County executive
The search for a replacement for former County Executive Bill Luna is ongoing. Luna’s predecessor, Larry Parrish, has been the interim executive since Sept. 27. He had agreed to serve for three months without salary.

Since no permanent choice has been made, the board has asked Parrish to continue to serve as interim executive. He agreed to extend his stay, but he will begin receiving a monthly salary of $15,000.

No interviews for the position have occurred yet, according to Ray Smith, County Public Information Officer.

This recommendation was part of the Board of Supervisors’ agenda Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Marijuana Dispensaries
In a closed session during its Dec. 13 meeting, the Board unanimously authorized its attorneys to sue any marijuana dispensary in the unincorporated county area, or the owner of any property where a dispensary conducts business, unless the operator or property owner voluntarily and immediately ceases operation.

In 2006, Riverside County amended its zoning ordinance when it adopted a ban on marijuana dispensaries in the unincorporated county area. For the past several years, Riverside County officials have investigated suspected dispensaries and collected information about operations. The county has issued notices of violations when businesses were found to be operating illegally and has defended lawsuits by dispensary operators who challenged the ordinance.

With the authorization from the Board, county officials will use code-enforcement powers and lawsuits to pursue dozens of illegal dispensaries within the county’s unincorporated area. County officials also will seek to recover all administrative and legal costs unless dispensary operators or property owners immediately and voluntarily cease dispensary operations.

If federal law-enforcement officials become involved, it is possible that businesses’ assets could be seized. If businesses are operating out of leased buildings, federal officials also might be able to seize the property, including buildings.

County officials are aware of at least 36 dispensaries operating illegally within unincorporated areas of Riverside County. More than a dozen have closed in the past year.

A state appellate court ruling last month that upheld the City of Riverside’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries encouraged the board’s action. The court ruled that nothing in the state Compassionate Use Act of 1996 (Prop. 215) or other state law precludes local governments from banning dispensaries. The ruling was issued by the California Fourth District Court of Appeals in Riverside. The court has jurisdiction over matters in Riverside, San Bernardino and Inyo counties.

Light pollution
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors planned a public hearing for 9 a.m., Tuesday, Dec. 20 on its draft ordinance to control light trespass.

“Light trespass occurs when light fixtures on one property [projects light that] falls across a property line onto another lot or parcel of land or onto a public right-of-way,” Supervisor John Tavaglione (2nd District), author of the draft ordinance, wrote in his memorandum to his colleagues. “Light trespass results in a waste of natural resources and at certain levels may jeopardize the health, safety or welfare of Riverside County residents.”

The specific proposed standard reads, “All outdoor [lights] shall be located, adequately shielded, and directed such that no direct light falls outside the parcel of origin, or onto the public right-of-way.”

Specific exemptions, such as required by law enforcement or emergency personnel, authorized by state or federal law, or holidays, will be permitted. Security lighting will be permitted provided it meets the other provisions of the ordinance.

Violators will be fined. First offenses could cost $100. Further violations will go to $500.

County ordinance 655 already regulates some outdoor lighting within 45 miles of Palomar Observatory, but Tavaglione’s proposal would apply throughout the county’s unincorporated areas, including Idyllwild.

The board scheduled a public hearing at its Oct. 15 session, but Tavaglione, the ordinance’s sponsor, was absent. Another hearing had been scheduled for the Nov. 22 meeting.

District Attorney’s agreement
The county and the its District Attorneys Association reached a compensation agreement covering the four years from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2015.

The attorneys agreed to pay four percent of their pension costs beginning in January and another four percent in January 2013. In addition, new employees will receive a retirement benefit equal to two percent of their three-year average salary at age 60.

In exchange, the county agreed to three across-the-board wage increases beginning with a 1.5 percent raise in September 2012, followed by 2.5 percent in July 2013 and a three percent increase in August 2014.

The association also agreed to limit annual leave buy-backs to 40 hours per calendar year.

Habitat acquisition
The board of supervisors has authorized the use of funds for the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority to acquire property consistent with the county’s multiple species habitat conservation plan.

The acquisitions are needed to protect various species which might be threatened or whose habitat might be damaged by county projects, such as road construction.

At its Dec. 13, meeting the board approved a $5 million loan to the Authority, which will be repaid over 10 years. In addition, another $4 million was provided for the Clinton Keith right-of-way and other future transportation projects.

A second agreement for $2.9 million of future credits was also approved.