Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting shares wealth of information on community, new Dollar General

Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington’s Legislative Assistant Opal Hellweg speaks briefly about the county’s programs to assist the homeless to find the help and shelter they need at the Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting Wednesday, Nov. 8, at the Community Hall in Anza. Diane Sieker photo

The Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting was held at the Anza Community Hall Wednesday, Nov. 8, and was attended by 25 community members and three journalists. The meeting lasted a half-hour, but a wealth of information was shared during that short time.

AVMAC members Bob Giffin, Allison Renck, Sharon Evans and Edison Gomez Krause were present. Gordon Lanik was not able to attend. Special guest speakers, Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington’s Legislative Assistants Opal Hellweg and Brian Tisdale and Mike Railey of the Rubicon Design Group, were also in attendance.

Giffin called the meeting to order and led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance.

AVMAC secretary Allison Renck approved the minutes from the Sept. 13 meeting.

Giffin spoke briefly on the Anza sign with nothing to report.

Krause updated the attendees on the progress of the new AVMAC website and said that the URL or internet address for the site was still located on a “sub domain” and that it is not easy to share to social media until it is transferred to its “home domain.” He said excellent progress is being made.

Hellweg said a few words about county business, mainly that there was not much going on except the Veteran Assistance Leadership of Riverside County initiative, which she deemed successful. In 2013, the board of supervisors established the initiative to find permanent housing for every homeless veteran in the county. The Housing Authority division of the county Economic Development Agency, the Department of Public Social Services, Riverside University Health System, Sheriff’s Department, Probation Department, and Veterans’ Services partnered with housing providers, cities, law enforcement and community agencies toward the goal of helping all homeless veterans get off the streets.

“Riverside County is the first county in the country to have zero homeless veterans,” Hellweg stated. “There are veterans on the streets that choose to be out there, but we have housed 1,000 veterans in housing over the last three years.”

A scheduled speaker from CalTrans was to address the meeting; however, Renck said that Terri Kasinga, the chief of public and media affairs for Caltrans District 8, was not able to attend the meeting that evening. Renck read a letter of apology that Kasinga had submitted through the CalTrans office.

Railey made a presentation about the Dollar General store, which is slated to begin construction possibly in 2018 on the lot between the Anza Community Hall and the fire station.

Railey covered several main points, including the goal to hire local contractors for the construction of the building. Once completed, the store will hire nine local residents, creating new jobs in Anza. He said that Rubicon has successfully negotiated with Caltrans and Riverside County to save the Christmas tree on the road side of the Community Hall lot.

Railey handed out copies of the blueprints and elevation of the proposed 9,100-square-foot store and parking facilities and said that the facade of the building will be wooden with a western theme. He entertained several questions, such as the number of parking spots, if the jobs were going to be full or part time and how Dollar General “gives back” to the community. He said that Dollar General has local literacy programs and other community programs to help the areas in which they do business. They are planning to hire nine employees, and they will be part-time and full-time jobs. There are 46 parking spaces planned.

“We have been working on the site next door for almost two years now. We’ve submitted plans to Riverside County, we’ve done our environmental studies and as I am sure most of you know, water is a big issue here in Anza. So what happened with our water situation is we submitted our plans, and Riverside County came back and said, ‘there’s no water in Anza.’”

Railey explained that he was given a list of approved water systems in Anza that they could utilize, and the Community Hall was one of those approved systems. Negotiation began with the Community Hall and an agreement beneficial to both parties was reached.

There was some confusion over the agreement between the board of directors and membership of the Community Hall and Rubicon for the developer to tap into the existing water well at the Community Hall, in order to abide by the court order in the water suit prohibiting new commercial wells from being constructed. Bill Donahue explained the arrangement to attendees and the AVMAC board.

“Rubicon was given a list of multiple water systems in Anza they could possibly tie into,” Donahue said. “They were considering numerous other properties in Anza. The owners of the dirt lot next to the Community Hall have been long time supporters of the hall. They allow the hall to use that lot for an extended swap meet area, without charge. The hall does pay for insurance to protect the property owners but that permission to use the lot can be withdrawn at any time. Had the hall stood in the way of the property owner’s chance to sell that lot it was very possible that they would not have looked favorably upon that action and revoked the permission to use the lot.

“Had another water system in Anza agreed to allow Dollar General to connect, they could have built the store and the hall would lose the use of the lot and have gotten nothing in return. Instead the members voted to have the board find out if the hall could enter into such an agreement legally and if so, then to make the best deal possible for the hall. The deal Noel Donahue negotiated will get the ADA upgrades completed outside the building, the parking lot repaved and the upgrades and repairs done to the well that are needed. None of us at that meeting expected Rubicon to agree to pay for even one of those costs. They are paying for all the costs. Given the circumstances, the members in attendance voted unanimously to approve the deal.”

Anza resident Cindy Barker said that she understood that the hall was owned by the community and that Anza should have a say in the development of the lot. Donahue spoke again and said to her that the California nonprofit corporation, which is controlled by its members, was formed in 1948 for the purpose of building and operating a community hall. That corporation is Anza Community Building and is a privately held nonprofit corporation that owns the Community Hall. Only members of that corporation have a vote in what it does. Donahue said that if the people attending the meeting felt strongly about what the hall membership decides, they could join the Community Hall as members and have their voices heard as well.

Giffin asked for announcements of community events, and Anza resident Brian James Udarbe informed the assemblage that his grand opening of “The Gypsy Kitchen” sandwich shop at the Cahuilla Mountain Market is planned for Nov. 18.

To contact Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington’s office, call (951) 955-1030 or visit http://supervisorchuckwashington.com/.

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