Luncheon Presented by:
The Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce and the City of Elk Grove
Featuring Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen
March 31, 2023
11:30pm to 1:30pm
The Center at District56, 8230 Civic Center Drive, Suite #100
"Driven to Succeed"
Good afternoon. Thank you for that warm introduction. I’m Bobbie Singh-Allen and I am proud to serve as Elk Grove’s Mayor.
Thank you to the Chamber Board and staff for your continued work to support local businesses.
Thank you to my City Council colleagues who join me in serving our City every day, and
Most importantly, thanks to all of you who are attending and tuning in online.
Joining me today are my family including my husband, sons, and my parents.
I am honored to speak to you today about the state of our city.
A city that is like no other.
Elk Grove is special and those of us who call it home truly understand that.
We have come a long way in the last year.
Two of our former City Council members moved on to serve in higher offices at the County and the State.
And Elk Grove’s first Mayor now serves as Sacramento County’s new Sheriff.
I am grateful for the relationships we have with Supervisor Hume, Assemblymember Nguyen and Sheriff Cooper.
These relationships offer an expanded network for improving Elk Grove and the region.
We also gained two new members on the Council – Rod Brewer and Sergio Robles -- who bring fresh perspectives and strengths to our governance team.
Could you imagine the five of us on a road trip?
Our Vice Mayor, Kevin Spease, would be riding shotgun, of course.
Flashback about 30 years and we could be riding around in my first car…
Do you remember your first car?
Mine was a blue 1982 Nissan Sentra with no air conditioning.
My Uncle taught me how to drive it on the rural roads of Yuba City and I remember how different it was when I had to get on Highway 99 to make the drive home to Turlock.
A lot has changed since I drove that old Sentra around, but
I bring this up because our vision for a superior quality of life really drives everything we do.
There is nothing like a good drive on a sunny day with the windows down and some good 80’s tunes playing.
So let’s make today’s talk a virtual road trip and consider this my personal invitation to jump in and buckle up for a ride across our amazing City.
Our City is Driven to Succeed in 2023.
Driven to be smarter
Driven to work harder; and
Driven to be better every day
Driven to be Smarter
An African Proverb says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
Our work together over the past year has generated results that will support a brighter future.
Last November, 54% of Elk Grove voters approved Measure E to add new funding for people, projects, and services to support a better quality of life.
On behalf of the City and Cosumnes CSD, thank you for putting your trust in us.
Thank you for attending the many workshops we hosted in February to talk about how we can put these funds to work for our community.
With help from our new Measure E oversight committee, we will ensure that they are spent on the priorities you shared with us before, during, and after the election.
Earlier this month, my fellow council members and I met to review future goals for the city.
And among the many things we discussed was the unique quality of life we share here in Elk Grove.
We are different from anywhere in the region.
We look for new ways to solve our problems.
We don’t settle for doing things a certain way because that’s how they’ve always been done.
As the first incorporated city of the 21st century, that way of thinking would never do.
And 23 years later, our community remains open to innovation and new ideas.
We seek solutions that combine technology and a personal touch.
Last year, the Council adopted Connected Elk Grove: A Smart City Plan that will take us to the next level.
Our work on this plan in 2023 will focus on the development of a community participation toolkit to ensure that a broader group of Elk Grove voices are heard on projects that affect the community.
We’ll review the results of a digital equity report that will help us expand broadband access to more residents and businesses.
And we’ll increase our use of data-based decision making by finding new and better ways to safely and securely aggregate, analyze and store data to assess local problems and design new and innovative solutions.
If you look around the room…if you look at your own table, nearly all of us travel with a smartphone.
Unlike my road trips of yesteryear, we have all these tools…a camera, a video recorder, a computer, iTunes, and TV everywhere we go.
These innovations make our lives easier and they help local government work smarter.
Our Police Department has embraced technology with their award-winning Real Time Information Center and the use of unmanned air systems to find missing persons, assess storm conditions, and if needed, find suspects.
Their data collection and reporting systems are tracking important trends like the 26 percent drop in violent crime and a 15 percent decrease in property crime last year; and
Their use of in-car and body worn cameras is increasing the transparency of the work they do.
And technology is making other city departments more responsive too.
Our Public Works Team has resolved more than 3,000 issues reported by residents through the See Click Fix mobile app that was introduced last year.
These innovations are important ways to connect and show accountability to the community we serve.
Simply put, they help us to work smarter.
Driven to Work Harder
But working smarter is only part of the equation.
The big picture is put into focus by intentional daily efforts.
Author Robert Collier said that “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.”
The storms that ended 2022 and ushered in this year were a good example of this.
While communities around us experienced serious flooding, Elk Grove’s drainage systems managed the flow of water exceptionally well.
Our Public Works crews and emergency responders worked around the clock to manage the needs of the community.
Our city was well prepared.
And because we were well prepared, we were able to support evacuees from other parts of the county in their time of need.
Our preparations started weeks, months, and even years in advance.
It required people who could anticipate the needs that our city would have during a significant storm event.
I want to thank our Public Works Department, our Police Department, and the Cosumnes CSD for all of their hard work not just during the winter storms, but every day.
Your professionalism and preparation is truly appreciated.
When I ask residents about their issues, traffic is always a leading topic of conversation.
There is no doubt that our growth has generated its fair share of growing pains.
Partnerships with CalTrans and our state and federal representatives are helping us address some of our traffic troubles.
In September, we celebrated the completion of a major stretch of the Fix I-5 project that added HOV lanes from Pocket Road to Elk Grove Boulevard.
This is a good start, but there is still more work to do.
On the east side, we’re working with CalTrans to add an interchange at Highway 99 and Whitelock Parkway to reduce congestion on Elk Grove Boulevard and provide pedestrian and bicycle access to Elk Grove Park.
Design and environmental review for this project is already under way with construction expected by the end of the decade.
And while a lot of this work is still in the early stages, we have added miles of new asphalt along what will eventually be the Capital Southeast Connector.
In 2022, the Public Works team completed improvements on two major segments of this project at Kammerer and Grant Line Roads.
This work sets the stage for future widening to Calvine and a new extension west from Bruceville Road to Interstate 5.
We will continue to work with regional, state, and federal partners to secure the funding needed to complete these important connections.
But work on Elk Grove arterial roads is just as important as our commuter routes.
Our Citywide Traffic Relief Project is in design and anticipated to start construction in early 2024.
This project will upgrade the City’s traffic signal network and improve 76 intersections with video detection, larger signal heads, and expand our traffic timing tools.
But our road trips of the future will likely need more than additional vehicle lane miles and better signals.
We’re working hard to find ways that encourage more of us to get out of our cars and onto a train, bus, or bike.
We commend our transit partner, SacRT for their continued efforts to expand and enhance the region’s public transit system.
Improvements to light rail trains, stations, and bus stops support a clean, safe, accessible ride.
And while we’re talking about trains…
We’re continuing to partner with the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission on the construction of a rail station in Elk Grove on Dwight Road.
Slated to open in 2026, this station will provide daily service on the Amtrak San Joaquin and Altamont Corridor Express to provide service between Bakersfield and San Jose.
But let’s switch gears from rails to trails…
Our Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Trails Master Plan sets us on the path to develop more than 75 miles of trail improvements across the City in the coming decade.
In total, the plan will invest more than $186 million for active transportation projects.
To support these efforts, the Council updated our Roadway Impact Fee Program this past November and adopted a new, standalone Active Transportation Fee Program.
These funds, combined with grants and local funds will help improve circulation for all users.
We’ve also been studying the gaps in our trail system.
In February, the Council finalized a Master Plan to connect trails from the rural area to the Franklin Boulevard Cycle Track and beyond to the Sacramento light rail station and the future passenger rail station.
New federal funding will kickstart this work with the construction of a new pedestrian bridge over Highway 99 between Bond and Sheldon Roads.
I’d like to take a moment to thank Congresswoman Matsui as well as Congressman Bera for their efforts in helping to secure a $2 million Congressional appropriation for this bridge.
Closing the gaps in our system supports safer routes just about everywhere, but making these changes to support our students is especially important.
We remain committed to collaboration with our schools.
From dedicated school resource officers to a workgroup focused on creating safer travel to and from school, our work with the school district is an important conduit to connect and serve many of our families in Elk Grove.
We know that these students represent our future leaders and we are pleased to partner with the school district for Elk Grove’s Civic Summer Program to place high school students in summer internships at City Hall and other agencies throughout Elk Grove to encourage a new generation of public servants.
Like our schools, libraries are an important gathering place that support learning.
In the coming months the City will begin final design work on the relocation of the Elk Grove Library.
This work, done in conjunction with the Sacramento Public Library, will convert the former Rite Aid building in Old Town and more than double the available parking for library patrons.
Over $7 million in State grants will make this effort possible.
The new library is expected to open in 2025.
Driven to be Better Everyday
Henry Ford once said:
“Coming together is a beginning,
Staying together is progress,
and working together is success.”
Sky River Casino’s journey toward success gained speed this summer.
I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize and congratulate Chairman Tarango, the Wilton Rancheria Tribe, and the management team at Sky River Casino.
Their early opening last August brought a viral buzz and attracted thousands of visitors to the city during their opening week.
Their work with our Police and Public Works departments kept the flow of more than 20,000 vehicles moving daily through the city.
And as the gaming resort settles into its operating rhythm, we are grateful for their continued collaboration.
Their success is good for the Tribe and good for our City.
The agreement in place between the City and the Tribe will begin generating new payments in August that will support public safety, road maintenance, and other local services.
And discussions are already underway for the next phase of their project which will include a parking garage, hotel tower and conference facilities.
Construction on at least a portion of this next phase could begin within the year.
We join you in celebrating your recent Business of the Year honors by the Elk Grove Chamber and we can’t wait to see where 2023 takes you.
The road to success can be long for some projects.
Our work to revitalize Elk Grove’s Historic District began nearly 20 years ago when the City Council adopted an update to the County’s Old Town Special Planning Area.
Additional updates have been made over the years to fine tune the vision for Old Town and staff is once again working with the community to reimagine how this space will serve the city.
Investments made in the Old Town Plaza and the adjacent roads there have attracted amazing partners like D & S Development, Dust Bowl Brewing Company, and Michael Hargis and Brock MacDonald -- the team behind Midtown Sacramento’s LowBrau, Holy Spirits, Milk Money, and Beast and Bounty.
Michael and Brock will soon open LowBrau’s Slow & Low Smokehouse on Railroad Street and add another new dining and entertainment option in Elk Grove’s historic area.
We are excited to welcome their establishment to the Historic District and wish them the very best in their opening.
Our historic area continues to flourish with new life and vitality.
We’ll be introducing more new events and regular programming at the Old Town Plaza this summer.
And we are continuing to work on Phase 2 of the Elk Grove Boulevard Streetscape improvements.
This project will beautify and enhance mobility from School Street to Waterman Road.
We’re moving utilities underground, adding new planting strips, repairing the pavement and adding new sidewalks and bike lanes.
Construction on this project is expected to begin in 2025.
These improvements will serve new and existing residents.
New development is offering more people the chance to move into Old Town.
The Elk Grove Railroad Courtyards project by Sacramento-based EcoGreeen, LLC. will include 33 one- and two-bedroom units and live-work spaces between Dust Bowl and Slow and Low Smokehouse.
This new market rate housing project is an exciting addition to the area.
Look for activity on this project to pick up this year.
Housing continues to be a hot topic as we move through 2023.
Providing a diversity of housing options for all ages, stages, and income levels remains a top priority for the Council.
While the market continues to spur construction of single-family homes, the City has actively engaged with developers of affordable housing projects to help address local needs and fulfill state mandated housing allocations.
To be clear…we agree that every city must do its fair share to address the state housing crisis and Elk Grove is doing its part.
Today, more than 1,100 affordable housing units are entitled and/or have a firm loan commitment from the City.
And more than 500 additional units are in the planning phases.
Phase II of the Gardens at Quail Run is slated to open any day.
And late last year, financing closed on Poppy Grove and The Lyla, which will add nearly 700 affordable housing units to Elk Grove in 2024.
These projects offer the opportunity for more people who work here to live here and raise their families here.
They provide the chance at a better quality of life.
But, what about our unhoused population?
Homelessness continues to plague our state and our region.
A problem this big takes time and tenacity to address.
But what we are doing is working…
Our homeless services navigator reported that 29 homeless Elk Grove households (a minimum of 46 people) moved to permanent housing in 2022.
Many to affordable housing complexes.
In a city that has an average of 100 to 150 unhoused individuals at any given time, this is a success that needs to be shared and celebrated.
But we won’t rest on our laurels.
We will continue to work with partners like Elk Grove HART, the Elk Grove Food Bank, and Sacramento County to find ways to house and help those who need it most.
Housing and jobs go hand-in-hand when it comes to supporting a better quality of life.
Last month, the City Council authorized the city’s first workforce development program.
Using funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, this program will provide new training services for residents in the fields of information technology, cybersecurity, and manufacturing.
It will offer those who suffered a job loss during the pandemic a new pathway for professional success in fields that offer a good living wage.
As a former school board member and a life-long learner, I firmly believe in the power of education and I am excited that we, as a city, are in a position to help change lives with this program.
Look for more information on this program to be released next month.
I’ve always believed that Elk Grove is a city whose people dream big.
Ten years ago, most people would have been hard pressed to believe that Elk Grove would attract big corporate businesses but look to our southeast side of town and you can see that construction of Kubota Tractor Corporation’s Western Distribution Center is well under way.
Kubota is big business and this $60 million dollar project will generate more than 125 jobs when it opens later this year.
We are excited to have them join our community and we believe that their presence here will be a catalyst for attracting other companies to the southeast industrial area.
Our drive toward a diverse economy relies on businesses of all sizes and I am pleased to report that our community of startup companies is growing.
These entrepreneurs are shaping the future of our region and introducing innovations that could change how some industries do business.
Our City cultivates that startup spirit through a grant incentive program that allows new ideas to grow and encourages those entrepreneurs to plant themselves in our city.
After all, some of the biggest companies in the country started in someone’s garage.
Companies like Elk Grove’s EyeRate, that converts customer feedback into tangible employee pay incentives for good service.
Founded in an Elk Grove garage in 2019, the company now has more than 2,500 businesses and 58,000 employees using its platform.
They have moved out of the house and into the city’s Tech Hub space off of Dwight Road.
EyeRate was one of the original grantees of the City Startup Incentive Program and recently raised $4 million in a seed round of venture capital funding.
We are proud to be the home of EyeRate and are inspired by their success to do more for our entrepreneurs.
In May, we will host the next Pitch Elk Grove event.
Started by our economic development team last year in partnership with StartupSac, the event provides innovative startups throughout the region the opportunity to showcase their companies in front of potential investors.
Please join us here at District56 on May 18 for that event.
The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Indeed, our journey toward a more equitable, inclusive, and welcoming community for all continued in 2022.
In a first for our City, we raised and displayed the Pride Flag in front of City Hall throughout the month of June to honor and acknowledge the struggles and celebrate the contributions of our LGBTQIA+ neighbors.
I stood with members of our community, City staff, and our Diversity & Inclusion Commission who shared how much it meant for them to have their City acknowledge them in that way.
I was moved to tears by some of the stories I heard about their experiences growing up in Elk Grove.
As I stand here today, on this International Transgender Day of Visibility, I affirm to you that we will be A City Welcome to All.
We will continue to be a community that celebrates our differences and our similarities.
We will continue to March for the Dream and show our Pride as one of the most diverse cities in the region.
Our diversity is our strength.
As we move through 2023, I will work with the Council and the Diversity & Inclusion Commission to continue our work in diversity, equity, and inclusion including the addition of a city land acknowledgement that recognizes and pays respect to Elk Grove’s indigenous people at city meetings and events.
The work we do today sets a foundation for the future of Elk Grove.
A future that must include careful conservation and a healthy respect for our environment.
Given the extreme heat, drought, wildfires, and intense storms we’ve seen over the past year, the climate crisis is top of mind.
The City is in the process of updating its climate action plan to identify how we can achieve state recommended targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
As a city, we are doing our part, but we can always do more.
We will continue to evaluate how we can reduce emissions, electrify and diversify our energy sources, and ensure justice and equity can flourish in our local communities.
Together we will assist businesses and individuals to access new tax credits, provisions, and rebates for electric vehicles, home energy retrofitting and more.
We look forward to working with federal, state, and local partners to ensure a cleaner and greener Elk Grove for the future.
Projects like a new zoo also drive opportunities for a better tomorrow.
We are incredibly fortunate to be working with the Sacramento Zoological Society and others to design a state-of-the art zoological park here in Elk Grove.
In November, we shared a number of renderings that revealed what a new zoo could look like.
This project would expand habitats for the animals like the new giraffe I met recently.
A new zoo would also bring back iconic species such as hippos and increase education opportunities for the region in a way no other project could.
Staff continues to work with the Zoological Society and consultants to conduct environmental reviews and prepare a detailed financing plan for the project.
Final City Council consideration is still a year or more away, but
We remain committed to exploring the possibilities and the benefits that this project could present to our city and the region.
On this final day of Women’s History Month, I am inspired to share a quote from Harvard Business School Professor and co-founder of the Advanced Leadership Initiative, Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Professor Kanter said:
A vision is not just a picture of what could be;
it is an appeal to our better selves,
a call to become something more.
Big transformational projects like the zoo and Project Elevate will drive Elk Grove’s future forward.
They are a chance for us to be something more than a community of subdivisions and strip malls.
Project Elevate is an opportunity to “elevate” the level of retail, dining, and entertainment amenities in the City and create a dense, urban space in the heart of Elk Grove.
Last summer, we selected Hines as our developer for this city-owned project adjacent to District56.
We are working with Hines to refine a vision to include apartments, restaurants, retail, and hotel and office spaces.
This project remains in the early stages with more information expected later this year.
Given the uncertainty in the economy, project phasing is more likely to be a part of the overall planning, but
As the Sacramento Business Journal shared in an article last month, no other project may have as much potential impact (for our city) as Project Elevate.
Now that’s exciting.
And speaking of exciting news, we learned yesterday that UC Davis Health just closed on 20 acres nearby to expand their outpatient services. We are excited about this news and appreciate your investment in our future.
As I prepare to close today’s message, I am reminded of a quote by Admiral Hyman Rickover, one of the most successful and controversial public servants of the 20th century.
He said…Good ideas and innovations must be driven into existence by courage and patience.
The State of our City is strong because we are Driven to Succeed.
Driven to be smarter
Driven to work harder; and
Driven to be better every day
We have the courage to forge our own path and try new things.
We know that change takes time, and we have the patience and steadfast focus to see things through.
We are a community of people who dream big and work hard to achieve success for ourselves and the greater good.
We strive to be a city where everyone has the opportunity to live, work, shop, and play locally.
We are a city welcome to all.
I couldn’t be prouder to be your Mayor and I believe in the work that we are doing together.
Thank you once again to the Chamber Board and staff for hosting today’s event and to all of you for your commitment to a better Elk Grove.