The Newest City in America

Jurupa Valley struggles like a start-up: its childhood of cityhood has endured many threats to its livelihood.

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DeAnza Country Plaza is a shopping center in Riverside County, California. Its retail space includes Taco Bell, Great Clips, New Age Dental, and a small office with old furniture and borrowed computers.[1] That tiny strip mall office, from 2011 to 2015, housed the original City Hall of Jurupa Valley: the newest city in America.

Voters in the ten small, semi-rural communities of Mira Loma, Glen Avon, Sky Country, Indian Hills, Pedley, Rubidoux, Belltown, Jurupa, Jurupa Hills, and Sunnyslope voted to incorporate the city on March 8, 2011. Measure A, in the Jurupa Valley Incorporation Election, passed 54 to 46 percent.[2] Residents like travel agent Robert Zavala, 57, placed tremendous value on substantive representation and having the ear of a five-member city council, in lieu of one representative on the county board, according to local paper The Press-Enterprise.[3] Jurupa-area residents felt (and still feel) overshadowed by the larger neighboring City of Riverside, which looks and thinks differently.

The resulting City of Jurupa Valley was 43.5 square miles and, originally, home to approximately 88,000. Jurupa Valley officially became the youngest city in the United States on July 1, 2011.[4] The newly formed five-member city council set up shop in DeAnza Country Plaza, shuttling staffers between the interim small office and a larger space in a recently closed clothing store down the street called Sam?s Western Wear, which has the facade of a western saloon and now hosts the current official City Hall.[5] Jurupa Valley runs like a start-up.

Jurupa Valley struggles like a start-up too: its childhood of cityhood has endured many threats to its livelihood. The policy problem that has persistently occupied Jurupa Valley since pre-incorporation is a decade-long battle with Riverside over 10 miles of high voltage power lines.

In 2006, the City of Riverside announced a partnership with electricity corporation Southern California Edison to build a 10-mile 230 kV transmission line, split half-and-half between then unorganized Jurupa and Riverside proper.[6] Jurupa public opinion resented the initiative; residents attempted to derail the invasive plan, but were powerless. By 2011, incorporation gave Jurupa Valley a platform to protest the measure, and the City has been fighting the Riverside Transmission Reliability Project (RTRP) ever since. The new Jurupa Valley has always feared the RTRP?s impact on the City?s ?aesthetics, agricultural and forestry resources, greenhouse gas emissions, biological resources, land use planning, population and housing, recreation, and transportation and traffic.?[7]

Riverside took aim at and took advantage of the new city, challenging Jurupa Valley to declare its autonomy. The City?s fight against the RTRP has been an eleven-year boxing match, and a process of turning de facto cityhood into de jure independence. With each chapter of this story, the RTRP rises to a higher rung of the federalist ladder. The one commonality is Jurupa Valley?s relentless protest and litigation. Chapter One begins on the municipal level; Chapter Two unfolds on the sub-state regional courts; and Chapter Three reaches the State step. This story has been the most formative development for Jurupa Valley as the new city finds its identity.

The RTRP story cannot be told without the indispensable backdrop of the demographic distinctions between Jurupa Valley and Riverside. The cities border each other, their centers only separated by 10 minutes in a car. But you wouldn?t know if their descriptions were taken context-independent.

Jurupa Valley, as of 2013, is home to 97,000-plus with a majority 66 percent Hispanic/Latinx population. The City is also 25 percent white, 4 percent African-American, and 3 percent Asian. Socioeconomically, ?Jurupa Valley residents have a lower per capita and household income than the County of Riverside and the State of California? approximately 16.1 percent of residents lived below the poverty level in 2008?2012.?[8] As for its topography and culture, ?Residents keep animals, trailers and barns in their backyards and hay and feed are sold on the main thoroughfare along with fast food and pizza,? reported Southern California Public Radio.[9] Jurupa Valley is a conglomeration of semi-rural areas patched together to form a makeshift city.

Riverside, on the other hand, is a thoroughbred city. It?s the 59th most populous in the United States, with 319,504 residents as of 2014 (triple the size of Jurupa Valley).[10] It is 50 percent Hispanic/Latinx, 34 percent white, 6 percent African-American, and 6 percent Asian. The median household income exceeds $60,000.[11] Unlike Jurupa Valley?s rural quality, Riverside is a metropolitan area which also houses the University of California-Riverside. The cities often find their identities and interests in conflict, as Jurupa Valley?s poorer, minority community attempts to rival Riverside?s majority, dominant role in the area. The debate over the RTRP is an unresolved story of David and Goliath, if David fought with weapons of lawsuits, stamped government reports, community meetings, and petitions.

Chapter One begins in November 2012. The Preface, between 2006 and 2012, when Riverside was in the planning stages for the RTRP, is inconsequential because Jurupa Valley was powerless to protest. Come December 2012, Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) and Southern California Edison (SCE) had already ironed out the details of the project, which was initially budgeted for $150 million and consisted of 59 power poles and 16 transmission towers, in addition to new wildlife substations. Half of this infrastructure would be erected in Jurupa Valley.[12]

This was an ambitious undertaking, and would directly interfere with Jurupa Valley?s own city development along the Interstate 15 corridor and displace many low-income families from their homes. It felt occupational. Riverside agreed to discuss with Jurupa Valley, giving them a chance to push back before voting and certifying the RTRP and its Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) on February 5, 2013. Jurupa Valley filed petitions at the state Public Utilities Office, begging California to seize control from Riverside and claim the role of ?Lead Agency? on the project in a plea for the state to take advantage of Dillon?s Rule.[13] The City also consistently reached out to the Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) manager to comment and challenge the FEIR, calling for revisions that take into account Jurupa Valley?s environmental well-being.[14] But the City?s efforts fell on deaf ears. Denied, denied, denied.

Come February 5, Riverside City Council voted to approve and certify the RTRP and the FEIR. The vote was 5?0 on Resolution ?22493. The opposition begrudgingly accepted this vote and legally approved the transmission line plan.[15] And yet the fight was far from over.

This first chapter demarcated the pro and con camps that would remain mostly constant throughout the process. The pro-RTRP contingent consists of the City of Riverside (specifically Riverside Public Utilities), and Southern California Edison (SCE). SCE is a branch of the larger Edison International, a corporation with 17,000 employees, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, with a market cap exceeding $25.5 billion.[16] Riverside wanted the project because the City of 300,000-plus was only served by a single transmission line; this project would connect a second high-voltage line to the state grid and service the entire city. The pro-RTRP camp is an archetypal example of regime theory: the RTRP plan is a formal arrangement by which public (Riverside) interests work together with private (SCE) interests to get things done. This effort echoes the public/private cooperation to build the Minneapolis Metrodome or rectify civil rights issues in Atlanta. Jurupa Valley has struggled to topple an impenetrable regime that combines Riverside?s political clout and Edison International?s monetary support.

The fight against the RTRP is largely a government-centered venture. The individual players in the case have fluctuated with mayor and City Council elections alike; Edward Banfield & James Wilson would characterize the city as especially decentralized, reflecting nearby Los Angeles. There has never been a strong enough mayor to keep an electoral grip on the young city. At the outset, Jurupa Valley recruited third party consultants to run the city, like Stephen G. Harding, a former Professor of Public Policy at Northwestern University and then City Manager of Jurupa Valley in 2012.[17] But the government needed help from a party with power.

Housing developers were the closest powerful private interest. The RTRP threatened to cut through new housing developments along the I-15 corridor, angering both residents and home developers alike. Housing availability and cost of living are among the most reliable barometers of a city?s health: just ask Thomas Sugrue (Sweet Land of Liberty) or Matthew Desmond (Evicted). This fact made housing a priority, and Lennar Homes had planned a 466-home, 211-acre Riverbend project in Jurupa Valley: a pivotal development for a fledgling city. Lennar Homes is a part of larger Lennar Corporation, a privately-owned Fortune 500 housing developer.[18] As the story progressed, Lennar Homes? cooperation allowed Jurupa to fight a regime with a regime against Riverside and company.

The neutral interest groups in this debate include the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The latter and CPUC project manager Jensen Uchida have the self-interest to adhere to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and accept project applications from cities and corporations who fall within the CEQA?s guidelines.

Chapter Two begins when Jurupa Valley, unable to take Riverside on a municipal level, targeted the sub-state regional component of the federalist tower: the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County. Peter M. Thorson, City Attorney for Jurupa Valley, and private law firm Richard, Watson, and Gershon filed a writ of mandamus petition against the City of Riverside and SCE on March 6, 2013: one month after the Riverside City Council?s decision to move forward with construction.[19]

The writ of mandamus feature of the lawsuit is of paramount importance because it means Jurupa Valley was calling upon the state to fulfill its federalist duties and ?correct an abuse of discretion.?[20] Thorson delineated five allegations in the litigation. 1) Riverside ?pre-committed? to the project without awareness of environmental impact. 2) Riverside did not consider alternatives that would subvert Jurupa Valley or mitigate its corrosive impact. 3) Riverside did not ?recirculate? the new information when added to the EIR. 4) The State of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) must be the ?Lead Agency? on the project; Riverside is not legally permitted to do so. 5) The aesthetic impacts on Jurupa Valley were not considered in Riverside?s planning. Further, ?the certification of the EIR violates the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act.? Riverside was taking advantage of Jurupa Valley and thus ?abusing discretion.?[21]

14 months after filing the petition, on May 5, 2014, the Superior Court rejected the writ of mandamus petition against Riverside and SCE on all five counts.[22] Jurupa Valley lost the court battle. Construction on the RTRP would continue. Of course, they appealed again, and were denied once more on November 6, 2015.[23] Meanwhile, Jurupa Valley attempted to install the Vernola Marketplace Apartments, a 397-unit project, to physically impede the RTRP. Riverside replied with a lawsuit, which remains unresolved.[24]

This chapter of the story did not adhere to the pluralist model of politics. Banfield & Wilson?s thought of the mutual adjustment among groups was absent; the city governments only interacted via the courts. The City of Riverside did not cooperate with Jurupa Valley at all to plan the project. Riverside skipped directly to the outcome. They were able to do because of their elite status; the combination of Riverside and Edison International was insurmountable. E.E. Schattschneider?s rebuttal of James Madison seems apt here: ?the flaw in the pluralist heaven is that the heavenly chorus sings with a strong upper-class accent.?[25] Elitism may not have informed the objective Superior Court?s decision, but the Court did give credence to the fact that Riverside is a bigger city that needs a second transmission line. Effectively, the Court placed Riverside?s needs as paramount to Jurupa Valley?s. Moreover, even after consideration in the Superior Court, the government is so fragmented that the debate is still not resolved. Now, the RTRP goes to the State of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for environmental review. That?s where we are now.

Chapter Three: the beginning of 2017 has marked a new stage in the RTRP debate, the state level being the final frontier for Jurupa Valley to protest the construction. This is when the Lennar Homes-Jurupa Valley regime cooperation comes back into play. Jurupa Valley?s legal actions precipitated no concessions from Riverside; but in July 2016, when a Fortune 500 company got involved, change began to happen. Lennar Homes filed a petition with the Riverside City Council requesting that the RTRP divide the 10 mile transmission line into two parts, where 2 miles of the high voltage lines run underneath Lennar?s 211-acre development in Jurupa Valley.[26] Riverside obliged. Once again Schattschneider?s point about the upper-class accent of pluralism rings true: only when an elite corporation gets involved does change occur. Regime theory at its best. Project backers in Riverside hoped that the concession will ?bolster their chances? for the CPUC to approve their application. Jurupa Valley has resumed full-fledged protests calling for the application?s dismissal in early 2017.

On January 18, 2017, the City of Jurupa Valley issued a press release requesting City residents to attend a public comment meeting on the RTRP. The press release claims that potential loss of economic investment in the community could exceed $500 million and loss of tax revenue could add up to $2?3 million per year.[27] Most of this loss would come from property taxes, which are a city?s chief source of revenue and least elastic. Jurupa Valley might as well be classified as an early American city, so the three barriers to growth apply: capital, technology, and transportation. Jurupa Valley fears a loss of capital ($500 million) with this project, stunted growth of its own technology/infrastructure, and interference with I-15 transportation. ?Residents, local business owners, and community stakeholders are strongly encouraged to attend the public meeting listed below to voice their concerns about the project,? says the press release.[28] Jurupa Valley wanted to galvanize the next Ernest R. Rather to foment change in municipal politics.

After an extended wait, on January 25, 2017, the CPUC released a Notice of Preparation (NOP) that they are working on a subsequent Environmental Impact Report for the RTRP. Enter Jurupa Valley protesters. Jurupa Valley has sent extensive comments on the NOP to Jensen Uchida, CPUC project manager. Jurupa Valley feels optimistic that they can at least mitigate the burden of the project on ?low-income and minority populations,? as the CPUC delineated that as a priority in the NOP.[29] Jurupa City Attorney?s office then sent a memo to Uchida on February 8, 2017, citing a report by Urban Futures, Inc., a municipal consulting firm and interested party, ?which confirms that the RTRP will devastate the value of the City?s most important assets and cause tremendous harm to the economic viability of the City.?[30] There is a sentiment in these memos to the CPUC that the City cannot stop the RTRP from being approved; however, these letters call upon the CPUC to take into account Jurupa Valley?s interests and low-income population at the very least. The February memos are a last ditch effort and a faint scream for help. Now, only time will tell if the CPUC gives credence to Jurupa Valley?s requests.

Jurupa Valley?s most recent pleas have highlighted the City?s low-income and minority population. And yet, the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County has not mobilized; Piven and Cloward?s mass mobilization theory fails to apply. Jurupa Valley is concerned that the RTRP will curtail the City?s efforts to develop infrastructure and rectify that structural factor that led to so much poverty in the area. Riverside and SCE do not care. The RTRP debate fulfills the government-centered theory of politics; everything runs through the Jurupa Valley and Riverside city governments, and independent agencies are largely uninvolved. Influencing the CPUC?s final EIR is their last chance.

The Jurupa Valley-Riverside debate over the RTRP is a two-government boxing match. Riverside has been beating up Jurupa Valley for eleven rounds (years), and the judges at the Superior Court have done nothing to stop it. Like any other boxing match, this one will end after 12 rounds. Jurupa Valley?s attempt to inform the CPUC?s final decision is the last punch they can possibly throw. It?s a matter of life or death for the start-up city. The government-centered and regime theories of politics worked in tandem; the only other interested parties (Edison International, Lennar, etc) massaged and consulted the government fighters. The issue has climbed three rungs of the federalist ladder, from municipal to sub-state regional to state. Jurupa Valley has been exhausted by this climb and fight and will need to regroup to work around the invasive transmission line measure. The young city will need to learn to navigate the fragmented bureaucracy that surrounds it, as it develops its own coordinated and efficient bureaucracy in the image of Max Weber?s idealized model. Jurupa Valley now begins to heal and train for its next fight.

[1] Amy Taxin, ?California?s Youngest City, Jurupa Valley, Could Cease to Exist over Budget Woes,? Southern California Public Radio, January 12, 2014.

[2] ?Jurupa Valley Incorporation Election, Measure A,? Ballotpedia, accessed May 5, 2017.,_Measure_A_(March_2011)

[3] SCPR, ibid.

[4] Ballotpedia, ibid.

[5] Sandra Stokley, ?Jurupa Valley: New city hall evokes history,? The Press-Enterprise, February 12, 2015.

[6] James A. Cullier, ?Interim Interconnection Facilities Agreement,? Jurupa, April 4, 2006. Information and Updates/RTRP/Interim Interconnection Facilities Agr. RTRP SCE_Riverside 4_4_06.pdf

[7] Peter M. Thorson, ?Superior Court Filing ? RTRP Final Eir ? Jurupa Valley Litigation,? Jurupa, March 6, 2013, 5. Information and Updates/RTRP/RTRP EIR Superior Court Filing-3_6_13.pdf

[8]?Environmental Justice Element, Jurupa Area Plan.? Jurupa October 2014. General Plan (2011)/Oct-2014-Jurupa-Valley-Environmental-Justice-Element.pdf

[9] SCPR, ibid.

[10]Riverside Google Public Data, accessed May 10, 2017.

[11] ?Riverside, California,? City Data, accessed May 9, 2017.

[12] ?RTRP Environmental Review,? California Public Utilities Commission,? last updated April 10, 2017.

[13] Steve Harding,?Jurupa Valley Petition for CPUC Jurisdiction,? Jurupa, December 18, 2012. Manager/RTRP 2016/Jurupa Valley Petition for CPUC Juruisdiction-12?18?12.pdf?timestamp=1466543559141

[14] Ginetti Giovinco, ?Jurupa Valley Comments ? RTPR Draft EIR,? Jurupa, December 14, 2012. Information and Updates/RTRP/JV Comments RTRP Final EIR- 12_14_12.pdf

[15] CPUC, ibid.

[16] ?Edison International,? Bloomberg, accessed May 9, 2017.

[17] Stephen G. Harding, ?Jurupa Valley: The Last City in California?,? Western City, August 2012.

[18] ?Lennar Homes,? Fortune 500 Magazine. Accessed May 11, 2017.

[19] Thorson, Superior Court Filing, March 6, 2013, ibid.

[20] ?Writ of Mandamus,? Cornell Law, accessed May 11, 2017.

[21] Thorson, Superior Court Filing. March 6, 2013, ibid. Information and Updates/RTRP/RTRP EIR Superior Court Filing-3_6_13.pdf

[22]?Superior Court Decision ? RTRP Final EIR ? Jurupa Valley Litigation,? Jurupa, May 5, 2014. Information and Updates/RTRP/RTRP EIR Superior Court Decision Denying Petition- 5_5_14.pdf

[23] ?RTRP Document List,? Jurupa, accessed May 5, 2017.

[24] Sandra Stokley and Alicia Robinson, ?Riverside: New Lawsuit in Power Line Dispute with Jurupa Valley,? The Press-Enterprise, April 23, 2015.

[25] Elmer Eric Schattschneider, 1960. The Semisovereign People: A Realist?s View of Democracy in America. Holt, Rinehart and Winston

[26] Imran Ghori, ?Jurupa Valley: Power Lies Won?t Cut through housing tract,? The Press-Enterprise, July 26, 2016.

[27]?Notice for Public Meeting,? Jurupa, January 18, 2017. Manager/RTRP 2016/Notice for Public Meeting.pdf

[28] Notice for Public Meeting, ibid.

[29] Thomas Merrell, ?Planning Department Letter to CPUC,? Jurupa, February 8, 2017.

[30]Ginetta Giovinco, ?City Attonrey Letter to CPUC,? Jurupa, February 8, 2017. Manager/RTRP 2016/Jurupa Valley_RTRP ? Comment Letter re Scoping 02.08.17.pdf?ver=2017?02?18?045412?623


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