City Of Moreno Valley, California
Moreno Valley is a city located in Riverside County, California and is part of the San Bernardino-Riverside Metropolitan Area. A relatively young city, its rapid growth from the 1980s to the early 2000s made it the second-largest city in Riverside County by population, and one of the Inland Empire’s population centers. As of the 2010 census, the city’s population was 193,365. The city is closely tied to Riverside, California, the county seat and largest city in the county, which neighbors Moreno Valley directly to the west. Moreno Valley is also part of the Greater Los Angeles area.
Prehistory to 1800s
The Moreno Valley area was first inhabited 2,300 years ago. There are at least 190 prehistoric archaeological locations within the city. The majority of the sites are milling stations – where chaparral seed was the dominant milling activity. Rock art, consisting of pictographs, and petroglyphs are present – though most of the petroglyphs in Moreno Valley consist of boulders with “cupules”, or cup-shaped holes pecked into them.
Spanish scouts initially came across descendants of the Shoshone, and Luiseño tribes; although other groups, such as the Serrano and Cahuilla were in the area. The late prehistoric Luiseño and Cahuilla were semi-sedentary, meaning that they wintered in villages, then spread out in family groups during the spring and summer months to harvest seeds and acorns.
Spanish scouts blazed a number of trails in the area, including the Anza Trail, which runs through the Edgemont area of present-day Moreno Valley.
When California was admitted to the United States as a state in 1850, Americans began to move into the area. The Tucson-to-San Francisco route of John Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company passed through. Some farmers began to occupy the area, relying upon water from Frank E. Brown’s Bear Valley Land and Water Company. Beginning in 1883, the company collected and pumped water from Bear Valley, California in the San Bernardino Mountains to the north. The area first acquired its current name, Moreno Valley, at this time, referring to Frank Brown (moreno is Spanish for “brown” or “brunet”). In 1899, the city of Redlands won a lawsuit in which the city claimed eminent domain over the Bear Valley water. The resulting loss of service forced most of the area’s inhabitants to move.
The revival of the Moreno Valley area began in 1918, when the United States Air Force (then the United States Army Air Service) constructed March Field on the outskirts of Riverside as part of its World War I expansion. March Field was initially used to train fighter pilots. Although it was closed in 1922, it was reopened in 1927 and eventually became a full Air Force base. The presence of March caused the unincorporated communities of Sunnymead, Moreno, and Edgemont to develop and grow. In World War II, March again became a training ground for military pilots. On April 1, 1996, March Air Force Base (MAFB) became March Joint Air Reserve Base (MJARB) under Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC).
From 1957 to 1989, the Riverside International Raceway occupied the current site of the Moreno Valley Mall. The Riverside International Raceway (Sometimes known as RIR or Riverside Raceway) race track was in operation from September 22, 1957, to July 3, 1989. Races held at the Riverside International Raceway included IMSA, NASCAR, Indycar, NHRA drag racing, Go Karts, and AMA motorcycle racing.
Incorporation and growth
The area experienced explosive growth in the 1980s. By 1984, the population was 49,702 (compared to 18,871 residents in 1970). The state economic boom fueled the construction of new houses and businesses. This growth led to a push for incorporation. Although similar measures had failed in 1968 and 1983, a measure to form the city of Moreno Valley was approved by voters in 1984. On December 3, 1984, the communities of Edgemont, Sunnymead, and Moreno united with nearby areas to form the general law city of Moreno Valley. The first City Council was also elected in 1984, composed of Bob Lynn, Judith A. Nieburger, Steven Webb, J. David Horspool (first Mayor Pro Tem), and Marshall C. Scott (first Mayor). The City Seal and Motto were adopted the following year.
By 1990, Moreno Valley had exploded in population growth to become the second largest city in Riverside County with a population of over 118,000. Growth continued until about 1992.
In the 1990s, the robust Moreno Valley economy deteriorated, largely due to the statewide economic downturn. Many people began to leave the city. March was also downsized to its present status as March Air Reserve Base. The surplus land was given to the March Joint Powers Authority, made up of representatives of Riverside County and the cities of Riverside, Moreno Valley, and Perris for development. The dismal economic trend began to reverse in the late part of the decade, however. Companies such as Aurora Modular, U-Haul, and Lowe’s moved major operating facilities to the city or neighboring municipalities (although Aurora later filed for bankruptcy).
By the early 21st century, the arrival of so many newcomers to Riverside County and the soaring cost of living in Los Angeles and Orange County combined to make the less-developed southern half of the Inland Empire a very attractive place for industry.
From 1957 to 1989 the Riverside international Raceway occupied the current site of the Moreno Valley Mall. The mall is located toward the northern end of the former raceway.
On the east end of the city off Moreno Beach Drive, a new Wal-Mart was opened in early 2006 (233,000 sq ft (21,600 m2) next to the Moreno Valley Auto Mall. This is also the site of the first Super Target in California and the first Best Buy store located within Moreno Valley city limits, which opened in July and October 2007, respectively. The exit off state route 60 is the main way to the Moreno Valley Ranch Golf Course, once included in Golf Magazine’s Top 75 Golf Courses in the USA.
On February 13, 2007, the City Council passed, by a vote of 4–1, a controversial resolution christening the eastern half of the city (roughly from Lasselle Street to Gilman Springs Road) “Rancho Belago”, a pastiche of Spanish and Italian words. The city council’s resolution includes the 92555 ZIP Code within the boundaries of the area, as reported by the Press Enterprise newspaper.
Today, Moreno Valley is home to around 200,000 residents and once again, experienced an economic bust (the late 2000s Recession) to restart again in a new development boom. MetroLink rail transit has arrived in the area further down in Perris to the south and a proposal to erect a four-lane freeway on the site of Cajalco Road/Ramona Expressway from Interstate 215 to Interstate 15 in Corona is currently debated by the CalTrans, Riverside County and Orange County governments. Upper-middle class residents reside in newer housing developments on the eastern half of the city. Recent years have seen the rise of corporate office industrial and business parks, as well a proposal of bringing minor league baseball of the California League to town. Moreno Valley is rapidly becoming a Latino majority city (over 50+ percent) and now has a high percentage of African-Americans (18.0% according to the 2010 U.S. Census).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 51.5 square miles (133 km2), of which, 51.3 square miles (133 km2) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2) of it is water.
Southern Moreno Valley, viewed looking south down Kitching Street.
View of Box Spring Mountain from Moreno Valley College
Moreno Valley is located at a geographic crossroad. To the east lie the San Gorgonio Pass and Coachella Valley; to the south are Lake Perris, Perris, the San Jacinto Mountains, and the route to San Diego; to the north are the San Bernardino Valley and San Bernardino Mountains. To the west lies neighboring Riverside, as well as Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The heavily traveled routes of State Route 60 (locally called the Moreno Valley Freeway) and Interstate 215 both pass through the city. It lies under approach paths for Los Angeles International Airport, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, LA/Ontario International Airport and San Bernardino International Airport.
One of the most visible geographical features in Moreno Valley, visible from almost anywhere in the city, is Box Springs Mountain. This mountain at the northwest end of the city towers over the city, providing a concrete landmark. The face of the mountain that faces the city has a large “M” constructed upon it. This was built privately at the encouragement of the City Council, which argued it would foster unity. The letter is located on public land and is maintained entirely by charity. The letter had lights installed on December 3, 2005 to celebrate Moreno Valley’s 21st anniversary of its incorporation and the completion of the repairs of heavy damage to the M, due to excessive rain the year before. The mayor at that time, Bonnie Flickinger, has said that the citizens liked it that way and that the council would try to get it to light up regularly. Between December 2, 2009 and December 6, 2009, Moreno Valley, along with Edison lit up the “M” in celebration of the city’s 25th anniversary. Several Eagle Scout projects have been dedicated to maintaining the letter.
The 2010 United States Census reported that Moreno Valley had a population of 193,365. The population density was 3,756.5 people per square mile (1,450.4/km²). The racial makeup of Moreno Valley was 36,546 (18.9%) non-Hispanic White, 34,889 (18.0%) African American, 1,721 (0.9%) Native American, 11,867 (6.1%) Asian, 1,117 (0.6%) Pacific Islander, 51,741 (26.8%) from other races, and 11,061 (5.7%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 105,169 persons (54.4%).
The Census reported that 192,811 people (99.7% of the population) lived in households, 471 (0.2%) lived in non-institutionalized group quarters, and 83 (0%) were institutionalized.
There were 51,592 households, out of which 28,586 (55.4%) had children under the age of 18 living in them, 29,000 (56.2%) were opposite-sex married couples living together, 9,990 (19.4%) had a female householder with no husband present, 4,191 (8.1%) had a male householder with no wife present. There were 3,627 (7.0%) unmarried opposite-sex partnerships, and 375 (0.7%) same-sex married couples or partnerships. 6,094 households (11.8%) were made up of individuals and 1,611 (3.1%) had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.74. There were 43,181 families (83.7% of all households); the average family size was 3.99.
The population was spread out with 62,496 people (32.3%) under the age of 18, 23,563 people (12.2%) aged 18 to 24, 53,726 people (27.8%) aged 25 to 44, 41,446 people (21.4%) aged 45 to 64, and 12,134 people (6.3%) who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 28.6 years. For every 100 females there were 95.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.
There were 55,559 housing units at an average density of 1,079.3 per square mile (416.7/km²), of which 33,393 (64.7%) were owner-occupied, and 18,199 (35.3%) were occupied by renters. The homeowner vacancy rate was 3.4%; the rental vacancy rate was 7.5%. 123,863 people (64.1% of the population) lived in owner-occupied housing units and 68,948 people (35.7%) lived in rental housing units.
During 2009–2013, Moreno Valley had a median household income of $54,918, with 19.5% of the population living below the federal poverty line.
The city became a diverse ethnoburb of a variety of racial and ethnic groups, esp. Blacks, Latinos and Asians replaced the once majority White (non-Hispanic) population in the 1990s. Immigrants often come from Central America, Southeast Asia and the Philippines, the Middle East and Somalia, the Balkans, the Caribbean islands (esp. Cubans and Puerto Ricans) and Samoans to reestablish themselves in older post-WWII suburban tracts in Sunnymead.
Moreno Valley has increasingly become a destination for African-American families from Los Angeles County. Between 2006-2007 alone, Moreno Valley saw a 13% increase in its black population.
Also in the same time period, Latinos became the majority of over half the MoVal’s population, especially a large Mexican-American and Mexican population developed in Sunnymead. There are several business strips catering to Spanish-speaking clientele and Latin American cultures.
There were 43,381 households out of which 54.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 61.6% were married couples living together, 17.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 14.9% were non-families. 11.0% of all households were made up of individuals and 3.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.6 and the average family size was 3.9.
In the city, the population was spread out with 36.8% under the age of 18, 10.5% from 18 to 24, 29.5% from 25 to 44, 17.7% from 45 to 64, and 5.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 27 years. For every 100 females there were 95.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 91.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $47,387, and the median income for a family was $48,965 (these figures had risen to $55,604 and $57,385 respectively as of a 2007 estimate). Males had a median income of $38,620 versus $26,492 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,983. 14.2% of the population and 11.6% of families were below the poverty line. 18.1% of those under the age of 18 and 9.7% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.
Moreno Valley’s primary and secondary education needs are fulfilled by the Moreno Valley Unified School District and the Val Verde Unified School District. The former serves approximately 35,000 students, the bulk of the city’s children, and has 35 schools, including five high schools: Moreno Valley High School, Canyon Springs High School, Valley View High School, March Mountain High School, and Vista del Lago High School. Val Verde District serves part of southern and eastern Moreno Valley, in addition to parts of Perris, Mead Valley, and unincorporated areas. It serves about 13,000 students and maintains 12 schools; one of its high schools, Rancho Verde High School, is located in Moreno Valley. Some private schools exist, including the local Valley Christian Academy, established in 1979, and Calvary Chapel Christian School, which serves students Kindergarten to twelfth grade. There is also growing number of charter schools within Moreno Valley area including Excel Prep Charter School – Inland Empire, a K–6 school, Riverside County Educational Academy, and Audeo Charter School, a 6–12 independent study program.
The Riverside Community College District, RCCD, serves 6,500 students at their Moreno Valley College campus. The city is also the location of one of the twenty-six Chapman University campuses. In Neighboring Riverside, students may opt to attend RCCD’s main campus, Riverside Community College, the University of California, Riverside, La Sierra University or California Baptist University. California State University, San Bernardino is another popular school for city high school graduates.
The Moreno Valley/March Field station, just west of the city limits, of the Greater Los Angeles commuter rail system Metrolink, opened in June 2016. Monday through Friday service is provided on the 91 Line connecting the Moreno Valley area with Riverside, Downtown Los Angeles and Perris to the south. The Riverside Transit Agency provides local and express/commuter bus services.