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Happy 25th anniversary, Temecula!

Founding civic leaders remember Temecula’s long path to cityhood

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In the mid-1980s, citizens of Rancho California (a name chosen by land developers) formed an Incorporation Committee headed by A-Z Magnetics President, Les Adam. Residents and businesses wanted to find a way to have a greater say in the way they were governed. They wanted local control. It was too difficult working with Riverside County officials who were far away and spread too thin. They wanted faster police and fire response times, more parks, and better traffic circulation.

In 1987, the Ccmmittee’s Petition for Incorporation was turned down by the Riverside County Local Area Formation Commission due to a lack of projected revenue to support the new city government.

After the first petition was rejected, 30 residents from the areas that were known as Rancho California, Murrieta and Murrieta Hot Springs joined together to form a new city committee. Enough money and signatures were obtained from residents of the three communities to seek another shot at cityhood. A new feasibility study was conducted that proved the larger 87-square mile area could survive on its own financially.

Once again, LAFCO, headed by Riverside County Supervisor Walt Abrams, denied incorporation -- not because of a lack of projected income, but because some of the residents from the areas of Murrieta and Murrieta Hot Springs, including Abrams, objected to being part of a city together with Rancho California (now Temecula). It was a rivalry that had preceded cityhood for a number of years.

The committee scaled down the next petition with a third proposal for a smaller city that was similar to the first one submitted by Les Adam. The new feasibility study showed that projections exceeded revenue requirements. However, LAFCO rejected the petition because the northern boundary of the proposed city was at Date Street, which the commission considered part of Murrieta.

After several meetings with LAFCO, the city committee pointed out that many of the stores on Jefferson Avenue between Winchester Road and Date Street used “Temecula” as a part of their business name, so they should be included in the new boundaries. LAFCO finally agreed that the petition for incorporation could go on the ballot in November of 1989.

Residents were asked to vote on the question of incorporation, what the new city would be called and whether council members would be chosen by districts or at-large. The names of the candidates for the first city council were listed, and on Dec. 1, 1989, the new city of Temecula was formed.

Council Members Peg Moore, Patricia Birdsall, Ron Parks, Sal Munoz and Karel Lindemans were elected to serve at-large, 88 percent voted for cityhood and 80 percent chose the more historic name Temecula rather than Rancho California, which was a name created by land developers. The founding council members chose Ron Parks as the first mayor of the city of Temecula.

The first City Council meetings were held in the Temecula Town Association Building on Pujol Street, which is now known as the Temecula Community Center.

Jimmy Moore is president of the [founding] city committee; Peg Moore is secretary of the [founding] city committee, and [founding] council member of the first city of Temecula City Council.

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