Thursday, September 24, 2020
Fundamental Principles and Priorities

Fundamental Principles and Priorities


The fundamental, underlying assumption of this Strategic Vision is that there are limits to the services that Riverside County can, or should, provide to the public. It cannot be a government of last resort which attempts to provide all the services that are unprofitable for others to provide.

Although the County plays a significant role in the spectrum of Federal, State and local government services, it must rely on the participation of other government organizations, as well as nonprofit business, community and religious organizations, and families, to provide the range of services required in a functional community.

Based on the underlying philosophy that the County cannot be all things to all people, and recognizing that the County cannot and should not "go it alone" in serving the public, the Strategic Vision reflects three levels of service delivery. These levels essentially represent the degree to which the County will be involved as a community member in attempting to meet the wide range of community needs.

Three Levels of Service Delivery

The County adheres to the principles set forth in this Strategic Vision to determine the level of service delivery that is established in a given situation. Broadly defined, the levels include:

Direct Service -- in which the County is directly involved in the provision of County-wide, or unincorporated area, services.

Partnerships -- in which the County works in partnership and collaboration with other organizations or agencies to plan for and provide services to the community.

Supporting the Community Agenda -- in which the County supports activities that lead to the development of services to the community.

More specifically these levels of service are defined as follows:

Direct Service

Certain countywide programs and services have been determined to be most appropriately provided directly by County forces or by contractors who provide those services pursuant to standards and policies approved by the Board of Supervisors. Road maintenance, Sheriff's patrol, health, and welfare are examples of direct services by County forces, while contracted direct services include street sweeping, road construction, library system operations, and airports system management and operations.


Certain functions, while not found to be core functions of the organization, may, by virtue of their proximity to the mission of the organization, be performed in partnership with other organizations. Riverside County's collaborative role would be performed via financial support, technical assistance, coordination, or the creation of new organizations. Two criteria that would be applied in the decision to provide support are: (l ) the effort would complement Riverside County's mission; and, (2) there would be significant economies to be gained through the collaboration.

Examples of such functions and partnerships include joint powers agencies providing regional transportation planning and operations services, such as the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), Western Riverside County Association of Governments (WRCOG), Riverside Transit Agency (RTA), Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), and Sunline Transit Agency, planning for re-use of the March Air Force Base property through the March Joint Powers Agency, and environmental planning and habitat land banking through the Riverside County Habitat Conservation Agency (RCHCA).

Supporting the Community Agenda

Absent the assumption of either a direct service or partnership role, a major function that Riverside County can perform is that of supporting activities consistent with the development of the County's statements of vision and mission.

As the Board of Supervisors is the only general purpose political body with geographic perspective over the entirety of Riverside County, it has addressed, and will continue to elevate, critical issues that require resolution before the County's vision can be achieved. This role does not assume that Riverside County government has the final word in setting a community-wide agenda. However, the organization, via its broad perspective, does have the capacity to assist in that effort.

Through needs assessment, public discussion, and voluntary effort on the part of the Board and staff, critical needs, although not central to the core functions of the organization, can be addressed or, at a minimum, highlighted.

Examples include: the County's Combined Campaign, which raises employee contributions for scores of community-based service organizations; co-sponsorship of the 1996 Children's and Youth Summit; efforts to site Federal courts in downtown Riverside; and, bringing public and media attention to important cultural, religious, charitable, or family activities through Board proclamations and events.

Countywide, Municipal, and Local-Option Services

The Board of Supervisors serves in the dual role of: (1) a legislative body responsible for programs and services benefitting all County residents; and, (2) the "city council" responsible for municipal-type services provided to those County residents who live outside of cities. These services provided by the County organization are categorized as follows:

Countywide services are defined as those services of broad benefit, in many instances mandated by law, that are utilized by city residents as well as those living in the unincorporated areas. Examples include:

  • Property assessment and taxation Elections
  • District Attorney Public Defender
  • Courts Probation
  • Jails Juvenile facilities
  • Coroner Social welfare programs
  • Public Health and County Hospital Mental Health services
  • Environmental Health services Waste Management
  • Housing Authority Flood Control
  • Regional Parks

With the exception of Waste Management , Parks, Environmental Health, and Flood Control, countywide services are primarily funded by grants and subventions from the State and Federal governments, and a portion of the property taxes generated throughout the County.

Municipal services are those basic community-level services that the County provides to its unincorporated area residents (or, in some cases, to cities which contract with the County for such services). Examples of County-provided municipal services include:

  • Law Enforcement Fire Protection
  • Planning Building permitting and inspection
  • Economic Development Code enforcement Road maintenance and improvement Libraries
  • Animal Control

With the exception of services provided through contracts with cities, the bulk of County-provided municipal services are funded by property, sales, and gas taxes generated in the unincorporated areas of the County.

Local-Option services are non-basic municipal services which have been requested in specific communities or neighborhoods within the County unincorporated area. Examples include:

  • Street Lighting Street Sweeping
  • Parks and Community Centers Landscape maintenance Maintenance of non-County roads Water/sewer systems
  • Enhanced law enforcement Enhanced fire protection

These services are typically provided through the auspices of County Service Areas (CSAs). The type, quantity and quality of service desired in a community is locally determined through the CSA's Advisory Committee, which makes taxation, budgetary and other policy recommendations to the Board of Supervisors. CSA services are primarily funded by special taxes, assessments, or fees imposed on the requesting property owners subject to the "Citizens' Right To Vote On Taxes" (Proposition 218) provisions of the State Constitution.

In general, the County recognizes cities as the ultimate municipal service provider in urban and urbanizing areas. By this, we mean that the narrower scope of responsibility, the higher population density which enables service efficiency, and the more localized control and accountability, typically make cities a more effective vehicle for municipal service provision than counties. This explains why most population centers in the County, which were all unincorporated land at one point, have opted for cityhood.

The County's obligation to its unincorporated constituents is two-fold: for the short-term, provide the best possible municipal services and quality of life that can be afforded; and, for the long-term, ensure proper land use and infrastructure planning so that resulting neighborhoods and communities are attractive and economically viable candidates for future cityhood, if that becomes the desire of the populace.

For further discussion of city/unincorporated area issues, please see Environment and Development on Page 18 and Annexation and Incorporation on Page 39.

Balancing Services and Programs with Community Livability and the Environment

The County of Riverside recognizes that it faces a significant challenge in maintaining the delicate balance between the services and programs it provides and the community livability and environmental health to which it is committed.

Within the realm of those services that Riverside County provides, this organization is committed, both philosophically and pragmatically, to providing those services with sensitivity toward the natural environment. The County will strive to eliminate or mitigate the impact of its government services on the environment. It will commit additional financial resources, when cost/ benefit and fiscal resource analyses have been conducted, to further the County's environmental agenda.