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MURRIETA: Neighborhood sues city over apartment approval
ByDavid Downey, Feb. 25, 2014

A group representing hundreds of homes next to a golf course has sued Murrieta and a developer in a bid to toss out a recent approval of 112-unit apartment complex.

Murrieta Community Values Organization, a grassroots group that formed in May 2013, filed suit in Riverside County Superior Court on Thursday, Feb. 20, naming the city and Golden Eagle Multi Family Properties LLC of Irvine as defendants.

The suit alleges the city did not adequately consider environmental impacts.

“The traffic in The Preserve community where I live is absolutely out of control,” said group founder Josh Bergere in a telephone interview.

The Preserve flanks the Golf Club of Rancho California. Residents say they are overwhelmed with cut-through traffic looking to avoid busy Winchester Road.

A city study found more than 5,000 cars daily travel a prominent neighborhood street, Clearbrook Drive, and that the apartments would increase traffic 3 percent — 149 trips.

Filed through Escondido attorney Everett DeLano, the suit asks a judge to void approval until the city properly evaluates impacts.

Bergere said he wants the project killed.

On Jan. 21, the City Council voted 4-1, with Councilman Harry Ramos dissenting, to approve plans and a zone change for the 7.5-acre project at Murrieta Hot Springs Road and Via Princessa. That followed planning hearings attended by dozens of residents.

City Attorney Leslie Devaney said she had not seen the lawsuit and declined to address it. However, Devaney said the city properly evaluated impacts and gave neighbors plenty of opportunity to be heard.

Golden Eagle’s attorney, Bob Tyler of Murrieta, termed the lawsuit “unfortunate.”

“This is a developer who frankly acted with great respect for the neighboring homeowners and has significantly revised their plans ... all for the benefit of the neighborhood,” Tyler said.

Golden Eagle shifted the apartment entrance from Clearbrook to Murrieta Hot Springs in a move to divert traffic from the neighborhood, city officials said.

Tyler said Golden Eagle recently made an offer to the group concerning traffic controls that was “beyond generous.” He said it was rejected. Bergere termed the offer “significantly inadequate.” He said the group made a counteroffer and didn’t hear back.

Neither Bergere nor Tyler would disclose details of the offers.

“We made every attempt to settle this with Golden Eagle before taking these further steps,” Bergere said.

Contact David Downey at 951-368-9699 or


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