2021 State of the City Address

Watch The Live Event From March 25, 2021

Good Evening. Thank you to the Chamber Board and staff.

Thank you to my fellow City Council colleagues and, most importantly, thank you to all of you tuning in online. I’m so pleased to share the state of our city with all of you.

While we continue to fight off the effects of a global pandemic, I have joined the City Council at a time when we are turning a corner in this crisis.

A time when we can be more pro-active to the challenges we’re facing; When vaccinations are finally giving us a fighting chance to get back to normal; and a time when we can roll up our sleeves and create solutions together. Good things are coming and the year ahead offers hope and healing for our community.

I’m focused on moving Elk Grove forward by: Putting People First. Building Up Local Businesses; and fostering our return to a new normal.

Okay, wait. This technology is great, but talking at you like this really isn’t. So let me step away from the computer and show you what we’re up to. Take a look.

Our residents need to know that we care. We care about the struggles they’ve been through and that many people are still going through. We have to put people first in whatever we do, whether it’s our response to the pandemic or how we address the housing crisis.

There’s a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt that says "Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care."

Throughout the pandemic, the City has focused on ways to keep our residents safe and well cared for.

Launching programs like Great Plates Delivered has been a lifeline for more than 500 Elk Grove seniors, while supporting Elk Grove restaurants.

The City has invested over $4.4 million in the Great Plates program with Federal and State grants covering most of these costs. But it’s not just our seniors who have needed our help.

Putting food on the table, paying for rent and utilities, and simply making ends meet has been a struggle for a lot of Elk Grove families. During this pandemic, the number of people needing help from the Elk Grove Food Bank has skyrocketed.

The City has provided $206,000 in emergency funding to the Food Bank to support the work they’re doing to assist local families. As families begin to rebound, the Food Bank will be there to help them out in a new facility.

While COVID-19 has impacted nearly everyone, there are some in our community who faced food insecurity and homelessness even before the pandemic. County guidelines and winter weather conditions left many people out in the cold earlier this year.

In February, the City and CSD bypassed the county emergency standards and opened a warming center. Volunteers hosted 25 adults and children at the Wackford Complex over 3 nights. But we estimate that there’s more than 90 people experiencing homelessness in Elk Grove at any given time.

In 2020, non-profit partners and the Police Department recorded interactions with more than 300 homeless individuals.

Working together, the City and CSD is reevaluating the guidelines we use for opening warming and cooling centers to care for our residents who need us most.

But we can’t stop there.

We’ll continue to work with our non-profit partners to provide navigation services, resources and a variety of housing options that offer more people the chance at a better quality of life and the opportunity to move on from those outside encampments.

We know that homelessness is a symptom of a much bigger problem.

This spring, the City Council will consider changes to Elk Grove’s Housing Element that would increase the number of affordable housing units in our city and address the severe housing shortages in our region.

In 2013, the State of California and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments estimated that Elk Grove needed to add more than 3,000 low-income units by 2021 to meet the needs of its growing population.

The City has added just 255 affordable units in that 8 year timeframe. And the development of these units required a $12 million City investment. Banks simply aren’t willing to finance affordable housing projects because the rents charged are too low to support loan payments, so developers have to find other funding sources. There simply isn’t enough local or statewide subsidies to construct what we need, while the need for affordable housing units has never been greater.

At a cost of $27 million to develop, The Gardens at Quail Run took on a bank loan of $4.5 million. The rest of the project is funded through in tax credit financing, a $5 million City loan, and fee waivers.

It’s a start, but we have a long way to go.

We’ll continue to work with our regional partners to explore ways to offer a greater variety of housing options that support a diversity of lifestyles and income levels.

But putting people first isn’t just about helping our residents.

We have to build our businesses up again and let them know how much we appreciate them. That’s why in February, I launched a COVID-19 Economic Task Force that brought together local business, labor, and non-profit leaders.

This group is developing strategies to connect hard working families and small businesses with available local, state, and federal resources to help them make ends meet and maybe even get ahead again.

This work is in addition to efforts at City Hall to connect Elk Grove businesses with nearly a half a million dollars in grants and $1.2 Million in low interest, flexible loans.

Flexibility is the key in doing business during the pandemic and our restaurants and businesses continue to adapt and overcome the many challenges put in their path over the past year.

With entitlements passed last May, the City has made it easier for restaurants to set up eating areas that support a lively outdoor dining scene. And we’ve even had a few new places open during the pandemic including: Ciccada’s Cantina, Pieology, Hungry Pecker Brewing Company, and Chando’s Tacos.

We’re looking forward to another new restaurant coming to Old Town as part of the Railroad Street Project. DNS Development is revitalizing two historic brick buildings near the railroad tracks. A cornerstone of this project will be a new restaurant and bar with 7,000 square feet of outdoor dining space. This would become one of the largest outdoor family friendly dining experiences in Elk Grove and a catalyst for further development of this historic area.

As you can tell, I am passionate about supporting our local businesses. Simply put, buying local helps our neighbors.

Expanding on the City’s Why Buy Local campaign, Explore Elk Grove, the Chamber of Commerce and the City are introducing a new Shop Local Passport Program. Launching April 1, the program will offer savings like a free coupon book that’s delivered by text. Elk Grove businesses of all kinds are eligible to participate. We think the program will offer a win-win for residents and businesses. To check out the passport program, visit the website.

While we might have expected the pandemic to slow us down, local development has continued to stay strong. New housing and commercial development is busier than last year and big projects are preparing to launch including the Wilton-Rancheria Casino.

Public Works is taking advantage of fewer motorists on the road to tackle projects that fix our roads, improve our drive, and prepare for the future. Crack sealing work was recently completed on more than 100 lane miles of Elk Grove roadways. This work helps extend the life of our roads and saves taxpayer dollars.

Work is also under way to widen Grant Line Road from two lanes to four lanes between Waterman Road and Bradshaw Road as part of the Capital Southeast Connector project, a regional collaboration connecting I-5 and Highway 99 South of Elk Grove to Highway 50 East of El Dorado Hills. That segment will be completed next spring. Work to widen Kammerer Road between Promenade Parkway and Bruceville Road is scheduled to start this summer.

Signs of the return to a “new normal” are starting to show. Vaccination clinics are preparing us to re-engage in the life we knew before. Essential workers are continuing to lead us on the road to recovery. From first responders to delivery drivers, healthcare workers to restaurant and retail professionals, your service and dedication to our community cannot be overlooked. Thank you to our Cosumnes Fire Department and all of Elk Grove’s frontline essential workers for all that you do.

Families everywhere look forward to the safe return to the classroom for our students and teachers. And we’re excited about a future that brings back opportunities to safely gather, play, and celebrate at festivals and events.

We have a lot to look forward to.

This summer will bring the re-opening of the Old Town Plaza and start the process for relocating the Old Town Library to the former Rite Aid building at Elk Grove Boulevard and Waterman Road.

We’ll continue the conversation on the transformation of the Kammerer Road Corridor to meet our future needs. And we’ll take time to celebrate the opening of Elk Grove’s 100th park, Singh and Kaur Park, and The Preserve at District56.

There are reasons to be hopeful about our future. Our City is poised and ready to bypass this pandemic and move on to better days ahead. By putting people first, building up our businesses, and getting a foothold on a new normal, we can move forward into a brighter future. The source of Elk Grove’s strength has, and always will be, its people. Our community is diverse, giving, and friendly. And for that reason, I believe that the state of our city is strong. By working together, we will only get stronger in the days, weeks, and months ahead.

I am proud to serve as your Mayor and I welcome the opportunity to work with you to make our community the very best that it can be.

Thank you once again to the Chamber Board and staff and to all of you for tuning in tonight.

Thank you and have a great evening.

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