Action on the 2015-16 California State Budget yesterday allows Riverside to compete for the honor of developing the world’s premiere air quality research facility, the new home for California Air Resources Board (ARB) Research Facility.
The state legislature’s approval of budget bill AB 93 includes funding to evaluate the relocation of the California Air Resources Board (ARB) mobile emissions research facility from its outdated facilities in El Monte. That location is currently staffed by over 400 employees, many of them serving in high paying jobs as research scientists and technical support staff.
Through the Department of Finance (DOF) and ARB, the Administration has proposed relocating and upgrading ARB’s mobile emissions research facility, with a particular emphasis on a partnership with an academic research institution.
Local officials assert that the state’s best option is to co-locate the new ARB campus next to CE-CERT laboratories in Riverside. By doing so, ARB can expedite its mission at the highest levels of professionalism while expending the least amounts of time and money to activate ARB. Consolidating ARB research facilities in Riverside could allow joint use of existing laboratory space and equipment at CE-CERT, reducing capital outlay by as much as $25 million.
The process to select the best location for ARB has faced significant challenges. An early decision to omit UC Riverside and include only Cal Poly Pomona for consideration raised concerns among both local officials and state lawmakers.
State Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside) had been in conversations with ARB to help facilitate an evaluation of a potential partnership between UCR CE-CERT, the UCR School of Medicine, the UCR School of Public Policy and the City and County of Riverside.
“Frankly, the original process was not fair,” said Senator Roth. “The facility’s relocation was earmarked for a specific location without the transparent, public process all Californians rightfully deserve.” The newly approved state budget specifically names Riverside for consideration and puts it in an open and fair process for consideration, Senator Roth continued.
The Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce had also been actively engaged in ensuring UCR would be included for consideration of the site relocation. The Chamber’s advocacy was critical to ensuring a fair and transparent process to allow Riverside to compete for consideration.
"Diversifying the regional economy by attracting new jobs and investment in clean technology tops the agenda for the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce," remarked Robert Stockton, Chairman of the GRCC Board of Directors. "We are pleased to be part of the success of this multi-agency, public-private partnership," he added.
UC Riverside College of Engineering’s Center for Environmental Research and Technology (UCR CE-CERT), a world-renowned research facility that has been at the forefront of critical studies and new technologies concerning air quality throughout Southern California, had joined with the UCR School of Medicine, UCR School of Public Policy, and the City and County of Riverside to respond to the Administration’s Request for Information (RFI).
“Nowhere else in California can one find better accommodations for the world’s most advanced air quality research at the greatest convenience and lowest cost than in Riverside, California,” declared Rob Field, Assistant County Executive Officer, Director of the Economic Development Agency.
If UCR is chosen as the new site location, the facility and the new jobs associated with it will stimulate the local economy and further solidify Inland Southern California’s reputation as home to the world’s premier air quality research and testing efforts. Research synergies with ARB can be expected to expand the Riverside knowledge pool which, in year 2014 alone, resulted in 114 National Science Foundation awards for research at UCR and CE-CERT.
With the Legislature’s approval of the State Budget, Assembly Bill 93, ARB will be poised to perform a comparative site evaluation between Pomona and Riverside. If the state budget is approved by Governor Jerry Brown by the July 1 constitutional deadline, the evaluation will be completed this fall and a site chosen by ARB in January 2016.