A Wail of Two Cities

Posted April 2, 2009 in News

In the northwest corner of Riverside County, Eastvale and Jurupa both dream of becoming the IE’s new cities on the block. But these dreams are on a collision course with each other as both neighboring communities have called shotgun on the same stretch of real estate and are competing for tax dollars that are vital for their proposed cityhood.


It will be up to a county agency in charge of setting boundaries to referee the conflictingt efforts and weigh in on whom gets what. 


Despite the fact that both sides are trying to plant their flag on the same chunk of land, the camps, for now, seem content to stay out of each other’s way and agree to disagree.


“We have talked and agreed that each side is going to do their own thing,” Eastvale Incorporation Committee president Jeff DeGrandpre says.


The Eastvale committee and Jurupa Valley Incorporation Research Committee both want to reap the benefit of two shopping centers flanking Interstate 15 because the sales-tax ka-ching such retail sites create is vital to get their municipal musings on firm financial footing.


The contested territory features the 385,000-square-foot Vernola Marketplace—which features a Lowe’s, Ross, BevMo and Petco—and the 842,000-square-foot Eastvale Gateway, anchored by a Home Depot, Target and Best Buy. Both are situated near the intersection of the 15 and Limonite Avenue.


Sales taxes are “one of the largest sources of revenue available to any city, particularly in the case of an incorporation,” says George Spiliotis, executive officer for the Riverside Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO. “Without substantial sales tax revenue, it’s almost impossible to incorporate.”


This is not the first time two different cityhood efforts have clashed over turf in this part of unincorporated Riverside County, Spiliotis says.


Almost two decades ago, a similar Jurupa cityhood effort bucked against another proposal by one of its own constituent neighborhoods, Mira Loma. Complicating things, a faction of Eastvale dairy farmers wanted nothing to do with either side and ask commission officials to be taken out of the equation. These cityhood efforts eventually failed.


“It’s not an everyday occurrence,” Spiliotis says. “But LAFCO does have to deal with competing proposals sometimes.”


The current Eastvale and Jurupa cityhood proposals are in different stages but the financial well-being of both will be considered at the same time in light of the fact that each side has staked out portions of identical territory.


Where the conflict lies is that both sides’ proposed boundaries overlap. Eastvale proposes Wineville Ave., east of the 15, for its eastern edge, while Jurupa has staked out Hamner Ave., west of the freeway, as its western boundary. The contested land is comprised of the swathes on both sides of the freeway, where the Gateway and Vernola sites are located.


The proposed city of Jurupa would include Mira Loma, Sky Country, Pedley, Rubidoux, Glen Avon, Sunnyslope, Indian Hills, Jurupa Hills and Belltown.


Eastvale gathered enough signatures for its cityhood petition to proceed and LAFCO will now consider a fiscal analysis to determine whether it can financially survive as a city. DeGrandpre says he hopes to get blessings from the committee as well as county supervisors to hold an election in November and elect Eastvale’s first council members.


Jurupa’s fiscal analysis will also be weighed but this effort must still gather enough signatures to proceed.


Both sides agree that cityhood would provide several benefits such as local control over land use decisions and tax dollars spent on public safety and parks, for example. 


There’s no denying there are strong feelings from both camps about who gets what. Jurupa, for one, bristles at Eastvale’s efforts to snag the business dollars along the 15.


“This is not acceptable!” the committee website recently posted.


Eastvale questions the logic of Jurupa staking out a shopping center—Eastvale Gateway—named for its neighboring competitor. Eastvale also reasons that its Wineville boundary is based upon something called the Eastvale General Plan, a blueprint the county uses to guide future land use decisions.


But while both efforts claim to want to co-exist—“they’re not getting in our way and we’re not getting in their way,” DeGrandpre says—they can’t ignore one another.


“There’s an obvious impact on each other,” Spiliotis says.


Just in case, the commission has asked both sides to consider a backup plan by proposing different boundaries.

-Roberto C. Hernandez


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