2008 State of the City Address

Mayor Gary Davis

8th Annual State of the City Address

Featuring Mayor Gary Davis
March 27, 2008

Thank you, Janet. Good evening. I want to welcome my fellow elected officials and other dignitaries who are joining us here tonight.

It’s truly an honor to serve as the Mayor of Elk Grove, and to share with you the state of our great city. Tonight, we get to celebrate our accomplishments, tout our achievements, and highlight the programs that help keep Elk Grove a city on the move.

As I look around the room I am inspired and hopeful. I see some of the best and the brightest, representing the strength and rich diversity of our city’s business community. Entrepreneurs who take risks in our city because they believe in our city. Despite softer economic times, you charge forward; because perhaps you know that in Elk Grove, the best is yet to come.

Tonight we recognize that on any given day, Elk Grove continues to move toward a bright future. We can point to so many quality developments in our city that promise resurgence in our local economy. Together, we are laying the groundwork for the inevitable economic upswing. From city leaders to business owners, we are investing millions, laying the foundation for when the economic climate will certainly change.

On any given day, Elk Grove is alive with possibility. From road improvements to new businesses, new services to improved infrastructure, our local government and business community work in tandem to plant seeds for the future. Together, we are making major investments in our city. Everywhere you look there is evidence that Elk Grove promises tremendous hope and opportunity.

Take a short drive on Highway 99 and you’ll see significant progress on the Elk Grove Promenade, the region’s newest mall, currently scheduled to open next year. Right now, mall developers are investing $100 million in our community – and the benefits of that investment will be substantial.

It will provide new jobs and be an impetus for even more job creation. It will help relieve traffic congestion on our highways by giving our residents new options to shop where they live, while infusing precious tax dollars back into our community.

This year will bring much-needed improvements to the Grant Line and Sheldon Interchanges – two of the region’s worst bottlenecks, and two of the region’s most important interchanges. On any given day, you can see significant construction work as part of a tireless effort that will soon produce traffic relief and enhanced safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

The city is more than halfway through the reconstruction of the Grant Line Interchange, with completion expected this fall. We’re also into the construction phase of the Sheldon/99 Interchange, expected to be complete by the end of 2009.

That is an extraordinary effort for a city of our size and young age.

It’s also a smart investment.

The city is investing more than 160 million dollars on both projects, made possible through Measure A, development impact fees, and the efforts of our Congressional leaders in securing federal funds.

And speaking of Highway 99, I’ve recently met with the Mayors of Galt and Lodi to begin a partnership to improve this important section of the highway. By collaborating with our sister cities, we can together identify solutions for improving our critical infrastructure.

Investing in infrastructure not only improves the quality of life for our residents. It spurs economic growth, by improving the movement of goods, services and people in and around Elk Grove.

On any given day, our efforts to invest in our infrastructure and our economy are paying dividends.

In recent months, Gottschalks and BMW have opened locations in Elk Grove. Other companies are reinvesting in Elk Grove based upon their previous successes, with a second Kohl’s and Chili’s opening their doors in our city limits. A Hampton Inn opened last summer, and a Hilton Garden Inn is opening soon. A Nugget Market is on its way too.

Right now, hundreds of thousands of square feet of new office and commercial construction are underway to balance out our existing housing with new jobs for residents. If you take a drive down Laguna Springs, you’ll see brand new office buildings ready to be filled.

Our city is also seeing major healthcare providers buying land and proposing to build hospitals here. This is great for the health and well-being of our residents, and means even more high quality jobs for Elk Grove’s well-educated workforce. In just a few short years, major healthcare providers with household names will have made Elk Grove the medical hub of Southern Sacramento County.

But in order to continue attracting new jobs, the Elk Grove City Council recognizes we must engage in forward-thinking master planning, while taking a careful look at expanding the City’s current boundaries.

We are beginning the process of studying two areas to the south and east of the current City boundaries.

Our mission is to be creative, thoughtful and strategic about what our City will look like in years to come. We must all be visionaries, planning not just for ourselves, but for future generations who will call Elk Grove home.

Whether in community planning or economic development, experience has taught us that the brightest thinking and best solutions are often found when we get everyone at the table.

In other words, we need to dream big!

How about a Cosumnes River Parkway and Recreation area where we can preserve our wonderful habitat, but also provide access to new recreational opportunities so that generations to come can experience this beautiful jewel up front and first hand.

Let’s set the bar high for new jobs. I have a vision that includes 50,000 new, high quality, jobs right here in Elk Grove so all of us can truly live, work, and play in Elk Grove.

I’m proud to serve on the board of directors of the Economic Development Corporation – a public, private partnership charged with fostering a healthy local economy. With the talented Steve Czarnecki serving as the organization’s first Executive Director, we will adopt a strategic plan for attracting new business, and for keeping Elk Grove business-friendly.

It’s a mission I’m thrilled we can share.

Because improving our service to the business community is a top priority for the City of Elk Grove.

We all know that evaluation is a critical component of success. We are now looking at how we serve our customers – identifying ways we can run government better, leaner and more efficiently. We’re taking a long, hard look at our structure and operations, and asking customers for their ideas to cut through the red tape that too often stifles creativity and positive change.

In the near future you can expect a number of important changes to our business planning and approval processes that will provide for greater up front certainty and a streamlined approval process for businesses bringing high quality jobs to Elk Grove.

We’re also working diligently to keep our budget balanced. By remaining fiscally prudent, we’re well-positioned to weather whatever the economy presents in the years ahead.

It’s no secret these are harder times. And we collectively have challenges in front of us. But we’ve been through difficult times as a city before, and together we’ve risen to the occasion, and have become stronger for it.

As many of our neighbors struggle to meet increasing mortgage payments and face the possibility of foreclosure, we are offering whatever resources we have available to help them through their challenges. In partnership with state agencies, we’ll be hosting workshops and offering resources on our website to help residents stay in their homes or identify viable exit strategies. What is perhaps most inspiring is that on any given day, we see neighbors reaching out to neighbors, helping those in need, and taking charge to protect our community in a time of constant change.

Take a look at theFranklin Reserve Neighborhood Association. This is an organization that has taken it upon themselves to ensure that yards of foreclosed properties are being maintained. Each week the association dispatches a group of residents to mow overgrown lawns in their neighborhood.

What a powerful statement of pride of ownership in Elk Grove.

Tonight I want to recognize two of these leaders.

Susan McDonald, President of the FRNA
Pastor Steve Steele, Tree of Life Church

There is power in our communities. And solutions are often found in our own backyard.

A City is a mosaic of its neighborhoods. What makes us a community is when we join together. This summer, we will be convening the first ever neighborhood leader summit. We’ll bring together neighborhood leaders from all parts of the city to exchange ideas, identify opportunities to collaborate and find ways the city can better serve neighborhoods.

A city the size of Elk Grove must make strengthening and empowering individual neighborhoods a priority. By empowering our neighborhoods, we’ll see the results take form in improved public safety, our fundamental responsibility and promise to the residents we serve. Building neighborhood pride can also help Elk Grove get back a taste of that small town feeling we once savored so nicely.

While no city is impervious to criminal activity, we are well-prepared to address safety issues through our locally controlled, state-of-the-art Police Department.

Community policing strategies are working well, and residents and police officers regularly collaborate to find solutions to improve public safety. We are home to some of the finest law enforcement professionals, equipped with the best new tools and techniques to fight crime.

Elk Grove has more officers on our streets than ever before. And our locally-controlled call center offers unprecedented response times.

This year, our dispatchers exceeded state standards, answering and responding to calls with unparalleled speed.

Our officers were praised for turning up the heat on gangs, by partnering with neighboring agencies to take a regional approach to combat gang violence.

We’ve never lost sight of the wisdom found in an ounce of prevention. And it begins with our youth.

Last year, the Police Department launched the Explorer Program. By helping our young people get involved in activities that benefit the community as a whole, we’ve given them alternatives, shown them their worth, and possibly recruited the next generation of Elk Grove’s finest. It’s clearly been working – the program has tripled since it began.

The Elk Grove Police Department has also been extraordinarily successful with their street racing education program. Our officers are working proactively with young people to educate them about the dangers and consequences of street racing. The award-winning program continues to gain momentum throughout the region, and has already touched the lives of more than 20,000 young people.

When it comes to reaching out to our youth, we haven’t stopped there. We’ve created a new position at City Hall to implement and manage a wide range of programs for youth – programs that will enhance the quality of life for our younger generations, and promote community involvement.

In fact, community service and involvement is at the heart of everything we’ve accomplished together.

Staff at City Hall work hard each and every day to improve City services and strive for excellence in the community. They’re responsible for the many issues that directly impact our day-to-day lives. And if they’re doing their job right, you probably won’t think about the services they provide much at all.

This year, the City’s award-winning transit service saw more than one million boardings. Demand is so heavy for e-tran that nearly 60 new bus shelters were added throughout the city just last year alone. In 2007, e-tran was recognized as one of the top public transportation agencies in the nation. That’s quite an accomplishment for a city just seven years old.

The year ahead will bring new buses, bus stops, and an expected 20 percent increase in riders, reducing traffic on our roads and improving the environment.

And with the environment on all of our minds these days, our City’s Integrated Waste Department is working diligently to introduce programs and services to reduce waste in our landfills.

Last year alone, our partnership with the Elk Grove Unified School District kept more than 400,000 pounds of electronic waste out of landfills. Each month, we collect nearly 1,000 pounds of batteries to dispose of properly.

And this year, the Integrated Waste Department is taking on shoes.

Yes, shoes.

During Earth Week this April, the City is partnering with our friends at the Cosumnes CSD, Elk Grove Unified School District and Elk Grove Automall for a large-scale recycling collection program. The shoes will be converted into basketball and tennis courts, soccer fields and running tracks. And we know it will draw public attention to the importance of recycling.

We’re also in the very early stages of identifying possible locations for a transfer station in Elk Grove. A transfer station will allow us to manage our waste locally, stabilize our trash rates, and reduce air pollution and fuel consumption.

New facilities will be part of our future, and the time we spend planning for them today is part of our gift to future generations.

Today, staff is negotiating contracts for a Civic Center Master Plan in Laguna Ridge. We’re also working closely with the Sacramento Library Authority to finalize design of the new library facility to serve Elk Grove. It is telling of who we are that in the middle of the information age, with seemingly boundless knowledge available at the click of a mouse, demand for library services is growing. The new building will serve as a gateway to Old Town Elk Grove and, like the civic center, will reflect a community vision.

Speaking of Old Town Elk Grove, we have got to rally behind this important community asset and we should not stop until Old Town Elk Grove becomes a premier arts and entertainment district. I know the will is there, but we have got to find the way.

Last year brought considerable change to Elk Grove’s City Hall. The year represented a renewed energy and spirit in our local government. We put controversy to rest and started fresh by building partnerships with public agencies and restoring the public’s trust.

Since day one, my goal has been to make local government more accessible, while involving the public in every step of the way. I firmly believe that transparency and public participation are keys to our City’s successes.

While we have challenges ahead, I am confident that together, we will demonstrate the unity, strength and resilience of this community. Our residents should feel confident in our local economy. They should take faith in the City of Elk Grove, and know that we are laying the foundation for a prosperous future.

The State of our city is, and will remain, strong.

Together, we share a common vision for Elk Grove. It’s reflected on the faces of our people, in the commitments we make together. On any given day, on this day and in the days to come, we will reap the benefits sown by our careful and thorough investments in a community that just gets better with age.

Thank you all for being a part of Elk Grove’s collective proud heritage and very bright future.

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