Geoff: California is obviously one of the greatest places on earth. Unlike Utah, people here drink water, a commodity only made more alluring by its scarcity. Anything goes in California. It is a land of hopes and dreams! Oh, and it also enjoys a healthy Latter-day Saint population, even as many move out of the state in search of greener (or in the case of Arizona, browner) pastures.
So why a temple in Temecula? OK, it’s legitimately my longshot, but let’s make the case. The Temecula Valley has for many years been one of the faster growing parts of the Southland, and it’s arguably one of the nicer inland areas, too. They have a Costco! They have the Pechanga casino! They have vineyards! There’s the most uber American Sizzler you’ll ever see!
As for the Latter-day Saints angle, Murrieta and Temecula are in the California Carlsbad Mission and are also assigned to the San Diego California Temple. They are outliers, as nearby Menifee and Lake Elsinore look northward to the Redlands California Temple. There is not such a critical mass of membership around Redlands to merit lobbing off a significant portion of its district, but if San Diego gave up the Murrieta and Temecula stakes, and Redlands dropped Lake Elsinore, Menifee, and Hemet, you’d have a nice little temple district for five stakes, all of which would be spared the comparatively lengthier drive to get to the temple that being on the outer fringe of a temple district necessitates.
(Let’s pause and recognize that it’s an awesome blessing to discuss temples going in places with “only” five stakes. My how the work moves forward.)
Plus, at this point, where else is a temple in Southern California going to go? Yorba Linda? (Not the worst idea – the Church toyed with it before settling on Newport Beach.) Somewhere on the central coast, like Santa Maria or Santa Barbara? Ventura County?
Anyway, it’s unlikely, but the geographic spread makes sense, and unlike the somewhat seedier reputations of other parts of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, the Temecula Valley is actually a pretty pleasant, upper-middle income place, which tends to be where temples go. There’s a reason the aforementioned Redlands temple is in Redlands—decidedly on the outer edge of the metropolitan area—and not, uh, Fontana.
Joseph: It’s all Greek—or Californian, rather—to me. I know that San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego are in California. And so is Disneyland. And that’s about it. So I’ll go with you on this one, buddy. Temecula!*
*pronounced wrong, I’m sure