New Design Plan project worries Riverside residents

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By Aletheia Meloncon

By Aletheia Meloncon

Concerned residents of Riverside showed up at California Baptist University for the Design Plan Workshop presented by the Arroyo Group to showcase the vision plans of Riverside to “revitalize” the city.

These plans however caused fears of eminent domain being used in the future that would displace thousands of residents and many business owners in the city.

The workshop that was held at the college gave residents an overview of the plan that sparked a heated debate and comments from frustrated residents voicing their concern of the future of their homes and businesses.

Vern and Betty Locke, residents since 1959, attended the workshop and said “that they were here because they were concerned about the rezoning that was necessary and how would it affect their business, a beauty salon and gift shop in the Arlington area.”

Mickey Birkle referred to the workshop facilitator Larry Morrison and the City of Riverside’s Planning Director Ken Gutierrez as the “tax men.”

“You could take my home,” Birkle said.

Others were outraged that the residents had not been informed about the plans and the negotiations that were involved in the new project and how it might affect their residences and businesses.

One outraged resident said “The whole design plan was a farce and a joke and that the public was never notified.”

She claims that she had read a 196 page document outlining the horrors that people would face later on once the project got passed by the Riverside City Council and Planning Committee.

Public hearings are to begin some time this summer.

The New Design Plan Project entails three different types of mixed used designs:

The first one is mixed used neighbor, mixed used village and mixed used urban.

The designs range from low density, land usage to high density housing with retail and entertainment.

The plans would also widen some streets to six lanes and make the area more efficient for pedestrians.

“The projects would restore the historic grandeur, implement parkways and accommodate balance,” Morrison said.

The plan also will entail bus routing to at key points for designated areas and to incorporate bus lines that make fewer stops but at key locations.

There are six district locations that are being considered for these projects: Magnolia Heritage, Arlington Village, Tyler Galleria, La Sierra, Magnolia Center and the Wood Streets (which Riverside City College is near).

One specific change is Van Buren Street would be widened to accommodate six lanes.

There is the current project of expanding the Arlington Library, extension of the Arlington Park to make it more visible to name a few.

When asked about the fear some residents had of eminent domain in regards to this project, Morrison denied that was the case.

“The private sector would be handling the relocating and restructuring,” he said. “Eminent domain was not a part of the project.”

Residents commented that they were happy with the way things were and that the new plan would only add to the many problems that

Riverside has encountered with its rapid growth.

On hand at the workshop was Art Gates, City Council member of Ward 3, who talked of an idea to get the word out.

“When the public hearings start, one will be held in each district to give a breakdown of each according to their district,” he said.

This would cut down on residents becoming confused after reading the changes to their district.

As of April 25 the City Council voted to purchase and redevelop a home and the Kawa market on Bandini and Magnolia in the Wood Street District for $715,000.

The city says the reason for purchasing the properties is for create affordable housing.

The exact plan can be viewed on the City of Riverside’s Web site at

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