Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen on March 25 delivered the 21st annual State of the City address online.
She highlighted the city’s work on supporting residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The mayor also addressed housing, and provided details on various local developments.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce-hosted event was presented online for the second consecutive year.
Singh-Allen spoke about the increase in food insecurity during the pandemic, which has placed a much greater demand on Elk Grove Food Bank Services.
“(Those needs) have skyrocketed,” she said.
In a video presentation that played during the mayor’s address, Marie Jachino, the food bank’s executive director, said that the food bank has served more than 3,000 new people since the pandemic began last spring.
“Five out of 10 (of the 7,000 people using the food bank) are people that have never used a food bank before,” she said. “And we’ve seen an increase in children of 43%, which is huge. And seniors, also 33%.”
The food bank has also served people who have lost their jobs and had their businesses close due to the pandemic, Jachino added.
Singh-Allen mentioned that the city provided $206,000 in emergency funding to the food bank to assist local families during the pandemic.
She also highlighted the food bank’s first permanent home, which will be located at 9888 Kent St., just north of its current facility at Dino Drive. The new facility will double the food bank’s service capabilities.
Singh-Allen also noted the city’s $4.4 million-plus investment in the Great Plates Delivered program, which funds local restaurants to prepare and deliver meals to more than 500 Elk Grove seniors. Federal and state grants cover the majority of the program’s costs.
Singh-Allen said that because county guidelines and winter weather conditions left many people living in Elk Grove “out in the cold” this year, the city and the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) bypassed the county’s emergency standards to open a local warming center in February.
She added that the city and CSD are reevaluating the guidelines they use for warming and cooling center openings.
As for Elk Grove’s homeless population, Singh-Allen said that there is an estimated 90 people experiencing homelessness in the city at any given time.
The mayor also addressed the ongoing need for more low-income housing units in the city.
Singh-Allen mentioned the challenges related to adding such housing.
“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,” she said. “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.”
She added that the city will continue working with regional partners to find more ways to increase housing options in Elk Grove for people of different income levels and lifestyles.
With her desire to assist local businesses, Singh-Allen launched her COVID-19 Economic Task Force last month to approach the short- and long-term needs of residents, businesses and nonprofits in and near Elk Grove.
“This group is developing strategies to connect hardworking families and small businesses with available local, state and federal resources to help them make ends meet and maybe even get ahead again,” she said.
Singh-Allen said that the task force’s work is in addition to the city’s efforts in connecting Elk Grove businesses with $1.2 million in low-interest, flexible loans and nearly $500,000 in grants.
The mayor noted that the city made it easier for restaurants to operate during COVID-19-related closures and reductions in indoor dining facilities by allowing for the establishment of many outdoor eating areas.
She also highlighted the pandemic-era openings of new businesses, including Chando’s Tacos, the Hungry Pecker Brewing Company, and Pieology.
Singh-Allen also mentioned the revitalization of two historic, brick buildings along Railroad Street.
“A cornerstone of this project will be a new restaurant and bar with 7,000 square feet of outdoor dining space,” she said. “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.”
After stressing her passion for supporting local businesses, Singh-Allen spoke about the new Elk Grove Local Pass, which is a free, mobile pass for easy access to exclusive Elk Grove deals. The pass was recently introduced by the city, the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce and Explore Elk Grove.
Singh-Allen referred to the pass as a “win-win for residents and businesses.”
Also recognized by Singh-Allen was the continued growth in local development, despite the pandemic.
“While we might have expected the pandemic to slow us down, local development has continued to stay strong,” she said. “New housing and commercial development is busier than last year and big projects are preparing to launch, including the Wilton Rancheria casino, (Sky River Casino),” she said.
She identified other future projects as the Elk Grove Library, Elk Grove’s 100th park (Singh and Kaur Park), and the widening of Grant Line Road, between Bradshaw and Waterman roads.
Singh-Allen concluded that the city is “ready to bypass the pandemic” and move onto better days.
“By putting people first, building up our businesses, and getting a foothold on a new normal, we can move forward into a brighter future,” she said. “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.”