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Supervisor Jeffries updates community on annexation, fireworks, road improvements, district maps, Turpin children

Riverside County Supervisor Kevin Jeffries. Photo by Canyon Lake Insider.

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.

By Kevin Jeffries

Are Annexations Coming Back?
The recent June 23rd Riverside Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) had an agenda item (5.b) that appears to have opened a new round of city Sphere of Influence (SOI) and/or annexation discussions that had been dormant during the dark days of COVID lock downs.

LAFCO was tasked to review all 28 cities and their municipal service abilities, as well as some of the “islands” that were left behind during previous annexations. LAFCO staff was actually restrained (read: cautious) in most of its SOI views or recommendations and strongly encouraged advance discussions and agreements between cities, unincorporated communities, and the county.

The one exception involves the unincorporated community of Winchester and the nearby city of Menifee. Menifee’s strong desire to expand easterly towards Hwy 79 appears to be setting the stage for some intense discussions. The public hearing for all items with agenda item 5.b was continued to July 28th (meeting starts at 8:30 a.m.).  

State Fire Takes Hit
Cal Fire is our longtime county partner and fire protection contractor. That is to say that your county and numerous fellow cities contract with Cal Fire to provide emergency fire services. Cal Fire is a very big state-wide organization and unmatched in many areas. Recently, however, the department has taken some hits. One from Hollywood types who have cast the department in a mixed light with a “TV show” on CBS titled “Fire Country” that has reportedly pretty much offended just about everyone who has ever worked for the real Cal Fire.

The show has been so unfair to the real professionals that the director of Cal Fire felt compelled to issue a statement pushing back at Hollywood’s portrayal of the department. “This television series is a misrepresentation of the professional all-hazards fire department and resource protection agency that Cal Fire is. The dramatization of inmate firefighters fighting members of Cal Fire is a poor reflection of the value of our Camps Program and the incredible work and leadership of our fire captains….” 

The second hit is not about the men and women who fight the fires but about the internal bureaucracy that is charged with, and funded to conduct, large-scale wildland fuel thinning, clearing, etc., across the state. In this case, the non-Hollywood real-life findings point to some pretty big failures in getting the job done.

Now let’s face it – any organization that wants to lay a hand on a single weed or dead tree in any forest is going to find him or herself being sued in California, facing hostile judges, years of proceedings, and likely large settlement requirements (read big payouts to opposing attorneys).

However, this is possibly the one area where the real organization needs to get its act together and figure out how to work around all those who either simply want easy payouts or bureaucrats who put the process ahead of lives and homes. For more information, click here.

Fireworks Get Expensive!
It was just a few short years ago that Riverside County had so many wildland fires going simultaneously on the 4th of July that we actually ran out of fire engines to respond for a brief period of time. Law enforcement was conducting rapid evacuations until enough fire apparatus could arrive to get all the blazes under control.

That one night set in motion an organized countywide enforcement effort to catch, shutdown, confiscate, and fine violators. That effort is being beefed up even more for this 4th.

To help our firefighters and keep animals from running away, simply go enjoy a professional fireworks show. Residents can report illegal fireworks by downloading the Riverside County Sheriff’s app or website or calling their non-emergency toll-free number at 800-950-2444. To find a professional show near you, visit www.rvcfire.org.

Shutting Down Road Improvements
Last month, I briefly reported on three bills (AB 1778, 2237, and 2438) introduced in the California State Assembly that could severely limit or restrict local cities and counties from making big improvements to local highways and freeways. Unfortunately (but with only the bare minimum votes needed) all three bills made it out of the assembly and will now be heard in the State Senate. 

With over 30 percent of our workforce commuting out of the county every day and our freeways already at capacity, it was surprising to learn that two of our very own local assemblymembers voted to support the bills and chip away at local control and potentially limit needed road improvements in our county.

Perhaps they just forgot that we are mandated by state policies to add 167,351 more homes/dwelling units to our unincorporated communities and local cities? Or perhaps they just forgot that local residents have twice approved continuing with a slightly higher sales tax in our county to keep funding road projects.

We have a lot of (ugly) growth-related challenges in our county. But tying our hands and transferring control to Sacramento is certainly not the answer. Thank you to the bipartisan group of other state assemblymembers who did NOT vote to move those bills forward. 

The Board Maps will be Changing Soon
If you reside within a city, the changes won’t impact you as much (until you need help with a county-wide service), but changes are coming. In brief, they are: On January 1 the following moves from the 1st District to the 2nd District (Supervisor Karen Spiegel): Temescal Valley, Woodcrest, Lake Mathews, Lake Hills, Lake Elsinore, Warm Springs, and Canyon Lake.

Also, on January 1, 2023, all of the city of Riverside, the city of Perris, and the community of Highgrove will be added to the new First District boundaries. More to follow as we get closer.

I have not seen it yet, but the ACLU and a handful of others have decided to sue the county over those new district maps. The county retained some very specialized and experienced individuals to help the county draw up map options while adhering to very strict federal and state redistricting regulations.

My prediction – I will be retired from the board of supervisors (January 2025), long before this gets settled in the courts (and appeals). The attorneys always win, no matter the outcome.

Turpin Report Update
The long-awaited report on the county’s handling of the Turpin children is finally going to be released and discussed at the board of supervisors meeting on July 12.

The Bad News: the courts have ordered it redacted/censored to the point of uselessness to the general public. The Good News: county leaders are finally allowed to read the unredacted document and will be able to make changes (or continue changes) to improve our bureaucratic systems moving forward.

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