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Enchanted Hills Community Park

The Enchanted Hills Community Park began as 22 acres of blighted land, often used for illegal dumping of everything from tires and bottles to sofas and a boat! Now with lots of community elbow grease, Prop 68 funding secured and projects designs at 100%, the next year will see it emerge as a beautiful new green space, complete with a skate spot, accessible playgrounds, splash pad, basketball courts, exercise equipment, and much more!

Creating new parks out of underutilized land is a rewarding and challenging process that, for the City of Perris, began with an open field and a vision. The City knew they could do great things with this space with the proper resources, and in 2019, hired Interwest Consulting Group to provide grant writing and Community Engagement services to apply for a competitive Statewide Prop 68 Grant.

The application process is very involved and requires extensive data compilation, skilled grant writing and outreach creativity to produce a package to impress the State of California Grants Department Selection Committee. Interwest worked with the City to advertise, organize and deliver seven Community Engagement Events which included visits to the local high school and senior center, the chance for students and seniors to design their dream park, and a final outreach event at the project site with games, food, a rock wall, and a raffle. Each of these events were opportunities to inform residents of the City’s plans for the park and to hear which amenities were most important to the community. The data collected both through polls and personal conversations with locals was the driving force in the end design and was crucial to creating a compelling and unique grant application which captured the story of the community and its desires for the future.  Our team came up with a number of “wow factors” that we knew would impress the judges, including a series of intergenerational charrette exercises to encourage the youth to work with seniors to collaboratively develop park concepts.

The finished product was a work of art and our team felt we had a winning application on our hands. The State felt the same and awarded the City of Perris $8.5 million, the maximum award possible.  Not only did the grant win the award, but the State also utilized the grant application in their “best practice” grant guide booklet for the Round 4 in 2021. City staff repeatedly rave about our services, attention to detail, work ethic, work product and ability to over-deliver and continually impress. Said Richard Belmudez, City Manager, “Interwest Consulting Group is a great partner to the City of Perris. They were instrumental in the vision, financing and now construction of the 22-acre Enchanted Hills Park. Their passion, professionalism and commitment were instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.”

With the grant awarded, our work is still not done! Interwest continues to partner with the City of Perris to oversee the design process and provide value engineering and plan checking of the park improvement plans, including grading, water and sewer, landscape improvement, electrical, and building plans. As the project progresses, Interwest will provide project and subconsultant management, inspection, and storm monitoring services.

Interwest firmly believes that “Parks Make Life Better” – now more than ever! We look forward to our continued partnership on this endeavor and to seeing the City’s dream of a beautiful new park become a reality. We also look forward to repeating this process as the City has retained us to apply for two new park grants in the coming year.

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Building Department Services for Sovereign Tribal Nations

Unlike our other public agency clients, many of the tribal government clients we serve do not have an established Building Safety Department or permit counter, or, for that matter, a City Hall. They do, however, have booming industrial and commercial development and a commitment to providing their residential and business community with safely built and responsibly maintained structures and facilities.

Interwest has the privilege of serving several sovereign tribal governments in California, and each has brought with them unique challenges and perspectives. When we began serving the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, we became their first ever building department. We collaborated with the Tribal Council, Pechanga Fire Department and their attorney to help establish and adopt their first building codes, using our knowledge of industry standards and local adoptions and their knowledge of the specific concerns and unique needs of their community. The result was a comprehensive building code which our Building Official, plan review, and inspection staff continue to enforce.

A few of the sovereign tribal governments with whom we have projects currently underway include:

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians – We’re providing plan review and inspections on projects including a new Agua Caliente Casino in Cathedral City, a new Travel and Fuel Station in Rancho Mirage, and a new Cultural Center in Palm Springs, including a spa building and a cultural museum. We also provide facility inspection on structures including golf course buildings, park buildings, and government center and permitting services.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians – Interwest serves as the tribe’s Building Department, providing Building Official, plan check, inspection, and permitting services on projects like their new Health Center facility and multiple tenant improvements and residential projects.

Table Mountain Rancheria, a tribe of Native American people from the Chukchansi band of Yakuts and the Monache tribe – We’re currently providing Building Official, plan review, and building inspection services to the tribe for their Table Mountain Casino, Hotel, and Entertainment Venue project, which will nearly double the amount of gaming floor space and add a 151-room. 12-story hotel.

The Tachi Yokut Tribe – We are providing plan review services for planned interior and exterior improvements and expansions to the Tachi Palace Casino Resort, adding about 24,000 sf of space and linking current amenities, such as the Coyote Entertainment Center, to create a more cohesive campus.  Construction is set to begin later this spring.

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Atherton Town Center

The Town of Atherton is known for being the most expensive zip code to call home in America, so it may surprise you to learn that the Town’s City Hall was comprised of an old building and 8 portable trailers. Recognizing the need for a functional and welcoming space for civic activities and community engagement, the Town created plans for a new $60 million Civic Center Complex, complete with council chambers, a library, and facilities for town administration and police department.

Though planning for the Town Center began in 2012, the project broke ground in 2019. It was crucial to the Town to have complete stakeholder buy-in and community involvement. Plans were drawn and changed several times to ensure that the project properly represented the vision of Town Leadership, reflected and preserved the rich cultural heritage of the Town, and respectful of concerns expressed by adjacent neighbors and Town stakeholders. Interwest Project Manager, Marty Hanneman, has effectively and successfully formed important partnerships and wonderful relationships with Town residents and vocal stakeholders as he responded to their questions and found solutions to their concerns throughout the planning, design, and construction of the project.

Once the plan was agreed upon and construction started, the project faced an unexpected and unanticipated challenge: the COVID pandemic. Like so many construction projects this year, the Town Center was put on hold for several months as the Town adopted and implemented health and safety best practices. Eventually the project was allowed to proceed, as the Town Center will be an essential service building; even so, moving forward remained difficult as several of the required suppliers and tradesmen were not considered to be essential workers. Even though months of productivity were lost, it is a testament to the team’s determination and dedication that the project is still on schedule. Limited staff are expected to move in under a temporary certificate of occupancy in July 2021 with the rest following shortly thereafter in October.

Interwest is proud to be a part of this marquee project for the Town of Atherton. “We’re really pleased with how the project is progressing given the challenges we’re all facing with COVID,” said Project Manager, Marty Hanneman. “This project is going to be a real showcase for the community as well as for all of the contractors and the larger team delivering the project.”

Interwest has served the Town of Atherton since 2011 providing Municipal Engineering, Building and Safety, GIS, and IT services, as well as technical assistance and support to the Town Manager, Town Council, appointed Committees, and the community on programs, policies, activities and projects.

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Supplement Your Revenue with a Temporary Transfer of Water Rights

Looking for alternative sources of revenue? Have you considered a short-term or temporary water transfer?

More and more cities are temporarily transferring a portion of their surface water and groundwater rights via a one-time transaction which serves to create an untapped revenue source for sellers and helps to stretch California’s water supplies in dry times for buyers. Whether it’s surface or groundwater, you may be able to make a temporary transfer of water without risk to your permanent water rights. A temporary water transfer is just that, a one-time, temporary transfer of a portion of a seller’s water right to a willing buyer.

Interwest staff have successfully led multiple temporary water transfers for public agencies in California resulting in millions of dollars of additional revenue to selling agencies. Our team has experience with permitting the transfer of both surface and groundwater.

Click here to learn more about water transfers and reach out to our staff to see if this makes sense for your agency.

 

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Tracking Homeless Camps through Mapping Technology

Most cities in California are facing the challenges that come with an increasing homeless population including litter, disease, environmental damages, public safety issues, affected property values, and, most significantly, the tole that that living on the street takes on the mental and physical health of these individuals. While resources and solutions are available, communication with and information on this population can be difficult to establish.

Working with the City of Rancho Cordova, Interwest GIS staff have created a map-based program to help document, track, and provide resources to homeless individuals and families. The Rancho Cordova Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), uses this tool to assist with identifying individuals in the homeless camps to provide resource information to potentially help them towards a more stable future.

The map-based application was created to allow HOT team members to locate, document, and capture images to assist in understanding the magnitude, concentration, and details concerning the homeless camps throughout the community. Using the ArcGIS Collector app on their smartphones, City staff can quickly document the location, characteristics of the camp, and people living there.

The information that was collected in the field is viewed by staff back at the office. Users login into ArcGIS Online to access the Homeless Camps Application to review and analyze the recently collected information. This helps to direct resources for cleanup activity near street right of ways, highway interchanges, creek ways, and vacant lots.

The City’s Homeless Outreach Team, comprised of a Homeless Navigator, a code enforcement officer and two police officers, assist individuals and families experiencing homelessness in the community.

Note: During the COVID pandemic, the enforcement of illegal homeless camps has been put on hold.

Click here to learn more about our GIS team.

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Interwest Hosts Lunch-and-Learn Webinars for the The Association of California Cities – Orange County

Interwest shares experiences and lessons learned through utilizing virtual building inspection services and creating virtual EOCs in response to COVID-19

Despite the unprecedented professional challenges that came with COVID-19, Interwest has taken various thoughtful and unique pro-active measures to keep our communities thriving. We continue to fulfill the goal of making our communities better places to live, work, and play by sharing what we’ve learned throughout the process.

In May of 2020, Interwest employees hosted lunch-and-learn webinars to members of the Association of California Cities – Orange County (ACC-OC) on two topics: Virtual Building Inspections Best Practices & Pitfalls and Building Your City’s Virtual EOC and City Hall Services for COVID-19 and Beyond.

Virtual Building Inspections Best Practices & Pitfalls: Our experienced and certified building officials discuss utilizing various technologies and best practices to conduct virtual building inspections.  This information can help keep projects moving forward and minimize financial impacts to cities and constituents while protecting both staff and the public you serve.

Building Your City’s Virtual EOC and City Hall Services for COVID-19 and Beyond: Experienced local government city management executive, emergency manager, and author Jacob Green discusses lessons learned from COVID-19 virtual EOC activation and how these lessons can be applied to expanding virtual services throughout city hall and enhancing crisis leadership.

For more information about the support we can provide to you and your clients during this time, visit our COVID-19 Response page.

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Our Statement on the Black Lives Matter Movement

We support representation and racial equity among our communities and within our company.

At Interwest, we recognize that we have a lot of work to do. While our values are and have always been in favor of lifting each other up and providing a culture of community, we must do what we can to fix systemic racism and truly pave the way for our Black colleagues and community members.

Here are some things we are currently working on as a start:

  1. Improving our hiring practices. Our Human Resources department has been tasked to reach out to Black organizations on the college campuses where we recruit. We have to increase the amount of interest we receive from Black students to join our company. And in order to retain them, we will actively outreach and provide professional opportunities as well as clear paths for advancement.
  2. Becoming members of professional Black organizations. We have to become participating members of  professional Black organizations to develop a network we can reach out to and increase hiring at all levels. In this way, we can attract mid or late career professionals who can become leaders in our organization. We only have a few Black senior professionals in our company, and that is not nearly enough.
  3. Increasing our outreach to Black youth. We have a foundation that creates scholarship programs for high school students transitioning to higher education, supporting communities in which we work that have socio-economic challenges. This year, we had 44 scholarship recipients — five of which were Black students and 28 Latino students, which is reflective of the demographics of the high schools we reached. We plan to expand that program into more high schools with a higher percentage of Black students.

To our Black employees, clients, and community members: We understand that you are hurting, and we are listening. Please reach out to our Internal Communications line via text or phone call 303-952-4896 to provide suggestions on what we can do to create a better, safer, and more mindful community. If you would like to reach out directly to our CEO, Terry Rodrigue, please email him at trodrigue@interwestgrp.com or call 303-549-7776.

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El Monte Scholarship Program

We’ve partnered with the City of El Monte and the El Monte Union High School District to offer scholarships to graduating seniors.

The City of El Monte and the El Monte Union High School District are partnering with the Interwest Community Foundation to offer scholarships to graduating seniors. Select students will be awarded a total of $3,000 they can use to offset the costs of attending a four-year university in 2020.

“The cost of living and attending college in California continues to increase every year,” said El Monte Mayor Andre Quintero. “We want our students and their families to know they have our community’s support to pursue a higher education—and that the costs shouldn’t hold them back from learning what they want to learn.”

Applications for the 2020 Interwest Community Foundation scholarships opened Monday, March 9th, and closed at midnight on Friday, April 10th.

“Our goal is to help students who show potential be successful with the hope that they will return upon graduation to become leaders in their community,” said Interwest Consulting Group President Terry Rodrigue. “We recognize students face many challenges both in school and at home; therefore, we look beyond grades and test scores to consider how they have overcome life situations.”

The Interwest Community Foundation awards additional scholarships to students in several California cities, including Bell, Rosemead and Maywood. This is the first year it will be awarding scholarships to students in El Monte.

Check out our Interwest Community Foundation page for more information about our scholarship programs.

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Interwest Family Retreats

As we continue to grow, Interwest remains at its core a family-oriented company. One of the ways we uphold that value is through our annual family retreats during which our employees and their loved ones get a chance to escape to a scenic location and reconnect with their colleagues.

Over the last few years, our company has grown exponentially to include more than 500 professionals; still, our culture remains personal and family-focused. One of the most unique ways Interwest employees stay connected is by attending our annual weekend retreats. This tradition that started as a single, small gathering has grown to encompass three events, one for Northern California, another in Southern California, and a third at our headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. Hundreds of Interwest staff come with their families to enjoy two nights at a hotel in a scenic location to spend as they wish, with one planned dinner that all attend. At the banquet, we welcome new hires of the previous year and get the chance to catch up with those we don’t see often, meet our colleague’s families, or even have a s’more with the president of the company!

This year the Colorado retreat took place in Estes Park, CO. The company dinner consisted of a chuckwagon supper and western show at The Lazy B in the historic Elkhorn Lodge. During the intermission, our team was visited by a huge bull elk and a few of his lady cows in the parking lot. Never a dull moment!

Our SoCal retreat was at the Mission Bay Hilton in San Diego, where 173 of our employees attended with their families for a grand total of 458 at our banquet out near the fire pits and surf! One of our musically-gifted engineers even brought his jazz band to serenade us throughout the evening.

Our NorCal retreat was held at the Doubletree Hotel by Hilton in Rohnert Park, CA. We had almost 200 join us for dinner in wine country and luckily, though it was the first weekend that PG&E had a planned outage, we had electricity all weekend!

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Prop 68 Park Grants

Interwest knows that “Parks Make Life Better”! For that reason, we collaborated with two cities to apply for Proposition 68 funding to create and renovate park space in their communities and ultimately improve the quality of their residents’ lives.

Interwest partnered separately with the Cities of Perris and San Gabriel to apply for Prop 68 funding this summer by organizing and attending community engagement events, making presentations to City Council on progress and resident input, and packaging the final application for consideration. We were proud to be part of these Cities’ efforts to improve the quality of life of their residents by making safe, accessible and inclusive outdoor space a priority.

Parks should be a place where residents of all ages can engage in healthy, outdoor activities and gather safely for family-friendly fun. In the spirit of making park space more accessible in our cities, Proposition 68 made $254,942,000 of competitive grant funding available from the California Department of Parks and Recreation in order to improve existing parks and create new parks. To be eligible for funding, communities must have less than an acre of park land per 1,000 residents and must engage with the surrounding community to ensure that the park will include the feedback and priorities of those who will use it most.

Interwest staff had the opportunity to participate in several community engagement activities for the City of Perris, including a concert in the park, a visit to a senior center, a gymnasium event geared towards local teenagers, and several events where children were encouraged to design their own dream park. At each event, attendees were asked about their ideal amenities and weigh-in on what mattered most for them. Finally, the City hosted an event on the proposed park site with posters displaying the survey results and the proposed park design. Though the project site is currently just an empty lot, residents of all ages came to enjoy food, a rock-climbing wall, and to see how the City incorporated their priorities and desires into a beautiful plan for their future park.

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