Category Archives: Safety

Civilian Oversight Of Law Enforcement Conference Coming To Riverside

Police Review Brian Buchner, Board President of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE), will be coming to Riverside to meet with local community leaders regarding the 2015 NACOLE Conference.

This conference will take place here in Riverside on October 4 – 8, 2015 (please see the attached NACOLE newsletter or the NACOLE website:

This informal meeting will be held in the Riverside City Council Chambers on March 16th, 2015, from 5 – 7 PM.  Please send two – three representatives from your group or organization to this meeting where they will be able to learn about NACOLE and the upcoming conference, and where Mr. Buchner will also learn from community leaders of their concerns regarding local issues.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Phoebe Sherron in the CPRC Office at 951.826.5509.


Thank you.


Phoebe Sherron

Sr. Office Specialist


Community Police Review Commission

Emergency Vehicles Coming To Campus Wednesday

Nothing to worry about if you happen to see hundreds of emergency personnel on campus this Wednesday.

To the Campus Community,

Line of Parked Fire Trucks As part of UCR’s ongoing emergency preparations, the campus has invited more than one hundred emergency responders to come take a tour of the campus on Wednesday, Dec. 17, focusing on the labs and steam plant. Emergency vehicles will be parked in Lot 6. We are trying to share this notice widely to avoid someone mistaking numerous emergency vehicles for a crisis.

“This is important work and part of our ability to communicate efficiently with each other if there is an emergency,” said Russell Vernon, director of UCR’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

Line of parked fire trucks with ladders extendedRepresentatives of Riverside County Fire, Riverside Police, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and several other fire agencies will be touring labs, the steam plant, and other areas of campus that might be critically important to an emergency response during an earthquake or other natural disaster.  The tour and workshop lasts from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

For more information about UCR’s emergency preparations, visit:


Mailbox Vandalism, Theft Resources From Sycamore Highlands

Community MailboxesSycamore Highlands mailboxes continue to be broken into.  The community mailboxes in our neighborhood were not built to prevent burglary.  If your community mailbox is repeatedly broken into, you might consider purchasing a new mailbox – USPS won’t do it (they have refused to take responsibility for these mailboxes).
You can purchase your own unit through a company like:  .  My neighborhood purchased a new standard 13 door mailbox unit from this company (cost about $1100) and every neighbor chipped in their share of the price.  The mailbox base unit fit right over the bolts of the old unit, though the base is thicker on the new unit so that the bolts were just barely long enough to work.  You can also reach out to our USPS authorized repairman Mark Guizlo ( who can purchase and install a new unit for you.
Within a few days of installing our new community mailbox, someone did try to break in…but they gave up quickly, just a few scratch marks to show where they tried to get a hacksaw blade into the unit to cut off a door hasp. Nobody has tried to break in since; though it was broken into weekly when our old box was at this same location.  We also heard that RPD caught someone last week who had checks from one of my neighbors that were stolen from the mailbox, so at least one thief is out of service.
Do consider a new mailbox unit if your unit is repeatedly broken into – the cost of a new box is less than the cost of dealing with identity theft.
Sycamore Highlands Community Action Group
6012 Abernathy Dr.
Riverside, CA 92507
(951) 369-3510


Driving Safety Lessons From Other States

Driver Education TrainingAt the recent Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) Conference, a contingent from various neighborhoods came together to discuss driving safety, and particularly, raising the driving age.

Raising the driving age in California might never fly, but there are some potential lessons to learn from other communities. A post on has some useful related resources.

Fast & Furious 6Instead of restricting driving, I wonder what it would be like if we invested in driver education training. I’m not talking just about classroom rules of the road. I’m talking about skills training. Driving into and out of a skid, pulling a stunt driver one eighty.

Law enforcement gets some extra training. I see no reason why our youth couldn’t use some extra skills training along with simulator time.

New Affordable Freeway Close Housing Not A Just Solution To Health Effects Of Air Pollution

From Shelterforce, the journal of affordable housing and community building

Living in the Buffer

Preventing the development of new affordable housing in close proximity to freeways isn’t a just solution to the health effects of LA’s air pollution. By Jan Breidenbach and Jesus Herrera

Smart Code Smart Growth High Density GrowthPossible solutions for cutting down on pollution involve rerouting goods traffic away from residential areas. (Photo by Jan Breidenbach)

Boyle Heights is a predominantly Latino neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles, presenting organizers with similar challenges as other older, minority and low-income communities—meeting the need for affordable housing, better jobs, and quality of life, revitalizing an older community while keeping a sharp eye out for potential gentrification. It is also a neighborhood where community development organizers face a new challenge: integrating both economic and environmental justice when the resolution of an injustice in one arena can possibly exacerbate injustice in the other.

Five major freeways barreled through Boyle Heights over a period of two decades, slicing and dicing it so that people and goods could move more easily in and out of downtown and back and forth between the nearby industrial areas. The freeway structures dominate the physical space of the community; even more importantly, the residue from their traffic creates a toxic soup that fouls the air and makes people sick. Policymakers are becoming more attuned to these environmental concerns, but economic justice—specifically the need for more affordable housing—is paying the price.

Where We Live, What We Breathe

In 2008, the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission announced it would no longer invest its redevelopment housing funds in projects within a 500-foot “buffer” zone of any freeway. Given the way funding works, this decision meant this land was now effectively off-limits for affordable housing—even for quality construction with pollution mitigation. Market-rate housing, which doesn’t require city funding, was not affected.

Smart Growth Wolf In Sheep's ClothingThis makes no sense, says Maria Cabildo, director of East LA Community Corporation (ELACC), a CDC that has worked in the community for over 15 years. “This is a poor neighborhood with a lot of substandard housing. Quality affordable housing that has been mitigated for air pollution could present a much better option than lower-quality market housing outside the buffer.” Cabildo is concerned that more limitations on available land in a city both already built-out and focused on higher-density, transit-oriented development (TOD) will drive up prices and limit affordable housing everywhere, not just in the buffer.

Linda Wheaton, assistant director of intergovernmental affairs at California’s Dept. of Housing and Community Development, agrees: “There is a danger down this road that low-income people will suffer the most. There are more of them in buffer to begin with, often living in low-quality, unmitigated housing. Higher quality, mitigated housing will only be available to those who can afford market rent.”

To be clear, neither is questioning the science that underpins the decision. In the 1990s, researchers from the University of Southern California started testing the lung development of children living at varying distances from major roadways in eight Southern California communities. The results are not pretty. Residential proximity to high-volume traffic is associated with increased risk of low birth weight and higher rates of asthma, respiratory problems, and cancers. Importantly, while traffic pollution includes a range of gases and vapors, one of the most damaging contaminants is “particulate matter” or PM, an ultrafine dust created by the wear and tear of brakes and tires. PM easily enters pulmonary air sacs and, from there, moves into the blood stream. The long-term challenge is that, while great strides are being made in emissions reduction, even all-electric vehicles ride on rubber tires and brake in traffic.

Most—but not all—of the studies made another important finding that drives the land use policy responses: concentrations of traffic-related pollutants diminish dramatically with distance from the road. There is general agreement that severe health risk is reduced by over 60 percent at about 300 feet and by 80 percent at just under 1,000 feet. Splitting the difference, in 2003, the state legislature approved a statute banning future school construction within a 500-foot buffer of any freeway or major roadway. Since then, the majority of land use recommendations have proposed limiting “sensitive” land uses—child care and senior facilities, schools, and housing—in this same buffer.

Organizing Responses—Choosing Justice? Choosing Health? Choosing Life?

LA County’s 2008 decision is now basically moot—its redevelopment funds are being taken back by the State of California to help in its fiscal crisis, so it has enough for only one or two more projects. The issue, however, is not going away. This past year the LA County Dept. of Public Health proposed language essentially banning all future housing in the 500-foot buffer and requiring mitigation for projects within a 1,500-foot buffer, as part of the county’s updated General Plan. The Dept. of Regional Planning ultimately rejected this, opting for language that encourages mitigation for land uses in “proximity” to a freeway as opposed to a specific distance. According to regional planner Connie Chung, that choice was made not out of lack of concern for the air quality, but out of concern over the legal and policy complications of denying long-term land use and the desire to move toward mitigation.

CEQA Handbook – South Coast Air Quality Management

Rules and Regulations – South Coast Air Quality .

Air Quality Management Plans

Community activists in Boyle Heights and elsewhere raise legitimate concerns about a strict land use approach to the problem, arguing that it places them between an economic justice rock and an environmental justice hard place. They are very aware that their community endures greater traffic pollution than more affluent, white neighborhoods, up to two times as much. While this is not a surprise, given that many major freeways tore through low-income communities to avoid disrupting wealthier ones, ELACC community organizer Jorge Villanueva argues for a deeper analysis and more comprehensive approach. “Our office is a converted residence and it’s in the buffer. Our neighbors live here. We want to get to the root cause of all the pollution and do something about it.” ELACC’s neighbors are not alone. Of L.A. County’s 88 cities, 68 have at least one freeway inside city limits. According to Chung’s office there are over 650,000 people presently living within the 500-foot buffer to freeways. Bans on future development do not help them.

Healthy CitiesWorking with public health researchers at both University of Southern California and UCLA and in coalition with other east-side community groups, ELACC organizers are training their staff and members to do air monitoring—in the buffer, on their commercial streets, and in their homes. They understand that it is not only the freeways that are making them sick, but also the cumulative effect of freeways, street traffic (including goods movement), and industrial pollution.

When it comes to toxic air, University of California–Irvine assistant professor Douglas Houston points out that “building standards and site design could potentially be improved to help mitigate air pollution impacts.” Approaches could include filtration, building orientation, vegetation, and sound walls, and, as Villanueva suggests, even rerouting goods movement traffic.

E2 Justice

The injustice that planned and built freeways without regard for neighbors and neighborhoods has burdened us with major economic and environmental consequences. Our responses need to be thoughtful and aware of potential unintended consequences, for it is now abundantly clear that our land-use goals may be in conflict with our health goals and, indeed our health. Smart growth, new urbanism, and infill development are land use tools proposed as ways to revitalize cities, promote development, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Land use as climate change mitigation is moving forward at breakneck (for land use!) speed in California. In the city of Los Angeles, 80 percent of all future development will be channeled into transit areas. There are already serious concerns about displacement and gentrification in TOD; the issue of the buffer adds to these when we realize that a number of proposed transit lines are adjacent to (or even in the middle of) freeways.

Few of us would choose a freeway as our closest neighbor, but there are many reasons we live where we do. Income and racial discrimination have confined much low-cost housing to areas with the most pollution and placed it near noxious and dangerous uses. When it comes to housing and roadways, community development activists and organizers have the opportunity—and responsibility—to combine our struggles around land use and air pollution into struggles for economic and environmental justice. As Cabildo says, “We didn’t go to the freeways, the freeways came to us.” They are in our neighborhoods; now we have to fight to stay healthy in spite of them.

Jan Breidenbach is a long-time housing advocate and teaches housing policy at the University of Southern California. Jesus Herrera is a graduate student in Planning at USC.

More information about Jan Breidenbach and Jesus Herrera


By Mary Shelton
I recently wrote a post about the Sunset Ranch fire that had burned quite a bit of acreage on our ridge nearly impacting the condos on one side of the street. One was burned as shown in the photo below, another had smoke damage but we’d gotten off very lucky because of low winds and a “green belt” on the top of the ridge close to the homes. However, embers have a way of blowing quite a distance and this condo burned b/c of an ember shot from over 100 yards away most likely. The fire burned about 40 acres before being put out. It endangered homes on my street, and two neighboring streets, Sunset Ranch Drive and Royale Dr.
But what really saved our homes was the quick response of both Riverside’s fire department (five alarm fire) and the RPD, most notably the department’s aviation division. The helicopter photographed below is a Bell Helicopter, the oldest in the fleet which was still working well and was the only helicopter supplied with the capability to drop water on a fire. The terrain is so steep and the topography makes it difficult for fire crews to fight any brush fire on foot. Arlington was closed in both directions to serve as a means to use the helicopter.
The helicopter is piloted by an RPD officer trained and experienced in operating it and an “observer” is assigned to it. This helicopter has literally saved homes in at least four brush fires hitting Riverside in the past several years. I had heard elected officials praise the abilities of the helicopter and those who man it at protecting homes and other structures and lives as well from brush fires. It seemed to be a permanent fixture of fire fighting in a city chock filled with dry river beds and arroyos and hillsides made of tinder. Canyon Crest alone has 26 arroyos.
Imagine my shock when I discovered that this valuable fire fighting tool no longer exists to save lives and homes in our city. This helicopter was hauled off to the Pomona Fairgrounds where it was sold at auction for $200,000 in what was described as a “done deal” and done mostly quietly, mostly behind closed doors and carried out very, very quickly. The neighborhoods whose homes and possibly lives were saved by this helicopter were never notified about it. If I’d known, I would have had something to say about it and so would have everyone else in my HOA and neighborhood. But we weren’t given the chance, we were silenced by the very people who we elect to represent us.
The only people who gave a damn about not putting this helicopter up for auction were the members of our Aviation Unit who put up a fight to protect the residents of this city who live in areas prone to brush fires. I think those who stood up for us need to be applauded for that, not told to basically shut up and go away, that there’s nothing to fight for because the decision had been made. That’s no way to treat your employees b/c between our elected officials and the Aviation Unit, their knowledge and expertise on these issues carry a hell of a lot more weight.
Now we in these risky areas are left to be told, well I guess California Department of Forestry needs to take over the fire fighting. But did you know that CDF often called the RPD to help it fight fires? So if CDF is out using its resources to fight fires and needs the RPD helicopter to drop water, what then? The only alternative was to take one of the remaining helicopters and equip it with a water bucket which costs money
I find this very, very upsetting that my city government would sell the safety and lives of residents to do something like this in the stealth of darkness without getting ANY input from constituents and residents who have homes now b/c of these helicopters and those who fly them. I have yet to find a CC meeting where the elected officials voted to sell the helicopter so was it another backroom deal?
If one single home burns or one life is lost because of what our government did in this case that could have been saved by this helicopter, that home…or that life will be on the City Council and Mayor of the City of Riverside. God Bless your Souls for that $200,000 you gained, I believe that’s what is called “blood money”.

How Trees Can Boost a Home’s Sale Price

In a study, homes with “street trees,” those planted between the sidewalk and street, sold for $7,130 more, on average, than homes without street trees.

BySanette Tanaka connect

Oct. 10, 2013 6:33 p.m. ET

Maybe money grows on trees after all.

In an analysis of 2,608 real-estate transactions over 10 months, researchers found that homes with “street trees,” those planted between the sidewalk and street, sold for $7,130 more, on average, than homes without street trees.

What’s more, homes with street trees sold 1.7 days more quickly than homes without street trees, says Geoffrey Donovan, an economist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, Ore. Neighbors can reap the benefits as well. Homeowners who live within 100 feet of street trees enjoy a sale premium of $1,688, on average, even though the trees aren’t on their property.

Taken all together, street trees resulted in an extra $19,958 in neighborhood house sales, Mr. Donovan says.

Mr. Donovan and economist David Butry of the National Institute of Standards and Technology analyzed 2,608 single-family home sales in Portland between July 1, 2006, and April 26, 2007. Their team visited the houses in summer 2007 and recorded the number and characteristics of street trees that fronted each property. The study controlled for property characteristics like location and house condition. The researchers then remotely calculated the crown area of trees and the percentage of tree cover on each lot. The study, “Trees in the city: Valuing street trees in Portland, Ore.,” was published in Landscape and Urban Planning in February 2010.

The advantages of trees go well beyond mere aesthetics, Mr. Donovan says. “There’s increasing evidence that there are huge public health consequences of living in a city. Not everyone can live next to Central Park. Trees are a way of modifying this urban environment.” Other research conducted by Mr. Donovan shows that street trees are associated with cleaner air, lower energy use and lower crime.

Michael Vargas, a New York City-based appraiser, says trees are generally a premium in urban environments. In New York City, “most of the prime streets that are tree-lined get a 10% to 15% premium in value over similar streets with less tree architecture,” he says. “It’s a way to make it seem like you’re not in the city.”

But before branching out at home, know the downsides. “Tree ownership, just like owning a property, has costs involved and responsibilities involved,” says Craig Filipacchi, associate broker with Brown Harris Stevens in New York City. “Vehicles spreading salt can kill the tree; trucks can bump into them and damage the bark; trees can get infected. When it’s on your property, it’s definitely something you have to take care of.”

More Green? Less Mean

Urban Vegetation Deters Crime

More Green? Less Mean

Green plants in urban landscapeAccording to a new study from Temple University, well maintained green spaces can decrease urban crime: Temple professor Jeremy Mennis found that areas of Philadelphia with more greenery experienced lower crime rates. The study explains that this is because of “the calming impact that vegetated landscapes may impart, thus reducing psychological precursors to violent acts.” []

Contrary to convention, vegetation, when well-maintained, can lower the rates of certain types of crime, such as aggravated assault, robbery and burglary, in cities, according to a Temple University study, “Does vegetation encourage or suppress urban crime? Evidence from Philadelphia, PA,” published in the journal, Landscape and Urban Planning.Read more at:

Party Patrol Finds The Word Is Out

Animal House's John Belushi Drinking Stepped up enforcement and educational outreach have had a dramatic effect in curbing impacts to the social fabric of the University Neighborhood.

It’s much quieter and much more like a residential neighborhood than like scenes from Animal House.

Unfortunately problems with students socializing inappropriately go with the territory for college towns.Hundreds of college aged revelers battled police in Bellingham, WA.

In Berkeely, alcohol related calls have overwhelmed the local EMT response to the point where they had to call in help from surrounding communities to help residents with medical emergencies reach hospitals.

A new product called a barf bag was invented just for situations like these. It keeps intoxicated students from spewing vomit all over the poor EMTs, ambulances and themselves.

There are those who think that these behaviors are the inevitable results that come to communities located near a college. These folks think that neighbors should expect or even accept these changes. I’d venture a guess that not a one of them would put up with this if it were happening next door to them or if they needed an ambulance ride to a hospital and there weren’t any.

UCR STUDENTS & PIT BULLS: Muzzled, spayed and neutered