The Inland Empire needs a better-educated workforce, more jobs and greater political participation by Latinos and Asians, according to a recent report by the Public Policy Institute of California. The PPIC researchers estimated that the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area's population will increase by 1 million from 2005 to 2015, to 4.9 million people. They also found that about 30% of workers commute to jobs in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties.
The majority of Inland Empire residents will be Latino by 2015, yet if current voting patterns persist, whites "will make up the majority of voters even though they will constitute little more than one-third of the adult population," according to the PPIC.
The PPIC estimated the pace of job growth in the Inland Empire would exceed population growth, but warned about low educational attainment. The report found that of 51 metro areas in the country with more than 500,000 jobs, the Inland Empire ranked second to last in annual average wage at $36,924 — about $6,000 less than the next lowest California metro area, Sacramento.
Shortly before the PPIC report was issued, Forbes magazine listed the City of Riverside as one of the top 10 cities for jobs because of its 4.3% annual increase in jobs and 4.9% increase per year in income over five years. Riverside was the only California city on the list, which was topped by Cape Coral, Florida.
The PPIC report, "The Inland Empire in 2015," is available at www.ppic.org.
Incorporation of a new city is not subject to California Environmental Quality Act review, a Monterey County Superior Court judge has ruled. Judge Lydia Villarreal determined that potential environmental impacts of creating the Town of Carmel Valley were either too speculative to study or not directly tied to incorporation.
"There is no substantial evidence in the whole record of any potential effect on the physical environment," Judge Villarreal wrote in a decision issued in May. She determined that incorporation of Carmel Valley is not a "project" for purposes of CEQA.
The Monterey County Local Agency Formation Commission and incorporation proponents have battled over whether an environmental impact report is required. Proponents say such a document is unnecessary and they now hope to get incorporation of the community southeast of Carmel on the ballot in the near future.
The incorporation ruling was not the only news from Carmel Valley in May. A different Superior Court judge rejected the water analysis in the EIR for the long-planned and controversial September Ranch subdivision. In 2001, an appellate court rejected the water analysis for what was then a 109-unit project (Save Our Peninsula Com. v. County of Monterey, 87 Cal.App.4th 99; see CP&DR Legal Digest, April 2001).
In late 2006, the county approved a revised, 95-unit subdivision, but opponents returned to court. Judge Susan Dauphine ruled that the revised EIR's analysis of cumulative water demand was faulty.
Bond measures to fund seismic safety projects for two public hospitals have failed. Voters in the Sonoma Valley Healthcare District provided 61.8% support for a $45 million bond that would have cost property owners $9.23 per $100,000 in assessed value. Meanwhile, 65.3% of voters in Stanislaus County's Oak Valley Hospital District backed a $27 million bond, which would have provided partial funding for a $110 million hospital replacement project. However, neither measure received the required two-thirds approval. The Sonoma Valley district may return to ballot with a new bond measure as soon as November.