Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries updates community on new leadership, fireworks, COVID-19, budget

The following updates were provided by Riverside County District 1 Supervisor Kevin Jeffries. District 1 encompasses the cities of Canyon Lake, Wildomar, Lake Elsinore, most of the City of Riverside, and several unincorporated communities.

New Leadership
After conducting an extensive search, my fellow board members and I agreed 5-0 to hire Jeff Van Wagenen to replace retired county CEO George Johnson. The county has roughly 20,000 employees, 44 or so departments, is the tenth-largest (population) in the Nation, fourth-largest in the state of California, and manages roughly $6 billion in taxpayer dollars (most of it pre-programmed by the state and feds, and/or shipped off to public schools on behalf of the state).

Jeff has a daunting task ahead of him in looking for opportunities to reorganize, reshape, drive efficiencies, deal with dramatically increasing pension costs charged to the county by CalPERS, work with numerous labor groups and MOU’s (I estimate five to seven any given year) and of course, deal with five elected board members who have very diverse perspectives. Jeff has private sector experience as well as 14 years in various positions and responsibilities with the county, and I wish him well!

As many of us know, this past Fourth of July was an incredible spectacle of illegal and dangerous fireworks being set off all over the county. Our unincorporated areas had several wildland fires that had no fire engines assigned for a period of time because of the extreme off-the-charts volume of 911 calls occurring. Our firefighters and law enforcement were absolutely overwhelmed in many communities.

The board of supervisors is awaiting a staff recommendation on how to manage, regulate, and perhaps allow safe and sane fireworks in designated parks, lake edges, etc., while simultaneously cracking down on the illegal and dangerous fireworks that caused so many fires and caused pets to run away. Stay tuned.

While California is one of the few states that has continued to prohibit indoor gym activities and one of the last to open schools and allow youth sports activities, we are finally seeing much better statistics on infection rates and declining hospital impacts, and the trends are all good.

The vaccine supply continues to be a significant challenge for all the public and private vaccination sites in our county (and our state), but we are doing better with over 400,000 doses administered already in Riverside County.

Now that things are going much smoother, the state has ordered a change in vaccine management. Management and accountability for future vaccination programs are shifting to Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente. County and private vaccination facilities will be receiving direction from the two statewide third-party administrators. In the meantime, until told otherwise, the county will continue to host clinics for eligible residents, and our mobile clinics will still target hard-to-reach demographics and communities.  See what is available and who is eligible at

Non-City Residents Speak-Up
If you reside within a city, you know that you can always contact your local city councilmember or city hall about local concerns or complaints. If you are one of the 400,000 or so residents who reside outside of a city boundary, your contact is generally one of us on the board of supervisors. The First District has roughly 120,000 non-city residents.

Under the new Unincorporated Communities Initiative (UCI), the board is pushing for long-overdue funding and infrastructure improvements in our growing rural communities (many do not look so rural anymore).

One of the first steps towards addressing the needs of our rural communities is the kickoff of a survey for non-city residents along with presentations at future local community advisory meetings. You can take the survey at

Budgeting Begins
The never-ending cycle and process of developing and updating the county budget is underway. The COVID impact to our county-run healthcare system, the impact on our economy and jobs, funding from the state and feds to help backfill some of the related expenses, the cost of healthcare and pensions, all have direct or indirect impacts on the county budget and the services provided to all 2.4 million county residents. The board and public will receive a mid-year budget briefing this coming Tuesday, March 2

Like all board meetings, you can watch live online at or see the recording later. Our meetings also always start with a COVID update from our Public Health team.


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