2007 State of the City Address

Mayor Jim Cooper

7th Annual State of the City Address

Featuring Mayor Jim Cooper
March 30, 2007

Thank you very much for that introduction and thank you to the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce for co-hosting this annual event for the community. 

Thanks also to my fellow elected officials and other dignitaries who are joining us to hear about the state of the City of Elk Grove. 

It is my privilege and honor to report to you today that Elk Grove is maturing into one of the most vibrant, progressive cities in California and I really appreciate this opportunity as your mayor to share an update with you. 

First off, our City Council has two new members who have brought a renewed sense of purpose and focus to local government.  A positive energy is noticeable at civic gatherings like this one in Elk Grove. 

This really is a new day for the City of Elk Grove. 

Our City is renewed, restored, and reinvigorated.

With the public and sister agencies as partners, we’re developing solutions to our most significant challenges, including traffic relief, public safety, and improving the balance of jobs and housing in Elk Grove. 

Transparency, accessibility, regional partnership and public engagement are now the overarching goals and core values that are at the heart of everything that we do as a city. 

We are a city in constant motion – examining important issues that generate significant interest from the public, including election reform, exploring the idea of a city charter, and objectively assessing how well the city provides municipal services to our customers, the taxpayers of Elk Grove.

We’re well on our way to implementing the community’s vision as articulated in last year’s Envision Elk Grove process.

The City Council is making sure that the public’s interest is being represented at City Hall.  That includes the interests of our local business community, which contributes so much to Elk Grove’s superior quality of life and to our City’s fiscal well-being. 

My fellow citizens of Elk Grove, I am very proud that there is a new spirit of cooperation and regional camaraderie among the City Council and all of our partners in the public and private sectors. 

The change extends beyond healthy debates about revisions to particular policies and priorities. 

It’s much more than that.

Progress – real progress – that the average, hard-working citizen can easily appreciate – is now more readily visible in Elk Grove than at any time since we became a city. 

You can see examples of our progress in the room today.

Please allow me to share just a few of them with you….

If you take a drive down Elk Grove Boulevard or Bruceville Road adjacent to the Madeira development, it is easy to recognize over $200 million in new infrastructure – freshly-paved roads, decorative street lights, traffic signals, meandering paseos, sewer and water lines, drainage systems, a water treatment plant, new schools, and world-class parks. 

All this is in place ready to accommodate the businesses and residents that will locate there beginning this year. 

Now in Elk Grove, new development only occurs when and where infrastructure will be ready to handle its impacts.

Let me boil it down to the simplest terms…. 

Runaway growth has been banished from Elk Grove and smart, managed growth that values neighborhood livability, environmental sustainability, economic development, and quality of life has taken its place.

As families make new memories in their Madeira neighborhoods and new businesses thrive there, we can all take pride in the quality of this development.  It is one of the premier, most walkable, smart growth communities in the state of California. 

The quality of Madeira and the infrastructure that’s already in place to accommodate development was no accident.

Collaborating with stakeholders in the Laguna Ridge Specific Plan area, the City has achieved record parks acreage and high-end amenities that will set a new, higher standard in our community. 

Most importantly, the City is now managing growth.

The result of this progressive managed growth strategy means that the quality of life for our current residents can be maintained and even enhanced.

At the same time, we can achieve economic development that comes with new businesses, allowing more residents to work close to home, spend greater amounts of time with their families, and spend less time stuck on congested freeways trying to get to far-away job centers.

I encourage all of you to tour the Madeira development, admire the well-planned system of roadways, paseos and pathways, and then continue down to the Highway 99/Grant Line Road improvement project. 

There, the City is investing $63 million in an interchange that’s well under construction – paid for by development impact fees and Measure A revenues. 

This is the first project in the entire county to go to construction in the Measure A renewal, two years ahead of the Measure’s 2009 start date.

When finished, it will serve as a key piece of the Elk Grove – Rancho Cordova – El Dorado Connector Road linking I-5 to Highway 99 to Highway 50.

That regional facility will move many millions of dollars worth of goods and thousands of people everyday, helping to grow our local and regional economy and add significantly to the jobs base, too. 

In fact, the City of Elk Grove has already joined with our regional partners from the Cities of Rancho Cordova and Folsom and the Counties of Sacramento and El Dorado to establish a joint powers authority.

That JPA will work together to secure funds for the Connector road and develop a plan to construct segments in a coordinated and integrated fashion.

To support that regional effort, Councilman Gary Davis and I traveled to Washington, DC last month educating federal policy makers, including our own Congressman Dan Lungren, about the need to extend Kammerer Road over to the I-5 Hood-Franklin interchange, which is another essential piece of the Connector road project.

Even better news, the Grant Line/99 interchange project will be complete in the fall of next year.  The City’s aggressive project delivery schedule sets the pace for the success of the remaining segments of the Connector Road.

As mayor, I also want to see a regional shopping mall built adjacent to that interchange.  Discussions with the developer of the proposed Elk Grove Promenade continue. 

While there are still issues left to work out, my goal is to see a high-quality regional mall built at the Lent Ranch site with high-end retailers that will attract shoppers from throughout the area and allow Elk Grove residents to shop close to home and relieve traffic congestion on I-5 and Highway 99.    

The City’s other, major new $66.5 million interchange, the one at Sheldon Road and Highway 99, is also getting underway paid for by development impact fees, federal funds, and Measure A. 

That essential regional transportation project, which serves as a link between the Cities of Sacramento and Elk Grove and unincorporated Sacramento County, will be complete by early 2009. 

It will relieve one of the worst traffic bottlenecks in the entire Sacramento region. 

And as many motorists know already, Sheldon Road – now open to four lanes – provides even more traffic congestion relief for our community.

These road improvements show how the City of Elk Grove is now staying ahead of the development curve and putting substantial resources into much-needed transportation infrastructure… from traffic signals to bike lanes to roadway widenings and maintenance. 

Plus, the City’s award-winning e-tran service is on track to have one million boardings this year – that’s the equivalent of a million vehicle trips that are being eliminated annually, making e-tran the fastest growing transit system in the nation in terms of ridership. 

There is no question that e-tran is keeping thousands and thousands of cars off of I-5 and Highway 99.  Its tremendous success in attracting passengers, however, has brought to light the challenge of providing the same high standard of customer service that e-tran riders should expect from the City.

Our transit staff is working day and night to address frustrating operational issues in order to provide our customers with safe, reliable and efficient transit service in Elk Grove and throughout the region. 

Like cars, buses travel on roads that need frequent maintenance and repair.  Every dollar that the City invests in preventative road maintenance saves many times that amount by keeping roads from falling into disrepair and costing millions more to reconstruct.

I am pleased to report that in just a few years, over 30 roadway projects, totaling $50 million, have already been completed in Elk Grove. 

These include new traffic signals, bicycle and pedestrian safety amenities, intersection improvements, speed control and neighborhood livability programs, asphalt overlays, and street improvements on Bond Road, Lewis Stein Road, and Elk Grove Boulevard in Old Town.

Infusing hundreds of millions of dollars more in new infrastructure and roadway maintenance is about the smartest investment that the City of Elk Grove can make in the economic development and mobility of our community.

By relieving congestion on choked roads and fixing potholes, we can move people and goods more efficiently and grow and retain existing businesses and attract new employers to Elk Grove. 

Yet we are committed to doing even more to grow the jobs base in Elk Grove and improve our balance of jobs and housing, which will allow more people who live here to work here. 

Think about it. 

What an exciting time it is for economic development in Elk Grove, especially when the front pages of newspapers are covering the huge influx of medical offices and health care related jobs rushing into our community. 

In just a few short years, major healthcare providers with household names have made Elk Grove the medical hub of South Sacramento County. 

We know that at least one community hospital and possibly one or two more are on the way, bringing with them even more high-quality jobs suited for Elk Grove’s well-educated and highly-skilled workforce.

To further the City’s economic development objectives, the City Council approved an agreement for Wi-Fi service that new businesses, especially high-tech ones, demand before they can open their doors – real or virtual – in Elk Grove.

The City has also formalized a public-private partnership with the new Elk Grove Economic Development Corporation to launch an aggressive, sustained effort to attract more jobs to Elk Grove and help the businesses who are already here add even more jobs to their payrolls. 

I am thrilled that we can celebrate this common economic development achievement together today at this event. 

I commend the leadership of the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce – especially Francisco Rodriguez, Gregg Mason, Ken Allred, Tim Moran, and Janet Toppenberg – for working so diligently with the City on the formation of the Economic Development Corporation. 

This partnership will complement the City’s planned marketing and community branding program and help create a real synergy for quality job growth and economic investment in Elk Grove.

With a City Council member now seated on its board of directors, the City has committed a $150,000 annual contribution to the Economic Development Corporation over the next five years.

That is a very wise investment that we expect will pay real dividends to Elk Grove taxpayers in the form of a healthier local economy that will generate more revenues and help fund essential local services, including public safety.

And on the subject of public safety, every day as mayor I hear feedback from residents and business people about the success of the new Elk Grove Police Department, whose first officers were sworn-in just last year at this same event. 

While our City is not immune to the regional and statewide challenge of criminal and gang activity, we are very fortunate to have an exceptionally well-trained and well-equipped team of law enforcement professionals. 

Just last year, the City opened a local 911 communications center with our own dispatchers who are dedicated to help keeping our homes and businesses safe – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Right now, on the streets of Elk Grove, there are more police officers than ever before in the history of our community, including street crimes and gangs units dedicated to eradicating the criminal element. 

Over the past year, our officers have engaged in a sustained, proactive program to combat street crimes and put an end to illegal street racing in Elk Grove. 

Police Chief Bob Simmons has partnered with his colleagues from around the state to help build support for legislation that will allow cities like ours to declare vehicles used in illegal street races public nuisances that can be forfeited. 

This is a very effective way to deter criminal behavior. We want to let the street racers know that our City will seek to separate them from their cars for as long as possible if they use them to race on public streets and endanger lives.

Keeping the public safe also means that we have to help educate the public about issues like illegal street racing. 

Through a close partnership with the Elk Grove Unified School District, the Elk Grove Police Department has established a regional presence in the Sacramento area by helping to educate thousands and thousands of young people about the dangers of mixing supped-up cars with reckless, illegal racing. 

While we have not been able to prevent every tragedy, our officers have connected with many teens that have chosen a safer, smarter course of personal behavior. 

The result we seek is a safer Elk Grove and Sacramento region for us all.

But we need your help, too.  If you haven’t already, please sit down with your kids – especially teens – and view the City’s street racing education video called “In the Blink of an Eye” that’s on the website at www.elkgrovecity.org.  It could very well save your child’s life and prevent another tragedy in our community.

You can also help keep our City safe by encouraging the state legislature to pass and the governor to sign Senate Bill 266. 

Co-authored by State Senators Darrell Steinberg and Dave Cox and co-sponsored by our City and the League of California Cities, SB 266 provides local governments with an additional tool to end street racing in our communities. 

It’s time for the state to pitch-in and help law enforcement professionals at the local level deter this dangerous behavior that’s caused too many tragedies already.

The City’s focus on protecting and helping the community extends to other services beyond just law enforcement. 

We’ve made a long-term commitment to partnering with the Elk Grove Senior Center. 

Our new Teen Center building is open and bustling with young people who are provided a safe, constructive environment in which to study and hang out while staying out of trouble. 

The Police Department’s Explorer Program has also been launched and it similarly helps our youth develop positive behavioral traits and avoid risky behavior.  It also helps cultivate a pool of future police officers from diverse backgrounds. 

In sum, quality of life is what drives our city services.

Over the past year our Integrated Waste team has partnered with the Elk Grove Unified School District to hold a number of hugely successful E-waste recycling events. 

By joining together with the school district, we were able to share facilities and better educate the public about this positive program to keep electronic junk out of the waste stream, out of landfills, and make sure that it gets recycled and reused.

In a few short years, Elk Grove has quickly established a reputation for being one of the “greenest” cities in the region. 

Elk Grove became the first city to partner with SMUD and adopt a set of progressive strategies to encourage the installation of solar energy systems. 

This partnership will pay benefits for years to come by streamlining the permitting process for solar energy systems and keeping electric rates down in an environmentally intelligent way.

We also want the new civic center to be a “green” facility.

As we begin the long-term community dialogue about this new wellness, civic, and performing arts complex at the corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Big Horn Road, we can seize this opportunity to design a cutting-edge landmark for Elk Grove that will have the most advanced, environmentally-friendly elements.

On the other side of Highway 99, to further enhance the quality of life in Elk Grove, the City has purchased a building for a new library at the corner of Elk Grove Boulevard and Elk Grove-Florin Road, which is the gateway to Old Town.  100% of that purchase price was funded by development impact fees. 

The new library will open within a year and be twice the size of the current facility.  It will be operated thanks to another regional partnership that the City has forged, this time with the Sacramento Public Library Authority. 

While the City of Elk Grove is successfully tackling the challenges of traffic relief, public safety, and jobs, we must keep an eye focused on the future to ensure that the development patterns of the past never return.

That is why the City Council has authorized a comprehensive, master-planning process in the Southeast Study Area near Laguna Ridge and Kammerer Road. 

Our objective there is to work closely with stakeholders to develop a land use map that will result in a healthy mix of land uses. 

This will include about 200 acres of office parks bringing thousands of new jobs, commercial buildings, attainable workforce housing, and public uses such as schools, a satellite college campus, interactive recreational features, and a new fire station. 

The City Council has also been proactive in beginning a thoughtful, deliberate, long-term study process for the area south of the City’s current boundaries. 

We must recognize that our ability to bring additional jobs to Elk Grove, as well as enhance recreational amenities and maintain permanent open spaces, is directly linked to forward-looking planning that may result in the City extending its current boundaries.

This long-range study process will take years to complete.  An essential component will be a neighborhood by neighborhood community visioning and strategic planning process that will provide the Council with essential feedback from our residents and maintain open lines of communication with the public. 

As this study gets underway, I look forward to seriously engaging the City of Galt, Sacramento County, and other stakeholders about how together we will maintain a permanent open space buffer between Galt and Elk Grove.

The City of Elk Grove is already a partner with the Nature Conservancy and Ducks Unlimited for the Cosumnes Preserve.  Together, we’re also creating new habitat for endangered species where none existed before. 

In addition to our progressive, acre for acre habitat mitigation program that’s already in place, I want to find even more ways for the City to help protect the environment.

As we imagine what our community may look like a generation from now, we also have to be mindful of our current and future responsibility to the taxpayers of Elk Grove to maintain the fiscal health of the City. 

Despite experiencing flattening revenues that are a byproduct of an evolving business cycle and a softer housing market, our City’s budget is balanced and ample reserves are set aside for a more severe rainy day. 

That’s the fulfillment of our responsibility to the taxpayers to be the best shepherds we possibly can of the public’s money.

From the City’s bottom line to its highest aspirations for the future, I hope that I have conveyed to each of you today that, while we still have significant challenges ahead of us, we can and should be very proud of the progress that we’re making to fix the roads, keep our community safe, help create more jobs, and plan for our economic future in a smart and environmentally sustainable way.

The state of the City of Elk Grove has never been better. 

Let us harness our new sense of purpose and mission of partnership to continue to achieve real results that benefit the public and business community alike. 

Let us value our city’s tremendous racial and ethnic diversity and educate others to do the same.

Let us move toward a common, positive future with tremendous opportunity for everyone who calls Elk Grove “home”.

I know that my Council colleagues and I look forward to continuing the close partnership between the City, the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, and everyone in this room and in the community. 

Working together, we can achieve and sustain the highest quality of life in Elk Grove. 

Thank you very much for being here today. 

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