Marcia Slaven spoke about important land in central Temecula that she saved from becoming houses.
“I think maybe there’s a library there.”
That would be the Ronald H. Roberts Temecula Public Library, Temecula’s largest. As to her uncertainty about something most city residents know without a doubt, she’s been away from the area for 23 years.
Slaven was one of Temecula’s original civic activists when the city incorporated in 1989. Her early energy led to her appointment to the city’s planning commission in the mid-1990s. She had plenty of input on the city’s biggest commercial project, the Promenade Temecula mall.
After she had her way on the valuable land that’s now a landmark, Slaven said Temecula’s most loquacious city council member ever, Karel Lindemans, used to tell people: “Whatever Marcia wants, Marcia gets.”
Slaven left the area in 1999.
“I wanted to get out of Southern California,” she said. “Wanted to leave the traffic and road rage and all the stuff that was going on.”
Slaven, who said she was a road-rage victim on a Temecula freeway off-ramp, shifted to just south of Sandpoint, Idaho, another small town. Of course.
“I always wanted land and horses,” she said.
With a ranch, she got what she was looking for and, of course, got involved, being elected a Bonner County commissioner. Slaven said the big thing Idaho locals wanted was to not be like California. What better person to represent them than somebody who was most definitely done with California?
Or she was.
She’s 72 now and missed her family that never left California. So she’s relocated to Rainbow, the bucolic San Diego County community just a couple miles – and worlds away — from her former longtime home of Temecula.
Slaven moved there because she couldn’t afford Temecula anymore and the area is just too congested for her tastes.
“Temecula has grown as it was planned,” she said, noting that it’s the commercial hub of southwest Riverside County, just as the city’s early leaders envisioned.
“The sad part to me is that very little open space was preserved, thus it is densely populated in my view and as such no longer has the small-town feel.”
That’s something Temecula residents today say they cherish about the place: that it has that quaint vibe for which so many yearn. Yet, amid all the traffic and density of 2022 Temecula, Slaven said she’s just not feeling the rural flavor anymore.
She moved to Temecula in a different time: 1975 — when there were 220 in Old Town Temecula and another 1,200 in what was then called Rancho California, a developer’s label for the area mostly east of the 15 Freeway.
She bought a 1,400-square-foot-home in the Lake Village community that still exists today in what is now urban Temecula. She paid $43,500. Yes, a long time ago. Today that home easily sells for 10 times that. And it probably goes without saying that there were no traffic lights in town when she arrived.
Slaven loved going to the old Rancho Market in what is now the shopping center at the northwest corner of Ynez and Rancho California roads. It was a noted meat and meet market, meaning she’d know pretty much everybody she saw in the store. For the big shopping, she’d have to go to Hemet.
“There have been so many changes,” she said, sitting in a coffee house while the ever-present traffic of today marches by.
It’s not all bad.
“There’s no snow here,” she said.
That’s one of the things about Temecula that can’t be changed.
Reach Carl Love at firstname.lastname@example.org