SAGE – There is large section of unincorporated area of Riverside County, north of the San Diego County line and east of Temecula, Murrieta and Winchester, South of Hemet and Mountain Center and west of Anza and Aguanga. Portions of this area are traditionally known as Sage, French Valley, Temecula Valley (wine country) and Diamond Valley.
Over the past few years, Sage resident, Eleni Malandrinos has almost single-handedly led the effort to have the voices of the residents of this area heard. She has tried to organize a MAC (Municipal Advisory Committee) similar to the MACs for Anza Valley and Winchester but to no avail. Following the model used by Winchester, a decision was made to use a nonprofit corporation as the vehicle to unite this community into a united voice that then can communicate with our elected representatives.
The Sage Town Hall Association incorporated June 27 and held its first public meeting July 19. The turn-out was standing room only. An announcement was made that the association needed residents to become members to demonstrate that they want this association to speak for them. Membership is open to residents living in the unincorporated areas listed above. Annual dues are $10 and checks along with the contact information for new members can be sent to their mailing address at 31805 Temecula Pkwy. #218 Temecula, CA 92592-9804.
This emerging corporation announced a small partial victory with the U.S. Postal Service. Through Supervisor Chuck Washington’s office, they had contacted the USPS with concerns about their mailing addresses either being listed as Temecula or Hemet since Sage was arbitrarily divided up by the USPS for the convenience of that agency.
The problems are numerous with the address designation. If Sage residents call for emergency services (police, fire, ambulance) and give their address as defined by the USPS the 911 operator will direct the call to the city agencies for those addresses. This delays response since none of these residents receive services from the cities shown on their addresses.
Another issue is the difference is sales tax charged within those cities as compared with the Countywide sales tax rate. On purchases such as cars, mobile homes and online purchases the sales tax is charged based on the home address of the buyer and the city associated with those addresses. Taxation without representation was an issue for the Founding Fathers of this country and it was no less a hot issue for Sage residents. While the USPS did not grant the request for a change in the “Preferred” address for these homes they did grant an “Allowed” address of Sage for those residents of Sage saddled with a Hemet mailing address. The USPS did not make the same accommodation for the residents of Sage, who have a Temecula mailing address.
Among the issues that drew the large crowd was the news that preliminary plans have been submitted to Riverside County planning for numerous projects that might negatively impact rural life in Sage. One proposal is for a 335-acre development near Diamond Valley Lake that includes a college, commercial buildings and high-density housing. Another is for a hotel complex near Lake Skinner. A third would develop small wineries near Sage and East Benton roads. Residents are also concerned about encroachment from both Hemet and Temecula. Of course, water resources were a major concern.
The other issue that prompted the turn-out was the decision of the Sheriff’s Department to address a budget shortfall by removing the single deputy that was routinely positioned on the Hill. Before this cutback the entire area from Mountain Center, through Garner Valley, Anza, Terwilliger, Aguanga and Sage had a single deputy scheduled to handle calls over that vast area. With the current cut residents have all been left without a Sheriff’s Deputy assigned to our area. They will now come to these areas only in response to a call.