3 Issues for IE in 2020: Census, Freeways, Homeless
1) The 2020 Census
Fontana is poised to take on the role of the most populous city in San Bernardino County.
The latest census estimate shows San Bernardino’s population at 215,941 and Fontana at 213,739, so when the census begins April 1, Fontana leaders hope to make up that 2,202 difference–and then some–to overtake San Bernardino, the county seat, as the largest city.
Why it matters: Fontana leaders say that if the city is at the top of the heap population-wise, it will affirm the decisions they’ve made the past 10 years or so to bring development, jobs and housing to the city. The census count, done every 10 years, also is used to determine federal representation and funding.
2) Freeway Construction Booming
One can’t drive far across the Inland Empire without encountering a lane or road closed for construction. The new year promises more closures, as agencies continue work to relieve freeway congestion and Caltrans ramps up spending on road repairs with cash from the controversial gas-tax increase.
What could happen in 2020: A project to convert car-pool lanes on the 10 Freeway, between the Los Angeles-San Bernardino county line and the 15 Freeway, into express lanes and to build another pay lane on either side is set to launch in spring, Tim Watkins, spokesman for the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, wrote in an email.
Also set to begin in spring, he said, is a project to widen the 210 Freeway, between San Bernardino and Redlands. In Riverside County, construction will begin in a few months on a new westbound lane on the 91 Freeway, from Green River Road in Corona to the 241 toll road, said John Standiford, deputy executive director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission.
In both counties, improvements will be made at multiple interchanges, including the 10 Freeway at University and Alabama streets in Redlands, the 215 Freeway and Barton Road in Grand Terrace, the 60 Freeway at Archibald Avenue in Ontario, and the 60 Freeway at Central Avenue in Chino, officials said.
Meanwhile, Standiford said express lanes being built on the 15 Freeway in Corona, Norco, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley are expected to open in the second half of the year.
Why it matters: The opening of the 15 Freeway lanes should bring some relief. The projects on other freeways could temporarily make it worse for commuters.
3) Where’s the Money for Homeless?
In 2019, about two dozen organizations and cities split $9.4 million in state money to provide immediate emergency assistance to people experiencing homelessness. In April, the county Board of Supervisors accepted 33 out of 43 applications for the money. The winners included Family Assistance Program, The Salvation Army, Mercy House Living Centers as well as the cities of Colton, Montclair, Redlands and Upland.
What could happen in 2020: As local leaders and organizations put the money to use, the region may see an expansion of homeless services and additional beds. The one-time funding will go for services to homeless adults and youth, rental assistance subsidies and capital improvements. Redlands, for example, is using the $600,000 to fund two part-time Community Outreach Coordinators with the Police Department. The county will be able to apply for $6 million more in state money for homelessness following a December announcement from Gov. Gavin Newsom at the Veterans Village in Loma Linda.
Why it matters: As lawmakers and advocates work to tackle the state’s homelessness crisis, the infusion of additional money has been welcomed locally. Homelessness is a growing problem in the region. The 2019 survey of homeless persons showed a 23% increase from the 2018 count.