Michael Rivera is a business owner, an Uber and Lyft driver and a former resident of Santa Maria where he served for 26 years as a parks commissioner and planning commissioner. He said that he relocated to Paso Robles to escape the high crime in Santa Maria and wants to prevent the same thing from happening here.
“We’re at a crossroads in this city,” he said. “I lived what not to do and I want to let you all know that I will fight for this City.”
WHAT WILL YOU DO TO FACILITATE HOUSING FOR WORKERS AND FAMILIES IN PASO ROBLES?
Rivera said that in his capacity as a rideshare driver, he talks to many people from the Los Angeles area and the Bay Area who want to move to Paso Robles, but discourages them by pointing out the high cost of housing.
“The bottom line is, we need to understand that we have tremendous pressure on us from those areas and from other areas outside. And what we need to do is go upmarket in our employment plan,” he said. “We have not really focused on it. Tourism is wonderful. I have no problem with it. I’m in the hospitality industry. But we need to look at upwardly mobile jobs and that can be complex.”
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FACING PASO ROBLES AND WHAT IS YOUR SOLUTION?
Rivera said that the public safety being one of the City’s biggest issues is “a given,” added that he would also like to focus on managing the City’s growth, especially in the tourism industry, and said that the City should “soft-pedal a bit” in regards to tourism.
“We’ve got to understand that we’ve got a huge, upwardly ticking tourism industry,” he said. “It isn’t going to slow down, it’s going to increase incredibly. So what we need to do is soft-pedal for awhile. We haven’t revisited our general plan in total since 2004… What we need to do is start thinking about priorities and priorities are public safety, our roads, our infrastructure — they’re not very sexy, it’s not like talking about the latest entertainment coming to the Vina Robles Amphitheatre, which is a lot of fun — but the bottom line is we need to start thinking in an adult way about how we’re going to go forward.”
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON SB 54, THE SANCTUARY CITY AND WILL YOU PROACTIVELY WORK WITH OR AGAINST ICE TO REMOVE CONVICTED CRIMINAL ILLEGAL ALIENS OUT OF PASO ROBLES?
Rivera said that he was “the one who brought SB-54 to the Council and demanded that we do something about it.” He spoke out very strongly against SB-54, calling it “an affront to the rule of law.”
“SB-54 puts us all at risk,” he said. “Our district attorney and sheriff have both said as much. It makes it more complicated, it makes it more difficult.”
Rivera called for a pushback against “crazy ideas such as sanctuary cities.”
“If I’m accused of a felony, I’m going to get arrested and I’m going to get thrown in jail,” he said. “And so I should. And to make a different set of rules for a different group is improper, inappropriate and it should be pushed back against by this city and this county. So that’s where I stand.”
Rivera’s final words on the topic were drowned out by a heavy round of applause and cheering from the audience at the forum.
RESIDENTS KEEP BEING TOLD THERE’S A SHORTAGE OF WATER BUT WE KEEP BUILDING HOTELS. HOW ARE THE TWO COMPATIBLE? DO YOU WANT PASO TO GROW? AND WOULD YOU PROMOTE TOURISM THROUGH THE BUDGET?
Rivera said that the problem is not a shortage of water, but how and where that water is placed within the county.
“We’ve obviously set the pace and we’ve set up an infrastructure to address that,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a major issue.”
Rivera said that growth in the city is inevitable and must be managed wisely.
“What we need as a city to do is get circumspect and look at our needs and look at where we’re going,” he said. “We’re going to make a lot of money over a period of the next four, five, six, ten years. We’re going to do very well, notwithstanding any major problems in the national economy. But what we need to do is we need to get ourselves together to understand what are our priorities? Are the special interests priorities important, or the people of this city’s priorities important? I say the people are the most important. Everything else will take care of itself, the businesses will take care of themselves. We need to set our priorities and move forward. It’s important.”

Getting through this together, Paso Robles