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This Week in City Hall: June 6, 2023

Council set to finalize updates to Flag Policy, restart RTRP, and formally oppose proposed state assembly bills for public safety.

City Council will meet in closed and open sessions Tuesday, June 6. Here are highlights from the agenda.

Power battles

After a break since January, the Riverside Transmission Reliability Project (RTRP) is back on the agenda. RTRP is a strongly debated project because it seeks to address Riverside’s reliance on a single connection to the power grid with a plan to install approximately 10 miles of high-voltage transmission line along the Santa Ana River.

A Brief Background

In May 2022 Council voted to pause the project and work with an outside consultant to study alternatives. That November, Council voted to move forward with the project as it was originally approved in 2020 by the California Public Utilities Commission. In January of this year, Council again paused the project to form a working group of federal, state, and local leaders to identify and secure funding sources for further undergrounding of RTRP.

That working group met five times with participation from Congressmen Calvert and Takano, Assemblymembers Cervantes, Essayli, Seyarto, Senator Roth, Councilmembers Conder and Hemenway, City staff, and representatives from Norco’s city council and staff.

What’s Happening Tonight

At tonight’s meeting, Councilmember Placenscia is recommending the “immediate discontinuation of the RTRP Working Group” to move forward on the project as planned without undergrounding the transmission lines.

Flag Policy

Since January, Council has engaged in an active discussion around updating the City’s flag policy. The Flag Policy has a two-step process for considering commemorative flags.

First, on May 2, the Council approved specific flags and their display schedule. The second step requires a separate meeting to approve the display of those flags; that vote will be taken tonight.

State Bill Opposition

City Staff is also asking Council to adopt a resolution opposing Assembly Bill 93 and Assembly Bill 742.

AB 93 prohibits law enforcement from conducting a warrantless search based solely on a person’s consent. The City’s report claims “prohibiting or restricting the use of consensual searches eliminates an individual’s right to cooperate with an investigation” and “the inability to conduct consensual searches would prevent law enforcement from timely resolving active shooter or reports of on campus crime.

AB 742 prohibits using an “unleashed police canine by law enforcement to apprehend or to arrest a person, or to be used for crowd control purposes.” “An arbitrary ban on the use of canines may not increase public safety,” the City’s report claims, “would leave officers with limited options for [crime] prevention or intervention.”