2020 State of the City Address

Presented by:
The Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce and the City of Elk Grove 

Featuring Mayor Steve Ly
August 27, 2020

Watch the Recording View the PowerPoint Slides

Good Evening, Elk Grove.

The speech I had prepared in March is quite a bit different than the one that I will share with you tonight.

Who could have imagined that 2020 would look like this?

Thanks to technology, there are still ways we can connect during these difficult times.

I want to thank all of you for tuning-in.

Tonight, I will provide a snapshot of the challenges that we’re facing.

I’ll share our economic recovery plan.

And we’ll look back on some of the accomplishments because there is a lot we can, and should, be proud of.

When you consider all of the emergency scenarios that the City plans and prepares for, a pandemic is probably the last thing we expected to generate this kind of devastation.

How long it lasts, and the depths of its impacts, remain to be seen.

We grieve for those who have lost loved ones or have gotten sick from the virus.

We’ve seen businesses of all sizes struggle to stay afloat, with some closing forever.

Some residents have lost their jobs and unemployment is at an all-time high.

We know that many families are struggling to balance the demands of remote work and online learning.

We await the news of a virus vaccine and pray that our rate of infection begins to decline.

While it feels like there is very little we can do, our control lies in our response.

And our response has been strong.

I’d like to share with you the City’s Economic Recovery Plan.

To our business owners and workers, I want you to know, that we’ve heard you.

We know you need resources, information, and assistance, both financial and technical.

Over the past several months, we’ve introduced a variety of programs and resources to help out.

At the onset of the shutdown, we launched the Coronavirus Rapid Response website and the Rapid Response Business Hotline with the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce.

We dedicated staff to helping businesses and residents to navigate a number of federal, state, and local financial resources.

In May, we were one of the first cities in the region to issue a local emergency order that provided businesses with the opportunity to temporarily add or expand outdoor dining areas.

We entered into an agreement with Lift Investing for the COVID-19 Emergency Investment Relief Program to provide low interest flexible loans for Elk Grove businesses.

We placed a moratorium on evictions for commercial and residential tenants and worked with our local utility providers to prevent shutoffs.

And just this week, the City launched the online application for the Small Business Recovery Grant Program.

This program will distribute $750,000 in CARES Act funding to local small businesses with fewer than 20 employees and revenues of less than $3 million.

Grants of up to $25,000 will be awarded to Elk Grove businesses who have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 who remain open or plan to reopen.

The deadline for submitting applications for this program is this Sunday.

To apply for the Small Business Recovery Grant Program, please visit the city’s website.

As you travel through town, you may also notice the posters, street banners, and the billboard that feature Elk Grove business people.

Those advertisements are part of the City’s “Why Buy Local” campaign.

This campaign reminds all of us that buying local isn’t just about economics, it’s about supporting our neighbors.

Let’s support our hard working Elk Grove businesses who are doing their best to stay open or reopen and keep people working.

Despite all of these challenges, the pandemic has also brought out some of the very best of our city.

I know for me, some of the most heart wrenching stories coming out of this pandemic are the job losses, the long lines at the Food Bank, and the growing concern for our homeless residents.

Many of you have shown similar care and compassion through your overwhelming response and participation in donations this year.

Your actions reaffirm my belief that the Elk Grove community is resilient, generous, and always committed to a brighter future.

Kindness and compassion are core values that will see us through this.

In April, the City Council allocated nearly $100,000 in emergency funding to support non-profit partners providing food, household items, and rent and utility assistance.

Organizations like the Elk Grove Food Bank, Chicks in Crisis, the Rotary Club, and Elk Grove HART have all responded to the overwhelming needs of our community in the face of layoffs, shortages, and closures.

Each of these groups, and so many others, contribute in their own way to the state of our city.

In July, we allocated an additional $200,000 in CARES Act funding for non-profits who have seen an unprecedented demand for services.

This funding will help offset the loss of funds normally generated by fundraisers they would have hosted and it will provide a critical lifeline so they can continue their work.

Providing these funds is an important way to support our community, but I’m equally proud of the Council’s involvement in the Elk Grove Provisions Task Force.

This group has coordinated fundraisers, implemented donation drives, and increased the awareness for non-profit needs.

In May, the City joined a first-in-the-nation meal delivery service to support Elk Grove’s older adults and local restaurants.

The Great Plates Delivered program has helped more than 500 seniors and high risk adults to stay home and stay healthy.

Thanks to federal and state extensions, this program is continuing to run.

Local restaurants are delivering three nutritious meals a day, six days a week to residents enrolled in the program.

Great Plates Delivered not only cares for our residents, but it has infused more than a million dollars into the local economy.

Last month, the city council passed a $304 million dollar balanced budget.

This year’s budget projects a $7 million dollar reduction in revenues due to the pandemic.

These losses are the result of abrupt changes in consumer spending due to the shelter-in-place order.

Like any household facing a loss in income, the City has cut expenses and will use $800,000 from its reserves for some one-time expenses.

To save money, we will:

Keep some job openings vacant;

Hold back on advance payments against our retirement costs;

Suspend paybacks to the Transit Fund;

Defer some equipment purchases; and

Reduce our operating costs until the economy improves.

These cutbacks will allow us to keep working without any decrease in public services.

State funding will also provide some support.

The state has granted us $2.1 Million in CARES Act funding.

More than half of this funding will be used for small business and nonprofit grants.

As we recover, I’m confident we’ll take what we’ve learned from this experience to forge a stronger and better path forward.

Looking back before COVID-19, Elk Grove was gaining ground in the Sacramento region.

The City was enjoying a historically strong and growing economy with record low unemployment, a fast-growing commercial tax base, and a robust pipeline of key development projects.

We had momentum and determination on our side.

It’s this same determination that will help us come out of this pandemic stronger than we started.

Many residents who find themselves out of work due to COVID-19 are counting on us to provide new economic opportunities.

Growing good jobs closer to home has, and continues to be, a high priority for the City Council and our economic development team.

Over the past five years we’ve added or retained more than 6,000 jobs and made a positive impact on the jobs-to-housing ratio.

As we enter an economic recovery and growth stage soon, we are as committed as ever to expanding and diversifying Elk Grove’s economy so that ALL of our residents can prosper and thrive.

Despite several high-profile national retail closures and temporary local business closures, interest in developing new projects in Elk Grove remains high.

The City recently launched an online tool that lets anyone view private development projects that are in plan review, have been approved, are under construction, or were recently completed.

Visit the city’s Development Services webpage to check out this new tool called Story Maps.

Two of the projects that have received the most attention over the past year are the medical center projects proposed by California Northstate University (CNU) and Dignity Health.

The centerpieces of these projects are badly needed community hospitals.

A Draft Environmental Impact Report, or E-I-R, for the CNU project was released earlier this month.

This document looks at a variety of potential impacts associated with the project.

The city will be accepting comments on the draft EIR through September 28.

To review this document, please visit the city’s website.

Finalizing the EIR is the next step in a long review process.

Once the EIR is finalized, the project can be presented to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Initial hearings could happen by the end of this year, but most likely will occur in early 2021.

In January, Dignity Health announced its plans to proceed with its approved medical center project.

This summer, Dignity reaffirmed its commitment to building an Elk Grove hospital.

Their design team is in the process of finalizing their plans which must be submitted to the City and other agencies for review.

Dignity anticipates filing these plans with the state early next year and opening their hospital in Elk Grove within the next 6-7 years.

Both the CNU and Dignity Health projects seek to care for our growing community.

In June, the State Department of Finance estimated our current population at more than 176,000 residents.

The 2020-Census could verify this number or give us the most accurate count we’ve had in a decade.

Census workers are currently canvassing the city to make sure that everyone is counted.

The outcome will determine Elk Grove’s funding for a number of programs and could impact the makeup of our council districts and other political representation.

If you haven’t already done so, please respond to the 2020-Census.

This pandemic won’t last forever and the city is focused on the future.

Planning for our future includes addressing the housing crisis.

This isn’t just a state issue.

It is a real problem affecting our residents.

Those earning less than $70,000 a year struggle to find affordable housing and often spend more than half their income on a place to call home.

The City’s General Plan Housing Element is being updated to identify sites that will accommodate housing for all income levels.

Selecting these sites, particularly sites for lower income households, is a challenging task.

The city is currently seeking public input online regarding the sites being considered to meet our future needs.

The draft-housing-plan will be released for public review and comment in early 2021.

(Express Empathy) Having a place to call home is a basic human need, but living where you feel safe is just as important.

Many of us moved to Elk Grove because it is a safe community with good schools, nice parks and a great place to raise a family.

Our Police Department works very hard to keep our community safe.

I know the Council joins me in extending our appreciation to Chief Albright and the men and women of the Elk Grove Police Department for the work that they do.

I’m happy to report that crime in Elk Grove remains relatively low for a city of our size.

Comparisons year over year show an overall decline in both violent and property crime.

In the five-year view, violent crime is down by as much as 40%.

Prevention efforts will help us to keep these numbers low.

In March, the Police Department added a Homeless Navigator with the clinical skills to complement the work of its homeless outreach officer.

These two work together to connect Elk Grove’s homeless to the resources and programs they need to get back on their feet.

Our Police Department understands that the problems of homelessness, domestic violence, and mental health disorders require innovative approaches to policing.

By collaborating with organizations like WEAVE and Sacramento County to pair clinical professionals with officers, the Police Department is gaining the skills and techniques to better serve the community.

The Chief’s-Advisory-Board provides a voice to the needs and perceptions of our residents.

And now, more than ever, it’s important to hear from our residents.

Supporting a two-way dialogue between the Police Department and the community will help each group to understand each other better.

City-wide our organization is making an effort to listen, learn, and better understand and respect the diversity in Elk Grove.

City Hall has implemented several elements of an Inclusion Strategy that:

Expands recruitment efforts

Reduces the risk of bias in hiring, and

Promotes equity and inclusion in our workplace and throughout the city.

We changed the mission of our Multicultural Committee to a resident focused Diversity and Inclusion Commission that is working to hear and connect with our community.

We also continue to work on changing the culture at City Hall with a staff team that evaluates internal programs and policies through a lens of diversity, equity and inclusion.

There is still much more work to do, but the City’s progress was recognized in February by the League of California Cities with the Award for the Advancement of Diverse Communities.

The City is committed to building relationships and infrastructure that support a better quality of life for us all.

We’re proud of the work of the Public Works Department.

This team completed construction of the aquatics center, community center and the animal shelter within the past two years as well as 26 other projects.

While COVID-19 has sidelined many industries, construction remains very active.

Improvements to Railroad Street and the Old Town Plaza are under way and construction has started on The Preserve, a 30-acre nature area at District56.

Look for the opening of these new additions in 2021.

While the morning commute has changed for a lot of us during the pandemic, congestion in Elk Grove remains a challenge.

To address this issue, the City Council adopted a Congestion Management Plan with clear goals and a list of improvements to focus staff efforts.

To meet our current and future transportation needs, the city is aggressively pursuing several state and federal grants.

Next year, construction will start on Grant Line Road between Waterman and Bradshaw Roads to widen the road from two to four lanes.

This project will also provide a trail and add traffic signals at the intersections with Mosher and Bradshaw.

Kammerer Road will be reconstructed next year to widen the lanes and shoulders and add a median to separate traffic from Lent Ranch Parkway to Bruceville Road.

These changes will improve safety along this increasingly busy corridor.

Outreach on the future design and expansion of Grant Line Road between Bond and Calvine Roads will also begin soon.

Meetings to provide more information on this project will be held online in mid-September.

Finally, city staff and Caltrans just completed the Planning Phase for a new highway interchange at Whitelock Parkway and Highway 99.

This will allow this important project to move into the environmental phase and one step closer to development, but construction still remains a few years away.

Improving our transportation system is important, but so is maintaining what we have.

The City Council has significantly increased funding for the pavement management program including dedicating all $3 million of the funding we receive annually from Senate Bill One toward pavement preservation.

This year, Public Works will be resurfacing Bond Road between East Stockton Blvd and Elk Grove-Florin Road.

This project will add green bike lanes and improve the existing traffic signals for a smoother, safer ride in this part of the city.

Overall, the City’s pavement condition has steadily improved over the past 4 years.

Today, Elk Grove’s roads are rated in the 90th percentile in the State and the best in Sacramento County.

In closing…These are challenging times. But they are also the moments that we have the greatest opportunity to learn and grow.

Looking back over 20 years since the city’s incorporation, we have accomplished many things and overcome a number of challenges.

Even under these circumstances, Elk Grove will prevail.

We will take what we learn and create a brighter future.

The state of our city Is strong because of all of you.

Together, we will get through this.

Thank you once again to the Chamber Board and their staff for coordinating tonight’s broadcast, and thanks to all of you who tuned in.

God bless you, God bless our city and God bless the United States of America.

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