Valley News -

By Jeff Pack

Mayor Ruiz talks of improvements, future at San Jacinto State of the City


Last updated 11/2/2018 at 7:40pm

Shane Gibson

San Jacinto Mayor Crystal Ruiz welcomes guests at the Soboba Springs Country Club before her State of the City presentation, Oct. 25

Joined by hundreds of members of the community, business partners and city staff and employees, San Jacinto held its annual State of the City celebration at the Country Club at Soboba Springs Thursday, Oct. 25.

Before Mayor Crystal Ruiz began her speech, members of San Jacinto City Council, along with city staff, presented awards to members of the community that have made a positive impact.

One of the recipients was J.R. Tofte, president of Veterans Day Out, an organization that brings veterans who for the most part never leave the Veterans Affairs hospitals they reside in to different American Legion posts in Riverside County for outings.

"He brings (veterans) into town, with a parade of a support team, and gives them one day where they can sit down with other veterans, other citizens and have a moment of peace," Ruiz said. "So they feel like a real human again."

Ruiz read from a letter that she will present to Tofte at a later date that was written by President Donald Trump to honor the veteran.

"This is unexpected," Tofte said following a standing ovation. "I didn't start this for this. Thank you."

Sonia Ramos and family were presented an award for their work with the local community with their nonprofit group, Boxing for Christ. The group has a mission of using boxing to promote and provide a safe haven and healthy environment for youth and young adults in the community.

"They are an amazing family, led by an amazing mother," Ruiz said. "I'm so proud of you and what you've accomplished. Since we've known each other, you're just doing amazing things."

Ruiz read another letter from Trump, praising Ramos and the organization.

"I can't take all the credit," Ramos told the crowd. "This valley has helped me, our family can only train them and get them on the streets. With the help of the Soboba Foundation, we are getting these kids to the Olympic Trials, and we will promise you guys that one day, we will have a champion here in San Jacinto."

Ruiz honored outgoing city councilmember Scott Miller, presenting him with the key to the city, as Miller is not running for re-election for another term.

"Scott has been a mentor and a true friend for me and many in this room," Ruiz said.

"Thank you, this a huge honor," Miller said. "Democracy doesn't work unless we all get involved, because we are this country. The fact that you're here, means you care, so thank you."

Ruiz honored and presented City Manager Rob Johnson with an gift for the work he's done.

"Everybody out here is so amazing to work with," Johnson said. "It's such a difference to work with a tight-knit community that wants and deserves new improvements, not only for themselves, but for the future."

Ruiz thanked the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians with a special street sign to recognize the tribe and the foundation, presented to Soboba Tribal Chairman Scott Cozart.

Next, Ruiz began her speech.

"I was very excited to take my turn as mayor of this 130-year-old startup city," Ruiz said. "I am thankful to my colleagues for allowing me this privilege."

Ruiz said it has been a "a phenomenal year" improvements for the city with major road improvements, new residential construction and new retail developments.

"It is so nice to see so many familiar faces," she said. "And to celebrate a special year in the revitalization and rebirth of the city of San Jacinto."

Ruiz said that the city has faced some challenges, but insisted the future is bright. She said the city has more than 49,000 residents with an average age of 31.6 years of age.

"We are chock full of young families and young professionals," she said. "A housing boom has taken over as we've just cleared 300 housing permits for this calendar year. That's a huge amount, that's five times the previous nine-year average.

"We're growing at a 6 percent clip and on our way to 50,000 residents, which we will surely pass in January."

Ruiz pointed toward the rebuilding of the city's administrative team, the marketing of retail and commercial opportunities and improving streets such as repaving all four lanes of San Jacinto Avenue. She said they have increased their police officer force by three employees and redesigned City Hall.

"We have put forth a focus of improving the quality of life for San Jacinto residents by adding amenities like new restaurants and shopping opportunities," Ruiz said. "New streets and street lighting and increased public safety."

Shane Gibson

San Jacinto dignitaries and members of the community gather at Soboba Springs Country Club for the San Jacinto State of the City, Oct. 25.

Ruiz said the city has just completed the trails master plan and has received responses to the city's general plan 2040 update.

"We believe that San Jacinto is a community that families, businesses and job creators want to invest in," she said. "We have created a buzz of development activities."

Ruiz said the city is challenged to create shopping and amenities for its residents.

"Our residents and community members deserve places to go and things to do," she said. "The city council understands this challenge and has responded."

Ruiz talked about her meetings in Washington with policymakers as well as the president. She visited four times this year.

"You know, San Jacinto has always been on the map," Ruiz said. "But now we're on the big map. No one else was invited four times – just San Jacinto."

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]


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