Divided board enacts ‘fast-tracking’ ordinance

RIVERSIDE – The Riverside County Board of Supervisors today formally adopted an ordinance to allow mining projects — including a controversial one near Temecula — to receive expedited scrutiny using a ”fast-track” approval process.

The vote was 3-2.

Divided Riverside County Board of Supervisors okays ‘fast-tracking’ mining projects

RIVERSIDE – Following four hours of impassioned testimony and debate, a divided Riverside County Board of Supervisors today tentatively approved a plan to allow mining projects to receive expedited scrutiny using a ”fast-track” approval process.

”Don’t put our beautiful landscape on the fast-track to becoming a pit,” said Temecula Mayor Chuck Washington, one of more than three dozen people who addressed the board about the Liberty Quarry. ”Why would you want to destroy the county’s (southern) entrance?”

Proponents of the Liberty Quarry project claim that the project won’t be seen from the ground level.

According to a press release from Granite Construction, the scaled-down project includes unprecedented per-ton fees to Riverside County’s General Fund and will generate 662 jobs and have significantly fewer environmental impacts.

Washington and other quarry opponents easily outnumbered speakers in support of the mine, which, though not on the agenda, became the predominant subject as it pertains to fast-tracking.

Board Chairman John Tavaglione, along with Supervisors Marion Ashley and John Benoit, voted in July to draft an ordinance that would qualify surface mining and reclamation projects for fast-track reviews. The same trio voted today to introduce the proposed ordinance, which is set to be formally adopted in the next few weeks.

Supervisors Jeff Stone and Bob Buster cast dissenting votes.

By Benoit’s own admission, fast-tracking has a ”direct relationship” to the Liberty Quarry.

”I have never wavered in my feeling since the end of the public hearings on that project that (it has) countywide benefits,” Benoit said today.

The board voted down that proposed 414-acre mining operation at Rainbow Canyon Road and Interstate 15 in February. However, three months later, the swing voter against the project, Tavaglione, sided with Ashley and Benoit in certifying an environmental impact report, which concluded many of the mine’s negatives could be mitigated.

Riverside County’s Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), released last year, concluded the County would be better off economically and environmentally with Liberty Quarry and by taking the trucks that are presently bringing aggregate from other areas off the road, Liberty Quarry would actually improve the region’s air quality.

By accepting the EIR, the county left open the door for Watsonville- based Granite Construction to return with a modified plan for mining the site, proposing a scaled-down version of its original quarry.

Granite asked the Department of Planning to consider fast-tracking its application for permits. However, county ordinances currently did not allow for expedited vetting of proposed mines.

At the same time as Granite’s announcement, Benoit introduced a proposal to revise county regulations so that mines, too, can receive fast-track approval, meaning a project could be out of the review stage and voted on by the board in 90 days.

Opponents of Liberty Quarry believe the pit would produce health-damaging levels of silica dust, mar area aesthetics, ruin rural peace, add to road congestion and permanently alter landscapes that the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians consider sacred.

Third party testing at nearby Rosemary’s Mountain quarry doesn’t support the fears of opponents as related to silica dust and air quality issues.

Stone, whose district includes Temecula, urged the board to consider adding an amendment to the fast-track policy specifying that any project proposed for expedited review originate with the supervisor in whose district the project will be located.

Only Buster supported the motion.

Stone said he found it difficult to believe three of his four board colleagues were willing to ignore his constituents and place mining interests above those of residents.

”I feel I’ve been a good partner to each member of this board,” the supervisor said. ”I had a great working relationship with the late Supervisor Roy Wilson (Benoit’s predecessor). I don’t believe Roy Wilson would be trying to force his will on my constituents. Supervisor Benoit, whom I respect, has left me extremely disappointed and created the most divisive issue this board has seen.”

Stone compared digging a quarry on the Temecula gateway to putting a strip mine in the hills fronting La Quinta.

”The people would be outraged with something like that scarring their landscape,” he said.

Stone called the repeated references to the 100 or so jobs that might be created at the Liberty Quarry a ”smoke-and-mirrors” pretext to make the project more appealing.

Members of several nationally affiliated trade unions voiced strong support for the quarry, and fast-tracking in general, for the sake of getting unemployed construction workers back on the job.

”This is the worst time in the history of the labor movement going back to the Great Depression,” said union organizer John Smith. ”Men are losing their homes, their health care. Some of our members have been out of work for five years. This country is weakened when people are not working.”

Benoit called the day’s proceedings”difficult” but reiterated his belief that the Temecula Valley mine would offer more advantages than disadvantages. He particularly liked the idea of trucks hauling construction- grade aggregate — asphalt and gravel — nearer to their project sites in southwest Riverside County and San Diego County.

”Aggregate would be transported a shorter distance,” Benoit said. ”If you have to transport it twice as far, the costs go up, there are more gravel trucks on the road and air quality is reduced.”

Stone accused Benoit of acting to provide his ”friends at Granite Construction with a ‘get out of jail free’ card” by keeping the Liberty Quarry project alive. Benoit, a former state legislator, has acknowledged receiving ”modest” campaign contributions from the company.

At one point, Stone pleaded with Supervisor Marion Ashley to oppose the fast-tracking proposal, reminding him of the many times he had backed his colleague’s initiatives in the fifth district.

”I’ve always been collegiate with the board,” Stone said. ”But all that goes down the drain unless we can show that we are fair.”

Ashley replied that no supervisor should treat his district as if it were a ”kingdom” and the supervisor is a ”king.”

Tavaglione, who is running for a congressional seat, said he would support implementing fast-track authorizations for ”every damn project” possible, completely bypassing the planning commission, to bring down the county’s 13 percent unemployment rate.

According to a press release submitted by Granite Construction, the revised Liberty Quarry Project is smaller and its potential impacts are less than those of the original project as studied in the Liberty Quarry EIR which was certified by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors in May. Changes in the application for the revised project include:

Establishment of a proposed $0.20 per ton fee that will generate $92 million in new revenue for Riverside County of which an estimated $61.3 million will be paid by San Diego County users

30% reduction in life of the project (25 fewer total years)

20% reduction in maximum truck trips per day (160 fewer truck trips/day)

25% reduction in maximum aggregate production over the life of the project (reduced from 235 million to 174 million tons over the life of the project)

20% reduction in annual production (1 million fewer tons per year)

30% reduction in mining depth (300 feet)

Mining activity will be restricted to daylight hours only

Reducing the size, production, hours of operation and depth of Liberty Quarry will result in corresponding and significant reductions in the number of truck trips, the project life and the annual tonnage, said Gary Johnson, aggregate resource development manager for Granite Construction.

37 Responses to "Divided board enacts ‘fast-tracking’ ordinance"

  1. Temecula Resident   September 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    Temecula residents should be allowed to cast a deciding vote on this and put this issue to rest once and for all. Keeping in mind that Granite could care less about Southern Riverside County including the residents of Temecula. They are only after the almighty dollar with no regard as to who or what their actions affect. Isn’t there another place in this region that could provide the same materials as Liberty Quarry, but would not impact the local residents at the level that Temecula would be impacted. I believe the answer would be yes, but the access to I-15 would not be as inexpensive.

  2. Vet and Citizen   September 26, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Hummmmmm, " expedited scrutiny" really????? I wonder who paid off who??? Just saying.

  3. Nick   September 26, 2012 at 5:48 am

    I’m with Stone/Buster, against the stone buster.

  4. nick c   September 26, 2012 at 8:33 am

    the quarry may reside in riverside county, yet it will always be a issue for the people of rainbow to deal with. all the trucks which pull off the south bound I-15 at rainbow valley blvd. can be niether seen nor heard from temecula or the reservation. i lived in rainbow for 30 years, and i think the quarry is a good thing.

  5. Old Fallbrook local   September 26, 2012 at 9:06 am

    I agree with VET and Citizen. This decision reeks of political favoritism.With millions of acres of "aggregate" in the Mojave desert and an existing rail system to transport to the Inland Empire, the problem is solved! This is about exploiting the little remaining open space in our region.

  6. GO AWAY GRANITE!   September 26, 2012 at 10:09 am

    No, No, NO just plain NOOOO!

  7. Larry B.   September 26, 2012 at 11:44 am

    I really think that Benoit and his like need to be referred to the DA for investigation. I’ve not seen such a brazen payoff to buy a vote in years!!!!!!! I say NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! to the robber barons of Granite Corp. and the greedy politicians they have bought with their silver. Et tu, Judas Benoit!!!!

  8. Weatherman   September 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    After approval all they have to do is file for a minor use permit and bingo – the quarry is 3 times larger than even first proposed. Riverside county is the Detroit of the West.

  9. 35 Year Resident   September 26, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    Corporate spending and politicians are not a good mix. If I understand correctly, Supervisor Benoit is a Granite Mine neighbor in his district and enjoys Granite’s generosity. Board Chairman, John Travaglione, has campaign aspirations of becoming a State Legislators and needs all the support he can get from Granite. Getting these two on board is cheaper than the route that lead to a rejection of the project. If Granite opens the mine just think of working in a hostile community that had this project shoved down their throats. All the projects that I’ve seen made against the will of the communities have been doomed to failure and result a big loss write off. Think about it Granite. Is it really worth buying a nightmare?

  10. Deb   September 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Disgusted that this thing is even back for reconsideration

  11. vote the jerks out   September 26, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    Granite…you will go the way of DHL….a failure.

  12. Rod   September 27, 2012 at 7:41 am

    The additional sand and gravel trucks will mean more broken windshields, more chipped paint on our cars, more motorcycle riders having to avoid pebbles falling off the trucks at 60+ mph, more scattered gravel and sand on the roads for many miles beyond the vicinity of the actual quarry. I say send the truck owners a bill for each and every occurrence of each of these items, and we must require the police, Highway Patrol and sheriff to step up enforcement of the laws that cover the dropping of this debris along the roadways.

  13. 3 year home owner in Fallbrook.   September 27, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    That’s it, I’m never driving North from Fallbrook on the 15 again. I agree with #12 the gravel will be everywhere. I guess I shop at the Vista Costco now. So sad, They leave the ground where nothing can ever grow on it again.

  14. 1 year resident   September 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I moved my family here a year ago for all the area had to offer which did not include a mining pit spewing silica dust.

    These corrupt politicians are only in it for themselves and not for the good of the people. They are supposed to represent us, instead they only care about their bank accounts.

    They should be tarred, feathered and run out of town.

  15. Murrieta concerned resident   September 28, 2012 at 10:39 am

    After hearing "no", again and again… They just keep pushing through their agenda. The people do not want this. Is the goal to keep nagging until you receive the answer you want?

  16. Pink   September 28, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I’m confused. I thought the board of supervisors had voted against this already. I guess there is always a way around an issue if enough palms are greased.

  17. Obsevant   September 28, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Nick C #4 no wonder you are for the quarry your operative word was i lived (past tense) in Rainbow, you no longer live there, what do you care.

  18. Outraged!   October 1, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I’ll never vote for anyone who votes for this thing. EVER!!!

  19. stephanie   October 1, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? Temecula is a community of families w/young children – that is why people live here to give their children a safer, healthier, clean-air environment. THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN – CHILDREN COME FIRST NOT MONEY.


  20. stephanie   October 1, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    John Tavaglione, Marion Ashley and John Benoit – WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU MONEY GRUBBERS?!!!




  21. stephanie   October 1, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Asphalt dust is a known carcinogen – VERY HARMFUL TO CHILDREN.

    A young child’s lungs are not made to handle so much quarry dust, silicon, asphalt dust in the air.


  22. common sense   October 1, 2012 at 8:43 pm


  23. Dusty   October 2, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Asphalt dust? Really? Asphalt is a fluid unable to generate dust any more than water. Perhaps you were referring to ‘asphalt concrete’.

  24. 2myNIMBYneighbors   October 2, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Go back from where you came from. We need the granite and sand to build the McMansions you all seem to need. Pity the poor child having to think about possibly sucking down some dust from a clean, well engineered mining pit. One day out on the dirt fields we played ball on at Bonsall had us injesting clouds of the local landscape. We are fine. Go away. I’m embarrassed to think I live around people like you. You’ve got yours, now leave everything the way it is. Well, it never was the way it is and it never will be better. Wileys concrete right there on the corner of Hill St. and Ammunition with the trailer park down below – is it much better now that it is fast food joints, banks, grocery stores and that whole pit of slime on what is now Mission Rd and Ammunition. NIMBYs go away. If you use it, you pay for it. Quit passing it on to some other place – Yeah! let’s put it out in the desert where you can’t see it from your house. These comments about “the children!” – right out of a Simpsons episode. Grow up and go away.

  25. Don't trust them   October 3, 2012 at 6:15 am

    This doesn’t pass the smell test. The article states that they will remove 174 million tons of gravel over the life of the project and will collect a $0.20/ton tax. That works out to about $35 million yet they claim the tax will generate $92 million. Why would we believe anything these guys say in their EIR when they can’t even get this simple calculations right? This sounds a lot like Gov. Brown’s train to nowhere. A bunch of BS. Benoit and others that took money from Granite shouldn’t even be allowed to vote. Obvious conflict of interest. We need to get a recall campaign going.

  26. Wildomar Resident   October 3, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Common Sense there is an easy answer to that….Fear Mongering.
    That is why I voted AGAINST Buster.

  27. Temecula   October 3, 2012 at 8:35 am

    Just remember this if you see John Tavaglione’s name on the ballot next month! Hey Granite Construction, think you gave him enough to retire on?

  28. nimblybimbly   October 3, 2012 at 8:36 am

    have any of you actually read the environmental reports? I have. Your concerns about air quality are misplaced. The point about gravel on the freeways is silly too. there are already gravel trucks on the 15. I’m not fond of blowing off the tops of our local mountains, but this thing is not as big a deal as people make it out to be. I’ll bet that most people don’t really even know where it will be located. You won’t be able to see it from the 15. You’ll be able to see it from high up in parts of rainbow. The environmental reports had viewshed analysis. If anyone bothered to read them.

  29. Karen   October 3, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Fast tracking is just another way to skirt pubic outpouring of opposition. Say NO to fast tracking!

  30. 3 year home owner in Fallbrook.   October 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    It sounds like #24 is the one who is doing a childish rant. You can’t get a rock in the windshield when your the one driving to truck. It sounds like you have a lot to gain from this. You may not care about other peoples children. (I know you grew up playing with mercury and lead paint too and you turned out just fine.) I don’t know what a NIMBY is. But, I’m going to guess I am one to you. We are all able to have our own feelings about this, even you.

  31. Pink   October 3, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    @ Comment #30: NIMBY means Not In My Back Yard. I think it is a shame that this is going to happen after all the meetings, after it was turned down, now they have done an "end run" around the will of the people.

  32. 2myNIMBYneighbors   October 4, 2012 at 12:34 am

    3 years! Oh my!(#30) My youngest of 4 children has been out of the house 3 years. 4 Children raised right here in Fallbrook, Bonsall. Public Schools, Merit Scolarships, International Professor, missionaries, and overall non-burdens to society. No, newbie, you wouldn’t know what a NIMBY is. Your parental units obviously didn’t teach to to speak of what you know. Get off this forum if you don’t know NIMBY. That the the ENTIRE POINT of this particular article. The "evil" civic leaders in Riverside County MUST be siding with the demonic job creating, business minded miners that jump though impossible hoops to get anything done that actually benifit you sheeple. Yeah, I bought another home here 3 years ago too. A bigger than necessary, stupid big house- my third here in town. I was stuck. I had money and the banks were going under. I couldn’t bury it in the backyard – maybe I should have, but by the time this 4 year old home was short sold for 1/4 Million dollars LESS than the poor family that had paid for it at the peak of this housing mess – I had saved more money buying this here McMansion (I despise) than I had spent on all of my other properties here, including the home I was born in. I literally put my money where my mouth is. I reinvested in Fallbrook. No, I’m not one of the guys behind the mine, or the trucks, or anything you would ever guess. You have seen me in town, I assume you thought I was one of Obama’s Food Stamp winners. Nope. You need to grow up. Don’t jump into fights when you are not familar with the language. Are you the ONLY ONE that does not know the term for Not In My Back Yard? I’m truely embarrassed by the people around here anymore. Mr. Sullivan, the Bonsall principal, math teacher,bus driver, man of wisdom and common sense didn’t call police when that crazy lady that lived across from the old Bonsall campus – long before they moved the library down front and called it the "old school house" and complained there in the office that the kids were making a rukus and she was going to get upset if we didn’t calm down. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention she was packing a pair of six shooters – loaded and holstered on her person whenever and wherever she went. No, that would be international breaking news today. Back then, my father and a few other fathers took it upon themselves to approach her and in no uncertain terms politely insist she never go packing in sight of their children EVER again. She and her house is long gone- she was batty, not a terrorist. My dad didn’t back down in China, Japan’ Korea or even Viet Nam. But the world was in many ways safer. Fewer gun deaths – County Sheriffs never shot anyone, a retired CHP moto officer bragged he didn’t have to draw his service weapon once in 20 years. He dished out nice frosty A&W Root Beers down here on what used to be the edge of town – and most people died in car accidents and accidents around the house. We children did just fine. I look around at my friends and think how different this place would be if it wasn’t for them doing thier civic duties and making sense out of this Nerf World we have become. Nope, my tax bills just came and I wll gladly pay out my fair share, seeing that at least one property is pre Prop. 13 and never been sold. Oh yeah,"3 year home owner" I suggest you look up Proposition 13 and the impact it has had on Californians since ’78. People sell homes and they are re-assessed at current market value. Corporations "aquire" real estate in take overs and such but somehow they so often escape the re-assessment- on the same principal that my parents can pass on their home upon death to their children without re-assessment. Another topic for another day. Grow up and learn some history. I sure miss the Blade Tribune, Times Advocate and the Enterprise, but thank heavens for the good people – we know who you are – that have strived to keep an intelligent and informative LOCAL newspaper. I can’t speak highly enough for all that was done during the horrible disaster that nearly broke this town’s heart just 5 years ago this month. The power stayed on and it was the posts here on this site that kept people from around the WORLD informed as to the situation on the ground by those of us who stayed behind to watch our neighbors property, help arrest looters and those that fought on the front lines and kept us posted as to the inside information as opposed to the speculation that was rampant.
    Thank you.

  33. 3 year home owner in Fallbrook.   October 4, 2012 at 10:32 am

    I sure pushed a button, I didn’t mean to. I only said "we all have our feelings about this Fast track". I myself am not for it. Thank you for your history lesson. No, I didn’t think anything of you, only that you sound like you could have money to gain. I love Fallbrook and I am here to stay. I’m sorry I gave you such bad feelings about me, we are neighbors. I don’t want to be on sides. (Truce)

  34. somebody   October 4, 2012 at 11:31 am

    @32 Ramble much? Please review the topic and address it.

  35. Wildomar Resident   October 4, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    There are only two places things we use come from.
    Grow it or Mine it.

    Unless we stop having children and growing the material will have to come from somewhere.

    The Not In My Backyard attitude is why we have become slaves to China.

  36. Pintail   October 4, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Fast tracking is a good start to cut through the red tape that makes CA such an unfriendly business environment. People should be thrilled that something new is being built.

  37. Vic   December 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    I lived near a quarry in a different state and I can tell you it will ruin the area. Your protected natural environment and peacefulness will go out the door. I can still remember the home trembling and the awful explosions. Many people will suffer health problems as a result. I could never get used to the "offguard" BOOM!

    Fallbrook and surrounding areas are the Jewell of southern CA why with so much wasteland to the east, they don’t go mine there were very few people live??


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