Incorporated in October 2010, the City of Eastvale is one of the newest cities in Western Riverside County but has a growing population of more than 73,000 residents. Bryan Jones has led Eastvale as city manager since November 2018 after serving as the interim city manager for five months. Jones also has more than 20 years of experience in the public and private sector, with a background in professional engineering and certified planning.
How would you describe the City of Eastvale for those who are not familiar with the city?
Incorporated on October 1, 2010, the City of Eastvale is one of the newest cities in California. It’s 13.1 square miles, strategically poised between interstate 15 and California State Routes 91, 60, and 71, making access easy for residents, visitors and businesses alike. Nestled at the western edge of Riverside County, we’re just a short drive to Orange, Los Angeles counties, along with easy access to the Ontario International Airport
The secret is out on our dynamic destination city that is booming with new and exciting opportunities for our businesses, residents and community alike. When we think of our commUNITY, we focus the emphasis on ‘unity. We are one of the most diverse cities in California yet we strive to be the most inclusive as well.
As a City, we do government different and as a result, especially during COVID, we had success serving the community, residents, businesses and our team at City Hall. We continue to elevate and strive to exceed Eastvale’s expectations every day. We don’t have all the answers, yet we have a saying, ‘some days we WIN, some days we LEARN, yet we always give and try our BEST.’
Where is your favorite place or space to visit in the City?
I like to be where the commUNITY gathers, whether that is a community event, community-wide cleanup, one of our many restaurants where everyone knows your name, a community fitness Move Through Motivation Meetup, our Inclusionary Task Force gathering, meeting with our public safety and first responders at their houses or stations; I love being around people to connect and serve them.
Eastvale is one of the newest cities in Riverside County since it was incorporated in 2010 and is one of the fastest-growing cities in California. How is Eastvale working to accommodate this growth and ensure that the growing population is supported by City services?
We take a strategic and thoughtful approach to planning and growth of our City. As part of this effort, we closely monitor metrics and also facilitate a bi-annual Community Satisfaction Survey to see how we are doing. We are proud that even after the explosive growth of the past decade we still remain a safe community and hold the rank of the 29th safest City in California and 2nd safest in Riverside County. We are always looking for new ways to serve and partner with our community. It’s a priority for our team to work with all of our stakeholders in the community, such as our Neighborhood Watch Program, Move Through Motivation, our local businesses, our Chamber of Commerce, our Inclusionary Task Force and other key groups. We empower, engage and leverage our residents to be part of the solution.
We strive to create a team and commUNITY where every face is seen, every voice is heard and everyone feels welcome and safe!
You have a background as an engineer and planner and have led major land use and transportation infrastructure projects throughout your career. How have these experiences informed your work to successfully and efficiently develop Eastvale?
My experience in planning and engineering over the past two decades has really helped me see the whole picture when it comes to running a fast-growing city. Many times planning is the vision and engineering is the implementation, yet in many local governments, they are done in silos and it’s very process-oriented. As an activator and maximizer, the City focuses on the performance and courageous, creative and collaborative results.
If cities don’t do planning and engineering correctly, they create deferred maintenance, frustration and a non-sustainable financial outlook—not to mention erode public trust and confidence with their constituents. It’s about weaving together planning, engineering, economic development, communications and public safety, where they are all supporting each other and complimenting each other to most effectively and efficiently serve the residents and businesses. Too often, processes are set up with a stagnant target in mind yet when the target moves, the old processes don’t deliver the desired effectiveness.
There is only 32 full-time staff at Eastvale, which is relatively small for Eastvale’s size. How does the size of your staff change your leadership style? Your ability to deliver innovative and successful projects? Your response to the pandemic?
We might only have a lean team of 32 team members, but we operate as a team of 100. Our secret to our small but purpose-driven team is investing in our most valuable asset—our talented people. When we invest in our teammates, not only with opportunities to learn but also with flexibility and empowering them to do their jobs, they are motivated to be engaged and inspired. We know engaged employees are two to four times more productive than disengaged employees. Studies have shown that 75% of the workforce has been disengaged for the last 5 decades in America, but that’s not Eastvale. We are engaged and empowered at all levels and everyone has to roll up their sleeves and they are excited to do so. We can’t have bureaucratic processes of no, can’t and won’t; instead, we rely on our entrepreneurial spirit of yes, can and will. This mindset starts at the top and trickles down to the rest of our team. We also create an environment where mistakes are proof that people are trying and want to be a learning, trying and growing team.
During FY 2020-2021, Eastvale has already seen a more than 32% increase in new business applications and renewals, which seemed impossible during the height of the pandemic. How is Eastvale attracting new businesses even in times of crisis?
For starters, we are open and never truly closed. Our businesses and City Hall couldn’t afford to close as their success is our success. We never let the pandemic stop our momentum. While safely following all of the pandemic protocols, our economic development team continued to support our existing businesses through the restrictions handed down by the state at the height of the COVID-19 lockdown. We started Eastvale’s “Biz Support Program,” which provided resources to assist local businesses to stay open during the pandemic including a no-fee temporary-use permit process for outdoor dining and tents, in addition to free signage. We also awarded 27 business grants through the Eastvale Emergency Enterprise Grant Program, where each business received between $10,000 to $12,000 in grant funding.
In addition, our Economic Development Team continued to and never stopped pursuing new, unique and exciting businesses. As a result, we currently have four new shopping centers that are booming with unique and exciting businesses with more to be announced in the near future. Stay tuned!
One of Eastvale’s goals is to become a “destination,” rather than a place someone drives through. How is the City working toward this goal? How does Eastvale compete with cities like Riverside, Los Angeles or even San Diego that aren’t too far from Eastvale but offer much more in terms of size, nightlife, restaurants and businesses?
We are becoming that destination City by dreaming big and bringing highly desired businesses and opportunities to our residents and the commUNITY. We have several sit-down restaurants coming in the next year and beyond, along with our first hotel, Stay Bridge Suites, which includes a rooftop bar and restaurant and conference/event center. We are working to bring nightlife and “date night” experiences to Eastvale with retail centers currently under construction and the Leal Property, our “downtown,” which is expected to be in development in the near future. The Leal Property Master Plan establishes the City’s vision of the site as the “heartbeat” of our city and a vibrant destination with mixed-use retail, restaurants, night-life, office, housing and civic development serving Eastvale and the region. It will definitely have a feeling like “you have arrived to one of the Innovation Empire’s great places.”
What initiatives or programs are you focusing the City’s efforts on for the remainder of 2021? What are you hoping to accomplish this year?
In late March, our City Council approved our new Strategic Plan goals for the next two to three years. Included in these goals and priorities are constructing a police substation building, continuing to attract and retain businesses that align with our diverse community needs, starting developing our civic center (city hall and public library), building a third fire station on the north side of our city, evaluating parks and recreation as a City service (our parks are currently handled by regional community services districts) and providing additional cultural and diverse events in the City, just to name a few.
Has there been anything odd you’ve had to do that you didn’t anticipate being part of the city manager’s responsibilities?
Creating strength-based leadership and our purpose and values was not something that I anticipated undertaking, but it was something we needed to address as the previous culture had a 50% turnover of staff. We had to create a culture, mission, vision and purpose that was unique and our own to rally behind in order to grow and maintain our team, so we can continue to take the city to new heights. This was the basis of our momentum this year and how we kept moving despite all the challenges.
In Eastvale, we champion experiences that engage, excite and elevate our commUNITY! With our kindness (selfless concern for all), grit (passion and resilience in everything we do), and being solutions-driven (courageous, creative, and collaborative results).
What is some advice you’d give to someone aspiring to be a city manager? What skills should they develop or expertise should they have?
While incredibly challenging at times, it’s also a very rewarding and fulfilling profession and creates positive lasting impacts in the communities which we serve. You need to keep an open mind with an eye towards the future. The job will come with tough decisions and challenges while also having to guide the community through new and exciting opportunities. A city manager needs to be visionary and act as the bridge between the residents, businesses, stakeholders, City Council and City Hall team focused on serving and delivering results.