The hillsides adorning Riverside’s landscape are one of the city’s most treasured and defining qualities. On November 4, Riverside voters have a unique opportunity to ensure some of the most distinct among them – La Sierra Hills – are permanently preserved. A “Yes” vote on Measure L will convert this privately-owned land into public open space for future generations to enjoy. The total is 900 acres!
Today, the gently rolling slopes of the La Sierra Hills are enjoyed by equestrians and hikers and are home to a vast range of wildlife. It’s an idyllic area, but the uncertainty of future development remains. Contrary to the views of some, current law permits hundreds of homes to be built throughout La Sierra Hills.
In 1979, voters passed Proposition R to preserve the city’s citrus heritage and curtail urban sprawl by restricting development in the Arlington Greenbelt. The initiative was reinforced by Measure C in 1987. Neither of these initiatives prevents homes from being built on La Sierra Hills today. On November 4, Riverside voters can change this and forever preserve La Sierra Hills by voting YES on Measure L. The measure would rezone the hills as permanent open space, and confine development on the nearby 650-acre La Sierra Lands to about 400 acres.
Moreover, no development could occur on the roughly 400 acres of La Sierra Lands without environmental review, an extensive planning and public review process, concluding with approval by Riverside City Council. In other words, Measure L preserves and actually enhances the intent of Prop. R and Measure C. It locks in hundreds of acres of open space and provides for the possibility of limited, much-needed new housing on adjacent flatland.
In turn, any development on La Sierra Lands would create hundreds of new jobs and millions in new annual tax revenues to fund important city services. Measure L would also require that any specific plan for the area provide important new amenities, including land for a new school, senior housing and parks and trails.
Because of such benefits, Measure L has attracted support from a wide range of community groups and individuals, including the Riverside City Firefighters’ Association, Endangered Habitats League, former state parks director Pete Dangermond, the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce, a trio of retired Alvord Unified School District superintendents (who believe new homes would be a boost to local schools in the struggling district) and former City Councilwoman Nancy Hart. Even local unions and the business community have come together in a rare show of solidarity to endorse Measure L.
Seldom is such a consensus found among such diverse groups. The reason is clear: Measure L does exactly what is says it will do. It saves La Sierra Hills from development and allows for restricted, smart development to prepare for Riverside’s future housing needs. Open space, jobs and smartly planned housing. Measure L is a good choice for Riverside.
Rose Mayes, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Riverside County
Ron Loveridge, Former Mayor, City of Riverside