Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly on Aug. 27 delivered the 20th annual State of the City address, in which he focused on issues such as economic recovery, traffic and crime.
His speech was online and hosted by the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce. This event was postponed from March, due to the COVID-19 situation.
Ly noted that because of the pandemic, much has changed in Elk Grove.
“Who could have imagined that 2020 would look like this?” he asked. “How long (this pandemic) 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.”
The mayor mentioned that, prior to the pandemic, 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,” he said.
Ly commended the city’s response to providing assistance for business owners and workers during the economic downturn of this pandemic.
“Over the past several months, we’ve introduced a variety of programs and resources to help out,” he said. “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.”
Ly recognized Elk Grove as one of the region’s first cities to issue a local emergency order and allow for restaurants to temporarily add or expand their outdoor dining.
The mayor additionally mentioned the city’s agreement with Lift Investing to provide low-interest flexible loans for Elk Grove businesses as part of a COVID-19 emergency assistance program.
Further recognized by Ly was the city’s “Why Buy Local” campaign, its launching of a small business recovery program, which will distribute $750,000 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) funding, the city’s moratorium on evictions for commercial and residential tenants, and the halting of shutoffs by utility providers.
The city also allocated nearly $100,000 in emergency funding for local nonprofits such as the Elk Grove Food Bank, the Elk Grove Homeless Assistance Resource Team, and Chicks in Crisis.
Nonprofits were also assisted through the city’s allocation of an additional $200,000 in CARES Act funding.
“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,” Ly said.
Ly noted that the city has also assisted in difficult times by reducing its operating costs until the economy improves, keeping some of its job openings vacant, suspending payments to the transit fund, and deferring some equipment purchases.
“These cutbacks will allow us to keep working without any decrease in public services,” he said.
Another issue mentioned by Ly is the city’s housing crisis.
Ly said that it is difficult for those earning $70,000 per year to find affordable housing and that many people spend more than half of their income on housing.
To work toward improving Elk Grove’s housing issue, the city’s General Plan Housing Element is currently being updated. The goal of that plan is to identify housing for people of all income levels throughout Elk Grove.
The mayor also addressed crime in the city, noting that Elk Grove’s crime remains relatively low for a city of its size.
“Comparisons year over year show an overall decline in both violent and property crime,” he said. “In the five-year view, violent crime is down by as much as 40%.”
Ly added that crime can remain low in Elk Grove through prevention efforts.
The mayor recognized the city’s support to create a two-way dialogue between the local police and the community, as well as a citywide effort to listen, learn, better understand and respect the diversity in Elk Grove.
Regarding the city’s traffic issue, Ly recognized the City Council’s adoption of a Congestion Management Plan, and the city’s pursuit of several federal and state grants.
Ly recognized the upcoming widening of Grant Line Road, between Waterman and Bradshaw roads, and the Kammerer Road project, which will include the widening of lanes and shoulders.
Another project mentioned by Ly was a future, new highway interchange at Whitelock Parkway and Highway 99. He noted that construction on that project would not begin for a few years.
Ly also said that the council significantly increased funding for road pavement management, and this year, Bond Road will be resurfaced from East Stockton Boulevard to Elk Grove-Florin Road.
The mayor praised the overall condition of the city’s street pavement.
“Overall, the city’s pavement condition has steadily improved over the past four years,” he said. “Today, Elk Grove’s roads are rated in the 90th percentile in the state and the best in Sacramento County.”
Ly expressed pride in the city’s Public Works Department, and the construction of such local projects as the aquatics center, community center and the animal shelter within the past two years, as well as 26 other projects.
He added that the construction industry remains strong.
“Improvements to Railroad Street and the Old Town Plaza are underway and construction has started on The Preserve, a 30-acre nature area at District56 (off Elk Grove Boulevard),” he said. “Look for the opening of these new additions in 2021.”
Ly also recognized the efforts of California Northstate University (CNU) and Dignity Health to have hospitals built in Elk Grove.
“Both the CNU and Dignity Health projects seek to care for our growing community,” he said.
CNU projects it will open its hospital in the Stonelake neighborhood in 2022, and Dignity Health plans to open a hospital, on Wymark Drive, south of Elk Grove Boulevard, by as early as 2026.
Although Elk Grove is experiencing challenging times, Ly said that these times present “the greatest opportunity to learn and grow.”
“Even under these circumstances, Elk Grove will prevail,” he said. “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.”