: City of Temecula, Community Services Department 41000 Main Street Temecula, CA 92590 (951) 240-4268

Attachment 3:

Attachment 4:

This Land is Your Land

This Land is your land,
This land is my land,
From California, 
To the New York island,
From the redwood forest,
To the Gulf Stream water,
This land was made for you and me.

Palm & Pine: July 2016

Michael H. Momeni, PhD
Environmental Scientist
Our initiatives have focused on education about our environment, preservation and improvement of our local water quality, and wildlife protection.   We have expanded our ability to communicate within our organization and with the public by creating our webpage, Facebook and our Blog Sierra Santa Margarita Group: What’s Up
We are striving to make it easier for interaction and feedback with you.   Please check us up and let us hear from you by commenting on our Blog. 
Please visit us on “Outdoor Families”
And our Sierra Santa margarita Facebook:

Please visit our webpage:

Air Quality in Temecula-Murrieta Corridor
Automobiles are a dominant contributor to the quality of air within the Temecula Valley.  Prolong exposure to the exhausts from vehicles has been associated with decrease in mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability.   The other illnesses include cardiovascular disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer.
Highway 15 is the principle commuting routes from Temecula-Murrieta cities to San Diego and Los Angles.  Both cities are predominantly bedroom communities.  The highways 15 and 215 are generally congested from early in the morning to late in the evening.  These highways are also the only north-south routes for the interstate traffic through the Temecula Valley. 
Based on my experience, the Highway 15 and 215 are congested roads between the highway 8 in San Diego and the highway 60 by Moreno Valley, and by Ontario.  More than once I have gazed at the traffic congestion on the Highway 15 from the overpasses on the Rancho California and Santiago Roads.  Often mentally I have asked: “Who are these people? Where are they going and coming from? ”The time spent on commuting is not spent with the family.  The money spent on car replacement, insurance and on gasoline, is the money not spent on improving the quality of life.  What can be done to improve the situation?” 
Why People Commute?  In my opinion the followings are some of the reasons for commuting in our region:

·       Riverside County has about 25 percent more working residents than available jobs.
·       Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties are the major destination for work.
·       Occupational and professional job opportunities are limited within the Riverside County.
·       Housing costs have been lower in the Riverside County than in San Diego and Los Angeles counties.
·       Commuters with school-aged children often prefer to live in a detached single family house than in high-density apartments.
·       School options for their children.
To reduce the congestion, we would require time-cost efficient transportation between work and home. An express mass-transit system using buses is expensive and would only slightly reduce reliance on using personal cars. 
The distance between Perris, to Los Angles is about 75 miles. At present a train travel to the two cities would demand nearly 4 hour 36 minutes of commuting time.  This is not an option for a commuter.  The same two destinations the time for commuting using a personal car could be about 90 minutes.
The distance between Temecula and down town San Diego is about 60 miles and could be traveled within 60 minutes using a personal car.  At this time, except for bus, no mass-transit system is available.  An express bus between Temecula and down-town San Diego the travel time would be about 90 minutes.  It is presently the express bus is scheduled for twice daily, and would cost about $17 each way.  This is not a cost-effective option for most commuters.
A green solution would be using low-floor light rail cars.  The low-floor would allow entrance and exit from the train cars without using elevated platform and allow wheel-chair access for handicapped individuals.  Similar trains are already in operation in many cities, for example from Chicago O’Hare Airport to downtown Chicago, and in Dallas DFW Airport.  Portland is expanding their mass transit system working with Siemens using redesigned S70 light rail vehicles.

A similar type of trains could link Temecula-Escondido to San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System.  The Metropolitan Transit System in San Diego presently uses rapid-light trains; it is efficient and cost effective option for commuting.

We cannot reduce the air pollution within the Valley, unless we provide a viable cost-effective option for commuters.

Celebration of 100th birthday of the National Park Service
We did it; on April 16 we toured Cabrillo National Monument. Our tour guide, Jack Vallerga detailed history about the park and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and lead us on the 2-mile Bayside Trail.  

We toured the community of Little Italy, in San Diego.  Our guide Anthony M. Davi, walked us through the community and narrated some of the historical events since it was established in 1871.  This activity was organized by Laurie Webster.


Murrieta Creek Flood Control Project:   an Interim Progress Report  

Melvin Meneses, the Army Corp, Murrieta Creek Project Manager, presented an overview of the project and the status of each phase of the project.  This presentation was followed by Army Corp Biologist Jessie Rae.  
He presented different options for revegetation of the flood control area.  Some members of the audience asked about selection of soil-cement for stabilization of some of the embankments over the traditional cement.  Melvin Meneses discussed the pros-and-cons for the choices; he indicated that one of the concerns for Temecula-Murrieta community was preservation of the Old Town color motif.  Also, the Army Corp attempts to naturalize the creeks and flood control beds to resemble the naturally created riverbeds.  
The Corp had worked with naturalists to preserve the habitat and protect any native species by relocation to other areas.  The audience participation and followed up questions indicated the public interest and historical knowledge about the project.

 Army Corp Biologist Jessie Rae discussed the biological aspects of the project.

This was a beautiful day.  We are grateful to the Corp of the Engineers for their presentations.  
 Terri Biancardi organized this activity.
 Leadership Retreat
The San Gorgonio Chapter recently met at the Whitewater Preserve, organized by Chapter Chair, MaryAnn Ruiz, for a “Leadership Retreat” to share ideas, strategic planning, and get to know each other.  Chapter Excom leaders discussed among others, politics, energy, transportation, air quality and wildlife.  The exchange of ideas has already resulted in an effort to clarify our own group strategic objectives. The Santa Margarita Group was represented by Palm Nelson (Our grpoup Chari lay) and Margret Meyncke (Facebook coordinator).  Pam Nelson gave a synopsis of our current areas of interest and our progress in achieving some of our goals.
 Margaret Meyncke discussed  the need to embrace social and political diversity in  our daily casual conversations and discussions.  

Trail Hike
Our two seasoned hike leaders are Robert Audibert and Gary Marsalone.   The two hikes scheduled for May and June 2016 are on May 7 "Black Rock Canyon Trail" and June 11 “Devil’s Slide Trail” followed to “Deer Springs Trail”.
·       The Joshua Tree National Park's Black Rock Canyon Trail is 6 miles, moderately difficult with about 1000 feet gain in elevation.  
·       The Hike from Humber Park in Idyllwild to the Deer Springs Trail Head is 11 miles.  The hike is strenuous with a gain of about 2400 feet in elevation.

Walk in the 4th of July Parade with the Sierra Club

The activity has been organized by Margaret Meyncke.  We intend to celebrate the 4th of July by walking in the parade with the city of Temecula; all wearing the Sierra color green tee shirts, showing our patriotic spirit and love of nature.   It is going to be a great fun day.

Speakers and Topics at our Monthly Meetings
·       May 1, 2016 Aquanga is a three surprise areas with just a 20-minute drive from Temecula.  We visited a hidden waterfall (small) with pools for wading, toured the Temecula Olive Oil Ranch, then visited the celebrated workshop of  Ricardo Breceda creating metal masterpiece sculptures. 

·       May 12, 2016: Speaker Kurt Campbell, a local resident with a life-long passion for bird biology, told us all about the birds we see, those that hang around and those that migrate extensively. Kurt illustrated many of the ways birds make use of land and water areas, from local to worldwide.  The territories include home ranges, seasonal migration, and other types of local movements. Kurt told us about the significance of birds to the health of our environment. 

·       April 14, 2016: Speaker Gary Oddi, a Great Oaks High School teacher, told us about the bike trails in the Temecula area.  He was joined by representatives from Murrieta, Wildomar and Lake Elsinore.  Each overviewed the many bike trails around their cities. 

·       March 10, 2016:  Speaker Stacy Parker, a longtime worker with the Fund for Animal Wildlife Center in Ramona, presented her work at the Rescues and Releases Center caring for sick and injured wildlife and exotic animals. The center oversees the volunteer program and works with student interns.

·       June 9th:  Speaker Matt Rahn, Temecula City Councilman and biologist, will present Temecula's future development and its impact on the region.  We are concerned about wildlife crossings and expect construction of wildlife corridors across Highway 15. Would a future development of the city adjacent to De Luz immolate the wildlife crossing options?
A synopsis of our activities:
·       June 4th: National Trails Day and our anniversary of the Murrieta Creek Regional Trail ribbon cutting.
·       The Flood Control Project, The Army Corp of Engineers: In Temecula, we will have a walking tour starting at 9 AM, June 4th at the Creek adjacent to the Old Town Temecula Community Center.
-        In Wildomar: Health Fair at Marna O'Brien Park;
-        In Lake Elsinore:  Celebration at Serenity Park.

-        May 14, 2016, Earth Day events:  We promoted our organization during the Santa Rosa Plateau's Garden Tour.
-        Our group endorsed Debbie Walsh for District 1 Riverside County Supervisor.  

·       April 21st and 28th, The Quino Checkerspot habitat and trail restoration project:   Group members, Pam and Greg Nelson and John Dechert assisted RCA biologists, Anza residents, and California Native Plant members in removing invasive plants from a study area in the Beauty Mountain Wilderness on.  
·       June 14th will be the last of our Teachers' Environmental Education 4-part series.  Teachers will demonstrate successful lesson plans that they used during the school year.  

·  Meadowview: The walking workshop was guided by members Teri Biancardi, Kurt Campbell and David Marrett showing the ongoing restoration and studies.