State of the City 2023
THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 2023
5:30 PM | RIVERSIDE CONVENTION CENTER
The State of the City Address is scheduled for Thursday, January 26, 2023 at the Riverside Convention Center. The Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson’s Office are excited for the return of this in-person event. The address will also be streamed virtually on Riverside TV and social media, giving more local residents and businesses the opportunity to tune in January 26.
The address combines a review of the prior year’s accomplishments with an outline of major issues facing the city in the coming year. Mayor Lock Dawson will also present the inaugural honoree of the new Innovation Award, which is given to a group or individual who epitomizes the spirit that helps make Riverside the City of Arts and Innovation.
*Please note, the program will be conducted in English.
January 26, 2023 | State of the City Script
Good evening, Riverside! Thank you for joining me at this year’s State of the City Address! Finally live! And in person! We’re back baby!
To our City Councilmembers: Erin Edwards, Clarissa Cervantes, Ronaldo Fierro, Chuck Conder, Gaby Plascencia, Jim Perry and Steve Hemenway. Thank you for your commitment and service to Riverside.
And a heartfelt thank you to the best Chamber in California! Thank you to the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce for hosting this event each year and in particular, President & CEO Nick Adcock.
A welcome aboard and thank you to our new City Manager Mike Futrell who joined us a few weeks ago. Thank you for choosing Riverside, Mike. I am looking forward to what we can do, working together for Riverside.
And most important, I’d like to thank each of you— residents, businesses, educational institutions, non-profit organizations, and our community partners—thank you! Thank you, for allowing me the honor and privilege of serving my hometown as the 18th Mayor of Riverside.
The last state of the city looked a little different than what I’d hoped.
And no doubt, we’ve faced challenges, but I am happy and confident to stand here tonight and say the State of our City is spectacular. We are positioned for investment, opportunity, and prosperity.
Riversiders. We are resilient. ready for action. and committed to designing a better tomorrow. Our theme, Riverside by Design, draws on the basic definition of design which all of you can see on the screen: “to create, fashion, execute, or construct according to plan.”
Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to design a Riverside that works for ALL OF US. Plans and designs require timelines, so I thought it best to tell you the story of our work, through a timeline. Let’s kick things off with some important dates and milestones.
December 2020 Well, we all remember 2020. I was fortunate enough to inherit an exceptionally easy first year as mayor. Yeah…not so much.
But that never slowed us down.
In July 2021: We launched the Mayor’s Big Tent Tour in La Sierra to engage residents in places most comfortable and convenient for them. These 14 listening sessions in our major neighborhoods were designed to empower residents to identify what is working in the city – and what isn’t.
In October 2021: We launched the Mayor’s Bipartisan Forum. The Forum comprises 14 community members with very different political ideologies but they’ve come together to tackle intractable problems. The Forum was instrumental in supporting legislation to modernize the state’s approaches to mental healthcare.
In January 2022: We received $4.4 Million dollars to launch our youth job corps program
In January 2022: We received $4.4 Million dollars to launch our youth job corps program
In May 2022: We raised $200,000 in private donations to redesign our Military Wall of Honor and Veterans Plaza. Thank you all for your support. And thank you to all who serve in our military.
And in June of 2022 who can forget we opened the CHEECH!
Later in June 2022: We secured historic levels of state funding for projects in our city. This major win for all Riversiders included funding for:
- • The historic Trujillo Adobe
- • Cesar Chavez Community Center
- • California Citrus State Historic Park
- • UC Riverside Campus improvements, and
- • California School for the Deaf, Riverside sports complex
In August 2022: Our office launched the Campus Riverside initiative to bring a greater awareness of local job opportunities and professional networks to our college students and graduates.
Later in August 2022: I launched an initiative called Beautify Riverside to lead community service projects and install public art—and all privately funded. We are proud of the nine community cleanups and twelve murals produced by Beautify Riverside.
In September 2022: I joined my fellow Big City Mayors and the Governor in San Jose for the historic signing of CARE Court. Which ushered in a new tool to treat severe mental illness. This is the first significant change in our State’s mental health laws since 1967.
In October 2022, we welcomed the Mission Heritage Plaza, which boasts affordable housing, with allocated housing for veterans, and the Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California.
In November 2022: Riverside became the first city to partner with DoorDash to launch Project Dash, delivering food to people who are experiencing food insecurity. Since Project Dash’s launch, our partner food pantries have provided 7,000 meals to people in need.
In December 2022: The Mark had its grand opening in downtown at the historic corner of Market Street and Mission Inn Avenue.
Riverside continues to rise as the 12th largest city in California and the number one destination in the country for new residents in the last two years. That’s not the only recognition we’ve earned:
- Riverside is the #1 city in North America with the Greenest Fleet of city vehicles.
- Fourth in the nation for using technology to improve delivery of city services.
- We are in the top 5% of safest metropolitan areas in the country!
- And we’ve installed more public art across our city this year than ever before.
Now we’ve done a lot over the past two years, and I am extremely proud of all that work. My office and our city staff have been diligent and attentive to the needs of all Riversiders.
And we are determined to deliver results, alongside my colleagues on city council. While we continue to confront the challenges of this year, we should always be thinking – and designing – for tomorrow.
And so, we must focus on the priorities that are the cornerstone of every successful city:
Economic Development, Community Well-being, Education, Finances, and People.
Let me start off with one of the highest priorities of my office and the city—economic development.
You’ll see a wonky definition of economic development on the screen but let me cut to the chase, the key word is intentional--we must be intentional in our actions to attract, grow, and keep business in Riverside and we are doing just that.
By having a stronger voice in regional and national issues. My recent appointment as Vice Chair of the Community and Economic Development Committee at the National League of Cities will give us access at the federal level to bring much needed dollars to Riverside, as well as my appointment to the Southern California Association of Governments Community, Economic and Human Development Committee which positions Riverside at the table for regional resources.
We’ve also launched our “Coffee Chats with the Mayor” series focuses on the needs of our small business community. We will be at local coffee shops in each of our 7 wards where we will have an opportunity to listen, learn and share what is and is not working for businesses in the city.
And-good news for our business community
We are also ramping up with key hires— from a new City Manager Mike Futrell, new Community and Economic Development Director Jennifer Lilley to a new Economic Development Manager Jorge Barrera, and other important hires.
We continue to welcome new businesses. In this last year alone, we issued nearly 23,000 business licenses. Even with these successes we know we must continue to make Riverside an easier place to invest and do business.
This year the city will embark on a Comprehensive General Plan Update, which happens only once every 25 years. This will be the City’s strategic, long-range plan to guide growth to the year 2050. Most important, this will be your chance to weigh in on how we design Riverside’s future.
Of course, we aren’t the city of arts and innovation for nothing. Innovative entrepreneurs are choosing Riverside like:
- Starnav, a company focused on radio positioning technology,
- Photio, a one of kind paint additive that mimics photosynthesis,
- Deepbits, a different type of cybersecurity software,
- LV5A, a self-driving smart city hardware in the innovation district,
- And finally, The Tech STEAM Innovation Center, They all chose Riverside!
Community well-being in any city requires investments in public safety. I cannot stress this enough. Ensuring, our residents, businesses, and families are safe is my highest priority, which is why the city continues to fully support, fund and invest in our Riverside Police Department. Recent tragic events in Riverside County have served as bitter reminders of how our sense of security can be shattered in an instant. I thank our Police and Fire departments, as well as all first responders, for the sacrifices they make each day to keep us healthy and safe.
Now another foundational element to every successful city is robust infrastructure.
During my tenure as mayor, we’ve allocated more dollars for infrastructure projects than in the last 15 years. In 2022, nearly 25 miles of roads were repaved, nearly 160,000 square feet of new sidewalks installed, 127,000 square feet of potholes repaired, over 18,000 street trees trimmed with a doubling of our monetary investment in tree maintenance. And Riverside Public Utilities led a citywide street light replacement program that upgraded all overhead streetlights to LED illumination.
As for 2023, well, we are not slowing down! Major sewer replacement projects are taking place in the western and central portions of our city, along with a slew of road repaving projects. A few of the arterial roads being repaved are Martin Luther King, Van Buren, California, Jurupa, Olivewood, and La Sierra along with numerous collector roads in residential areas.
And let me stop here and say that it is not lost on me that all this great work would not be possible without the approval of Measure Z. Thank you to Riverside voters for saying yes to investing in our quality of life.
Beyond traditional infrastructure, we are making Riverside a modern, digital city of the 21st century. A $300 million private investment from the company SiFi will deploy nine-million feet, or almost 2,000 miles, of high-speed fiber internet citywide. This will bring broadband to every doorstep in our city—bridging the digital divide, dramatically increasing internet speeds in neighborhoods and for businesses. Just another way we are designing a city of arts and innovation!
Shifting to education. We are fortunate to have great educational institutions in our city.
Designing a sustainable future means Riverside must foster an environment that builds – and continues – close partnerships with our universities and invests in the long-term development of our students.
We can already see returns on the investments from each of our four higher-ed institutions. All of them are elevating the impressive workforce pipeline here in Riverside. By offering quality trade programs, providing vital business resources, tapping into our agricultural heritage with startup incubators, and innovating with renowned research operations. Our college institutions are preparing students for real-world experiences by providing employers with endless talent.
RCC, for instance, is making strides with their automotive trade program. Students work with potential employers such as Ford and Land Rover to learn automotive trade skills.
At CBU, the Jabs School of Business successfully launched the Family Business Center in partnership with the Office of Economic Development. Small businesses are the lifeblood of any city – but especially ours where we have a huge amount of family owned businesses.
La Sierra University is supporting student entrepreneurship through their partnership with Enactus, an international non-profit organization that empowers young entrepreneurs.
And over at UCR, the School of Medicine is adding another building – on an already expanding campus – expected to be completed this summer. This new facility will house classrooms and lecture halls to support the academic research essential for maintaining a healthy economy and robust public health system.
Tying all of this together:
Our Campus Riverside initiative enables students to be competent workers and experts in their fields. Campus Riverside provides a one-stop-shop for all things needed to incentivize recent and upcoming graduates to stay local by planting roots in the city where they received their education.
None of this would be possible if our city was not financially stable.
Stable finances are a critical component to running a city and with the unpredictability of the past few years, it’s been a challenging journey, but with the fiscal resolve of our city and of course the wise decision made by our residents in approving Measure Z, I am happy to say we are in a healthy financial position!
General sales tax revenues have increased by over 30% since 2019, exceeding revised estimates made earlier this year. Sales tax revenues for Measure Z funding have also increased by nearly 34% since 2019.
And for the first time, the City has funded a $20 million infrastructure reserve account to address unfunded critical infrastructure needs throughout the City.
But what does all this mean? Well, the city was operating in a reactive state due to strained financial resources.
But now, the city is operating in a proactive fashion, a pragmatic approach that allows us to live within our means while maintaining city services and proactively plan and design for the future of Riverside.
Pivoting to a different, but equally important source of capital— social capital, our people.
We often say we are a big city with a small town feel and that is due to our community.
We are a diverse city of faith-based organizations, businesses, non-profits and government. We are a city of families, college students, and retirees. We are a city of natives and transplants.
And yet, we still manage to get along and make great things happen.
Riverside has often been on its own, not receiving the recognition and resource commensurate with our size and significance. Because of that we’ve become incredibly self-sufficient and effective in our ability to solve our own problems.
When we have a problem here, we roll up our sleeves, enlist others in the community to help, figure out what needs to be done and we do it!
Organizations like the Latino Network, NAACP, Love Riverside, Sandals Church, the Raincross Group, the Riverside Arts Academy, Rivers and Lands Conservancy and many more work together, sharing priorities and resources.
Here’s a good example. In last year’s address I proposed a Civil Rights Walk to link the six memorials along the Main Street Pedestrian Mall that tell local and international stories of struggle and perseverance—the first of its kind. Each one of those statues started with a community group that worked together to raise funds and realize a vision.
A landmark Civil Rights Walk is now closer than ever to becoming a reality. The Riverside County Transportation Commission has recommended $2.6 million in grant funding to better connect these statues—and numerous other cultural sites—with a linked 1.8-mile pathway and unifying signage, to better tell our story and draw visitors to other experiences in our downtown, such as The Cheech, the Mission Inn, and the Civil Rights Institute—all part of the rich cultural experiences we offer the world.
And our people are making all of this happen—truly, the most valuable asset we have.
We cherish that small town feel even though we are larger than 99% of cities in the United States. We have a healthy business community, a growing college-aged population, and exciting new developments. But I didn’t run to be the Mayor of Riverside to just be good, I ran because I believed Riverside should expect excellence.
My good friend, Rose Mayes, recently reminded me that Riverside is doing good, but it is time for Riverside to be great.
So, let’s propel Riverside to greatness.
We no longer are just a “city close to everything.” We are the city with everything! Where everyone has what they need to be happy, to be safe, to do business, be financially secure, and to be hopeful about the future. But what does it take to go from good to great?
Well, like all things in life, it won’t be easy, but it is worth doing. Because Riverside is ready. It takes— disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action.
Let me start with, Disciplined People:
I call on our next level of leaders to step up and begin their service to Riverside by joining a board or commission. We need you to participate!
There is hard work ahead, but I believe in this City—this Riverside we all call home, and I know we are up to the challenge.
And while we are well on our way to building a team of disciplined people, we must deploy disciplined thought in our approach.
We do this by confronting the brutal facts. In our Quality-of-Life Survey, 88% of respondents called homelessness the number one challenge facing the city. I heard it throughout our big tent tour, I hear it from business community, I hear it from our residents. Yes, it is a national and statewide crisis that has been decades in the making, We are responsible for what happens here in Riverside.
This issue did not become a crisis overnight. So solutions must also come in increments as we work to correct 40-years of poor policies and social issues. We will continue to balance the need for increased public safety with the need for services. Yes, we all have rights, but we all have responsibilities, too. Our approach must continue to reflect both these realities.
We have a clear strategy to address homelessness based on data. We’ve employed a plan to address all facets of this complicated issue as directed by our residents. Such as in our Parks and Neighborhoods.
City parks are where our residents go to relax; where kids go to play. To ensure they can be enjoyed, we have invested in new parks and neighborhood specialists, who will oversee our 58 parks, spanning nearly 3,000 acres.
Our commitment to public safety has not wavered. In early 2019 we allocated $3 million dollars in Measure Z money to create the Public Safety and Engagement Team, known as PSET. This multi-disciplinary team has been incredibly effective in maintaining safety and cleanliness in our public places while offering services to those who need it. Over this last fiscal year, they have responded to nearly 5,000 locations in our city. This has led to multiple contacts with homeless encampments, resulting in 800 individuals accepting services, over 400 arrests, and incredibly almost 350 TONS of trash removed.
The City now welcomes a new Public Safety Engagement Team dedicated to the protection of our wildland spaces such as the Santa Ana River Bottom, Hole Lake, and Sycamore Canyon.
Fire risk in our wildlands has dramatically increased due to a number of factors including dry conditions and homeless encampments. This is unacceptable. And I reject the notion that it is inhumane to enforce laws to prevent these kinds of encampments. The reality is: it is inhumane to allow people to languish in conditions unfit for any human.
PSET will enforce the laws to protect the lives and safety of not only those who live in these spaces, but also the residents and businesses nearby.
Locally, we created a “Homeless Action Plan”, which identifies specific goals for housing, services, emergency shelter, and regional coordination. And just last week, I heard it was one of the best of the nation. The Homeless Action Plan makes one point clear: we will no longer invest in the status quo.
We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the County to coordinate our efforts in the Santa Ana River bottom and increase security at facilities like County Emergency Treatment Services. And the City Council just approved “Project Connect” to connect those leaving the county jail with services by increasing coordination between the Sheriff and our nonprofit partner Victory Outreach.
Statewide, we were instrumental in the passage of CARE Court which updates our state’s mental health laws. With this piece of legislation, family members and care providers will be empowered to help individuals suffering from acute mental health challenges to finally get the care they need. And Riverside County will be among the first counties in the state to begin implementing CARE Court by the fall of this year.
These actions position us to address homelessness in new and significant ways in the coming year, but we cannot take our foot off the gas. We will do better, because the next generation of Riversiders is depending on us.
Now, the best way to address homelessness is to prevent it in the first place. Did you know foster youth and aged- out foster youth are particularly at risk of experiencing homelessness? More than one in four of the nation's youth and young adults who have no home reside in California, and 78% of those young people are unsheltered with little or no access to the services to make a permanent transition off the streets, out of poverty, and into a stable livelihood.
Since 2018, the number of our youth experiencing homelessness in Riverside has steadily increased. This, too is unacceptable. No young person should have to worry about shelter or sleep on the streets when they should be attending school or becoming a member of our workforce.
Our community is providing more affordable housing, such as the Aspire housing development which is exclusively for housing aged-out foster youth. Our newly launched Youth Job Corps enables us to construct a pipeline to self-sufficiency for disadvantaged youth who need a job and lack the resources to secure one. Youth homelessness is solvable in Riverside, and we will seize this moment to confront this crisis head on.
This is why tonight I am officially launching the Mayor’s Challenge to End Youth Homelessness here in the City of Riverside. Partnering with the County and School Districts, we have a plan to meet our goal of ending Youth Homelessness. Now I know what you are thinking, is this goal achievable?
The short answer is YES! We did it for our homeless veterans. Now we can do it for our youth.
Now let’s talk about the last element—Disciplined Action. We need disciplined action to move the city forward. We need to be proactive and intentional in our approach.
We must be laser-focused on job growth and economic development.
We must make sure everyone understands Riverside is open for business.
We must leverage our existing relationships with companies to maintain and grow a presence here.
We must focus on small businesses. We must attract capital investment and connect start- ups with financing.
WE must encourage investment in our city and market the effort nationally and internationally.
We must ensure our city is beautiful, clean, and welcoming with high quality entertainment and recreational opportunities—these things matter.
Having owned a small business for 20 years, I’ve had my fair share of challenges. I know many of you navigate the pressing challenges of owning a business. But let me be clear, as long as I am your mayor, you have someone fighting to ensure you have the resources to overcome those challenges and succeed in this City. As your Mayor, I’m putting my experience into action.
These three pillars of disciplined people, disciplined thought and disciplined action are what we need to move Riverside forward – together towards greatness.
And I know it may be difficult to imagine how we are going to achieve all of this. But here’s the difference, we’re not just envisioning a future, we are going to DESIGN IT by taking actionable steps to deliver a Better Riverside.
Now, in front of you on your tables is a program, and on the back of that program is a QR code. Scan the QR code. It leads you to a page where you can enter your information to learn how you can take action. Tomorrow, I will send you an email listing the ways you can help determine how our future is designed for Riverside, by Riverside.
But, before we leave tonight, reflect on why we’re here. We are here because we have a common desire to see the city we love continue to be a shining beacon of excellence.
I was born and raised in this city, I met my husband and later had three beautiful children—I never dreamed I would become the Mayor of my hometown, but every day I work towards creating a better Riverside that will be left behind for all our children. And I know many of you share that sentiment. But now, it is within our power to design a city we, and the next generation of Riversiders, can be proud of.
You’ve heard it many times before: Riverside is unique. But that didn’t just happen randomly, it was by design. You see—
We are a city that rejects the partisan politics that divides us and cripples progress. We are a city that values our businesses and furthers the arts.
We are a city that is hopeful about the future but cherishes our past. While we are a Riverside intentionally planned for innovation.
We are also a Riverside thoughtfully steeped in tradition. Because in the end, we are all working toward a common goal. A Riverside DESIGNED for ALL OF US.
WE ARE RIVERSIDE!
WAYS TO WATCH
Patricia Lock Dawson was elected the 18th Mayor of Riverside in November 2020, following nine years of service on the Riverside Unified School District Board of Trustees. Her election makes history as she is the first University of California, Riverside alumnus to hold Riverside’s mayoral position and the second woman elected Mayor in Riverside’s 150-year history. Read more
About the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce
The Chamber is committed to helping local companies grow their business by taking the lead in programs and efforts that help create a strong local economy and make our community a great place to do business. The Chamber provides numerous opportunities for members to increase their contact base and have fun doing it through various meetings, networking events and committees. In addition, the Chamber makes hundreds of referrals to member companies every month.
As the leading advocate for business in the greater Riverside area, the Chamber also works to create and sustain a favorable business environment in which all businesses can grow and prosper. Read more