Mayor Outlines Growth, Successes in State of City Address

Menifee Mayor Scott Mann addressed several issues at Thursday's State of the City event.
Posted by Doug Spoon

Citing Menifee’s status as the sixth fastest growing city in California, Mayor Scott Mann Thursday updated residents and local dignitaries on the city’s “Keep Menifee Moving” vision during the sixth annual State of the City address.

A large crowd at Menifee Lakes Country Club attended the event, which was presented by the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce. In his speech to the guests, Mann described the city’s efforts to continue commercial and residential development while maintaining the rural charm of the city.

“Your city is constantly thinking outside the box and trying to come up with new and creative ways to do business and provide quality service to our residents,” Mann said. “We are planning for the future with a vision aligned with policy goals. We are taking on new issues that produce a quality of life for our residents and their families — a qualify of life we can all be proud of.

“A feature that attracts people to Menifee is our rural charm. If you look around in the county and even in the state of California, there are not many cities that still have a rural element to them. We as a city council recognize our founding characteristics of a rural community with open land and embraced it within our general plan.”

These city statistics were presented during Scott Mann’s address Thursday.

While preserving large lots of open land within the city’s 46 square miles, Mann said city officials are focusing on what he calls the “quality of life cycle” of the city’s “Keep Menifee Moving” vision:

— Businesses bring more customers and more revenue.
— Property owners enjoy higher property values.
— Visitors have more shopping and recreation options.
— The city enjoys increased revenues for city services.
— Residents enjoy new benefits and amenities.

In describing the commercial developments at the heart of this cycle, Mann updated guests on the status of the city’s largest commercial projects, including the much talked-about Menifee Town Center.

Located to the south of Newport Road just west of Haun Road, Menifee Town Center will include:

— 558,000 square feet of mixed use development
— Retail businesses anchored by a Krikorian theater complex, bowling alley and sports bar
— A new city hall
— A Central Park with walking trail, tot lot, splash pad and an outdoor amphitheater for the performing arts
— Medium and low density residential housing
— Restaurants (to be announced)
— Possibly a court house

Mann also announced new businesses that have committed to the developer of a 12.4-acre parcel right on the corner of Newport and Haun. This project, which is separated from the Menifee Town Center by the Salt Creek channel, is owned by Rich Development, which has announced agreements with the following tenants:

— Aldi’s grocery
— Petsmart
— Party City
— Kirklands
— Buffalo Wild Wings
— Chili’s
— The Habit Burger restaurant
— Jimmy John’s
— El Pollo Loco
— Sonic Drive-in restaurant

Arrow points to the 12.4-acre parcel bordered by Newport Road to the north (right), Salt Creek channel to the west and Haun Road to the east, where Rich Development has commitments from several new businesses. Below is the plot plan showing the proposed location of those businesses. (Click on the image to enlarge).

In another announcement, Mann said that LA Fitness is the first tenant committed to the Menifee Lakes Plaza, which will be built on the northwest corner of Newport Road and Antelope Road.

These announcements are in addition to the following commercial developments previously announced:

— The Shops at Menifee Lakes, a complex on the southeast corner of Newport Road and Menifee Road that will be anchored by a Stater Bros. market and restaurants.

— Newport Town Square, currently under construction on the north side of Newport Road just west of Haun Road. Tenants committed so far include Applebee’s, Five Guys Burgers, Jersey Mike’s Subs and America’s Tire.

— The Junction at Menifee, a 50-acre development on the northwest corner of Scott Road and Haun Road. This will be a master planned retail center with shops and restaurants. No tenants have been announced.

— A Walmart Superstore to be built on the northeast corner of Scott and Haun, between Haun Road and the 215 Freeway. Ground has not been broken on that project, but Mann said it is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2015.

Realizing residents’ concerns about traffic with all the planned developments, Mann also provided an update on the city’s $100 million capital improvement plan, which includes seven major road projects. Two of those — the Newport Road widening project and the Menifee Road “missing link” project — have been completed. The others are:

— Reconstruction of the Newport Road freeway interchange, a $37 million project scheduled to begin late this year.

— The Holland Road overpass, a $17-20 million project which is fully funded and in the design phase.l

— The McCall Boulevard freeway interchange, a $30-40 million project in the design phase.

— The Scott Road freeway interchange, which has completed the design phase but remains $17 million short of its $30-40 million price tag.

— A bridge over Salt Creek on Bradley Road, an $8 million project to resolve flooding issues during rains.

Public safety is another priority in a city of more than 82,000 that has increased 15 percent in population since incorporation in 2008. Contracts with the county Sheriff’s and Fire departments make up 63 percent of the city’s budget, and hiring of three new police officers was recently approved. Mann said city officials continue to support legislation that would restore the loss of millions of dollars in vehicle license fees that would help fund additional officers.

“We are undertaking activities today and making hard decisions now that will produce a higher quality of life tomorrow,” Mann said. “By working collectively together toward future goals and visioning, I am confident that the City of Menifee will continue to be highly sought after as the most desired place to live and raise a family.”

Guests filled the Menifee Lakes Country Club ballroom to hear Mayor Scott Mann speak on Thursday.

Mayor Praises City’s Efforts to Keep Menifee Moving

Menifee Mayor Scott Mann addresses the crowd at Menifee Lakes Country Club Thursday during his State of the City address.
Posted by Doug Spoon

Suffice it to say that Governor Jerry Brown would not win any popularity contests around Menifee City Hall. But that’s OK. City officials had a party anyway, and Brown wasn’t invited.

After the obligatory greeting and introductions, Menifee Mayor Scott Mann began his State of the City address on Thursday by repeating his complaint of the previous night’s City Council meeting. Although he is proud of city officials’ commitment to “keep Menifee moving” in the midst of obstacles, he is frustrated and angry about the major hurdle the governor has placed in their path.

Specifically, Mann is furious that Brown continues to block efforts to restore an annual loss of $4.2 million in potential revenue to the city — a loss created by legislation Brown approved in 2011 that denies revenue from vehicle license fees to four recently incorporated cities — including Menifee.

According to Mann, Menifee has been denied more than $20 million in revenue it would’ve received in VLF funds in the last five years — funds that all cities in the state receive except for Menifee, Wildomar, Jurupa Valley and Eastvale. As part of Brown’s 2011-12 budget adjustments, SB 89 and AB 118 were established to divert that portion of VLF revenue to other state programs.

As City Manager Rob Johnson and Mann pointed out during the City Council meeting, the projected lost revenue of $4.2 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year will mean the difference between a budget surplus and the budget approved Wednesday night — which will be balanced only by dipping into $2.4 million of reserve funds. Even after Johnson cut $1.15 million in proposed expenditures, projected general fund expenses for the city for the next year total $31,795,333, compared to revenue of $29,380,373.

There are currently bills working their way through the state Senate and Assembly seeking to restore those lost VLF funds. There is no indication, however, that Brown would do anything other than what he has done three times before — veto the bills.

“As the City of Menifee heads into its ninth year, we have accomplished many things for a city that has experienced the annual loss of $4.2 million in vehicle license fee revenue,” Mann said at the start of his speech on Thursday. Near the end of his presentation, he brought attention to that point again.

“It is not easy to stand here before you today as the mayor of this remarkable city and report that we have a ‘structural budget deficit’ created by forces outside of the city’s lifelines,” said Mann, who urged guests to write the Governor’s office regarding the situation. “The bottom line with our budget is that the rising costs of public safety is unsustainable over time — and we must do something about it.”

Much has been written previously about the large percentage of the general fund dedicated to police and fire protection — 66 percent of the newly approved budget. Yet while bemoaning the lost VLF revenue and the inability to increase police protection because of rising costs, Mann quickly morphed into an upbeat look at city commercial projects that reflect the city’s growth to nearly 90,000 and the potential tax revenue that will come along with them.

“Despite everything, we have managed to keep Menifee moving, make heads turn, get projects completed, increase jobs and buinesses, and increase the quality of life for our residents,” Mann said. He added that the theme for city development this year is “Progress, Partnership and Posterity.”

Then, in a sign of this multimedia day and age, Mann turned guests’ attention to large screens, where a 17-minute video was played. Introduced by Mann, the four City Council district representatives gave detailed descriptions of projects under way in their areas of the city.

Menifee Documentary Film Festival Set for December

Caption: Roger Schultz, MSJC president; Laura Badillo, executive director of Santa Rosa Academy; Daphne Barak, Festival chairwoman; James Cullen Bressack, director; Allison Stoner, actress; Erin Sanders, actress; Cody Saintgnue, actor; Drew Davis, producer; Bill Gunasti, Festival president; Scott Mann, Menifee mayor.
Posted by Doug Spoon
MENIFEE 24/7

Founders of the project announced Monday the creation of a major film festival designed to become a signature event for Menifee and compete with the likes of the Sundance Film Festival and other documentary film festivals around the world.

The ambitious project is the Documentary Film Festival at Menifee, scheduled for Dec. 7-11. It is the result of a connection made by Menifee Mayor Scott Mann with internationally known documentary filmmaker Daphne Barak and her business partner, Bill Gunasti.

Barak (left) has produced documentary works based on at-home interviews with such celebrities as Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson and Hillary Clinton for network television shows including “60 Minutes” and “48 Hours”. Her 2010 documentary “Saving Amy” chronicled the life of singer Amy Winehouse and her battles with addiction.

Barak and Gunasti live in Palm Springs, from where they travel around the world for documentary projects. When first approached by Mann about creating a major film festival for Menifee, Barak said she was intrigued by the possibility of bringing such an event to Southern California.

“Scott would like this to be like a magnet, where people are attracted to come here,” Barak said at a press conference held at Santa Rosa Academy. “I told him it must be something where I can be connected to the participants. Then Bill and I said, ‘What about local students, filmmakers who have a dream?’ ”

That conversation developed into a project Barak and Gunasti are confident will attract worldwide attention as well as educating youth in the industry of filmmaking. The festival will feature documentaries that are submitted from veteran filmmakers across the country and around the world, but there will also be a category for youth and those attempting such a project for the first time.

The first year of the festival will feature activities on two school campuses — Santa Rosa Academy and Mt. San Jacinto College. Visitors will roam the grounds to view documentaries on outdoor screens as well as inside the MSJC Theater and the new gymnasium at Santa Rosa. Categories will include short films (up to 15 minutes), medium films (up to 35 minutes) and full-length features.

These will be judged by international judges and support will be given by Hollywood actors, directors and producers, said Gunasti.

One of the first questions on the minds of reporters in attendance was, of course: Why Menifee?

“It’s centrally located in Southern California,” Mann said. “It’s one hour from L.A., one hour from the beaches and one hour from San Diego. There are 750,000 people within a 10-mile radius of here. And what better way to showcase the city? This will showcase our town and showcase the arts.”

Gunasti (right) said they have already received submissions from Europe and China.

“This will help put Menifee on the map and give the city another signature event,” he said.

Even though the founders of the event expect it to draw filmmakers and enthusiasts from around the world, this is about more than being a showcase for a worldwide audience. Barak and Gunasti plan to involve the youth of Menifee as interns in promoting the project and developing their own documentaries. Introduced Monday was a youth board of five young Hollywood producers, directors and actors who will work with young people who register online to participate.

There also are negotiations to offer students college course credit at Mt. San Jacinto College, which has an active theater program, said President Roger Schultz.

“We’re excited about this visionary event for our area,” Schultz said. “We’re always looking for ways to hook our students up with people in the film industry. Here they will be interacting with Hollywood stars. We hope this will lead to some opportunities for our students.”

Laura Badillo, executive director of Santa Rosa Academy, introduced three students who already are serving as interns in the program.

“The skills they gain through these types of experiences add to their education,” she said.

Alyson Stoner, a young actress attending the press conference, said she is excited about working with local youth in the program, which will include master classes and workshops.

“To be able to use my platform to inspire someone is special, and then to hear it’s with the youth is very exciting,” she said.

The festival will include a red carpet, awards ceremony, mayor’s cocktail reception and other special events. More information will be announced soon.

MOVIES: Hollywood glamor comes to Menifee with new film fest

Caption: Menifee mayor Scott Mann discusses the California Documentary Film Festival which will take place Dec. 6-11. STEPHANIE SCHULTE , STAFF

The inaugural California Documentary Film Festival is launching in Menifee Dec. 6-11.

By STEPHANIE SCHULTE / STAFF WRITER 

Published: April 12, 2016 Updated: 3:42 p.m.

THE PRESS ENTERPRISE

Students in the Inland region will have the opportunity to rub elbows with entertainment industry professionals in Menifee this December.

The inaugural California Documentary Film Festival will take place at the Santa Rosa Academy and Mount San Jacinto College’s Menifee campus Dec. 6-11.

Organizers said the aim is not only to showcase documentarians, but to encourage youths interested in all facets of filmmaking to follow their dreams.

“Many students want jobs in the film industry,” Roger Schultz, president and superintendent of Mount San Jacinto College, said at a recent news conference. “We are excited about having Hollywood come to Menifee.”

The five-day event will feature a variety of vendors, sponsors and entertainment professionals available to speak to attendees about all aspects of the film world – from technical specialties such as lighting and sound to graphic design, casting calls and auditions, organizers said.

Submissions are open to all ages, but the thrust of the event is to inspire young people.

“We hope to draw at least 200 interns,” Menifee Mayor Scott Mann said.

The interns will be able to meet professionals and navigate the inner workings of a film festival, which could lead to college credits and career opportunities.

Mann said the age range for the interns is high school and college.

Film categories will include shorts up to 15 minutes in length, medium-length documentaries up to 35 minutes and full features.

People interested in submitting a film or applying for an internship can visit the event’s Facebook page at facebook.com/californiadocufilm festival.

Contact the writer: sschulte@pe.com, 951-440-8305

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