Joe Nelson and Chantal M. Lovell, Staff Writers
Posted: 01/23/2011 09:20:13 PM PST

To some, San Bernardino County is a place with ample trails along the Santa Ana River, quality infrastructure and plenty of space for future development and growth.

On the other hand, the county has failed to eliminate blight, improve the county’s image, limit corruption and lure more college graduates.

Such were the pros and cons voiced by county residents at town-hall-style meetings in San Bernardino and Redlands last week. They were among 18 meetings being held in cities throughout the county as part of the county’s Vision Project. The meetings will wrap up Feb. 3.

The Vision Project is a joint effort between the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and San Bernardino Associated Governments. The county is asking for input from residents before it considers a draft county vision, which will be presented at the annual City-County Conference in March.

County Administrative Officer Greg Devereaux hosted meetings at the Government Center and at Redlands City Hall last week, following a simple format of writing down residents’ comments on what they perceived to be the county’s successes, failures, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Successes noted during Wednesday’s meeting at the San Bernardino County Government Center included abundant county trail systems, development, improved air quality and higher-education opportunities. Failures included addressing blight, poor road maintenance and lack of code enforcement.

Evelyn Alexander, a San Bernardino resident who attended Wednesday’s meeting and is president of Del Rosa Neighborhood Action Group, was hoping to express her concerns about code-enforcement issues in the county pockets of her neighborhood.

She believes residents should be required to keep their yards maintained and not let them be overrun with weeds.

“An unmaintained property leads to the deterioration of a neighborhood, and of course that can affect property values,” Alexander said.

Another problem she is hoping to see resolved is having weeds along residential streets removed. Neighborhood-association volunteers are carrying that load, she said.

County triumphs noted at Thursday’s meeting in Redlands also included improved air quality, the growth of L.A./Ontario International Airport, expanded shopping opportunities, declining crime rates, and growth of youth programs. They cited over-building of industrial warehouses, the high school dropout rate, unemployment and a lack of promotion of the county’s assets as failures.

Devereaux said a vision plan is necessary to ensure the county is working to become what its people want. Without it, county leaders and employees cannot know where to focus their efforts.

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