Building Stronger Neighborhoods
Good Afternoon, Elk Grove!
Thank you for joining us here today and thank you, as always, to Angi and the Chamber’s Board of Directors for hosting today’s event. Before we get started, I’d like to introduce to you some special guests with me today…
I’d also like to thank my fellow council members and the other elected officials, commissioners, and committee members with us today.
So many people serve to make Elk Grove a great place to live. From the City, County, Elk Grove Unified School District, Cosumnes CSD, Elk Grove Water District, SMUD, and others. If you are a current or former elected official, appointed commissioner or City committee member, will you please stand and be recognized?
Can you please remain standing for a second?
These men and women are residents just like you and me. Most, if not all of the people standing before us live here, shop here, drive around here, and raise their families here. At some point, they decided that running for elected office or accepting the call to appointed service was their way to give back and strengthen our community. Would you please join me in another round of applause to thank them for their contributions?
I’d also like to thank the city management staff that’s with us today.
Thank you all and thanks to our city staff for providing the service that keeps our city running.
A year ago, I stood before you, much like this, to share the state of our city and an ambitious vision for a year of infrastructure. While some of those plans have been realized (and we continue to dream big) some dreams take more time to come true. Yes, we’re still waiting on our outlet mall and despite our best efforts it still looks like a “ghost mall” at the moment. But I remain optimistic, and let me tell you why.
The state of our city is not just about buildings and infrastructure. It’s about people and our quality of life. It’s about Building Stronger Neighborhoods.
Perhaps the best way to gauge the state of our City is to ask our residents. Last month, the City shared the results of its 2015 citywide survey. Today, with some help, I’d like to share some of those results with all of you.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve interviewed some of your neighbors. And while I know you enjoy hearing me talk, I thought you might like to hear what others had to say. So today’s talk will include clips from those interviews.
And while some of you grew up in Elk Grove, a great many more of us were drawn here from parts elsewhere. So this first question asks…Why did you choose Elk Grove as your home?
There’s so much to like about Elk Grove…great schools, awesome parks, and fantastic neighborhoods, but many of us find Elk Grove’s small town feel to be one of its most endearing qualities. 35% of survey respondents rated this as the thing they loved most about Elk Grove. But make no mistake, we’re not a small city. With more than 162,000 residents, we’re the second largest city in the Sacramento region. That we’ve managed to retain that small town feel in spite of our growth is a testament to our residents, our service organizations, our business community, and the strength of the civic fabric that we have woven together.
And we like
living here. 83% of us considered our neighborhood an excellent place to live. 87% rated Elk Grove as an excellent or good place to live. And 90% would recommend living in Elk Grove to others.
We know that our quality of life is enviable and more people are looking for what Elk Grove has to offer. New home construction is back. In 2015, the City issued nearly 650 single-family residential building permits, an 11% increase over 2014 and the first time we’ve surpassed 600 permits since 2007 – a sign that our economy is rebounding.
New homes bring new residents. And whether you’ve moved from another part of Elk Grove, another part of the region or across the country, everyone becomes “the new kid” when they move into a new neighborhood.
So we asked our interview group… How well do you know your neighbors?
Elk Grove is a unique, vibrant and extremely diverse community filled with busy, talented, intelligent and generous neighbors. But if we simply “click in” and “click out” of our garages each day, we never get the full benefit of what our neighborhood has to offer. I’m so pleased to hear that so many of our residents in the clip have gotten to know their neighbors.
But what if you’re too shy to borrow a cup of sugar from the neighbor next door? Or there’s simply no time between school, work and the kids sports practice to connect? It happens to all of us. Fortunately, technology is making it easier than ever before to start the conversation and connect with our neighbors.
Last year, I announced the launch of a new partnership between our Police Department and NextDoor.com. At the time, NextDoor had connected 50 Elk Grove neighborhoods and roughly 2,200 residents. A year later, more than 10,000 residents and 89 local neighborhoods are on NextDoor. It has become an invaluable tool used by our Crime Prevention and Information Officers to communicate with neighbors throughout Elk Grove and the new way for neighbors to communicate with each other. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to sign up at NextDoor.com.
Public safety remains one of the most important elements to our residents. Have there been a few negative headlines? Yes. But overall, Elk Grove is one of the safest cities in the country.
If we look at 2015 crime statistics, overall crime went down. Violent crime went down by 7.5 percent. And while it’s still too early to tell what effect Proposition 47 has on state crime rates, early indications suggest that Elk Grove will continue to compare favorably both in the state and nationally.
Benjamin Franklin once said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Enhancing youth crime prevention and gang intervention programs, reducing crime, and maintaining rapid police response times remain top priorities for the City. Working in collaboration with the community to help keep Elk Grove safe, we asked residents…How can we build stronger neighborhoods?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, our city is only as strong as its neighborhoods. Knowing our neighbors and actively engaging in homeowners associations, neighborhood associations and Neighborhood Watch groups is key to preserving our quality of life in Elk Grove.
Last September, we hosted our second annual Neighborhood Summit. More than 200 neighborhood leaders left the event with tips on water conservation, information on city resources and new neighborhood connections. But I’m convinced our community can do better.
If you live in Camden, Fallbrook, or even the rural area, you probably know the benefit of an active HOA or neighborhood association. But not all neighborhoods in Elk Grove are as closely connected.
Most HOAs are started by developers and inherited by the residents that move there, but not always.
In February, Vice Mayor Ly and I hosted a community meeting in East Franklin to discuss forming a grass roots community association. Not only to address issues like crime, but to support our youth, create neighborhood camaraderie, and celebrate our quality of life. Since that meeting, a core group of residents have assembled together to from what is soon to be launched -- the Franklin Community Association. We’ve established a steering committee, started a Facebook group to bring more of our neighbors to the table, and have a commitment from a number of individuals to play a leadership role in the association. I am hopeful that our work will result in great things for East Franklin and our neighbors.
Jim Collins, the author of the best-selling corporate management book, Good to Great
, said “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.”
Are Elk Grove’s neighborhoods good? Absolutely. Can they be great? I believe they can if we all commit to more active engagement with our neighbors. In fact, many have. We are joined today by several neighborhood leaders.
A city is full of opposing viewpoints – that’s what makes us a community. It is healthy. Activists, who are passionate about their community, often have a vision counter to city leaders. My message to Elk Grove’s activists is this:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead
Though we may not always agree, we all want what’s best for our City and it’s there that we can find common ground and get things done for Elk Grove’s residents.
That same “can do, get engaged” logic applies citywide. We’ve all travelled…In fact, the proximity to other cities and places was one of the things that made Elk Grove so endearing in the citywide survey. So we asked our residents…What makes a great city?
Elk Grove’s economy was the second most important element in the minds of surveyed residents. Nearly 6 in 10 respondents indicated that bringing more jobs to Elk Grove and attracting and retaining local businesses should be a top priority. And yes, we still need to close that jobs to housing gap, but the disparity may not be as large as we think.
The City recently commissioned a report analyzing City employment trends. It covered the years 2000 (when we incorporated) to 2013 (the last full year that data was available). In those 13 years, more than 29,000 jobs were added in our City. And only one year…2010… saw negative growth with a net loss of 98 jobs.
As of 2013, Elk Grove had more than 44,000 jobs at more than 8,700 businesses with the largest gains in health care, educational services and social assistance, followed by scientific and technical services, retail, trade, professional and hospitality fields. And the City’s jobs-to-housing ratio, a regional employment statistic scrutinized by planners and the media alike, stands at .86 – quite a bit higher than previously reported for Elk Grove.
Do we want more jobs in Elk Grove? Of course we do. And we continue to focus on bringing jobs to Elk Grove. California Correctional Healthcare Services, our largest state agency, will add 130 new positions to their expanded facilities on Longleaf Drive by next spring. If Costco moves forward they will employ 200 associates in Elk Grove at the highest retail wages in the industry. And Apple is preparing to bring thousands of jobs online at their campus in the next 24 months.
But while numbers are good (and they help right that statistical imbalance), we must remain focused on bringing quality jobs into our city -- jobs with good living wages and health benefits. The kinds of jobs that our residents want to have so they can do away with their commute and work close to home. The Southeast Policy Area offers the greatest potential for bringing those kinds of jobs to Elk Grove.
The City Council recently approved significant funding to deliver critical infrastructure to the SEPA employment areas to make the space “shovel ready” for business that come here. Businesses like NRC Manufacturing.
I want to take this opportunity to welcome and introduce Ratha Chea, the CEO of NRC Manufacturing and Patrick J. Talamantes, Chairman of the Board for the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council and President and CEO of The McClatchy Company. Welcome, gentlemen.
NRC Manufacturing is based in Fremont, but has plans to expand. I am pleased to announce that NRC has entered into an agreement with the City to bring a new 230,000 square foot high-tech manufacturing facility to SEPA. Their expansion to Elk Grove will generate 2,500 new jobs over several phases of construction in the coming years, with phase I slated to open by the end of 2017. Let me say that again…2,500 new high-tech manufacturing jobs. That’s a great start for SEPA and one step closer to a future for Elk Grove that includes more manufacturing and technology jobs. We are grateful to NRC’s leadership and welcome them to the City.
This is a game changer for Elk Grove and the greater Sacramento region. Companies like NRC – as they seek to expand to larger and more affordable space – have options all over the country. We often read the headlines about Texas and Nevada landing these facilities. Our message to Silicon Valley is this: Why leave the state when you can go just over the hill to Elk Grove? The home of a newly expanded Apple and now NRC Manufacturing. You can bet we will be telling this story over and over to growing companies all over Silicon Valley.
But our work doesn’t end there. The Council and I will continue to work with the City Manager, our Economic Development Director and Greater Sacramento to attract new business to the City in SEPA and our in-fill areas. Mr. Talamantes (Pat), thank you for being here to share in this announcement, and thank for Greater Sacramento’s partnership.
And then there’s the Outlet Collection. Building and site plans are approved and tenants like Regal Theaters and H & M have begun submitting their plans. If I were a betting man, I’d say that the odds are good we’ll see permits pulled and construction starting from the developer soon.
Looking beyond the outlet collection, I think we can all agree that having a more vibrant arts, entertainment and dining scene would be nice. And we are getting there. This spring, the City will launch a new farmers market every Sunday morning on the Old Town Plaza in partnership with the Living Smart Foundation. And on the way to the market you might notice one of our colorful utility boxes. Thanks to the Committee for the Arts, the Elk Grove Artists, and Sherwin Williams, a pilot project was launched in February that beautified some of our utility boxes.
As we continue to build, it’s time to pay more attention to design details. Our architecture and design elements make a statement about who we are as a city. The community has asked for amenities that reflect our community and its needs and the Council is listening. We are looking at new ways to integrate more art into our cityscape and to start, we’ve directed staff to implement a Percentage for the Arts program to incorporate more public art into future civic facilities - elements that will make a statement when we open the Aquatics Complex, Veterans’ Hall, Community/Senior Center and even the future Animal Shelter.
Our festival and events scene has never been more dynamic with new concerts like next week’s Nashville in the Neighborhood, our first craft brew festival, Brewfest, coming in May and the 5th anniversaries of the Kaiser Permanente Running of the Elk Half Marathon and the Elk Grove Multicultural Festival. These kinds of attractions connect our residents and encourage visitors to our City. We look forward to help from Visit Elk Grove, a group comprised of local hotel operators, to spread the word throughout the region and beyond that Elk Grove is a great place to visit.
I think our future looks really bright, but don’t take my word for it. We asked residents what they think... What will Elk Grove look like 15 years from now?
More jobs, new amenities, expanded shopping, and managed growth….Sounds like a great future to me. And the General Plan Update will help us realize a shared community vision.
The General Plan Update began last fall. Originally adopted in 2003, the Plan guides future policy and funding priorities. Its revision is a two year process that needs your input. If you haven’t already attended a workshop or participated in our mobile outreach at events, please join the conversation as new efforts get under way this spring.
There is so much happening in Elk Grove it’s hard to stay brief, but our future will continue to include priority infrastructure projects. We are working to fix potholes and maintain neighborhood streets as well as enhancing major roads leading through town and to the freeway to reduce traffic congestion. The Kammerer Road Extension and improvements on Grant Line Road will continue to move forward as part of the Capital Southeast Connector project. We’ll review the results of the comprehensive transit analysis to see how we can transport residents and commuters from A to B quickly and more efficiently, and we’ll continue to seek funding for alternative transportation projects that encourage more of us to climb out of our cars.
But make no mistake about it. As long as I have the privilege of serving Elk Grove as Mayor, I will cast a long vision on an Elk Grove that is vibrant and innovative with large civic amenities that attract visitors from all over. Elk Grove is no sleepy suburb. We are a city that does not fear dreaming big. And dream big we will.
In closing, I want to thank the Chamber once again for hosting today’s event and the people who participated in our interviews for their contributions to the presentation.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there,” and folks, I believe that WE can. With combined voices and a shared community vision, the City of Elk Grove will continue to grow stronger— with new amenities and businesses on the horizon and grassroots community involvement beginning at the neighborhood level— our city is destined to become an even better place to live, work, and play when we work TOGETHER. Thank you.