While newly appointed to the MSRC as the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) representative, Brian Berkson is hardly new to the MSRC. Previously Brian served as an alternate MSRC member where he was a vocal advocate for investments in local and regional clean transportation funding initiatives that will help improve the most polluted air in the nation which, sadly, can still be found throughout the Inland Empire.
Brian currently serves as the Mayor of California’s newest city – Jurupa Valley – where he has lived with his wife and three kids since 2004. Brian was instrumental in the citizen advocacy that led to the city’s incorporation in 2011 as the 28th city in Riverside County and the 482nd city in the state. A growing city of more than 108,000 residents, Jurupa Valley has two primary transportation corridors – Interstate 15 and the 60 Freeway - that bring both commerce and vehicle pollution to the Inland Empire. Jurupa Valley’s air quality conditions have been deteriorating with the growth of truck traffic from the Ports of LA and Long Beach and with increasing transportation pollution from throughout Southern California that gets trapped in the Inland Valley. That’s one of the reasons Brian is committed to helping tackle our region’s intractable air pollution challenges.
Before getting into politics and working on regional air quality issues, Brian started a water conservation business based in Los Angeles after earning a degree in Business Management from California State University Northridge. Brian grew up in the San Fernando Valley and remembers the unhealthy orange haze that permeated the air. Unfortunately, Brian observes that while the air appears much cleaner than it did in the 1970s and 1980s, he often now sees similar smog conditions throughout the Inland Empire and knows that today’s air quality is often among the most dangerous air to breathe anywhere in the country.
As a local elected official, Brian is especially appreciative of the MSRC’s regional programs designed to help improve the air quality in the South Coast and the programs that help cash-strapped cities fund investments in low and zero emission fleets and charging and fueling infrastructure because cities often lack the resources to do this on their own. Brian is particularly enthusiastic about the MSRC’s new focus on incentivizing zero and near zero commercial truck fleets and hopes that this initiative will help make a big dent in the air quality problems of the region. Brian is especially concerned about making sure that smaller mom and pop truck operations have the resources to convert to cleaner trucks.
One example of Brian’s local clean air leadership as Mayor was requiring a new truck stop to install electric plugs for truck drivers so that trucks wouldn’t have to idle while stopped. Since 2006, Brian has been taking personal action to help clean our air by driving a hybrid car that now has over 300,000 miles on it. This small step – driving much cleaner zero emission and partial zero emission vehicles that Californians have been increasingly embracing – gives Brian hope that we can embrace and deploy clean technology solutions at scale.
Brian brings a wealth of regional leadership perspectives to the MSRC, as he currently serves as an Alternate Member to the Metrolink Board of Directors, as a Commissioner on the RCTC and the chair for both the Western Riverside County Programs and Projects Committee and the Toll Policy and Operations Committee. Brian also sits on the RCTC's Future Funding Committee, on the SR-91 Advisory Committee, and as an alternate Board member on the Riverside Transit Agency. Previously he served as an alternate on the Western Riverside Council of Governments.