Why Four of California's Newest Cities May Soon Dissolve

All four are in Riverside County (east of LA). Reduced vehicle license fees, shifting funds from cities to prisons and a huge state budget deficit created the perfect storm to drain expected revenues. Hope was placed in a bill to fix it.

2 minute read

September 19, 2013, 8:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

empty parking lot of Eastvale, California's best buy and kohl's, mountains in background

Brien Clark / Wikimedia Commons

James Nash writes that California’s newest city, Jurupa Valley, population nearly 100,000, formed only two years ago, "may become the first to self-destruct in 40 years, disincorporating because Governor Jerry Brown and lawmakers stripped funds from local government to reduce prison crowding." The same fate awaits three other new Riverside County cities: Wildomar, a city of 32,000 incorporated in 2008, Eastvale and Menifee, population of 80,000, also incorporated in 2008.

If you listen to the video on Jurapa Valley's homepage, you'll hear that they blame their potential, impending dissolution solely on the last bullet listed below, but there are additional factors, including:

  • Reduced Vehicle License Fee (VLF) revenues that began in 1998 with Gov. Pete Wilson and was a key factor in the recall of Calif. Gov. Gray Davis in 2003 after he restored the VLF to the full 2 percent from 0.65 percent of a vehicle's current estimated value.
  • In 2011, when the city was incorporated, Gov. Brown faced "a budget gap of $17.2 billion".
  • California's chronic prison overcrowding problem 
  • Passage of SB 89 in 2011 that redirected $130 million in vehicle-license fees earmarked for municipalities. [Gov. Brown] put the funds toward a program that shifted social services and thousands of state prisoners to county responsibility. This bill cause the loss of "47% of its expected revenue in its first year as a city", according to Mayor Verne Lauritzen.

The video places the salvation for all four cities in SB 56: "VLF Allocations to Cities" written by state Senator Richard Roth (D-Riverside) that would have addressed inequities in the way newer cities receive VLF revenues. Sadly, the bill died in June.

Nash distinguishes disincorporation from bankruptcy by the presence of debt.

The city hasn’t issued debt and has no pension obligations, since all of its “employees” are contractors, Mayor Verne Lauritzen said.

Bonds were issued by "[a] separate government body, the Jurupa Community Services District" that will continue to operate in the event that Jurupa Valley and Eastvale disincorporate.

Friday, September 13, 2013 in Bloomberg News

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

May 21, 2024 - The Architect's Newspaper

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Ornate, tan stone capitol building with a gold dome roof and low-rise city buildings in the background.

States Are Banning Guaranteed Income Programs

Four states now have laws in place that prevent cities and counties from creating or continuing guaranteed income programs, and several more have tried or are trying.

May 23, 2024 - Bloomberg CityLab

California Governor Gavin Newsom announcing funding for tiny home shelter project in front of quick-build tiny home shelter unit.

California’s Tiny Home Pledge Still on Paper, One Year Later

A promise to fund 1,200 tiny homes for unhoused residents in four cities as a way to rapidly and cost-effectively provide shelter has yet to yield tangible results, but projects are moving ahead in some cities.

May 24 - CALmatters

Residential neighborhood in Colorado with fall foliage and snowy mountains in background.

Colorado Ends Non-Family Occupancy Limits

Local jurisdictions will no longer be able to limit how many unrelated adults can live in a household, a move that supporters say will help lower housing costs and help older adults supplement their incomes and stay in their homes.

May 24 - Strong Towns

A white crosswalk painted by Crosswalk Collective LA in Los Angeles, California.

Guerilla Urbanism Spurs Action From Cities

Rather than take a hostile approach to DIY urbanism, some cities are using guerilla efforts as an opportunity to understand critical infrastructure gaps.

May 24 - Smart Cities Dive

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.