State of the City 2020

Mayor John B. Allard II

October 2020

The following video contains a shortened version of the State of the City 2020 written speech. The full text version is below.

 



There’s no question: We’re living through history.

The year started out like many others, with optimism and a strong economy. As you know, that’s not how it’s turned out.

As COVID-19 restrictions emerged in March, the City and most of the world, quickly took extreme precautions against the spread of the virus.

 

INVESTING IN OUR COMMUNITY

We knew our community faced a variety of challenges, so the City sprang into action.

Family Meal Roseville

Starting in March, food insecurity rose to an all-time high with extensive unemployment and school closures. Demand doubled at Placer Food Bank.

With this dramatic spike, the City of Roseville and its longstanding community partner, Health Education Council, activated the Family Meal Roseville program in just three weeks, launching May 4 with seed money from the City and community.

Family Meal Roseville purchased 16,000 meals from six local restaurants and distributed them five days a week for six weeks at no cost to 1,200 low-income seniors and families in need. A hundred city staff and HEC volunteers served meals at six low-income housing communities and four Title-1 schools. Limited home deliveries were also made to identified at-risk individuals.

A participant survey showed 47% of respondents suffered a financial loss due to COVID-19, and 83% said FMR helped meet their weekly food needs. Among restaurants participating, 100% said Family Meal Roseville helped them keep staff employed and vendors at work. 

Housing stability and homelessness

Addressing the issues that accompany homelessness has been a major focus of cities throughout California. 

Roseville’s Housing Division worked to prevent homelessness and provide for rapid rehousing in this intensified situation of job loss and disruption. The City added $500,000 dollars from our Citizens Benefit Trust to the $6.4 million in federal funds we administer each year for this purpose.

This is in addition to the ongoing focus our police, open space, housing, and legislative staff has on addressing the issue. Whether it’s finding partners to build affordable housing, educating people about mental health services, providing families and individuals with emergency housing, cleaning up an abandoned encampment, or helping shape legislation, our staff is working with non-profits, the County, and our community on this issue in unique and highly effective ways.

City services meet community needs

Though our facilities were closed, our services continued with a sharp focus on community needs. 

  • Roseville Police Department reallocated staff to have more serving on patrol for greater community presence while businesses were closed.
  • Roseville Fire worked closely with hospitals and the Placer County Emergency Operations Center on logistics, personnel safety, community safety and preparedness.
  • Roseville Electric offered a one-time credit to customers who qualify based on income.
  • Roseville Transit suspended fares on buses to promote physical distancing.
  • Roseville Development Services continued to issue building permits and conduct inspections for the health and safety of our community
  • Roseville Parks, Recreation & Libraries created virtual recreation and educational opportunities for families so they could participate from home.
  • We developed a special Roseville Cares website, to provide a way for residents who want to volunteer or who need help to connect with local non-profits.
  • We increased communication to help residents stay on top of changing circumstances. We had information at grocery stores, on our website, billboards, social media, at virtual public meetings, and in twice-weekly newsletters.
  • Through several summer heat waves, we opened cooling centers to provide a safe and comfortable option during a time when other locations were closed due to health orders.

SUPPORTING OUR BUSINESSES

The City has also been there for our businesses every step of the way.

As many businesses closed or extremely curtailed their operations, we directed over $1 million from our Citizens Benefit Fund to make zero-interest loans to qualifying businesses.

This was in addition to investing $10 million dollars of deposits with four local banks through the Roseville Advantage program to make loans to local businesses.

These were lifelines for small businesses.

We eased regulations to allow restaurants to provide more outdoor dining. And along with the Downtown Roseville Partnership, provided funding to help get expanded outdoor dining areas built along Vernon Street.

Our Economic Development Department obtained over $50,000 worth of PPE, and with the Roseville Area Chamber of Commerce, we distributed it so businesses could safely reopen.

We helped in other ways including:

  • Advocating for regional variance instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to reopening throughout the state so businesses could open safely in light of local health data.
  • Directing $1 million of the City’s CARES Act funding directly to business support.
  • Developed the Reopen Energy Smart program from Roseville Electric, offering businesses rebates on HVAC and food service to lighting and thermostats to help lower costs.
  • Roseville Electric kept the power on during intense heat waves when rolling blackouts hit other parts of the state.

 

QUALITY OF LIFE AND BUSINESSES EXPANSIONS

Despite the setbacks we face, we continue to run a city where businesses want to locate and people want to live. Roseville is the only California city named one of the Best Places to Live in the U.S. this month by Money Magazine. Also in October, Placer County was named 37th Healthiest County in the U.S. by U.S. News and World Report.

These point to significant quality-of-life factors that attract both residents and businesses. 

This past year, work was completed on many new, large, long-term commercial projects. These include:

  • A new sports facility complex, @TheGrounds, at the Placer County Fairgrounds site in Roseville. The first event at the facility was a highly successful regional volleyball tournament in February 2020, drawing families from the Bay Area and Central Valley who stayed at our hotels, dined in our restaurants, and shopped at our stores. The facility was booked for youth sports, meeting, and convention needs throughout the year until events were curtailed by COVID-19 health orders. It served as both a COVID testing site and a distribution site for personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to safely reopen businesses.
  • New critical care units and a significant expansion of Sutter Roseville Medical Center’s emergency department. Sutter moved up its opening to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 patients this spring.
  • Living Spaces opened its only regional furniture retail space in Roseville in July as people working and attending classes from home were looking for new furnishings.
  • Amazon opened a distribution warehouse in Roseville, providing jobs and proximity for its deliveries in the region, which increased sharply with the health orders in effect that restricted in-person shopping.
  • Construction began on the Campus Oaks commercial project at the former HP campus. It will include 116,000 square feet of commercial, retail and restaurant uses in the first phase, anchored by a Nugget grocery store.
  • Other notable projects on the horizon include a new commercial center in the West Roseville Specific Plan Village Center, which will include 25,000 square feet of retail and restaurant uses.
  • In Roseville’s downtown, the City purchased a four-story office building at 116 S. Grant Street that had remained unoccupied since construction was completed in 2016. Not only did the US Post Office relocate there this month, keeping its downtown presence, but Roseville Electric and Environmental Utilities will offer more convenient access to utility services for customers. Additional space will be available to be leased.
  • Also downtown, construction of Main Street Plaza Apartments on the corner of Washington and Main began in 2019, bringing 65 affordable units and 3,000 more square feet of commercial space to the historic district. When Junction Crossing breaks ground, it will bring 80 affordable units to Pacific Street.

 

DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITY AT RECORD PACE

As we look ahead with cautious optimism, we see signs of recovery and change.

  • Our traffic volumes, which were at 48% of normal at the end of March, are back up to 84% now in October.
  • Permits for home improvements rose sharply as did development activity.

Development activity continues to remain strong in most sectors despite the disruption resulting from COVID-19. Low mortgage rates, remote work opportunities, quality of life, and affordability compared to the Bay Area are fueling demand for new homes in Roseville.

As new subdivisions in the Sierra Vista, Fiddyment Ranch, and Creekview plan areas come online, the City’s Development Services staff has met a surge in demand for single-family home permits. In just the first quarter of this fiscal year, the City issued 428 single-family home permits, nearly half of the projections for the entire year.  Completion of the Blue Oaks and Westbrook Boulevards extension projects will further facilitate sustained growth in these areas.   

A total of $115 million in commercial investment ($70 million in new commercial building construction valuation and $45 million in commercial tenant improvements) closed out FY2019-20. New commercial construction and tenant improvement valuation declined slightly in FY2020-21 as large projects were completed.

 

FOCUS ON CIVIL UNREST, DIVERSITY EFFORTS

In June, as civil unrest and protests against racism spread throughout the country, demonstrations in Roseville were overwhelmingly without incident.

I want to thank the demonstrators whose focus was on remaining peaceful. I also want to thank our Roseville Police for protecting people’s constitutional rights to demonstrate.

Our Police Department received many inquiries about its policies and our Police Chief worked intensely to provide information about RPD’s long track record of training and policies that protect people in our community and our officers.

I encourage you to familiarize yourself with what our Police Department and our City have been doing for years to strengthen social services and protect the most vulnerable in our community.

Informed voices strengthen our community.

In July at the policy level, the City Council formally adopted an advocacy position in its annual legislative platform, to advocate at the state and national levels for standard policies and funding for body-worn cameras for our officers.

In October, the City Council formally added a fourth strategy focused on strengthening community inclusiveness efforts to its four-year strategic plan under Goal C: Maintain a Safe and Healthy Community. This also ties into Goal B: Support Community Engagement and Advocacy. We are looking at opportunities such as Global Marketplace’s Racial Healing Project  to provide an opportunity for people to come together in support and understanding of each other.

City policies and services have for years focused on inclusiveness. While we’re proud of our results in the areas of public safety, housing, economic development, parks, recreation, libraries, Maidu history, utilities, transit, and development services, we recognize the ongoing focus and effort required to ensure Roseville is a welcoming community to everyone.

 

BUDGET/MEASURE B

No State of the City address would be complete without talking about our budget. This year, our crystal ball is cloudier than ever in terms of revenue forecasts.

We don’t know how long the pandemic will be with us, how deep or long the recession will be, and what kind of stimulus assistance we might get from the federal government.

At this point, it looks like our revenue forecast due to the sudden recession won’t be as bad as it could have been. People are still shopping as evidenced by the delivery trucks we see on our streets and this helps with our revenues.

Looking to our recent past, the timing in 2018 of voters’ approval of a half-cent sales tax known as Measure B could not have been better, given the challenges we now face due to a pandemic.

Measure B is in place to preserve service levels for city services such as public safety, road maintenance, parks, libraries, and recreation. In April 2019, collection of this revenue began.  

 

Based on extensive community feedback, Measure B revenues

  • funded additional police officer positions in our growing city,
  • funded maintenance for citywide parks, which meant construction could continue; and
  • helped restore hours at libraries.

Not only did the additional revenue stabilize General Fund services and fund high-priority areas identified by the community, it allowed the City to set aside nearly $11 million this first year in a General Fund economic stabilization reserve fund.  This is what is making the City’s continuity of operations possible while health and economic effects continue to impact everyone’s daily lives.   

It will undoubtedly take longer to climb out of this fiscal valley than the dizzying pace it took to descend to this point. The whole time, our budget will continue to face pressure from additional expenses and revenue reductions resulting from the crisis. We’ll continue to look for ways to diversify our revenues so service levels remain high as our expenses increase.  

 

DISTRICT-BASED ELECTIONS, CHARTER, STRATEGIC PLAN

This past year, Roseville transitioned to district-based City Council elections. Voters previously elected five candidates at large. Our city is now divided into five Council districts, and voters in each district will elect a city councilmember from their district.  The district boundaries will change next year with new census data.

Also in the November 3rd election, voters will decide on nine measures that amend our City Charter and address how we govern ourselves as a city. Topics include how the mayor is determined, term limits, council vacancies, and an independent redistricting commission.

You can find all kinds of election information at www.Roseville.ca.us/election

 

COUNCIL STRATEGIC PLAN

Our City Council set aside two full days last October to conduct a public workshop to affirm our mission, vision, and values, and to determine our strategic plan for the next four years. This includes our priorities and key strategies to achieve them.

With input from the public, the City Council prioritized the following six focus areas:

  • Remain fiscally responsible in a changing world.
  • Support community engagement and advocacy.
  • Maintain a safe and healthy community.
  • Enhance economic vitality.
  • Deliver exceptional city services.
  • Invest in well-planned infrastructure and growth.

It’s proof of the strength and agility of this strategic plan that it remains relevant amid the changes we’re living through. The new City Council will be holding a Strategic Planning workshop next spring to update the progress and make any adjustments to strategy.

And with that, as my term as mayor comes to a close, I want to say thank you to this community where I’ve lived with my wife Lisa for 30 years. We’ve raised our three children and started our own small business here. We’ve loved every moment.

It’s been an honor to serve the City on various commissions and on the City Council for 13 years.

2020 has been a difficult year for us all.  But our community is strong, resilient and caring, and we will get through this challenging time together.

Because…. We Are Roseville.

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