Corona's Mayor Eugene Montanez visits with Governor Schwarzenegger

Aaron McLear, a spokesman for Schwarzenegger, said the governor is willing to "sit down with the speaker and talk with him about what he has in mind. Obviously, it's something the governor has taken action on and will continue to look at."

Schwarzenegger was in Riverside on Thursday specifically to raise awareness of the devastating impact the mortgage crisis is having in the Inland Empire. Last week, the governor announced an agreement with four major mortgage lenders to forestall interest rate increases on subprime loans. But the mortgage companies have said they are already working with borrowers who have been current on their payments.

A special session would allow the bills - if signed by Schwarzenegger - to take effect immediately. Otherwise, if lawmakers wait until their session resumes in January, a two-thirds vote would be required.

Youth-training center in Corona evokes ballpark atmosphere

David Hedgpeth and his wife, Alexis, have created a baseball-softball training facility in Corona with ambience.

They painted the walls of the 17,250-square-foot building green and blue with a yellow stripe to simulate a ballpark's outfield fence and the sky.

"It gives it more of a sports feeling and not just a warehouse ... with pitching machines," said Hedgpeth. "It's trying to give a lasting feeling on kids. When they get older, they will remember this."

Hedgpeth recalls well the time he wasted at Rancho Alamitos and Paramount high schools in the late 1970s when he did not pursue the opportunities he had to play baseball. Now 49, he is determined to help young people.

"I love baseball," said Hedgpeth. "I love teaching kids how to play the game. It keeps them out of trouble. It's one way to keep them from taking the path I took."

When Corona Cages opens at 1148 California Ave. in January, Hedgpeth said he and his wife will have invested about $300,000 they borrowed against their Norco home.

"He has dreamt of having this business for a long time," Alexis Hedgpeth said. "He must have researched it for five years before finding how to do it. Baseball has been a big passion of his."
Ron Smith, who operated Balls and Strikes batting cages in Corona for five years until closing it in 1999, said the Hedgpeths have a good chance to succeed. "He's put a lot of money into it," Smith said. "He's doing it the right way. He's got everything on the Internet. We did OK until they raised the rent."

Smith said Hedgpeth has been committed to youth baseball for a long time. "He's very meticulous as far as doing fundamentals," Smith said. "He gets along with kids very well. He doesn't holler and scream. He tells them when they do wrong."

The Hedgpeths covered the floors of the facility with artificial turf. There is a no-gum and sunflower-seed rule so that the turf is not spoiled. They built rooms for youth sports groups to hold meetings. They also have a room for parents to relax while their children practice.

There are Internet connections for children to do homework while their siblings are practicing or they are waiting to take their turn hitting at a pitching machine.

Fencing and curtains divide the main area into 18 stations for hitting, pitching and fielding practice. "Anything that is physical gives the kids something to focus on, something to occupy their time and less time to get involve in things they shouldn't," Alexis Hedgpeth said.

Snow Play Day & Breakfast with Santa

Saturday, December 8, 2007 9:00 am - 2:00 pm - Bordwell Park (2008 Martin Luther King Blvd.)

Snow Play Day & Breakfast with Santa Saturday, December 8, 2007 9:00 am - 2:00 pm - Bordwell Park (2008 Martin Luther King Blvd.) Register now for the annual Snow Play Day & Breakfast with Santa to be held on Saturday, December 8 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (breakfast will be served from 9 – 11 a.m.) at Bordwell Park.

Snow Play Day will feature tons of fresh snow for play, a pancake breakfast, holiday crafts, games, prizes, entertainment, holiday boutique and Santa Claus. Each participant must register in advance for a 25-minute snow play time slot. The cost for activities is:

Snow play only - $5 per person
Breakfast only - $4 per person
Both snow play and breakfast - $7 per person.

Space is limited to the first 500 participants. All youth 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Registration will be accepted at the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department located at 3936 Chestnut Street, your local community center or online at (a minimal convenience fee will apply.) For information on the event, please call 951.826.2000.

Sweden's H&M Signs at Opus West Shoppes

Swedish retailer Hennes & Mauritz has signed a 10-year lease for 10,475 sf at the Shoppes at Chino Hills, a 400,000-sf open-air lifestyle center that Opus West is developing here at Grand Avenue and Peyton Drive, just west of the Chino Valley (71) Freeway. According to Matt Landers, senior manager at Opus West, the H&M lease represents a significant step for both the Shoppes development and the Inland Empire.

Landers notes that the H&M lease puts the Shoppes at Chino Hills at 60% preleased nine months before the completion of construction. “The lease also has larger implications, as it marks H&M’s continued growth in the region,” Landers says.

H&M will occupy a corner location that is considered the architectural centerpiece of the project, which is slated for completion in May 2008. Founded in 1947, H&M is an international retailer with more than 1,400 stores in 28 countries.

H&M was represented by Rob Cohen of RK Futterman. Opus West was represented by Tony Archer, Greg Whitney, Jay Luchs and Lou Moreno of CB Richard Ellis.

Designed by Altoon+Porter, the Shoppes at Chino Hills will be part of a new 750,000-sf master-planned project that will include civic, office, retail, restaurant and residential uses. Located on 50 acres, the development will be surrounded by 240 units of luxury housing, 50,000 sf of office space built over the retail, a new civic center, a community library and a police station.

Besides H&M, the tenant roster includes more than 50 lifestyle retailers, among them Barnes & Noble, Banana Republic, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Trader Joe’s, American Eagle Outfitters, Jos A. Bank, Gymboree and dozens more. Opus West cites the strong demographics and the location at the convergence of Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties among the reasons it chose to develop at the Shoppes site.

Benefit Concert: The Journey Begins Now Concert With Special Guest Performance By NLT

What: A concert to benefit MADD San Bernardino and The Gomez Family Food Drive with all donations of non-parishable cans of food going to the Salvation Army of Riverside to benefit the victims of the recent Southern California Wildfires.

Who: Bands - Teen Pop Sensation NLT, Lane Four, End to Pass, Blackout 101
Artists - Jared Wagner, Jacob Nelson, Cody Nicholls, Sara Niemietz, Ricky Ayala, Mary May, Tyler Shamy, Sade Noyd, Brooke, Austin Anderson, Zach Raizman, Tanner Richie.

Guest Hosts - Randy Shelly ( Beowolf, and more) and Hunter Gomez ( National Treasure amd more).
Celebrities - Krisondra Daigneault, Kallie Lynn Childress, Scotty Noyd, Erin Noyd, Eric Noyd, Cherelle Noyd, Ryan Malgarini, Sophie Oda, Kristin Klabunde, Trent Peltz, Kiera Peltz, Caitlyn Taylor Love, Brandon Price, Leland Grant, Casandra Ashe, Dani Goldman, Jared Blair.

Dancers - Gabe Winns, Angel Van Sky & Erika Sidney

When: December 1st, 2007 12:00pm till 10:00pm

Where: Castle Park, 3500 Polk Street, Riverside, CA

For more information check out our web-site or myspace at
Web-site - , myspace -

Cost - Concert only $2.00 donation going to MADD, concert and rides $17.99 and $2.00 of that will go to MADD San Bernardino Chapter.

2nd Annual Earth Day Celebration Scheduled at Dos Lagos

The 2nd Annual
Earth Day Celebration has been scheduled for Saturday, April 19, 2008 at Dos Lagos in Corona , Calif. Sponsored by The Green Institute for Village Empowerment (GIVE), the free event will include exhibitors, activities and special events to educate people about recycling and sustainable living.

Known as the Inland Empire ’s largest Earth Day celebration, regional vendors from environmental organizations, “green” businesses and public agencies will be sharing their sustainable practices. Dos Lagos is the ideal location to host this annual event, since it is a highly integrated, pedestrian-oriented community that blends a variety of land uses in a dynamic and self-sustaining environment.

Saturday, April 19, 2008
9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Dos Lagos
Located off Weirick Rd/Dos Lagos exit off Interstate 15
Corona, CA 92883
Free admission. Open to the public.
For more information about the festivities involved for Earth Day call (951) 667-6277 or visit

Green Institute for Village Empowerment (GIVE) is an organization dedicated to the education and promotion of sustainable lifestyles, technologies and development practices. GIVE has multiple projects and initiatives which contribute to the education of the economic rewards that come with smart environmental decisions; including GIVE on campus, monthly symposiums, community safety events, green scholarships and the Green Valley Initiative.

About Green Institute for Village Empowerment (GIVE)
GIVE is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing philanthropic and educational efforts that expand sustainable communities and promote a better quality of life. Formed by
SE Corporation, GIVE hosts monthly symposiums and special events in its mission to educate the public about issues related to sustainability. For more information, visit or

About Dos Lagos
Dos Lagos is the first master-planned, mixed-use community in Western Riverside County that balances nature and community with a sustainable approach to development. The 534-acre award-winning community features an 18-hole championship golf course, Promenade Shops lifestyle center, a mix of upscale residential communities, live-work lofts, senior condos, a business conference hotel, an office-tower complex and its signature lakes and bamboo bridge, constituting the heart of the community. Dos Lagos is located in Corona , California . For more information, visit

Christian group sues over California student-discrimination law

A Christian group based in Southern California is suing the state over a law that prohibits discrimination against gays in schools.

The group, Murrieta-based Advocates for Faith and Freedom, filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in San Diego.

It claims the law is unconstitutionally vague and violates student privacy.

State Sen. Sheila Kuehl, a Santa Monica Democrat who is openly gay, wrote the bill, which was signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in October.

She says it is intended to consolidate existing state education laws that already prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Opponents say the law promotes homosexual, bisexual and transgender lifestyles to children.

Feeling a little wired up? Here's why

I've been pretty charged up, lately, and now I know that the rest of you are feeling the same.

A nationwide survey by HealthSaver, a Connecticut- based health-care agency, shows that the Inland Empire is the No. 1 consumer of high-caffeine energy drinks in America.

That's right, residents of San Bernardino and Riverside counties drink more Red Bulls, Rockstars, Amps and Monsters than people in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or anywhere else in the United States.

I admit, I was a bit nonplussed when I first heard this news. I wondered, what are we doing with all this extra energy?

Then it hit me, the answer, like a bolt out of the blue.

We need extra energy because of who we are. And because of where we are.

First, we have to cover more ground than other people. The Inland Empire is huge. It's a land of extreme highs, lows and distances. We have Southern California's tallest mountains (San Gorgonio Peak is 11,502 feet). We also have the lowest elevation in the entire Western Hemisphere (parts of Death Valley are almost 300 feet below sea level). We have the biggest county in the nation (San Bernardino County is 20,000 square miles in size, larger than nine of the 50 states).

Obviously, it takes a lot to get from here to there in the Inland Empire.

It takes energy. Lots of energy.

Also, we have longer, sunnier days than most people. We typically get more than 300 sunny days a year in the Inland Empire. That's about twice as many as New York or Chicago.

In cold, dark places, people hunker down. They stay indoors. They huddle.

Not us. We take advantage of our weather. We get out there. We do stuff. Year-round.

We're extra active, which means we need extra energy.

Our location poses other challenges for us, too. We have to withstand Santa Ana winds. We have to ride out the occasional earthquake. We have to outrun wildfires and floods and mudslides.

Red Bull, anyone?

Of course, we must be equal not only to the challenges that nature puts before us, but the challenges we put before ourselves.

With all our room, with all our sunny days, with all our booming growth and potential, we must work hard on building the best future for ourselves.

We're going to need all the energy we can get.

We want to build stronger communities, safer schools, better roads.

We want to clear out the gangs, clean up the streets, pick up the trash, put an end to blight.

We want to make this a better place for families, for kids, for animals. We want to help the less fortunate to help themselves.

We want to preserve the best of our past, and change what needs to be changed, so that tomorrow will be better than today.

We have lots to do with all our energy. Let's not waste a drop.

Holiday Toy Express: A Blogger's Perspective

Last year, Ray, Grace and I went to the Pedley Metrolink Station to see the Holiday Toy Express. Metrolink decorates one of their trains with lights and decorations and people perform a short show at each station they stop at. The firefighters collect toys for their "Spark of Love" drive, and last year was the first time we had seen this show. It was a nice way to welcome in the Christmas season. Well, this year they started a little earlier and I took Cynthia and Grace to the North Main Street station in Corona. It was the same show and the same decorated train, but it was again a nice way to start out the holiday.

Vineyard Bank Buys 1031 Accommodator

Vineyard National Bancorp in Corona, CA, agreed to acquire all of the outstanding capital stock of 1031 Exchange Advantage Inc. and its related company.

The exchange companies will become wholly owned subsidiaries of Vineyard National. David P. Greenberger, sole shareholder of the companies, will continue to serve as the president and chief executive officer of the exchange companies.

As of Sept. 30, the companies held approximately $30 million in low costing client deposit balances. Effectively, these client balances are deposit balances, which will be maintained by Vineyard following the closing of the acquisition.

"We believe this acquisition creates significant opportunities for Vineyard and the exchange companies to better serve existing clients and foster new relationships within the Vineyard infrastructure," said Norman Morales, president and CEO of Vineyard. "We are excited to bring these companies together and provide additional opportunities to expand our business banking efforts and product offerings."

Closing is expected to take place by early December.

1031 Exchange Advantage and related companies have been in business for more than 30 years as a nationwide provider of 1031 exchange services and was an early provider of reverse exchanges and build to suit or improvement exchanges.

Wake up Riverside! It’s Good Morning America!

Riverside gets an early morning wake-up call Friday, courtesy of ABC-TV.

Sam Champion, the weather reporter for "Good Morning America," will broadcast live from the city’s Mission Inn Hotel and Spa between 4 to 6 a.m. (7 to 9 a.m. EST). The show will celebrate the Inn’s 15th Annual Festival of Lights and will be the highlight of GMA’s week-long series "Good Morning America Lights Up the Holidays."

Everyone is invited to come and cheer for Riverside to a national audience in front of the Mission Inn. GMA broadcasts to roughly 7.5 million viewers every day. The anchors in New York will break away occasionally throughout the two hours to come back to Riverside for Champion’s weather updates and stories on the city, including a live lighting of the festival lights.

Mission Inn Avenue, between Main and Orange Streets, will be closed off during the pre-dawn broadcast hours. Free regular coffee is being given out by the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf from 3:30 to 6 a.m. and the city will provide cinnamon rolls and reusable "green bags" to the first 200 to arrive.

The Festival of Lights began Friday and will continue until Jan. 1 with more than 3 million lights illuminating the city’s downtown.

Angels' special order filled in Corona

ANGELS: The $90 million deal for center fielder Hunter was reached at a fast food restaurant.

As far as courtships go, it wasn't lengthy and it certainly wasn't sexy, the decision to sign the winter's biggest free agent outside of Alex Rodriguez done in a matter of hours and consummated at a fast food restaurant in Corona.

When Riverside-based agent Larry Reynolds called Angels general manager Tony Reagins last Tuesday, a seemingly innocuous conversation about which free agents Reynolds was representing quickly turned serious when Reagins asked about Torii Hunter.

The query came as a bit of a surprise to Reynolds, considering the Angels had signed a center fielder just last winter and Hunter seemed geared to sign with either the Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers or Kansas City Royals, all of whom had already offered contracts. Hunter was also scheduled to meet with the Dodgers this past Sunday.

"At the GM meetings a couple weeks ago, I mentioned (Hunter) to him, kind of planting a seed in his mind," Reynolds said. "I wasn't sure if he heard it or not because it was in the midst of the A-Rod stuff. Fortunately, I think it had some impact on this thing."

After spurning a three-year, $45 million deal from Minnesota, Hunter had three other offers in the five-year, $70 million range. The Angels ultimately shelled out $90 million over five years, the richest contract in franchise history. After passing his physical Monday, Hunter will be formally introduced Wednesday, along with pitcher Jon Garland, who was acquired from the White Sox for Orlando Cabrera.

During Reynolds and Reagins' conversation, Reynolds said he wanted to make sure that the Angels were truly interested. When he found out they were, he and Reagins decided to meet Tuesday afternoon at the Del Taco off the Serfas Club Drive exit off the 91.

"I drive the 91 pretty often," said Reagins, who hails from Indio. "Del Taco is one of my favorite fast food chains. I knew that one halfway between Riverside and Anaheim."

So the two set to talking on the parameters of the deal, which will pay Hunter $18.5 million next season -- and includes a $2.5 million signing bonus and a no-trade clause -- to be the team's center fielder. The following day, they met again at the Ayres Hotel in Yorba Linda.

"I think it was more Tony not wanting people to see either he or myself," Reynolds said. "It was kind of an unsuspecting spot. Both those spots met that criteria, I guess."

Hunter had initially told Reynolds he was interested in the Angels more than a year ago when he was unsure that the Twins would pick up his option. Reynolds said that when the Angels made the offer his client was ecstatic; he didn't think he would have an opportunity to play with the Angels.

Reagins said they wanted to get a deal done quickly.

"We didn't want to fly around the country, and we didn't want to have the pomp and circumstance," Reagins said.

After all, the pomp and circumstance routine had already been presented to him. Hunter dined at Texas owner Tom Hicks' ranch a few days earlier and the Chicago White Sox representatives flew to Texas with a video featuring Jim Thome and Bulls center Ben Wallace urging him to join the South Siders. The Royals also met with Hunter.

"I always imagined my deal would get done inside a board room or a Capital Grille," Hunter told USA Today. "Turns out it was done at a Del Taco. Can you believe it? The deal gets done over some tacos."

Reagins chatted with Hunter on Wednesday and also left a message for Gary Matthews Jr. late Wednesday night to tell him he was being replaced as the team's everyday center fielder.
Calls and text messages to Matthews' agent in an attempt to reach Matthews have gone unreturned.

"He was fine," Reagins said of Matthews, who will split time between left and right fields next season. "I think he was digesting the situation. The bottom line is Gary, Torii and the Angels want to win. He understands the business and that we're trying to win a championship here. In that regard he's on board in trying to win long term."

Couldn't Matthews, though, be used as trade bait?

"No," Reagins said. "He's an Angel."

A hazy bowl picture

At a time when college football's Bowl Championship Series is a chaotic mess, the CIF State Football Bowl game picture is equally murky.

If you're not De La Salle, take your numbered ticket and don't forget to win your section championship - because you need a title in the next two weeks to get the plane tickets to Los Angeles and a matchup with one of Southern California's best teams in the three-division format.

With section titles looming, coaches don't want their players thinking about whether they will be considered by the state bowl committee, comprised of 10 section commissioners, which will select six teams Dec. 9. But it's hard not to surf the Web and see what other teams are doing in the playoffs.

The only matter standing in the way of De La Salle and its Division I bid is a North Coast Section 4A meeting with California-San Ramon on Dec. 8 at McAfee Coliseum.

The favorite to face the Spartans in Division I is Centennial-Corona. Centennial (11-1) took its only loss in a 51-37 decision to Mater Dei-Santa Ana, a matchup that set a California record for total offense (1,298 yards).

If Centennial were to lose either its semifinal game or possible section final with undefeated Redlands East Valley, that would open the door for Poly-Long Beach or Birmingham, the favorite to win the Los Angeles Section title. Still, Poly has to come out of the venerable Pac-5 Section, which is loaded with quality teams, including Division II hopeful Crespi-Encino. With a 48-26 win last weekend, Crespi knocked Mater Dei out of Division II contention.

Two undefeated Bay Area teams are making decent arguments for the Division II bid. Las Lomas-Walnut Creek and Novato would meet in the NCS 2A final if they get past Campolindo-Moraga and Del Norte, respectively. Novato was snubbed last year when Palo Alto was selected after an impressive run through the CCS Open Division.

Novato and Las Lomas, though, don't have the edge in strength of schedule, one of the criteria, along with won-lost record and head-to-head competition.

Undefeated Foothill-Palo Cedro of the Northern Section is 12-0 but has played a relatively weak schedule. St. Mary's of Stockton (11-1) and Del Oro-Loomis (11-1), strong candidates from the Sac-Joaquin section, have played tougher schedules than Novato and Las Lomas.

There is one other longshot for the bid: After Riordan's 46-20 win over Pioneer-San Jose on Saturday, Riordan coach Mike Langridge said that by virtue of their strength of schedule, the Crusaders need to be at least considered in the Division II debate if they were to win the CCS Large School title.

The Division III bid could generate the most disappointment. Last year, Cardinal Newman-Santa Rosa lost 27-20 in overtime to Oaks Christian-Westlake Village, and appears to be a solid candidate for a return to the Home Depot Center in Carson (Los Angeles County). Newman (10-1-1), which lost to Del Oro 48-28 and tied Central Catholic-Modesto 35-35, still has to beat Rancho Cotate-Rohnert Park and either San Ramon Valley or Pinole Valley.

Newman's competition for the bid appears to be Central Catholic (10-1-1), which lost to St. Mary's-Stockton 45-41.

Good luck choosing between two teams who tied and each lost their only games to Division II powers.

NorCal volleyball: Four area teams will try to earn NorCal volleyball titles and state championship bids tonight. Mitty hosts West Catholic Athletic League foe St. Francis in the Division II final. Sacred Heart Cathedral travels to Stockton to meet St. Mary's at Chavez High. Castilleja-Palo Alto faces Mt. Madonna-Watsonville at Bethany College in the Division V final. All games start at 7 p.m., with winners advancing to Saturday's state championship at San Jose StateCCS football program: The $5 Central Coast Section playoff program is no bargain, especially when you flip to Page 13 and see an advertisement for the official ball of the CCS. Rawlings' pitch man is none other than quarterback Michael Vick.

Top basketball teams: De La Salle makes the top spot in the weekly Chronicle football poll a nondebate. It appears the same might be said for boys and girls basketball this season. The Mitty boys rolled to a 75-41 win over Division III state finalist Bishop O'Dowd-Oakland on Saturday. Sacred Heart Cathedral's girls squad beat defending Division V state champion Branson-Ross 61-32 behind Tierra Rogers' 17 points.

No Transbay: One season after McClymonds beat Lincoln 78-37 in the inaugural Transbay Bowl, the two repeat champions will not meet again. The game pitting two section champions conflicted with the state bowl-game format. Lincoln and McClymonds are eligible as section champs, but are not realistic selections. Lincoln was 1-3 against nonleague opponents and McClymonds finished 0-5.

Foreclosures to 'trash-outs'

Debris left behind creates work for cleanup industry

Foreclosed homes all over the Inland Empire are turning into "trash-outs" - wooden and stucco carcasses with piles of appliances, mattresses and other items left behind by former residents.

In the big picture, the Riverside-San Bernardino area ranked No. 3 in the United States on the foreclosure chart for metro areas, according to a recent report by RealtyTrac, a real-estate data company in Irvine. There were more than 20,600 foreclosure filings in the two-county area during the third quarter of this year, it stated.

It's partially Lisa Carvalho's job to get junk hauled out of these abandoned homes.
"There's usually debris and clothing and beds," said Carvalho, co-owner of Casablanca Associates Inc. in Ontario.

The company, among others, has its hands full cleaning out foreclosed homes in the San Bernardino and Ontario areas.

Sometimes her workers stumble across gems - like prized computer parts. But it's been a potpourri of things, such as cars, computer monitors, stoves and washing machines.
"It's bad, but it's a lot of work for the (cleanup) industry," said Mike Meyers of San Bernardino-based Best Price Hauling. "It's a sad situation all around for everyone, except for us in the service industry."

Inland Empire Realtor Bobbie Miller said evictees with lower incomes usually take most everything when they leave.

"They can't afford to buy it again," said Miller, who gets properties cleaned up for banks
that end up holding the bag on loans that go south.

She's recently worked on homes in Fontana, Ontario and Rialto.

Evicted residents are given 18 days to reclaim their property inside a foreclosed home, Miller said.
In her case, everything inside the home gets thrown away or goes to auction, depending on how valuable it is.

"Most of the time, they don't come back to get anything," Miller said. "A lot of our economy is being supported, unfortunately, by people who've lost their homes."

Holiday Event Highlights from Corona, CA.

Highlights from the Holiday Events this past week:

(Video from the Christian Arts Theater aka CAT performance at The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos):

(Video from Santa riding away on a Horse Carriage at The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos):

(Picture from CAT Singing at The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos):

(Video from Black Friday at The Promendade Shops at Dos Lagos):

(More video from Black Friday at The Promendade Shops at Dos Lagos):

(Pictures from Black Friday at The Promendade Shops at Dos Lagos):

(Video from the Tree Lighting Ceremony at The Crossings at Corona):

(Video from the Tree Lighting Ceremony w/Santa at The Crossings at Corona):

(Picture from the Tree Lighting Ceremony at The Crossings at Corona):

RedBrick-Inland Empire, CA Supports "Toys for Tot" Campaign

RedBrick Pizza – Inland Empire, CA has joined with Charter Media to support Toys for Tots in the Inland Empire, CA. Toys for Tots have been founded on the premises that "every child deserves a little Christmas". The US Marine Corps Toys for Tots program has been a proud holiday tradition in America for over fifty-eight years. "Through dedication, hard work, and the generosity of the American people, the Marine Corps has been able to provide some 20 million toys annually to seven million needy children."

RedBrick Pizza cafés in Riverside, Mira Loma, Corona, Rancho Cucamonga and San Bernardino will be drop off locations for the donation of new, unwrapped toys valued at $10 or more. RedBrick is promoting the Toys for Tots drive through Charter Media on 12 different networks in Inland Empire. The Toys for Tots program will be available through December, and is wonderful way to contribute back to our community.

School districts sue over state's failure to pay for mandates

Several school districts and a statewide association representing them sued the state on Wednesday for nearly $1 billion the districts say they are owed for programs the state forces them to offer but hasn't paid for.

The lawsuit, filed in San Diego County Superior Court, challenges the state's authority to defer payments for the 38 mandatory programs, which the districts say the state has done by failing to include full funding for them in the last five state budgets.

The California School Boards Association argues in its lawsuit that the state is constitutionally obligated to pay the full cost of programs it forces local governments, including school districts, to run. This year, as in previous years, the governor budgeted just $38,000, or $1,000 per program for those school mandates.

The lack of funding “forces school districts to divert their limited discretionary revenues from the core educational program and use those revenues to accommodate an increasing number of state mandates,” the lawsuit said.

Among the mandates are pupil health screenings, which CSBA estimates cost districts nearly $4 million a year; meeting the state's graduation requirements, at a cost of nearly $66 million a year; and reporting attendance figures, which cost districts about $3.8 million a year.

Richard Hamilton, director of CSBA's Educational Legal Alliance, which filed the suit, said the state owes school districts $415 million for programs it underfunded and $475 million for programs it never funded, as well as another $160 million to run the programs this year.

Administration spokesman Bill Maile said the state Department of Finance had not yet seen the lawsuit, and could not immediately comment. Still, he said, the state is meeting its obligation to schools.

“K-12 has, and will continue to receive, the lion's share of budget dollars, even with the fiscal challenges we face,” Maile said.

Last week, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office forecast a $10 billion state budget shortfall over the next two years, which could force deep cuts in spending.

The LAO has referred to the underfunding of state education mandates as “credit card debt” and has urged the state to repay it, according to the lawsuit.

Because voters limited the ability of local governments to collect new tax revenues when they approved property tax-slashing Proposition 13 in 1978, they also later made it a constitutional requirement that the state reimburse local governments whenever it mandates a new program or a higher level of service.

The state repaid about $900 million in accumulated debt and costs for school mandates in the 2006-07 budget, but it failed to pay off the entire debt and didn't fully pay for this year's programs, CSBA said.

“The state expects schools to foot the bill for millions of dollars in mandated costs that they do not fund and rarely pay back,” CSBA president Kathy Kinley said in a statement.

The San Diego County Office of Education, Riverside Unified School District, San Jose Unified School District and Clovis Unified School District also were named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

The case is California School Boards Association Educational Legal Alliance et al v. State of California.

Inland Empire Christmas Events!


GALLERIA AT TYLER, bring your dogs or cats to pose with Santa Claus, 6-8 p.m. Thursday, enter the mall via main doors by Papaya, Santa's set is on the lower level, near Tilly's; "Domino Celebrates Festival of Giving," fun filled event of shopping and entertainment, 4-7 p.m. Dec. 2, $5; photos with Santa through Dec. 24; Tyler Avenue and Highway 91, Riverside, 951-351-3112.

LAKE ELSINORE OUTLETS, "Moonlight Madness Sale," midnight-10 p.m. today; Dickens & Company Strolling Holiday Carolers, Saturday, Dec. 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29; photos with Santa through Dec. 24; Santa Lunch, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 24 in Suite 106; 17600 Collier Ave., Lake Elsinore, 951-245-0087.
MORENO VALLEY MALL, photos with Santa through Dec. 24, 22500 Town Circle, Moreno Valley, 951-653-1177.

PROMENADE SHOPS AT DOS LAGOS, photos with Santa Claus with your family and pets, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 2, 2780 Cabot Drive, Corona, $10 per sitting, maximum of four pets per sitting, pets must be on leash or in a carrier, 951-277-7601.

THE PROMENADE IN TEMECULA, "8th Annual Community Candlelight Tribute," 5 p.m. in the plaza, donations of stuffed animals and canned foods appreciated; "Pet Nights," 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Dec. 11 and 6-9 p.m. Dec. 19; visit Santa Claus in the lower level Macy's wing 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 24, 40820 Winchester Road, Temecula, 951-296-0975.
THE RIVER AT RANCHO MIRAGE, "Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony" with the arrival of Santa Claus and his elves, 6-9 p.m. Saturday; Strolling Carolers, 6-9 p.m. Nov. 30, Dec. 13, 15-16, 20-22, 3-6 p.m. Dec. 23; Radio 60, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 1; "Living Nativity" presented by the Victory Christian Church, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 8; Gregory & Peggy Satori, 6-9 p.m. Dec. 14; Santa and his Elf, 3-6 p.m. Dec. 22, in the Amphitheater, Highway 111, Rancho Las Palmas and Bob Hope drives, Rancho Mirage, 760-369-9972.

RIVERSIDE PLAZA, photos with Santa, 4-9 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, 2-10 p.m. Saturdays, 1-9 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 24; 3545 Central Ave., Riverside, 951-683-1066.


THE MALL OF VICTOR VALLEY, photos with Santa through Dec. 24, 14400 Bear Valley Road, Victorville, 760-241-3145.

MONTCLAIR PLAZA, photos with Santa through Dec. 24, lower level at main entrance; "Paws & Claus Pet Photo Night," 5-8 p.m. Dec. 11; off the 10 Freeway at Central and Monte Vista avenues, Montclair, 909-993-1634, 909-626-2501.
ONTARIO MILLS, "Salvation Army Angel Tree," through Dec. 19; "Spark of Love Toy Drive," 5 a.m.-7 p.m. Dec. 7, northwest parking lot; photos with Santa through Dec. 24 in the food court; One Mills Circle, Ontario, 909-484-8300.

REDLANDS MALL, "T'was the Night Before Christmas" sing-a-long with the Silver Belles Strolling Carolers, noon-1:30 p.m. today; photos with Santa through Dec. 24, 100 Redlands Mall, Redlands, 909-793-0333.

VICTORIA GARDENS, visit Santa at Santa's Depot in Chaffey Town Square 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 24; "Let it Snow," snow flurries in Chaffey Town Square, 7 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 7 and 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 6 and 7 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 23; the Dickens and Company Christmas Carolers 8-11 a.m. today, 4-7 p.m. Saturday, 2-5 p.m. Sunday, 4-7 p.m. Dec. 1 and 8, 2-5 p.m. Dec. 2 and 9, Foothill and Day Creek Boulevards, Rancho Cucamonga, 909-463-2830.

We are taking a BREAK!

We are taking a BREAK through the Thanksgiving holiday and will return to 'the grind' on Monday with the Latest News. In the meantime, we are working up some really exciting things for Mycitycorona and by year-end I believe you will really enjoy the enhancements...again, it's all about you and the experience!

Now, go have some turkey...some left-overs or go spend some time with the family!

Edison to tell Corona plans to halt power outages

Residents and businesses could get some explanations for repeated power outages plaguing the city at today's 7 p.m. Corona City Council meeting.

Two months after dozens of angry residents complained to the city about the Labor Day power outages that left many in the dark for days, Southern California Edison will offer explanations and plans for fixing the infrastructure failures.

Within 30 days of the Labor Day heat storms, Edison workers made all the necessary repairs in the neighborhoods affected by the blackouts, said Edison spokesman Luis Davis.

He asked for patience from the community as Edison works to improve service in Corona.

"We realize that in some places there needs to be improvement," Davis said. "It's coming, but it won't happen overnight."

Also, Davis said he will explain at the council meeting the cause of repeated outages at The Crossings and Dos Lagos shopping centers.

However, at a study session last month, City Council members were unimpressed with Edison's report.

"It is a shame that Edison, which provides the city with power, is unable to deliver a steady stream of electricity," Mayor Eugene Montanez wrote in an e-mailed interview Oct. 30. "We are now in the year 2007, getting power a few miles from their main substation is definitely not rocket science," he wrote.

"We have residents who have experienced outages year after year. They have been patient with Edison. Yet when they were without power over four days, all some asked for in return was a couple of hundred dollars to compensate for lost food in their refrigerators," Montanez said by telephone. "All Edison did was throw denied claims back in their faces."

Davis said the company could not comment on customers' private claims.

But some residents who were originally denied reimbursement by the company have since received checks, said Assistant City Manager Greg Irvine.

Riverside, CA Festival of Lights at The Mission Inn

Every evening from November 23rd to January 1st, festival-goers can enjoy horse-drawn carriages, live entertainment, outdoor ice skating, holiday decorations with more than three million twinkling lights along Mission Inn Avenue and of course, Santa Claus.

The Festival takes place in Downtown Riverside on the Main Street Pedestrian Mall where visitors can find a variety of options for dining and unique shopping.

It also features holiday-themed vendors every Thursday through Sunday, offering specialty food and gift items. Come to the Festival. Have dinner, shop and enjoy the holiday fun.

The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos: Black Friday!

This Friday, starting at 9am, we will be giving away gift cards to the first 1,000 guests who visit the KOLA 99.9 booth near Victoria 's Secret. Gift cards will range from $10 to $1000. The line will form early! And you must be 18 years of age or older.

Also, while you are here please give generously to the Corona Firefighters' Association and enjoy a FREE Benefit Concert in the Amphitheater from 11am to 9pm.
Performers include Reza Saleh, Groove Session, Persuasion Swing, Real Dove Band and J. Boykins.

Donations will support the Inland Empire Burn Institute and The Community Foundation. 100% of the money given to The Community Foundation will go directly to participating non-profit agencies focused on the relief efforts in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.

In what is possibly the largest retail giveaway to hit the Inland Empire region, The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos will distribute $30,000 in gift cards to shoppers on the day after Thanksgiving. The first 1,000 people to arrive at the center on “Black Friday,” November 23, will receive a gift card in various amounts ranging from $10 to $1,000. The gift cards will be distributed starting at 9 a.m. from the KOLA 99.9 booth near Victoria ’s Secret. Shoppers may arrive up to two hours early to get in line.

In addition to holiday shopping, a free benefit concert will be held from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the open-air amphitheater, to raise money for the Inland Empire Burn Institute and those affected by the wildfires. Donations will be collected by the Corona Firefighters’ Association.

The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos offers “Black Friday” shoppers an unmatched experience in the beautiful outdoor “ Main Street ” setting of boutiques and higher-end stores. Its retailers include Anthropologie, Z Gallerie, Coach, Bandolino, J. Jill, White House Black Market and Bella's Boutique.

“The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos is one of the few places where residents in northeast Orange County and Riverside County can purchase stylish holiday gifts without having to drive a long distance,” said Amy Brown, general manager of The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos.

Only a year since its opening, the center has attracted a lineup of sought-after retailers offering the season’s most desired fashions and gifts, such as metallic handbags, brightly colored shoes and jeweled picture frames.

The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos is Corona ’s premiere lifestyle center and offers a mix of fine dining and shopping. The center currently offers more than 60 upscale retailers and restaurants including, Eddie Bauer, Trader Joe’s, Banana Republic, Sur La Table, Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill and TAPS Fish House & Brewery. For more information about The Promenade Shops at Dos Lagos, visit

California Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of Riverside Air Force Staff Sergeant: Staff Sgt. Alejandro Ayala

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today released the following statement regarding the death of Staff Sgt. Alejandro Ayala, of Riverside, CA:

"Maria and I are terribly saddened by the loss of Staff Sergeant Alejandro Ayala. He served our country with courage and honor, characteristics that define the members of our nation's brave armed forces. We extend our continued prayers to Alejandro's family and friends as they mourn a cherished loved one."

Ayala, 26, died Nov. 18 of injuries sustained as a result of a vehicle accident in Kuwait. Ayala was assigned to the 90th Logistics Readiness Squadron, United States Air Force, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, WY. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

In honor of Staff Sgt. Ayala, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff.

Governor Names SE Corporation Winner of 2007 Top Environmental Leadership Award

Ali Sahabi, founder and CEO of SE Corporation, will receive the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award tonight for his role in developing Dos Lagos, an award-winning, sustainable mixed-use community in Corona, Calif.

GEELA is California's highest and most prestigious environmental honor. The award recognizes individuals, organizations and businesses that have demonstrated exceptional leadership for voluntary achievements in conserving California's resources, protecting and enhancing the environment, and building public-private partnerships. SE Corporation's award was presented in the category of Sustainable Communities.

"This honor recognizes our commitment to developing communities that are socially responsible, environmentally sensitive and economically viable," said Sahabi. "It is humbling, as a corporation, to be rewarded for doing something so intrinsic to our values."

Sahabi's dedication to sustainable development prompted him in 2003 to endow UC Riverside's Edward J. Blakely Center for Sustainable Suburban Development, and in 2006 to establish GIVE (the Green Institute for Village Empowerment), a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding sustainable communities through education, information, research and initiatives. GIVE is the sponsor of the Inland Empire's Green Valley Initiative,, an economic development plan designed to bring green jobs, green technology, green lifestyles and a higher quality of life to the region.

Dos Lagos is a model of brownfield development. The 534-acre development involved the reclamation of an abandoned mining pit, the restoration of the Temescal Creek and preservation of 134 acres of native habitat. The project incorporated local history into its design, protected many century-old California Live Oaks and included an innovative filtration system to preserve the pristine water aquifer beneath the project. The mixed-use component of Dos Lagos enhances its sustainability by providing a walkable community of residential, commercial, entertainment, Class A office and other uses designed for various lifestyle and lifecycle needs. These and other amenities surround the "heart" of the development: the project's signature bamboo-covered bridge spanning two lakes - "Dos Lagos" - the namesakes of the community.

For more information on the community, visit

Sahabi is one of 18 other recipients to receive an award at a formal recognition ceremony to be held Tuesday night in Sacramento.

The Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards program was established in 1993, and is administered by the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Resource Agency in collaboration with the State and Consumer Services Agency, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency. For more information, visit

Those Who Lost Homes in Wildfires Get Relief on Apts.

Victims of the recent wildfires are going to need a lot of help to get back on their feet. First and foremost they'll need a place to live. Now some landlords are offering reduced rent, flexible leasing terms, and other deals for those who lost their home.

Not only are there some rental deals out there, but at least one home improvement store is offering discounts to fire victims, too.

Over 2,000 homes burned to the ground, and thousands more were damaged; California's wildfires drove a lot of people out of their homes. For most of them, temporary housing in an apartment is where they're headed. But if they end up at the right complex, they just might get a deal thanks to the California Apartment Association.

"It's a concerted effort among six apartment associations in Southern California, and we all kind of funneled everything through the California Apartment Association," said Scott Morrison, a vice president with Legacy Partners. "We all go together and we all tried to streamline the process for people that are displaced."

Morrison manages hundreds of apartments all over California. He says one of his complexes in San Bernardino is offering six months free rent to fire victims, no strings attached.
And there are similar deals at other apartments.

"Everybody's doing things a little bit differently," said Morrison. "Most of them, they're waiving security deposits, they're streamlining the process, they're waiving application fees, giving some concessions. Some owners are giving a couple months free rent."
Not only free rent, but flexible lease terms too.

"If they need a six-month lease or a three-month lease, or a five-and-a-half month lease -- whatever makes it easier for them is what we're trying to do," said Morrison.

If it's repairs to your home that you need, Material Matter Home Improvement Outlet in Corona may be able to help. It is a non-profit organization that collects new or gently used building materials, then donates or sells them.

"Everything in our store is generally 50 to 70 percent off retail everyday," said Jason McKinstry, president of Materials Matter. "And we have everything from kitchen cabinets, kitchen sinks, décor items, furniture -- anything you might need."

And what deal is McKinstry offering fire victims?

"What we're doing for any of the affected victims in the eight counties, they can bring in any of their disaster paperwork and we will give them 10 percent off any of our standard items for the rest of the year."

Vineyard National Bancorp Announces Quarterly Cash Dividend

Vineyard National Bancorp (NASDAQ: VNBC charts news PowerRating) (the "company"), the parent company for Vineyard Bank, N.A. ("Vineyard"), today announced that its Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.08 per common share, payable on December 14, 2007, to shareholders of record as of November 30, 2007.

The company, with $2.5 billion in assets, announced on October 22, 2007, its operating results for the quarter-ended September 30, 2007. Net earnings for the quarter-ended September 2007 were $5.5 million, or $0.45 per diluted share, compared with net earnings of $4.7 million, or $0.40 per diluted share, for the quarter-ended September 2006. The total stockholders' equity of the company totaled $175.4 million at September 30, 2007, an increase of $38.8 million, or 28% as compared to September 30, 2006.

The company is a financial holding company headquartered in Corona, and the parent company of Vineyard, also headquartered in Corona. The company operates through 16 full-service banking centers and four regional financial centers in the counties of Los Angeles, Marin, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Clara and Ventura, Calif. The company's common stock is traded on the NASDAQ Global Market System under the symbol "VNBC." For additional information on the company visit

This press release contains forward-looking statements as referenced in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are inherently unreliable and actual results may vary. Factors which could cause actual results to differ from these forward-looking statements include changes in the competitive marketplace, changes in the interest rate environment, economic conditions, outcome of pending litigation, risks associated with credit quality and other factors discussed in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

California Mayor Elected National League of Cities 2nd Vice President

The National League of Cities (NLC) elected Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge 2nd Vice President. The election was held Saturday, Nov. 17, at the culmination of the NLC annual conference in New Orleans, La. Loveridge will become NLC president in 2010.

San Diego Council Member Jim Madaffer, president of the League of California Cities, commented on the contribution Ron will make nationally. "Ron Loveridge is widely acknowledged as one of California's most important mayors. He has occupied virtually every leadership position open to a city official and is one of the state's top air quality policy experts. The NLC could not have chosen a more qualified individual for its 2nd Vice President," Madaffer said.

During the campaign, Loveridge pledged to focus on raising the profile of cities' agenda at the national level, building coalitions to promote local control, advocating for resources and establishing a strong grassroots program across the country.

"I am honored by the NLC's selection," Loveridge said. "Cities are at the forefront of addressing our nation's most pressing issues, including climate change and infrastructure. The NLC has a tremendous capability to provide national policy leadership in these areas."

Loveridge has devoted his professional and personal life to politics. A professor of political science at UC Riverside since 1965, he was elected to the Riverside city council 28 years ago, serving as council member for 14 years before being elected mayor in 1994. Long active in the League of California Cities, he was president in 2004, when the League successfully passed Proposition 1A, the landmark Constitutional amendment that protects local government revenue from the state.

League of California Cities Executive Director Chris McKenzie stressed the significance of having a California elected official serving as an NLC officer. "California cities have a stronger voice at the national level with Ron's election," McKenzie added. "His qualifications are substantial -- superb policy skills, an inclusive management style and a strong commitment to the diversity of our nation's cities. I know he is the right person as NLC sets its agenda to address national problems."

"I plan to take the NLC story across the country," Loveridge said. "We are reaching out to every city in every state and in our nation's capital to bring a solid understanding of the role cities play in Americans' lives."

Under NLC bylaws, Loveridge will serve as Second Vice President in 2008 and will succeed to First Vice President in 2008-2009 and President in 2009-2010. The NLC is an association of the nation's cities and state municipal leagues. Representing more than 19,000 cities, towns and villages, NLC was founded in 1924.

Contact:Eva Spiegel (916) 658-8228

California congressman's 3 grandchildren reported missing

Authorities were investigating the disappearance Monday of three grandchildren of Southern California Rep. Gary Miller.
The children were reported missing at about 1:30 p.m Monday from their Diamond Bar residence east of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said.
Investigators were looking into whether the children were taken by their "non-custodial mother," said sheriff's spokeswoman Deputy Aura Sierra, referring to a parent without custody rights.
The children's parents are divorced and appeared to be in a custody battle, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported on it Web site.
Messages left with Miller's local offices were not immediately returned Monday night.
Miller represents the 42nd Congressional District, which includes the communities of Diamond Bar, Brea, Chino and Chino Hills.

Chino Hills...Voted 21st safest City! San Bernardino...24th most dangerous!


1 Brick Township, NJ 1 St. Louis, MO

2 Amherst, NY 2 Detroit, MI

3 Mission Viejo, CA 3 Flint, MI

4 Newton, MA 4 Compton, CA

5 Troy, MI 5 Camden, NJ

6 Colonie, NY 6 Birmingham, AL

7 Irvine, CA 7 Cleveland, OH

8 Cary, NC 8 Oakland, CA

9 Greece, NY 9 Youngstown, OH

10 Coral Springs, FL 10 Gary, IN

11 Thousand Oaks, CA 11 Richmond, CA

12 Orem, UT 12 Baltimore, MD

13 Round Rock, TX 13 Memphis, TN

14 Dover, NJ 14 Trenton, NJ

15 Lake Forest, CA 15 Richmond, VA

16 Sterling Heights, MI 16 Kansas City, MO

17 Simi Valley, CA 17 Atlanta, GA

18 Roswell, GA 18 Cincinnati, OH

19 Lee's Summit, MO 19 Washington, DC

20 Broken Arrow, OK 20 North Charleston, SC

21 Chino Hills, CA 21 Reading, PA

22 Gilbert, AZ 22 Newark, NJ

23 Edison Township, NJ 23 Little Rock, AR

24 Cranston, RI 24 San Bernardino, CA

25 Port St. Lucie, FL 25 Orlando, FL

Auction reveals market's struggle for footing

The first local foreclosures auction in several years left dozens of buyers clucking happily, but it also revealed a lot about the depth and speed of the real estate market's tumble, buyers and agents said.A Texas-based auctioneer made a two-week run through California this month, starting in a packed ballroom at the Temecula Creek Inn Nov. 6 and continuing through last week with dates in the Central Valley. For buyers who arrived at the auction here with cash or with lender approval, it was a field day. Several houses went for just half the price they fetched in their most recent sales in 2005 or 2006.A couple of houses that generated suspiciously large cash kickbacks to buyers two years ago topped out at just 40 percent of their most recent sale prices. One Murrieta house whose last sale was recorded at $719,000 in March 2006 was seized by a lender in January and cleared the gavel at $305,000.

Hudson & Marshall, of Dallas, auctioned 74 houses on behalf of lenders who had been unable to sell them through typical listings. Several winning bidders who spoke with The Californian said they hadn't yet received final approval from the lenders that own the houses.

Carolyn Tidmus, a local real estate agent who had three listings on the block, said she suspects many of the sellers will end up rejecting the winning bids, which were typically $100,000 to $200,000 less than the amounts they had to write off as bad loans and significantly lower than she had expected.

"It was very depressing," Tidmus said.

A Hudson & Marshall executive estimated that sellers will approve 75 percent of the offers from the auction, compared to 90 percent in most of the auctions it runs.

The ballroom Nov. 6 was packed with more than 400 people, but some said they had come only for the spectacle or to gauge the market. Several houses drew bids from just three or four buyers.

That's not usually how it plays out, said Bill Nazur, a Corona real estate investor and the author of "Finding Foreclosures." Houses typically sell at auctions for about 5 to 10 percent less than what comparable houses bring on the open market. Subtract out the auctioneer's 5 percent fee and a buyer ends up saving little or nothing, Nazur said.

"It's great marketing," Nazur said. "It's a whole lot of flash, but not a lot of substance.

"But the sheer numbers of people in attendance at recent auctions have been reassuring, Nazur said, because it shows a certain degree of interest among buyers, and particularly local buyers, even if some of them have held off on bidding.

Delores Conway, director of USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate, said the auctions also give would-be buyers a great chance to check out homes beforehand and then to get a sense of what others are willing to pay for them.

A small handful of recent auctions in Southern California have included properties in Southwest Riverside County, but the one earlier this month was the first to be held locally. Several real estate experts interviewed last week said it would be only a slight exaggeration to call it the tip of an iceberg.

At the end of last month, some 4,000 mortgages in Southwest County were in default, according to, a database that covers California. Real estate experts say the vast majority of those houses will be seized by financial institutions, which are beginning to slash prices and turn to auction houses in an effort to convert real estate back into money, their core business. About 500 are due to be seized by the end of this month, according to the database.

Economists, investors and real estate agents blame the foreclosure wave on speculative buying, on a range of newfangled loans and on monthly payments that started off low but rose swiftly after a year or two. Many buyers moved in with no down payments, counting on rising prices to create the equity that would allow them to refinance into a safer loan after a couple of years.
But that market evaporated over the course of 2005. Prices, economists warned, had grown much faster than homeowners' incomes.

Lou Klein, who bought his Temecula home in 1995, was one of many who had sat pat in their own houses while watching the run-up from 2000 to 2005 with amazement.

"It just went crazy," Klein said. "I think it went a little too out of whack."

Klein left the auction here with two winning bids, including a $240,000 bid on an 1,800-square-foot house near Murrieta Glen Arbor Park. A woman bought the house in October 2005, borrowing for the entire $420,000 price.

The lender seized the house in July, listed it for a month at $345,000, and cut the price to $328,000 at the end of August before giving Hudson & Marshall a crack at it.

Klein said he plans to keep his house in Temecula and rent out both of the houses he scored at the auction, if indeed the owners sign off on the deals.

For several people, last week's auction was a chance to move downmarket. Nelson Sales and Lyn Cunningham, a local mortgage broker and real estate agent, were hoping to snag their client a house for $200,000 to $250,000. The client owed $550,000 on a house in Wildomar that probably wouldn't sell for more than $450,000, Sales said. The client had fallen behind on some of his bills, but hadn't defaulted on the mortgage, Sales said. He was hoping to convince the lender to accept less than the outstanding balance.

"I don't want his home to be up there," Sales said, gesturing toward the podium, where only the numbers were intelligible amid the auctioneer's rapid-fire twangy patter.

Sales and Cunningham were outbid on all three houses they targeted, Sales said. The search continues this week, Sales said.

Al Rivera had recently sold his own house in Wildomar and is using the $130,000-plus in equity to make down payments on two or three less expensive houses. With new monthly mortgage payments of just $600, Rivera figured he can easily come out ahead as a landlord. Rivera walked away with a winning $131,000 bid on a three-bedroom house near the California Golf & Art Country Club in Sun City. It last sold for $290,000 in June 2004.

"I thought 131 (thousand dollars) was a good deal," Rivera said after the auction. "It's completely a buyer's market."

Dominick Frascella Art Show (Corona, CA)

You are cordially invited to attend the Dominick Frascella Art Show. The exhibit contains more than 100 works including graphite on paper, acrylic paintings, oil paintings, monotype and intaglio printmaking, digital photography, pastels, mixed media, collage and multi-media works. The exhibit is richly diverse in media, styles and techniques.

Saturday November 17, 2007, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for the opening reception. The show will continue through January 3, 2008. The gallery is open daily Tuesday through Saturday from10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Corona Art Association Art House Gallery3120 Taylor Avenuein historic Corona Heritage Park510 W Foothill PkwyCorona, CA 92882