The Riverside City Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting on May 26 at city hall to discuss alternative options to celebrate Fourth of July in 2020.
The council recently voted for the cancellation of the 2020 Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rubidoux and La Sierra Parks.
“This is an ongoing tradition in the city,” Council member Ronaldo Fierro said.
As a result of the cancellation of the event, council members have issued several alternatives to continue celebrating the Fourth of July. A unanimous vote was taken by the members of the council to waive the provisions of the Sunshine Ordinance. The city of Riverside Sunshine Ordinance No. 7301, pursuant to Municipal Code Section 4.05.050(D)(1)(a), is the need to take immediate action and hear the report on alternative options for the 2020 Fourth of July event.
“In the interest of the community, give up the idea of any expense going into any public celebration of the Fourth of July and instead encourage people to celebrate the Fourth of July as their ancestors did in the past,” Leticia Pefer, a Riverside resident since 1982, said.
Pefer expressed her comments to the members of the council and how their decision of this celebration has less to do with novel coronavirus, known as Covid-19, and more to do with the fact the city of Riverside is facing financial issues during this pandemic.
Adolfo Cruz, Director of the Parks, Recreation and Community Wards Department, disclosed and presented the city’s four alternative options for the 2020 Fourth of July event. Such alternative options included a virtual fireworks show, a patriotic city celebration week, a searchlight’s display on Mt. Rubidoux or a family day along Victoria Avenue. All of these options align with the state of California’s pandemic roadmap.
Council members debated on each scenario and discussed the costs of each option. Mayor Pro Tem Erin Edwards said, “It was a very painful decision for all of us.”
It was a main concern for public health amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Such considerations of costs, responsibility and fire risks are all to be taken during this time.
After numerous discussions and debates, the Riverside City Council concluded with the motion passed on option B of the alternative options for celebration of the Fourth of July. A patriotic city celebration week was voted 5-2.
Riverside residents would be encouraged to celebrate Independence Day in a variety of ways, including a weeklong celebration themed “United! Spirit of Riverside, Spirit of America!” Residents would be engaging in a friendly competition and broadcast the many activities the community will take part in.
“This can be fun for families, for kids. I am getting excited about option B and I hope my colleagues feel the same way,” council member Gaby Plascencia said.
Among other discussions during the meeting, the council also reviewed the Proclamation of Local Emergency regarding COVID-19, which was proclaimed on March 13, again. In order to mitigate the effects of said emergency, the council members ratified the Local Emergency Proclamation. The ratification was extended for another 30 days, resulting in small businesses being unable to open. The city will open up in phases.
The Riverside City Council also examined the order of the Director of Emergency Services providing minimum staffing to slow down the spread of COVID-19. The city is currently working on a “Return to Work Plan,” which is currently still taken under review by the Director of Emergency Services, who issued the order.
The council also ratified the extension of the Minimum Staffing Order. Additional time is needed to complete and implement the plan to enable staff to return to work in a safe manner and remain consistent with the stages outlined in the Governor’s Resilience Roadmap.
“This is not ideal, this is not forever,” Plascencia said.
The Riverside City Council will meet again for its regularly scheduled meeting on June 2.