RIVERSIDE – Supervisor Chuck Washington unveiled a four-cornered plan to improve the quality of life in Riverside County during the board of supervisors’ workshop, Feb. 6.
Based on comparative national, state and neighboring county statistics for health, median family incomes and poverty levels, Washington asked his staff to outline Riverside County’s current ranking and provide the foundation for a vision for the future.
“It is my hope, that while we recognize we face challenges today, if we do not create a solid forward-looking vision, we will always find ourselves in a reactionary mode,” Washington said.
Jeff Comerchero, Riverside County Third District chief of staff, presented the “Lift Up Rivco” vision that identified the four corners of health and safety, education, jobs and housing. The program utilizes available resources and programs already in place while setting goals for improvement. Specific 12-year goals were outlined with suggestions for accomplishing each mission.
Lift Up Rivco health initiatives call for increasing the number of healthy families by reducing obesity, encouraging increased physical activity in schools and community organizations, increasing enrollment in available food programs, promoting farmers’ markets and educating communities on healthy eating options within their communities.
To improve public safety throughout the county, Lift Up Rivco includes promoting modern policing approaches to help create safe communities, deploying the right resources in the right manner at the right time and increasing the awareness of the dangers of preventable infant and toddler deaths due to drowning and abandonment in vehicles.
While 89 percent of the general high school student population in Riverside County graduates compared to 81 percent in the state of California, the Lift Up Rivco vision includes increasing the graduation rate by 5 percent. This increase in high school graduation is in conjunction with increasing the graduation rates from trade schools, community colleges and universities by 5 percent. The latter goal will be aided by an education fair that reaches beyond the traditional college fair and provides information and opportunities on various well-paying trades, technical and certification-required careers that don’t require four-year degrees.
Riverside County’s unemployment rate is at its lowest in decades. However, the current median family income is 10 percent below the neighboring counties. At the same time, the highest sectors of people living in poverty are women ages 18-44. Women with equal education are being paid 20 to 32 percent less than men throughout the county. The Lift Up RivCo vision calls for a 10 percent increase in both the median household income and women’s income by 2030, as well as an increase in the local hiring rate.
Washington’s vision also includes creating a Platinum Employer’s program that recognizes companies for improving their local hire rate and increasing women’s salaries.
With increased income the county should see increased housing opportunities. Housing in Riverside County is already experiencing shortages due to market rate and affordability. To address this need, Washington’s plan calls for assessing current inventory of approved maps not under construction, encouraging alternative and diverse housing, implementing a board-approved streamlined process for housing approvals at all levels and evaluating areas for increased density in the future.
Washington established several outreach programs with community leaders to explore collaborative efforts in the county vision. These include two Mayor’s Summits with the 28 city mayors of the county and the state of the county address in September.
“This vision for the county can guide our budget and policy decisions while simultaneously understanding that each district has its unique personality. I think we can all agree that we will achieve better outcomes by combining our collective strengths,” Washington said.