Supervisor Perez, South Coast AQMD Board Approve $4.57 Million for Road Paving in eastern Coachella Valley

DIAMOND BAR – Some $4.57 million was approved Friday to pave dirt roads in Polanco parks, mobile home parks and public roadways in the eastern Coachella Valley, Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, who represents Riverside County on the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) governing board, announced.

South Coast AQMD, at its meeting in Diamond Bar this morning, approved the funding and will open applications through November 2023 for proposals to use the funds for paving programs in the local communities of the eastern Coachella Valley.

Road Paving in East Valley Receives $4.57 Million

Supervisor V. Manuel Perez

“Finding a way to pave dirt roads at mobile home parks has been an ongoing issue in the eastern Coachella Valley that I consistently hear, even last night at a meeting in the community of Mecca,” said Supervisor Perez. “This is a terrific use of air quality improvement funds that will help our community members who live in mobile home parks and improve their transportation access, public health and air quality. The fact that people are going to see action and we’re making it happen, South Coast AQMD is making it happen with the community, is a big deal.”

South Coast AQMD will issue a program announcement to solicit applications for road paving projects. The application will be open through November 2023. South Coast AQMD will conduct extensive outreach, and a selection panel with community input will be making recommendations for selection of paving projects. Construction is expected to take place in mid‑2024.

Funding comes from the Community Air Protection AB 134 Fund, which is funding appropriated by the California State Legislature to address localized air pollution in communities across the state. The Assembly Bill 617 Eastern Coachella Valley Community Steering Committee prioritized dedicating the vast majority of this fund to road paving. State Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia has championed this funding from the Legislature.

Road Paving in East Valley Receives $4.57 Million

Photos show the conditions of dirt streets at eastern Coachella Valley mobile home parks before a Riverside County and South Coast AQMD project paved them 10 years ago. (Photo courtesy of RivCo Transportation Department.)

“We are grateful to see our vision creating the AB 617 community air protection program come together to empower residents and deliver results,” shared Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. “We applaud the leadership of Supervisor Perez and South Coast AQMD for moving on this community priority. This investment will bring real, impactful improvements to daily conditions and well-being for eastern Coachella Valley mobile home park residents.”

“Particulate matter in eastern Coachella Valley is comprised of windblown dust from dirt on unpaved roads that is suspended in the air and can be inhaled,” said Wayne Nastri, South Coast AQMD Executive Officer. “Through this paving project, we are able to respond directly to community concerns, resulting in better air quality and positive health impacts to local residents.”

Supervisor Perez recommended that South Coast AQMD coordinate with the County of Riverside and its agencies including the Planning Department to use this funding opportunity efficiently and effectively in alignment with other county efforts to improve housing and living conditions in the eastern Coachella Valley.

This funding is an innovative solution to a historical challenge in the eastern Coachella Valley, the lack of paved roads within many of the region’s mobile home parks.

Paving of private roadways within mobile home parks is unable to be done through traditional transportation funding sources. The lack of paved roads has meant that students and their parents have walked on dirt streets when walking to school or to the bus stop. Dust from unpaved roads has been a significant source of fine particulate pollution that gets kicked up into the air by vehicles traveling down the roads. Unpaved roads also become difficult to traverse during storms, isolating mobile home park communities at times.

The last major mobile home road paving effort came 10 years ago and was made possible through South Coast AQMD, the Riverside County Transportation Department and work by Perez as a member of the California State Assembly. A $4.1 million road paving project was funded through air quality mitigation funds that came as a result of AB 1318, legislation Perez authored that authorized the Sentinel Energy Project near Desert Hot Springs and created a $53 million mitigation fund for air quality projects. That unique funding source enabled the Riverside County Transportation Department to pave roads in over 30 mobile home parks in the communities of Mecca, Thermal and Oasis.

Image Sources

  • Students-Walking-Down-Dennington-Court: RivCo Transportation Department