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This week at City Hall: Feb. 15

A $3.1 million Urban Area Security Initiative grant seeks approval in the City Council, municipal code changes are considered concerning the sale of cannabis, and PSET may see expansion.

A photo of the entrance to Riverside City Hall.
City Hall in Downtown Riverside

City Council Meeting

Item 9: Approving $1.8 million contract for traffic signal and road improvements

On Tuesday, the council will look to approve a $1.8 million contract with Elecnor Belco Electric Inc., out of Chino, to implement signal timing plans, high friction surface treatment, and crosswalk signal improvements. The signal timing project would focus on Downtown Riverside, with high friction surface treatment set to occur at five different sites across the city.

The city will also accept an additional $522,580 of grant funds from the High Safety Improvement Program. If accepted, the funds will go toward high friction surface treatment and HAWK signals, the high-intensity activated crosswalk beacons used to stop road traffic and allow pedestrians to cross safely.

Item 23: Approving $84,000 contract for new city council voting system

City Council will consider accepting an $84,881 bid to replace the its chambers’ voting system hardware. According to the city’s document, the current system, which was installed in 2003, had several key components fail near the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the issues include malfunction of the touch panel and the request-to-speak operations at the mayor’s station.

Item 24: Approve the appointment of three assistant city managers

City Council will consider approving the appointment of three assistant city managers to serve as city manager pro tempore during absences or disabilities of the city manager. Those under consideration are Lea Deesing, Rafael Guzman, and Kris Martinez.

Item 32: Accepting $3.1 million grant from Urban Area Security Initiative

The council will look to authorize a grant application and accept $3.1 million in grant funds from the Department of Homeland Security’s 2021 Urban Area Security Initiative. If accepted, the funds will go toward purchasing equipment for homeland security enhancement projects.

Item 38: Consideration of ballot measure to clarify mayors veto power

The council will consider a potential ballot initiative for the Nov. 8 election. The indicative would “include within the mayor’s veto power the power to veto all formal actions taken by the city council, except an ordinance proposed by initiative petition; the mayor’s veto authority shall include but not be limited to a veto over any emergency ordinance, the annual budget and any action taken to appoint, adjust compensation, suspend or remove any officer or employee appointed by the City Council.”

Item 38a: Approving 4th of July firework plans

Continuing their session from Feb. 8, City Council will look to approve a Fourth of July firework show contract with Pyro Spectacular of Rialto. The contract, which cost the city $225,675, is set for the next three years. Location of the firework show proposed sites are La Sierra Park and Ryan Bonaminio Park.

Economic Development, Placemaking, and Branding/Marketing Committee

Item 2: Proposed retail/residential project in downtown

On Thursday, the committee will consider a development proposal for a mixed-use retail/residential project and associated parking on two lots currently owned by the city. The lots are two public parking garages owned by the city on Orange Street between Mission Inn Avenue and Ninth Street in Downtown. The proposal says one site will have 59 living spaces, including 23 studio units and 24 one-bedroom units. The other site will keep 170 parking stalls, with both sites expected to have around 3,900 to 9,000 square feet of retail space in total.

Item 3: Review of municipal code related to cannabis retail uses and more

The committee will review and provide direction on proposed amendments to the city’s municipal code pertaining to cannabis retail uses, microbusinesses, distribution, and a future ballot measure establishing a sales tax for cannabis sales.

The review comes after Councilmember Ronaldo Fierro brought light to the issue in November 2021. In 2016 54% of Riverside residents voted to legalize recreational use via Proposition 64. Despite a majority of support from Riverside residents, the city banned all commercial selling and cultivation of marijuana in 2018.

The committee will look at several issues, including changes to business taxes, licenses, regulations, and zoning. As it pertains to taxation, the committee will review several options pertaining to cannabis taxes, including adding a proposal for a cannabis general tax to the November 2024 general election.

Safety, Wellness, and Youth Committee

Item 3: Expansion of Public Safety Engagement Team (PSET)

On Wednesday, the committee will discuss a proposal to expand the PSET program, which currently is tasked with monitoring concerns related to the ongoing challenge of unhoused residents and the impact it creates on the quality of life in Riverside.

If approved, the proposal would add five code enforcement officers, six outreach workers, and four police officers to the program. Additional funding would be supported by Measure Z, with city costs estimated at $1.3 million.

Charter Review Committee

Item 5: Proposed ballot initiative: Riverside Inspector General

On Wednesday, the committee will consider placing an initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot that would allow residents to decide whether the city should add an elected office of inspector general.

On Jan. 18, the draft of the ballot measure read, “Shall the City Charter be amended to elect an Inspector General and provide the Inspector General the authority to hire staff and contractors to independently investigate matters of fraud, waste, and abuse by city employees, elected and appointed officials, contractors, and consultants? The Office of the Inspector General office will have full subpoena power to conduct investigations and be sufficiently funded annually. The Inspector-General will publish their findings and recommendations on an annual basis.”