GM Q&A Responses

Question:
Why are you interested in County vs City parks and recreation operations?  It seems like you are city type girl?

Answer:
Well, I’m not sure what a “city type girl” is, but yes, I grew up in and currently live in a city…and I can see how being in the office all day makes me appear like a city girl, as clothing for Board Meeting is not the same as clothing worn for a day out exploring our trails.  Believe me, if it was socially appropriate to wear jeans and t-shirts to a board meeting I would do so!

Parks folks come from all types of backgrounds and that’s what makes us unique, there is something for everybody.  Whether you like fishing, boating, camping, hiking, birding, biking, riding a horse, learning about history or learning about nature – there is something for everyone.  We all have room to find something to learn about and enjoy in our parks.

As you may know, I worked for the City of Fontana both in Parks/Recreation and in the City Manager’s office.  I believe there is a natural progression from City Parks work to County Parks work which operates on a regional level.  I began in the field of recreation, and learned about all aspects of the work that cities provide…from active programs and events to performing arts and community centers. I’ve done everything from clean restrooms and painting buildings to producing large scale events and public television shows.  I soon began to have an interest in how I could make an impact at a larger level and I needed more challenges.  When I came to county parks I again started in recreation management but moved to something larger and broader with oversight of the parks from an administrative level.  I have overseen every aspect of the work, which involves work in an office (City) to work out in the field.   

I think this question is a good one because it also shows me that sharing my story helps connect with all of you in new and different ways.  We all come from different backgrounds and interests but we have all found our place here.

Question:
At our first All Staff Meeting, right before the pandemic started, you mentioned how much you love reading.  Would you like to share with us what you are reading, what you really enjoyed reading in recent weeks, or what book(s) you gifted the most? – Nori Gardner

Answer:
Dear Nori,

I love reading and talking about books, so thank you for your question! I’ve been reading a lot lately to distract myself from the reality of this pandemic (and since there is nothing good on television!). I love to read all types of books, but my favorites are fictional novels based on history. Two recent books I love are The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer and The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate. Lisa Wingate also wrote Before We Were Yours, another terrific historical novel.

On the more educational side, The Forest Ranger by Herbert Kaufman, which is a study of administrative behavior (I can see some of you yawning now), and The National Parks, America’s Best Idea by Dayton Duncan and Ken Burns are two books I turn back to often. The latter explains the history of how national parks became an American priority and the process early parks pioneers went through to help set aside and preserve these national treasures.

In general, I love science based books, science-fiction, professional self-help books, business how-tos, mysteries, and books about religion. Pretty much anything that has words! Another favorite book from this past year is Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. This book is set in the late 1960s in the marshlands of North Carolina. While the story was wonderful, I loved the focus on the natural world that the book includes, educating the reader about the marshland habitat and the creatures that make their home in that setting.

Finally, books that I am gifted the most have to do with nature, science and history. My family members (my mom, sisters and aunts) all love to read, and we trade books whenever we see each other.

Question:
With parks on the path to opening I myself, a field staff employee, have noticed that guests have had the worst behavior I have ever seen. Is there any update on training park rangers for citation authority?

Answer:
First, I think it’s important to recognize that people in general are dealing with a lot of change and uncertainty. The issues we are facing related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) tend to generate opposing viewpoints, whether they think people should remain self-isolated, or that we all should go back to “normal”. That said, we collectively need to be patient and understand that each visitor to our park may show their feelings in different ways. Sometimes, this translates into not wanting to follow the rules or respect staff. Now, more than ever, we need to find ways to earn respect and seek voluntary compliance. I understand that there are some interactions with guests that require stronger enforcement options.

We, RivCoParks, are still seeking to update Ordinance 328 and utilize the citation authority it provides. This is taking longer than we anticipated, but still in progress. At this point, we expect to have updates ready for the Board to consider by the end of the year. Until then, continue to do your part to educate and communicate with guests and as restrictions become more relaxed, hopefully our guests will too.

Question:
Why don’t park staff receive updates on incident reports, i.e., what happens to guests who have caused problems? Are there any consequences such as banning (from the park), or fines?

Answer:
Actions pertaining to guests where incidents occur are handled at the park level. It is up to the site Supervisor and/or Manager to determine the appropriate response to incidents and make recommendations for asking guests to leave and/or banning them from the park site. While these actions have been taken several times in recent years, it does take violation from the guest that rises to the level of expulsion. Beyond park rules, guest must be in violation of Ordinance 328, and typically either have documented repeat offenses, or the behavior has to be bad enough that one offense leads to asking them not to return. The Supervisor and Manager would need to communicate their desire to ban the individual, along with providing evidence to support their decision. To date (in my 10 years of working for the District), I have only received a handful of these requests. If you are concerned about the activity occurring at your park site, you should start by communicating your concerns to your direct Supervisor and/or Manager. If you are not satisfied with their response, you are welcome to make an appointment with your respective Chief, the Assistant Parks Director, or me so that we may address your concerns.

Question:
I thought we were only allowed specific verbiage on our email signature page. I see…opinions noted.

Answer:
You are correct. We have developed a signature standard that helps reinforce our RivCoParks “brand” and make us identifiable as an organization when we email others. Personal quotes, tag lines, images, and opinions should not be included. It’s been a while since we’ve shared the protocol with staff, so now is a good time for a reminder. Here is the link to our most recent standard.

While we don’t “audit” signatures, I do rely on supervisor’s to hold their staff to the standards we have set. Thank you for bringing your particular concern to our attention.