GNA Meeting notes for 2/2/12

Update from Mike Gardner

The new Jurupa Grand Shopping Center owners are working with Riverside’s economic development team. There is a possibility that the space left empty by El Rancho Sol market could be filled by Mommie Helen’s Bakery, a very popular pie-making company currently in Colton. This space could work as a place for baking and shipping pies, with possible small restaurant space.

Owners have also been in talks with 99 cent store, but we don’t know if it will be one of the lower end 99 cent stores or better ones.

Comment: We don’t need a 99 cent store. There is already one close by and attracts wrong element. Our residents won’t be likely to shop there.

Q: Did the new owners by the lot behind the center? A: No, they did not. It is not cheap to purchase that land.

Q: What happened to the dog groomer? A: She seems to have packed up and left.

Q: How can we encourage the new owners to choose the bakery over the 99 cent store. A: A subgroup of the GNA is meeting with the new owners in a couple of weeks and we will share with them our lack of enthusiasm for that option.

Q: Can we write to the owners of Mommie Helen’s to let them know that we are very supportive of their possible relocation to the center? A: Yes, that would be a great idea. [Please send all letters of support to]

Q: How will they ship the pies? A: Probably using Jurupa to Van Buren, a good artery for connecting to major freeways.

Q: How possible is it to get speed bumps on Grand? A: Not likely given all of the steps that would need to go through to get approved. Need for Grand to allow for smooth flow of traffic.

Q: Why is the speed limit on Grand higher than it is on Brockton, which is a bigger and more utilized street with 4 lanes? A: The calculations for speed limits are not necessarily straightforward. Has to do with many factors.

Q: Would it be possible to put a stop sign at Carlingford and Grand? A: Can look into it but residents at Carlingford may not be pleased with that decision due to traffic, exhaust and noise.

Q: Will Grand ever widen to 4 lanes? A: No, master plan for Grand is 2 lanes.

Mike discussed the convention center remodel. Architect drawings are finally looking good and council will vote on the plans. Folks may not be entirely thrilled with design of new center, but it was created with the intention of making the center stand out. He also discussed the main library and whether it will be remodeled or demolished/rebuilt. Loss of redevelopment money has made demo/rebuild very difficult. Going to look at costs of each option when have clearer plan for rebuild.

Q: How much would it cost to knock down and rebuild? A: It could be as much as 40 million dollars due to amount of square feet needed.

Update from Riverside Police Department, Nancy Castillo

[POP Officers were unable to attend due to having worked on the “Recycle Scavengers Enforcement Effort earlier the same day]

Nancy talked about the success of the dumpster diving effort earlier in the day. As indicated in the RPD press release:

At approximately 0600 hours, members of the North Neighborhood Policing Center, initiated a targeted enforcement effort to combat the trend of various subjects removing recyclables from curbside trash containers. This activity affects the quality of life across the city. Not only are there pedestrian violators, but also individuals who operate this enterprise from their personal vehicles.

As a result of this effort, thirteen (13) citations for 6.04.475 RMC (Riverside Municipal Code) were issued. Additionally, one (1) violator was cited for being an unlicensed driver (12500 CVC) and his vehicle was impounded.  

The Riverside Police Department is committed to addressing quality of life issues throughout the city. This effort will be ongoing and residents are encouraged to notify the department when they observe violators. To do so, please call (951) 787-7911.

She also pointed out that crime in the city is actually down from previous year but communications about burglaries, thefts, etc. between residents have increased, creating the impression that it is on the rise. These communications should continue and residents should be sure to call the non-emergency number (951.787.7911) when they see something suspicious.

She also announced the 9th annual senior conference on Wednesday, March 28 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Janet Goeske center. Should be a great event!

Presentation on Historic Street Light Replacement by Steve Badgett, Deputy General Manager for Riverside Public Utilities

The City is undertaking a major project to replace obsolete and historic street lights. This project has some urgency as the #2 phone call that RPU receives (besides questions about bills) is to report non-functioning lights.

The lights in question are 100 years old and therefore have historical significance. They help to define the character of our neighborhoods. However, the wires have burned up underground. They are breaking and falling down. RPU has worked with a historical preservation officer to replicate what currently exists. After numerous designs and attempts, they have a street light that successfully meets all historical goals and city needs. There is one currently in place near White Park, close to the sex shop.

13,000 lights will be replaced in all, with 290 of those in the Grand neighborhood. The project is expensive, between 8 and 12 million dollars, and construction should begin in July or August. The Wood Streets are has the most lights, so the project will begin there. (Their lights are also the oldest.)

Mike Gardner commented that there are only a few of the older lights in our area because most of the homes and streets were constructed later during the late 50s and 60s.

Comments: numerous concerns were expressed about the use of LED lights in the new street lights and the amount of glare that they create. (They are similar to the lights currently at Evergreen Cemetery.) Some residents felt that these lights make it harder to see at night when driving and cast a very harsh and unattractive glow. Steve Badgett said that this is the challenge that they face: they are taking that into account but have to meet the needs of the city with respect to lighting and safety issues. He also assured that the lights will not project brightness onto the homes, but rather onto the streets.

Please e-mail for full Powerpoint presentation presentation on historic street light replacemetn.

Presentation on the initiative for a community garden at Tequesquite Park by Justin Scott Coe and Pat Silvestri of the Wood Streets Green Team (when writing these notes, I accidentally put Wood Streets Dream Team, but I think it fits!)

Justin discussed a number of great things that are happening and that have recently happened in Riverside to improve sustainability throughout the City. Last night there was the Green Riverside Summit which was a huge success. It brought together over 100 people to discuss these issues. Also, the City Council will soon be voting on changes to the charter to improve sustainability. (Read more here:

WSGT worked on a community garden at RCC which has been very successful and now they are looking to create one at Tequesquite Park.

Pat Silvestri talked about the history of community garden initiatives linked to the WSGT. (See end of notes for greater detail.) In the last two years they have focused on building community gardens locally. Want the gardens to both be productive and bring people within a community together. They recognizes that gardening can be challenging and require a good deal of work, but they are committed to making it successful.

It has been hard to find properties for the gardens. They need to be long-term spaces, best if public lands. They work with the City’s Parks Department and Ralph Nunez. The City approved their having an acre of land at Tequesquite Park, which is nearest to the bike path and on the far side of Tequesquite Park alongside a native garden. Pat showed two maps to indicate the location of the garden and scale. Maps and details can be viewed here:

The garden is very much in its planning stages and Pat and Justin strongly encourage anyone interested in the garden to attend the planning meetings which take place on the first Wednesdays of each month at the RCC alumni house. The upcoming meeting is on February 8 at 7:00 p.m. They would very much like participation from members of the Grand Neighborhood Alliance.

Q: Has the soil salinity been tested? A: Yes, chemist at UCR tested and says the soil is very good with good drainage.

Q: Will it be drip irrigated? A: Yes. Some hose irrigation in the very beginning just to get things established. It is a little over an acre of land with low water needs.

Mike Gardner comment: construction the park has begun! City is very supportive of this community garden effort.

Q: Who pays for the water? A: Still working that detail and others out.

Q: Was this part of the original park plan and EIR? A MG: No, it was not and the original plan has not been amended, however, the city is generally supportive of it.

Q: Who will pay for the construction of the garden? A JSC: So far WSGT has raised an impressive $2,000 dollars through garden tours. Will continue fund raising efforts.

Q: Concerns about impact of garden and its use. Will it be studied? A: Yes, this is intended to be a very public process.

Q: Was there a public notice about community garden? A: No.

Q: Numerous comments and concerns about how the garden will be protected by wildlife and humans. Even if there is a fence, creatures of all kinds can scale it. Concerns that will attract increased wildlife and transience. Concerns about drainage of fertilizer and other issues. A: Everyone with concerns should attend the planning meetings. These comments are welcome and this is just the beginning of the conversation about the garden.

Open period for final questions/comment

One resident expressed safety concerns about the narrow part of Old Ranch Road. When cars are parked on both sides of street, it is very dangerous. Mike Gardner said that he would follow up on this.

Another resident said that trash pick-up trucks squeeze the bins so tightly that they break and this will end up costing the city a lot of money. Mike said he would also follow up on this.


Additional background notes on Tequesquite Community Garden:


The following is a review of the background and activities related to our Community Garden Initiative which includes our work to have a garden in the future Tequesquite Park.

“The Wood Streets Green Team began to discuss the development of community gardens in the Wood Streets area in August of 2010.  At that time, about thirty members of the Green Team met to identify the features that they would like to see in a community garden and the sites that might be appropriate for them.  Several working groups were established at that time to follow up with specific tasks that the group wanted to accomplish.  The group to locate possible sites was the primary focus in the fall of 2010.  After several meetings, the group identifed several sites that could be used for a community garden.  Private land adjacent to the Tequesquite Park site was identified as one possible site, RCC Riverside Campus, land owned by the Riverside Medical Society and a parcel on the campus of Magnolia Elementary School were also identified at that time. During the winter of 2010 and the spring of 2011, meetings were held with representatives of each potential site.

By the end of 2010, the only site that appeared to be realistically available at the time was a plot on the campus of RCC Riverside. A work group to design and plan for that garden was organized at the beginning of 2011 including faculty and students at RCC . After several meetings, a rough plan was developed but in the spring of 2011, RCC changed the location of the community garden and the plans had to begin again anew. Ground will be broken for this garden in the next month or so.  The site is behind the new Math and Science building which will be open in February.

During the summer of 2011, Councilman Rusty Bailey arranged for us to meet with the Director of the Parks Dept, Ralph Nunez, to look at some land that the Parks Dept considered potential sites for the community garden.  About one acre in the northwest corner of the proposed Tequesquite Park was suggested as a possible site.  The Green team began meeting in October of 2011 to begin planning for a garden at this site.  Several meetings have been held since  October and it is expected that the planning will continue throughout the year of 2012.  Access to the land is expected to be early in 2013. Construction of the park is scheduled to begin in January of 2012 and to continue for 12 months.”

This is a brief background and update of our activities related to the garden at  Tequesquite Park.  I know it is too long so please feel free to delete anything that you think is not needed.  Please let us know if you have any questions about this information.

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