Bark Beetle
Last month, the County of San Bernardino decided it no longer needed to declare a bark beetle emergency. Both Riverside and San Bernardino counties have been passing emergency bark beetle proclamations for more than a decade.

Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins said this county has no current plans to cease approving its emergency declarations.

“We are cautiously waiting to see what happens with the [Goldspotted oak borer],” Hawkins said. Also, the San Bernardino Mountains are in a slightly different climate zone and receive more moisture than the San Jacinto range, he added.

County officials may reassess the bark beetle situation in the spring after a more definitive assessment of whether GSOB has established itself on the Hill has been made.

Solid Waste
The Riverside County Board of Supervisors is already searching for ways to reduce county costs and to raise more revenue for fiscal year 2013-14. Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone is pessimistic that property values and concomitant property tax revenue will show much, if any, growth for the next fiscal year.

One of the options, which the board will review at a Feb. 26 workshop, will be whether to divest itself of county landfills and use the revenue for other investments, or whether to offer neighboring counties the opportunity to export their waste to these landfills in order to raise Riverside County’s revenue.

The county operates six active and 32 closed landfills and six transfer stations. According to a recent study, the Badlands and Lamb Canyon landfills are the most valuable assets.

While the entire system might have a small cumulative value, these two sites are worth between $80 and $120 million, perhaps more depending on the assumption of increased tonnage.

As an alternative, the county will submit a bid to import solid waste from Los Angeles County to Riverside County locations. Depending upon the cost per ton, Hans Kernkamp, general manager and chief engineer for the county’s Waste Management Department, estimates the county could generate $10 to $20 million annually for its general fund.

Code Enforcement
Concerned about budget reductions levied on the county’s Code Enforcement Office, Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone has provided $80,000 from his Community Improvement Development funds to restore some code enforcement staff.

“Supervisor [John] Tavaglione and I recognized that code enforcement is an integral part of public safety,” Stone told his colleagues. “We want to make Code Enforcement a first-class department to deliver the goods to cleanup the community and make it safe.”

The Supervisor then challenged his colleagues (Tavaglione was absent) to also use their CID funds to maintain code enforcement. While they supported Stone, none was able to match his effort.

New First District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries supported Stone’s idea, but said his CID funds had all been spent before his arrival. Board Chair and 4th District Supervisor John Benoit’s CID funds have been used, too. But he agreed with Stone that the county executive should look at options to restore some Code Enforcement staffing during the next budget period.

Housing ordinance
President Barack Obama proclaimed January as “National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.” During 2012, Idyllwild Soroptimists brought attention to the issue of human trafficking.

Last week, Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone requested county counsel draft an ordinance to regulate the hospitality industry (the hotel, motel and inn businesses) in an effort to reduce human trafficking and prostitution in the Hemet and San Jacinto areas and other unincorporated areas of the county.

His proposal would prohibit renting rooms on an hourly basis, limit the rental of rooms to once per night and prohibit knowingly renting rooms to prostitutes or their clients.

“It’s irresponsible of motel and hotel owners to knowingly abet human trafficking, which is growing,” he told his colleagues. According to Stone, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has identified two hot spots for this crime — San Bernardino and along Florida Avenue in Hemet.

In response to a question, County Counsel Pamela Walls said Riverside City already has a similar law. The proposed ordinance will come to the board of supervisors in the spring, according to Walls.

Cottage Food Industry
On Tuesday, Jan. 28, the board of supervisors held a public hearing on proposed Ordinance 916, which regulates cottage food operators. Following the hearing the ordinance was adopted.

The ordinance is based on a recent state law that authorizes two types of food operations — Class A and Class B. Both types must register with Riverside County.

Class A operations may engage only in direct sales of cottage food products from the cottage food operation, or from direct sales venues within their county. In other words, the consumer purchases the food product directly from the operator. Locations are generally temporary, such as holiday bazaars or certified farmers’ markets or special events.

Class B cottage food operations may sell directly to the consumer or indirectly through a third-party retail food facility such as a restaurant or market. These operations are also subject to different inspection requirements.