County and state budget successes for public safety, economic development and higher education, improvements to the county’s permitting process for development projects, and quality of life measures highlight Supervisor V. Manuel Perez’s first 100 days.
Upon joining the Board, Perez immediately focused on the county budget and worked with his colleagues to approve a plan that keeps residents safe and invests in job creation efforts.
“I have truly enjoyed working with my new colleague, Supervisor Perez, during his first 100 days,” said Supervisor Marion Ashley. “He has quickly come up to speed on all of the important issues, including our very complex budget and labor negotiations, bringing a valuable perspective to the Board.”
At Perez’s recommendation, the Board supported increased funding to the Sheriff’s Department to help residents of unincorporated communities remain protected and well served.
“The Sheriff’s Department was very pleased that Supervisor Perez led the discussion during the Board’s July 25th hearings for the restoration of $18 million in funding that had been proposed by the County staff as ‘cuts’ to our current budget. This was no small feat in the face of the County’s budget challenges we all currently face, but the Board’s subsequent decision literally saved the department from the dangers posed by potential closure of our local sheriff’s stations and jail facilities. His eloquent remarks on behalf of public safety carried the day for us all,” said Sheriff Stan Sniff. The budget includes a 20 percent boost in general fund support to the Economic Development Agency, sought by Perez. The additional investment of $800,000 will help implement business attraction efforts in the agency’s comprehensive strategic plan, adopted by the Board last week.
“During the budget process, Supervisor Perez was outspoken in his support for sorely needed investments in growing and diversifying the County’s economy,” said Rob Field, Assistant County Executive Officer and director of the Riverside County Economic Development Agency. “Supervisor Perez went to bat for additional funding for economic development efforts, and we’re appreciative of the great support he and the other members of the Board of Supervisors provided to help us in our mission of enhancing the economic position of Riverside County.”
Perez formed a blue ribbon committee to improve the county’s permitting process to make it more efficient, business-friendly and customer service oriented. The efforts of the committee, in collaboration with county staff and the Desert Valleys Builders Association (DVBA), have led to expanded hours and staffing at the desert permitting office, and ongoing improvements to make it easier to build development projects and get jobs created in the Fourth District.
“On behalf of the DVBA, we wish to thank Supervisor Perez and Riverside County TLMA Director Juan Perez for their assistance in working with the development and construction industries on issues that impact the day-to-day workflows of these companies. The DVBA appreciates the efforts being undertaken that we have seen transpire over the course of the last 10 months and we encourage the Supervisor, County Staff and others to continue to strive for a strong working relationship with our industry,” said Gretchen Gutierrez, CEO of the DVBA.
Working with state representatives, Perez successfully advocated for a State allocation of $3 million for the California State University, San Bernardino Palm Desert Campus (PDC) to serve the students of the Coachella Valley and strengthen the region’s economy. “Supervisor Perez has been very supportive of PDC’s vision and mission and worked in concert with our elected officials Chad Mayes, Eduardo Garcia and Jeff Stone to receive this allocation. We are greatly appreciative of his work to support the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus,” said Dr. Sharon Brown-Welty, Dean of CSUSB Palm Desert Campus.
Early on, Perez met with his staff to review projects started by the late Supervisor John J. Benoit, and set out to honor his legacy by completing them on his watch. These projects include future parks in eastern Coachella Valley communities, which received an $800,000 boost from a parks grant received by Riverside County this summer. The John J. Benoit Detention Center in Indio reached a topping-out milestone in July.
Perez devoted attention to new challenges, such as the San Felipe Migrant Housing Complex. The 48-bed shelter for migrant farmworkers was non-operational this summer when the operator went defunct. Perez arranged meetings with the county housing authority to get a new operator, the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC), in place for the next harvest season.
“CVHC is grateful for the leadership of Supervisor Perez and the county housing authority in guiding this challenge to a successful outcome. We look forward to operating the San Felipe migrant farmworker housing facility. Our agricultural economy relies on the availability of workers to harvest the crops every year, and the San Felipe migrant center will provide healthy, decent housing preventing them from having to sleep in their vehicles and extreme weather. While many more beds are needed for valley farmworkers, CVHC is working hard to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for these hardworking individuals,” said Julie Bornstein, executive director of CVHC.
Additionally, Perez is proud of his close work with cities and Coachella Valley Association of Governments officials on efforts to address homelessness, and securing county funds to implement the West Valley Housing Navigation Program, a “housing first” model for the Coachella Valley.
Thursday marked 100 days since Supervisor Perez’s ceremonial swearing-in.
“In my estimation, our first 100 days mark a great starting point. I have more to learn and appreciate the generous advice, encouragement and assistance provided by many constituents and community leaders,” said Supervisor V. Manuel Perez. “I am motivated to tackle the work ahead and reiterate my goal of engaging and working with everyone to provide exceptional service and representation to all Fourth District residents. I look forward to visiting as many city councils as possible in the next few months to connect with residents.”