Mayor’s Monthly Message – October 2021

Published: 09/30/21

Mayor’s Monthly Message – October 2021

Two months ago, I shared an editorial about our systematic approach to addressing homelessness and the actions taken by my office in partnership with our regional stakeholders.

Now, I would like to provide a brief update on where some of the items previously mentioned stand to date.

Last December, Supervisor Karen Spiegel convened the District 2 Homeless Solutions Collaborative focused on the Santa Ana River Bottom. Since then, my team and I have become extensively involved with these efforts and others to establish four goals: rehouse existing encampment residents, remove and mitigate physical encampments, conduct clean-up and habitat restoration, and establish effective tools to prevent the recurrence of encampments. Previously, I stated that we expect to see results of this regional collaboration as early as fall of this year. That expectation came to fruition beginning last month when the City of Riverside homeless outreach team, County of Riverside Behavioral Health, Path of Life Ministries, and others focused efforts on encouraging individuals to vacate the river bottom and receive services available by the County of Riverside. This is a proactive measure to vacate a portion of the River that is now under construction.

Following this outreach, the Riverside County Park Rangers cleared debris and vegetation to aide SoCal Gas in providing an accessible site for their project of undergrounding the vital natural gas line that currently stretches the southern end of the Santa Ana River in our County. This undergrounding will occur from September 2021 to February. The work for this specific project will occur approximately between the Acorn Street and Van Buren Boulevard sections of the Santa Ana River.

Furthermore, an emergency City Council meeting dedicated to the discussion and establishment of a plan of action for addressing the criminal and mental health-related challenges intertwined with homelessness convened on September 30th. There, we discussed needed changes to our municipal code ordinances and reviewed the state laws that restrict local enforcement. We heard testimony from RPD, the Sheriff’s Department, and Homeless Outreach Team on what works—and what does not, and explored ways to make improvements within existing structures by establishing a regional five-year plan

Know that I walk the same streets as you, I patronize our local stores and businesses, and I share in the frustration that many have regarding the time it has taken just to get to this point. I am hopeful and proud of the innovative action we are taking to meet this challenge within the constraints of state legislation, voter-approved measures, and rulings by both the Circuit and Supreme Courts.

The September 30th workshop was recorded and is posted on the City’s website at riversideca.gov/meeting. I urge interested in knowing more on about these plans to please review this meeting video.