Editor’s note: This letter is being sent to Rep. Dr. Raul Ruiz. Mountain Disaster Preparedness has organized a community meeting called “Storm Lessons Learned and Caltrans/CHP Highway Report.” The meeting will happen on Monday, March 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Idyllwild School Gymnasium.
Congressman Raul Ruiz, M.D.:
On behalf of the Idyllwild Association of Realtors®, local business owners, parents and residents of Idyllwild, we are writing to voice our concern regarding the road conditions and the timeframe for reopening Highway 74 from Hemet to Idyllwild, and Highway 243 from Banning to Idyllwild. Currently, the only access to Idyllwild is Highway 74 from the east going through Garner Valley.
Idyllwild is a small mountain town with tourism as our #1 source of revenue. We understand and appreciate that Caltrans is doing everything it can to get these vital arteries open as soon as possible, but our local economy does not have the luxury, or margins, to “hang on” for the months these two highways are projected to be out of service.
It is not just the real estate sector that is suffering, but also the local retail stores and restaurants that cannot sustain their current operations.
Local families and parents worry about their children who are now obligated to travel 1.5 hours each day just to get to school. In turn, county, state and local revenues — property tax, sales tax, T.O.T., etc. — are all going to suffer.
Without assistance, and with only one way into Idyllwild for the next several months, the town will be decimated to the point of extinction. It has already been a huge economic burden since the Valentine’s Day storm took out the two state highways a month ago. This burden only gets worse as each day passes.
We are asking that one lane be open with pilot vehicle escort as soon as possible on state highways 74 and/or 243. The survival of our little town depends on it.
Thank you for your consideration,
The Idyllwild Association of Realtors®
Board of Directors