AVMAC hears from county representatives

Andres Coronel from the Riverside County Executive Office hands out U.S. Census Bureau bags and information at the Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting Wednesday, March 11. Anza Valley Outlook/Diane Sieker photo

The Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council conducted their bimonthly meeting at the Community Hall Wednesday, March 11.

California Highway Patrol Capt. Mike Alvarez and CHP public information officer Matthew Napier, Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington’s legislative assistant Opal Hellweg, Caltrans District 8 office chief Moe Bhuyian and Caltrans District 8 government and legislative affairs liaison Shane Massoud were guest speakers.

AVMAC board members Sharon Evans, Birdie Kopp, Sharon Evans, Allison Rencke, Megan Haley and Rick Beauchamp were in attendance, along with over 20 members of the public.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, the minutes from the January 2020 meeting were recited and approved as read.

Haley gave an update on the Anza sign. The plan drawings for the sign have disappeared, she said. The project has been ongoing for years, and the plans have been misplaced.

Cahuilla tribal member Gerald Clarke said that the tribe gave $1,000 to the Lions Club for replacement of the Anza sign at Highway 371 and Cary Road that was destroyed by fire in the fall. AVMAC members advised him that the chamber of commerce held the funds for the sign project.

Haley also said that the sign maker has the sign cut and ready. Volunteers were needed to get the project started, under the guidance of contractor Steve Packard.

AVMAC members asked Clarke if the sign could be located on tribal lands near the Lake Riverside Drive and Bradford Road area on Highway 371, and he agreed to find out if it was possible.

Rencke said she would make sure all the issues would be resolved by the next AVMAC meeting in two months.

Andres Coronel from the Riverside County Executive Office handed out U.S. Census Bureau bags and information. He made a short presentation regarding the census and the importance of all community members participating.

Hellweg gave a short county update, saying the county affairs have been routine but changes made by the housing authority were of note.

The housing authority removed the working families’ requirement and changed it so all families would be able to qualify for Section 8 housing. They also changed the extremely elderly requirement from those aged 75 and older to those 55 and older.

She said that there are about 90,000 people on the waiting list for Section 8 housing in the county.

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a 100-day challenge to five counties to focus on one part of their homeless population and address it with intentionality, Hellweg said. Riverside County is one of these partners. The focus will be to end senior homelessness.

Hellweg said that the county has a functional zero homeless veterans’ issue and looked forward to the new challenge.

The AVMAC board discussed and assigned the various board positions to each of the members. Rencke will be vice chair, Beauchamp will serve as treasurer, Kopp as secretary, Evans is the chair and Haley is the director.

Massoud and Bhuyian made a brief, yet information-packed presentation on what has been done to Highway 371 and what was planned for the future.

From 2015 to 2018, Caltrans installed rumble strips from Route 79 to Wilson Valley Road for $288,000, constructed a 4-foot shoulder from Cary Road to Kirby Road for $7,242,000, constructed left turn lanes at Barhman and Baliff roads for $639,000, applied preventative maintenance treatment from Barbara Trail to Howard Road for $1,291,000, rubberized hot mix asphalt gap graded and localized dig out from Route 74 to Route 79 for $2,481,000 and placed rumble strips from Wilson Valley Road to Cary and Kirby roads to Route 74 for $756,000.

Current studies of the highway include installation of “Curves Ahead” sign at post miles 75.25 and 76.8, left turn pocket at Howard Road, speed limit signs at post marker 71.75, extended shoulders at post marker 62.85 through 67.65, Cary Road sight distance, additional turn out locations, striping at Kirby Road and striping at Homestead Road.

Concerns about the highway can be submitted to Caltrans via their website at www.csr.dot.ca.gov.

“Utilize this platform, it keeps us accountable,” Massoud said.

Alvarez gave a presentation about the stats on accidents and tickets on Highway 371 in recent years.

“Highway 371 is a complicated and unique roadway to this community,” Alvarez said.

The highway is split at Cary Road between San Gorgonio and Temecula CHP jurisdictions.

There have been 60 crashes in 2017, 62 in 2018 and 63 in 2019.

In 2016, 436 tickets were issued. In 2017, they issued 596 tickets. In 2018, the CHP issued 678 tickets. In 2019, they issued 676 tickets, and the CHP issued 149 so far in 2020. The most common offences were speed, seat belt violations, crossing the double yellow line and DUI.

“My commitment to you is every one that gets stopped is getting a ticket,” Alvarez said.

Resident officers and partnerships with other agencies like the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department are making a difference.

He said that 30% to 40% of the tickets were given to local residents.

In 2016, there were eight DUI tickets. In 2017, there were 22, in 2018 they issued six DUI tickets and 2019, there were 11 issued.

Marijuana DUIs are not a problem here, he said.

He praised the social media engagement by residents, making his office aware of problem areas and other issues.

A question and answer session revealed concerns about Wilson Valley Road, speeding non-residents and problem visibility in certain areas.

Residents asked about turn lanes by the Cahuilla Casino, and Massoud responded, “We are working hand in hand with the tribal liaison.”

The gathering concluded with a discussion of items for the next AVMAC meeting slated for Wednesday, May 15.

The AVMAC meeting is held every other month and the council seeks input from the community on subjects that they believe need to be addressed by local government officials. If you have a subject you would like addressed, contact the AVMAC by visiting their website at http://avmac.000webhostapp.com.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at dsieker@reedermedia.com.