Liberty Quarry - For Realtors a Private Property Rights Issue?

By
Real Estate Agent with 1st Action Real Estate

I don't personally care if you're for or against the Liberty Quarry Project proposed for the foothills southwest of Temecula. All I ask is before you engage me in a discussion, please have some facts at your disposal. I get real tired of emotional arguments proferred as facts, out-and-out lies and mis-statements masquerading as the truth, and NIMBY and environmental whack-jobs trying to sway me to their cause by increasing the volume of their rhetoric. Simply yelling BS loudly does not make it a fact - it merely makes it loud BS. 

BODOK. Now that we're clear on the ground rules, the Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors has been evaluating the Granite Construction project at Liberty Quarry. This is a major project that may be a neighbor to our community for the next 75 or 80 years. To that end, we have had a presentation by members of the anti-quarry group Save our Southwest Hills and yesterday 4 members of our Board took a tour of Granite Construction's Indio Quarry and then trekked into the southwest hills to look over the proposed Liberty site. 

homesThe BOD has not made a decision on whether or not to support the quarry proposal itself. There are numerous facts in evidence tojustify support as well as some negative concerns. But I suspect that based on our criteria, the issue will be adjudged 'not real estate related'. Though the foundational use of aggregate underlies real estate in Southwest County, our homes, businesses and infrastructure, the subjective issue of quarry location is not in itself a Realtor issue. You can make up your own mind as to need & location but I encourage you to get ALL the facts before making that decision.

What is an issue for us, however, is a private property rights issue concernoing the proposed annexation by the City of Temecula of the land on which the quarry would be sited. That issue is fairly simple.

  1. There is a Seller (or Sellers) who are willing to sell their land 

  2. There is a Buyer (Granite Construction) ready, willing and able to buy the land

  3. The land is zoned 'rr20 w/mining allowed' as it's highest and best use. The zoning is appropriate for the intended use by Granite Construction.That zoning pre-dates the existence of the City of Temecula and recognizes the critical role that mining plays in our economic structure. 

map1We are looking into the property rights aspect of this issue by trying to make sense of the documents that all parties have/or will submit to LAFCO prior to their June 4 hearing on annexation. In addition to concerns of a taking - and - downzoning by the City, there are also concerns with the letter of the annexation law. For a city to annex land (remember Temecula/Redhawk & Murrieta/East Murrieta), they must be able to prove that the acquisition will be productive - in other words, you can't just acquire something that will put a negative drain on city resources - there must be some common good.

The City states that their annexation plans are valid and justified and would not result in an appreciable change to the underlying zoning, it would merely provide the element of local control on the land. And in part, the city may have used some sketchy numbers to pad up the numbers in the report by including plans for the construction of 81 custom homes on part of the land. Now if you've seen the area you know that the area:

  1. is simply not conducive to residential/estate development due to the steep rocky nature of the land, lack of access and utilities. If it was that damned easy and attractive, the current landowners would have built there years ago. 

  2. the City claims they will have no responsibility for infrastructure or development in the area. If residents want to build here, they are responsible to bring in their own utilities, roads, power, etc. It's not too surprising that many of the current landowners are all in favor of this  project. Let's see - on the one hand we can keep this worthles pile of gravel we bought that we could never afford to build on - on the other hand we can sell to this big company for a tidy sum. Hmmmm, tough call, eh? The City offers one further scenario - they maybe can sell it to a wildlife preserve for probably a less tidy sum. 

  3. will NEVER pay for itself because residential property is a drain on city resources, not a benefit. In a nutshell that's why the City of Temecula is in better fiscal condition that Murrieta - because they have a larger commercial base whereas Murrieta is primarily relying on a residential base. But in this case they seem to be playing against type. 

map2You should also know that 85% of the area is already zoned for habitat and open space. Granite Construction is planning to buy about 400 acres and, in compliance with county, state & federal mandates, their quarry will be confined to just 150 of those acres - none within line of site of any area of Temecula, the I-15 or much of anywhere other than aircraft.

Again, you can choose to believe or disbelieve facts pertaining to air quality, silica dust, asphalt production, traffic reductions, the cost of aggregate to our local market or any of the myriad of pertinent issues. I encourage you to visit some of the websites on the issue to get your own facts and make your own informed decision as to the quarry itself. 

However, if someone tells you it will be the largest open put mine in the country, that it will produce toxic clouds of silica dust and asphalt particulates floating over our community, that it will encroach on either the wildlife preserve, wildlife corridor or the Santa Margarita river watershed, that it will increase truck traffic or that we simply don't need or would not benefit from local access to aggregate products, they're dissembling.

For more information please visit: Granite Construction , The City of Temecula, or LibertyQuarry Facts.

Please plan to attend the Granite Construction presentation at our Tuesday morning marketing meeting on April 21st and bring your questions for the  Q & A. And our special guests on 4/28 will be Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards and City Manager Sean Nelson. 

On the issue of private property rights, there can be no question where Realtors stand. 

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Topic:
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Tags:
liberty quarry
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Comments 5 New Comment

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Ambassador
2,342,013
Lenn Harley
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate

Another case of the free market being stymied by a minority. 

Follow the money.  Who stands to benefit from the downzoning and residential construction????

April 09, 2009 05:09 PM
Rainmaker
225,023
Gene Wunderlich
Realtor & Legislative Liaison
1st Action Real Estate

That's the funny thing, Lenn. Doesn't seem to be any benefit from that approach. The city would make millions if they annexed and let the quarry build but realistically nothing will be built there if they just annex and downzone. It's strictly a NIMBY thing.

April 09, 2009 06:32 PM
Anonymous #3
Anonymous
Sarah Barrette

Well then doesn't that speak volumes about the issue? It's hard to believe that the City Council would be behind something that was so detrimental to the community they represent and love. Then what is their angle?

April 16, 2009 01:26 AM
Rainmaker
225,023
Gene Wunderlich
Realtor & Legislative Liaison
1st Action Real Estate

It's interesting because the city is very well run. I'm trying to find their take on this as we speak.

April 16, 2009 05:44 PM
Rainmaker
225,023
Gene Wunderlich
Realtor & Legislative Liaison
1st Action Real Estate

While I would not normally reply to an anonymous comment, yours illustrates the point I was trying to make. SDSU & SMER are capable of fighting the quarry issue on it's own merit or lack thereof. If LAFCO buys your argument that the 150 acre quarry will destroy life as we know it on the 4,400+ acres, then you win - if not you lose.

But the private property rights issue is between the buyers and sellers of that specific property and unless you are one of those parties then you are free to offer an opinion but you don't have a dog in the fight.

Finally, having just spent 2 hours with the city, whom I admire and support on most issues, they have stated their intent to annex is not to preserve the Reserve but to exert local control over the land. They have stated, and will be providing documentation to that efect, that their annexation proposal would not change the underlying zoning for the area whatsoever - in other words, no taking and downzoning, which is the legal issue. Under the current climate, it would make an acquisition by Granite and the subsequent issuance of a CUP more difficult than selling the program to the county. But that may well be subject to change in the future and the preservation of the Reserve is by no means guaranteed by this annexation.

Interesting that my gotcha graphic to post this is guano - which pretty well sums up most of the emotional diatribes I've heard both for and against this project.

April 17, 2009 03:56 PM
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Rainmaker
225,023

Gene Wunderlich

Realtor & Legislative Liaison
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