AVMAC swears in new members, hears from county

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Riverside County Chuck Washington’s legislative assistant Opal Hellweg swears in new Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council members Birdie Kopp and Rick Beauchamp Wednesday, Nov. 13. Diane Sieker photo

The Anza Valley Municipal Advisory Council conducted their bimonthly meeting at the Community Hall Wednesday, Nov. 13.

Riverside County Chuck Washington’s legislative assistant Opal Hellweg, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Leonard Purvis and Riverside County Department of Public Social Services’ planner Laura Gonzales-Rivera were guest speakers.

AVMAC board members Secretary Allison Renck, Treasurer Sharon Evans and new appointees Birdie Kopp and Rick Beauchamp were in attendance. Megan Haley was unable to attend. Eight members of the public were present.

Kopp and Beauchamp were sworn in by Hellweg. Both new members are anxious to participate in helping the community by sharing their talents.

Hellweg gave a county update. She read the latest report from Shelli Clack, with Riverside County Counsel.

There were 76 cases of cannabis cultivation received from Code Enforcement; 37 cases closed voluntarily after receiving county counsel “cease and desist” letters; 39 cases remain active in various stages of the litigation process and 20 cases were filed with the court.

Of the 20 cases filed, approximately 24 temporary restraining orders and preliminary or permanent injunctions were received. Fees and costs for the 37 voluntarily closed cases will be obtained by the county through the administrative hearing process, and approximately $90,000 was awarded to Riverside County to date for the 20 filed cases, including approximately $39,000 in fees and costs and $51,000 in penalties.

There were 24 dispensary cases received from Code Enforcement, and 11 of the 24 cases were filed with the court. All dispensaries in the 11 filed cases were shut down, and 13 of the 24 dispensaries were closed by other means, including voluntary, sheriff’s department and district attorney’s office. Four of the 11 filed cases remain active in various stages of the litigation process. Approximately $1.1 million was awarded to Riverside County, including approximately $280,000 in fees and costs and $ 828,000 in penalties.

Hellweg also mentioned the governor’s mandate of 60,000 more homes to be built in Riverside County.

“We don’t know how this will be resolved,” she said.

The state will penalize the county if the mandate is not met.

Hellweg presented a special award to outgoing AVMAC member Edison Gomez-Krauss in honor of his service to the community.

Evans gave an update on the Project 371, saying that she has not heard any further developments from Bud Elmore or Gary Worobec. The AVMAC ad hoc committee that includes Haley and Evans has been working with Elmore regarding the issues of increased traffic and perceived increased accidents on state Route 371. It was decided to continue the committee.

Purvis gave a marijuana eradication update. The once-a-week raids are the talk of the town and followed carefully by residents.

“We appreciate your support,” he said.

The discovery of a bottle of the deadly and illegal pesticide Carbofuran at an eradicated grow site in Anza concerned Purvis. He acknowledged the extreme danger this represents.

“It’s illegal, but we’re seeing more and more of this,” he said. “It slapped us in our faces yesterday.”

He said that many agencies assist in the eradication efforts, such as the California Water Board, Code Enforcement, the Department of Fish and Wildlife and others.

Regarding the raids, he said he is listening to the community and taking action. He was not apologetic, saying he will continue to push.

“I’m out here with my troops,” he said. “We’re going after grows people complain about.”

He submitted some recent statistics regarding the progress of the eradication efforts, saying that about 210 tons of marijuana plants and 6,000 pounds of processed marijuana have been seized to date.

When asked about asset forfeiture in regards to the eradications, he explained that they have seized assets, such as some property and currency.

Purvis admitted that some grows that were eradicated earlier in the year have replanted to try to recoup their losses. They were eradicated again.

When asked if the raids have had an effect in increasing per pound prices of cannabis, he replied, “I don’t care.”

His job is to listen to the community, he said, and both he and Sheriff Chad Bianco are dedicated to enforcing the law.

Guest speaker Gonzales-Rivera explained the county’s Homeless Point-In-Time event slated for Jan. 29, 2020. This count, required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, involves contacting homeless people and surveying them to determine their status. This count also enables volunteers to make the homeless aware of programs that can assist them.

“We want to be in compliance with HUD,” she said.

Gonzales-Rivera said is passionate about helping the homeless and the program’s proven effectiveness.

Twenty-eight cities and unincorporated county communities will be served by volunteers and law enforcement to obtain a count of those truly homeless. The Youth Point-In-Time count uses teen volunteers to count as well, since young people have a better chance of connecting with homeless their age, she said.

Many people are homeless, not by choice, but by circumstances in their lives, she said. The prevention of homelessness is the goal. Volunteers of all ages are needed.

The meeting concluded with a discussion of items for the next AVMAC meeting slated for Jan. 8, 2020.

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 .

For more information regarding the point-in-time count, visit http://dpss.co.riverside.ca.us/homeless-programs.

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