2018 State of the City Address

state of the City 2018

2018 State of the City Address 
Presented by the
Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce and the City of Elk Grove 

Featuring Mayor Steve Ly
March 23, 2018
The Falls Event Center
8280 Elk Grove Blvd.
11:30 am to 1:30 pm

Watch the Archived Broadcast


Building A Stronger Community

Good afternoon and welcome. Thank you Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, my fellow elected officials, and the many Elk Grove community members and business leaders who have joined us today and of course to those who are tuning into our live web broadcast.

I am honored to speak to you today about the state of our city. A city that my family and I have called home for almost 20 years. And if I had to boil down this speech into a single sentence, I’d say that we find ourselves a city under construction.

We are a city Building new infrastructure and civic amenities like the civic center down the street and better roads to reduce traffic. It means that beyond the brick, mortar, and asphalt, we are Designing ways to add jobs and new businesses to the local landscape. And we are Surveying important social issues and working toward innovative solutions to address homelessness, a shortage of affordable housing, public safety, and even how we relate to each other.

2018 is a year where we are focused on building a stronger Elk Grove community.

I believe that there is an energy and excitement in our city right now. We are on the verge of a new phase in our history that future generations will look back on as a time of progress and change for Elk Grove.

We have big dreams. But Elk Grovians have always dared to dream big and work toward a better future.

Elizabeth Pinkerton’s book, Images of America, Elk Grove which chronicles another pivotal time in Elk Grove’s history that I thought was worth sharing.

In 1868, the Central Pacific Railroad finished its line from Sacramento to Stockton. And whether it was by design or neglect, the tracks were laid a mile outside of the little settlement of Elk Grove now known as the intersection of Elk Grove Blvd and Highway 99. Knowing what the railroad meant to Elk Grove’s future prosperity, Julius Everson had the foresight to begin moving the town’s businesses toward the new railroad tracks. Mr. Everson created the Elk Grove Building Association in 1876 with his partner and developed a 30 by 60 foot building filled with merchandise and encouraged new businesses and homes to be developed by the tracks. By 1880, there were 500 people living there and the former site was referred to as “Old Elk Grove.” Main Street was reborn at what we know as Elk Grove Blvd. and Elk Grove-Florin Road.

Can you imagine the courage and conviction it took Mr. Everson to suggest picking up and moving the entire community a mile away to connect with the railroad?

But because of his vision, courage, and effort, Elk Grove flourished, attracting new people and new businesses.

Almost 18 years ago, our community took another bold step, Incorporation. Elk Grove’s residents banded together to incorporate and forge a brighter future that sought to remove our “bedroom community” branding and create a city that determined its own destiny in the region. And while the Council has changed, the vision for our future has remained the same -- to provide a high quality of life for all generations that builds upon the community’s diversity and heritage through safe and connected neighborhoods that are welcoming to all. And to provide diverse residential, educational and employment choices and amenities that create a sense of place.

We’ve made a lot of progress in the last 18 years. There’s still more work to do, but we’re getting there.

As a young city, we have been challenged with developing the infrastructure and amenities that many older cities already have. It’s meant years of planning, saving, and planning some more to get to where we are today. This year and next will bring tangible brick and mortar projects to life that we’ve all been waiting for. New civic and commercial projects are well under way and improvements to our roadways will make the ride from point A to point B a little easier.

Sure, there’s been some disappointments. I wish I could stand here and tell you that the mall will be built and open next fall, but to be honest, I just don’t know.

Not for a lack of effort or desire on the city’s part because, believe me, we ALL want to see the mall built. But because progress on private development projects like the mall is determined by private developers, not the City.

We are actively monitoring the Howard Hughes Corporation and their efforts to develop the Mall. The Elk Grove Collection with its proposed mix of full price and factory stores, elevated dining, movies, and entertainment combined with the Wilton Rancheria’s adjoining four-star gaming resort have the potential to offer a one-of-a-kind shopping and entertainment experience unlike anything else in California.

We’ve seen ten years of missed deadlines and broken promises by this and past developers. While we have waited, the Howard Hughes Corporation has opened multiple projects in other communities. Our community is tired of excuses and delays.

Elk Grove deserves better than a half built, vacant shopping center. My colleagues on the Council and I are doing everything we can to see this project completed. It’s time for the Howard Hughes Corporation to do its part and just get it done.

But talking about progress is not nearly as exciting as seeing it. Our city staff has developed a short video to give you a glimpse into what is coming our way between now and 2019. Let’s take a look.

As you can see, we are a city under construction… literally.  But we are building our future in other ways as well. Our commitment to building the local economy and increasing the number of jobs in Elk Grove remains a priority. In November, Elk Grove became the first city in the region to participate in the RISE program. We adjusted our cash investment policy to infuse $15 million into our community banks to encourage economic growth both within our local businesses and the larger region through enhanced access to business banking capital. And to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit within our community, we continue to introduce new business incentive programs.

Our Brewery and Winery Incentive and Assistance Program has helped two new breweries to open in the past year and supported the relocation and expansion of Tilted Mash Brewing Company. And we are actively scouting for other businesses like these that support not only the economy, but the lifestyle and nightlife our residents want.

And we’re not afraid to consider a D.I.Y. (Do-it-Yourself) approach to get these amenities. As we prepare to host the 3rd annual Elk Grove Brewfest with Beers in Sac next month, we’re continuing to connect craft brew entrepreneurs and regional developers to encourage new dining and entertainment projects.

Looking beyond the suds, we want more lifestyle and retail amenities in Elk Grove. The opening of Costco this summer is already inspiring interest by other retailers taking a first or second look at Elk Grove. We want to take advantage of that interest to generate new lifestyle centers where we can go to eat, shop and play. The City is exploring a partnership to potentially develop a lifestyle center north of the civic center site to provide more shopping, dining, and entertainment options where residents and visitors will gather for events and tournaments.

We think that opportunities like this will yield the kind of amenities and experiences that our community really wants and needs. And this kind of innovation will bring new jobs and attract new businesses beyond retail with the kinds of living wages that we want to find their way to Elk Grove. It’s the impetus to foster new growth and serve our residents who are already here who are tired of travelling out of town to have these kinds of experiences. These are projects being planned. They won’t happen overnight, but they are a work in progress.

Building infrastructure and fostering economic development are important, viable, ways for City government to contribute to the quality of life in Elk Grove. But over the past year, we’ve seen social issues arise in our City that present greater challenges that no one agency or local government can tackle alone.

People have come to the City Council seeking action and answers to resolve issues like hate and homelessness. We’ve hosted town hall sessions that explored topics like Implicit Bias. We are working with new partners to reevaluate how the City hires employees and how we serve our community.

The Council and I remain committed to continuing the conversation on racism and promoting Elk Grove as No Place for Hate. We recognize that racism is a difficult issue to discuss. It is a problem that knows no city limits or district borders. It’s as damaging on the streets and parks as it is in the classroom and on the school grounds. No one agency can combat it alone. Working in partnership with the CSD, the Elk Grove Unified School District, the City’s Multicultural Committee, and our community members, we will continue to work to identify and implement strategies to create meaningful change.

We know we can do better. And we will.

Ensuring that each resident has the freedom to live in a city without hate is just one of the city’s challenges. Ensuring that every Elk Grove resident, especially our youngest residents, have the common necessities like food and shelter is another.

Last month, the City was selected by Bloomberg Philanthropies as one of 35 Champion Cities to compete in the 2018 Mayors Challenge. The City proposed to introduce a universal standardized online rental application process to connect low income residents with rental properties. A process that would allow residents to keep more of their hard earned money in their pocket for rent and living expenses instead of spending it on application fees and credit checks.

By improving the rental application process, we could assist nearly 1,000 lower income households in our city every year and create a blueprint that could help countless others in California and throughout the country.

City staff will use the next 6 months to plan, build and test this concept with up to $100,000 in funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies. If selected as a finalist in October, the city could receive $1 million or even $5 million to implement this concept.

That's amazing, right?

Someone once said, “Nobody can do everything, but everyone can do something.” The City Council, no matter how hard we might want to, cannot solve some of these issues alone.

We need residents to get involved.

We are fortunate to have some of the people in the video with us today in the audience. Please join me in a round of applause for featured residents and staff.

Thank you for the work that you continue to do for this community. And thank you for caring enough to give your time and talent to those who need it.

Each of us can serve somehow. For all of those represented in the video, there are still countless others who have found a way, as Gandhi said, “to be the change you wish to see in the world.” Would all of you who serve on a local commission, committee, board, or non-profit organization inspiring change in Elk Grove please stand and be recognized?

Organizations like HART, VIPS, and others offer clear avenues to lend a hand. Other opportunities to serve include volunteering on commissions, committees, and boards. Elk Grove’s Police Chief, Bryan Noblett, has recently launched the Chief’s Community Advisory Board. This group of 10-15 community members will advise the Chief on ways to better relate to and serve our residents and explore new strategies to ensure that our neighborhoods remain safe places to live and raise a family.

The City sometimes has other vacancies on its numerous Commissions and Committees. And I would encourage you to apply for those opportunities to serve as well.

We’ve compiled a new directory of local service opportunities on the city’s website. Please visit the site to connect with ways that you can make a difference.

These are clearly organized efforts to help in Elk Grove, but you don’t need to make a long term commitment to make a difference. A simple smile, handshake, or invite to have dinner with a neighbor will go a long way to support greater understanding, appreciation and a better quality of life in Elk Grove.

We are building a stronger community each day, but how will we measure our success? The City has provided tape measures to each of you today as a small token for your participation, but our success is measured differently. I think Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he defined success in this way:

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our city is strong. As we continue to work together to build the infrastructure that we need, design the future that we want, and support those amongst us who need our help, we will only get stronger.

God bless you, God bless our city and God bless this great country we call the United States of America. Thank you and good afternoon.

© 2018 City of Elk Grove