Minutes from July 10, 2018 Open Board Meeting-County of Riverside CEO, George Johnson

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Open Board of Directors Meeting

Norton Event Center
1601 E. Third St., Suite 138
San Bernardino, CA 92408


Present:   Deborah Barmack, Peter Barmack, Carole Beswick, Rashelle Bussell, Mark Cloud, Sandra Espadas, Adam Eventov, Mark Kaenel, Lowell King, Pam Langford (remote), Bill Lemann, P.T. McEwen, John Mirau, Dan Murphy, Roman Nava, Vikki Ostermann, Keven Porter, Michael Rivera, Daniel Roberts, Elizabeth Romero, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, David VanVoorhis and Ray Wolfe.

Guests: Arnold San Miguel and Todd Warden

Announcements: 1) Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes requests nominations for the 2018-2019 Man of the Year award. To be considered, candidates should be a man that works, volunteers, or live in the 47th District.

M/S/P: Minutes from June 26, 2018

Dan Robert introduced George Johnson, CEO, County of Riverside.

George Johnson has served as Riverside County’s CEO since May 2017.  A civil engineer, he was hired by the County in 1991 and has been director of the Transportation and Land Management Agency and director of the Transportation Department.  Over the last five years he worked as the Chief Assistant Executive Officer before being appointed as CEO by the Board of Supervisors.

During his time with the county he has helped guide the growth of Riverside County from a population of 1 million residents to a population of 2.4 million today.  Future growth in the county is expected to continue adding some 2 million people in the next ten years.

The County still has large number of residents traveling long distances for jobs which has a negative effect on quality of life.  Improving the job base and attracting business is much like the “chicken or the egg” dilemma but both must happen.  Only 21% of Riverside County residents have higher education degrees compared to 38% statewide.  Our region has affordable land and other resources but needs a more educated workforce.  Information from the Brookings Institute may have insight and helpful strategies.

The new UCR School of Medicine will help improve the shortage of physicians in the Inland Empire.  Riverside County currently has a mere 100 Doctors for 100,000 residents compared to the state figure of 170 and a national average of 220 per 100,000.   Studies show that almost ½ of physicians stay where they have completed their residency program so the UCR school is very much needed.

Riverside County has made homelessness a priority and conducted studies that led to a Homeless Action Plan.  There is great amount of compassion from county residents for the homeless situation and the County will reach out to cities that want to participate in the program.  They currently have a MOU with the City of Riverside where the City will provide buildings to house homeless and the County will provide services.  Natalie Komuro, known for her leadership and successful programs providing permanent housing for many homeless individuals and families through its shelter and services in the Burbank/Glendale area, has been hired as the Deputy Executive Officer for Homelessness Solutions in Riverside County.  She will be on board later this month and will coordinate a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach toward addressing homelessness in Riverside County.

Mental health is a complex and pressing issue that is a national concern.  It has been decades since the State discontinued funding for this growing problem.  Some 50% of prison inmates have serious mental health issues that the prison system is not prepared to adequately respond.  Social inequities must be addressed to combat drug, alcohol and substance abuse.  The Governor included onetime funds for mental health and homelessness in his most recent budget, but we must find ways to provide ongoing funding.  Early intervention is key.

Typically, older cities tend to keep their own police and fire.  Of the 28 cities in the county 18 have contracted with the county to provide police and 10 for firefighting.

Riverside’s County hospital now called Riverside University Health System Medical Center is still struggling since the recession.  They are working with local partners and medical providers.  The hospital’s overall strategy is to play a role in unifying the Inland Empire’s somewhat fragmented marketplace, with the goal of collectively providing all care that is needed in the region including mental health.

The County is committed to preserve and protect March Air Reserve Base for the successful redevelopment projects that have created many jobs and the long runway, an important asset for the west coast is and nationally.  Additionally, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Norco has over 1,000 engineers and scientists that have a $1B impact in the community.

Mr. Johnson would like to see improvements in communication and cooperation between our two counties.  Government should work together, and he encourages the County Supervisors to build synergy.  Two of the five Riverside County supervisors Marion Ashley and John Tavaglione will be vacating their seats at the end of the year.  They have been long term influential supervisors, and he has enjoyed a good working relationship but looks forward to new ideas from the new Supervisors.

The continued growth in the Temecula Valley has prompted the development of the “Riverside County Wine Country Community Plan”.  Since conducting their Vision 2020 Survey they now have 95% support largely due to advisory committee meetings and community outreach with town-hall meetings, workshops and hearings.  The aggressive Community Plan which has been five years in the making, includes projects to expand the present boundaries of Wine Country, address land use issues, set development standards specifically tailored for wineries, equestrian uses and residential development.

A Q & A period followed.

Meeting adjourned 8:22 a.m.