San Jacinto City Council eyes more city beautification and landscaped Ramona Expressway median

An artist’s rendering shows the Ramona Expressway beautification project in San Jacinto. Valley News/Courtesy photo

The San Jacinto City Council in its April 21 meeting gave its approval for the conceptual design of the Ramona Expressway Median strip and for staff to create a citywide public arts program to enhance the beauty and history of the century old city.

The five-member council, because of the crowd limitations ordered by the Riverside County Health Department to slow the coronavirus, conducted their meeting by teleconference and other electronic means. While residents could make comments on the agenda or other issues by email or by telephone, none were heard that evening.

The council also added an emergency agenda item, pledging their support to Assembly Bill 64 in the state Legislature that seeks extra pay for police, firefighters and other first responders for lodging away from their homes and for personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. The council unanimously voted to give their letter of support to the new bill’s writers.

The council also approved an urgency resolution to pay American Asphalt, which is improving Sanderson Avenue, about $100,000 extra to shore up and construct a concrete pipeline under Sanderson Avenue between Cottonwood and Ramona avenues where a large sinkhole opened up during the recent rains.

The project may include the temporary closure of a portion of Sanderson Avenue/Highway 74 north while crews construct the new pipe works to prevent a similar situation from happening again. Funding for the project will use a portion of the Measure A money. The sinkhole was 6 feet wide and 3 feet caused by the collapse of an old steel water runoff pipe and badly placed sandbags last week. Traffic on the highway was rerouted until the hole was filled and temporarily asphalted.

The council saw an artist’s rendering of what the Ramona Expressway median will look like after it is rehabilitated. It included some city landmark signs and agave plants in the center of the median. The project will be completed in three phases with a cost estimated at about $1 million.

The council also discussed a public arts program that could include kiosks in the center of downtown area, statues in the parks, murals depicting the history of the city on city owned buildings, street art events and other creative art shows.

Councilmember Russ Utz said, “This is very exciting. An important complement to the city putting a new face on an old city.”

“It can represent the city very well,” Mayor Andrew Kotyuk said.

The council urged the city staff to assemble a plan for the proposed citywide arts program.

The council also discussed dropping out of the California Public Employees Retirement System and setting up another retirement program for it staff and public service employees. They liked the idea of setting up an Irrevocable Trust Program like other cities are doing. They ask staff to research it and bring their plan back to the council for approval.

Tony Ault can be reached by email at