As the economy bounces back from tough economic times, look for
developers to pick up where they left off in Southwest Riverside County.
But there are indicators the area might see more mixed-use projects -- meaning the developments include some residential, some retail and some office space all located together in one planned community.
For example, a development project in Wildomar located just off the 15 Freeway at Clinton Keith Road is proposing high-density residential, retail and some office space in one area, according to Wildomar City Planning Director Matt Bassi.
The city already has a development project well under way near Inland Valley Medical Center, called Oak Springs Ranch, that's touting retail amenities and high-end apartment living in one community.
In Lake Elsinore, the city approved its General Plan in 2012, which incorporates mixed-use development in the city, including in historic downtown. Murrieta did the same when it approved its General Plan in 2011.
Temecula Mayor Mike Naggar has advocated mixed use, or sustainable development, in areas where it makes sense in his city, including around the Jefferson Avenue corridor.
And a Aug. 23, 2013 story in The Press-Enterprise highlighted how high density residential near retail development in Temecula is providing “urban living in suburbia.”
According to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Research has consistently shown that neighborhoods that mix land uses, make walking safe and convenient, and are near other development allow residents and workers to drive significantly less if they choose. In fact, research has found that in the most centrally located, well-designed neighborhoods, residents drive as little as half as much as residents of outlying areas.”
But some argue sustainability is a plot, aimed at robbing U.S. citizens of their property rights and freedoms.
During the 2012 elections when Temecula City Council candidates took part in a public forum, two candidates -- both of which lost the election -- argued sustainable development is wrong for Temecula because it attempts to wipe out suburban communities in favor of mixed-use development that tends to build skyward.
But at the time of the forum, then Temecula Mayor Pro Tem Mike Naggar, who is now mayor of the city, argued sustainability can mean different things to different people, saying to him it means building smart with the future in mind.
The move toward more sustainable living has come from the very top.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities was created by the Obama administration “to help communities realize their visions for a more prosperous future.”
According to data published by OSHC, the average American household spends 52 cents of every dollar on just housing and transportation expenses.
“These costs not only present a burden for working families, but limit additional local spending and savings,” the OSHC data maintains.
At the end of the day, money coming from the feds to Southwest Riverside County for the purpose of building sustainable or mixed-use communities is scarce.
But some developers obviously see a reason to push forward and build anyway: profit.
Millennials – the 20-somethings of our times – have shown little interest in buying traditional suburban homes, perhaps largely due to financial considerations and the decline of marriage. But moreover, the age group seems to be asking itself, “Why do I need all that space – and debt?”