First session to gauge county residents’ input on services set

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RIVERSIDE (CNS) – The first of the Board of Supervisors’ “listening sessions” will be held Tuesday, Sept. 29 to gauge the breadth of Riverside County business losses and economic turmoil stemming from the coronavirus public health lockdowns, as well as determine how to adjust county services to better meet residents’ needs.
In August, the board unanimously approved holding three sessions, in what Supervisor Kevin Jeffries described as an attempt at “listening and trying to get a grip on the challenges we face.”
“We need to build a consensus and have thoughtful, deep discussions,” he said. “We will be moving slowly and carefully on this.”
Today’s session will be in the board chamber at the County Administrative Center in downtown Riverside, beginning at 1:30 p.m. In addition to in-person testimony, the county is inviting the public to participate via phone. In order to reserve time, participants need to visit www.RivcoCob.org, where they can click on a “Request to Speak” tab to join the queue.
Supervisor Manuel Perez joined Jeffries in requesting the sessions, which he said are centered on an “inclusionary process” intended to give everyone a voice.
The board requested assistance from the UC Riverside School of Public Policy to monitor the sessions, tracking the primary complaints and most pressing needs of speakers, then drafting a report containing the main themes, which will be submitted to the board in the next few months.
“Unemployment, economic distress, loss of life, business closures, rental and mortgage difficulties, children distance learning with working parents and many other impacts will have a lasting effect for years to come,” according to a board statement earlier this month. “For these reasons and more, the intent of the board listening sessions is to hear directly from those most affected.”
Possible racial inequities in policing, health care delivery and education were among Perez’s principal concerns when he called for the sessions.
Each one will begin with an overview of the county budget, after which agencies’ responsibilities to the public will be described, and participants will be given allotted times to address the board.
“The path we need now is to listen first, discuss, review, then put items on the agenda,” Jeffries said.
The second session is scheduled for Oct. 6, between 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and the last one on Oct. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The sessions can be viewed in real-time at
https://livestream.com/rivcolive, or https://www.facebook.com/RivCoCOB.
During its regular meeting on Nov. 10, the board will discuss whether additional sessions are needed.