Singh-Allen in State of the City Address: ‘We Are Driven to Succeed’
Elk Grove Mayor, Bobbie Singh-Allen says the city is “ driven to succeed in 2023” by being more than a town full of “subdivisions and strip malls,” as she delivered her third state of the city address Friday March 31 at District 56.
After a few opening remarks, Singh-Allen asked the audience to join her on what she called, “a virtual road trip,” across Elk Grove to view the city’s triumphs in the past year, and how they are propelling the city into the future.
Singh-Allen portrayed Elk Grove as a city that provides a “unique quality of life” that is “different from anywhere in the region.” Her focus on technology, citywide projects and housing highlighted her 38 minute speech by saying, “We are driven to be smarter, to work harder, and to be better everyday.”
Technology Driven = Smarter City
Singh-Allen spoke about Measure E, which was voted in by 54% of Elk Grove residents last November, which entails a one-cent tax increase estimated to generate approximately $21.3 million annually. The funds would be used to strengthen the city’s infrastructure and public services. For example: first-responders; medical disaster relief; eradicating youth crimes and gang violence; ensuring cleaner and safer streets; park maintenance and other economic development projects.
Singh-Allen also addressed new technology solutions that are focused on creating more equity and transparency. A “community participation toolkit,” she said, will soon be offered to residents which would impact “a broader group of Elk Grove voices” to ensure that diverse feedback is valued on community projects. Furthermore, data would be tracked using a “digital equity report,” which Singh-Allen said would help to increase broadband access to more people within the community.
The mayor was met with applause when mentioning the 26% drop in violent crime, and 15% drop in property crime compared to last year’s statistics. She attributes the decrease to new technology that the Elk Grove Police Department recently acquired. For example, she mentioned the department’s “Real Time Information Center,” and the usage of air systems in an effort to find suspects, missing persons and evaluate weather conditions.
Singh-Allen claims the city has made huge strides in their telecommunication efforts, which has substantially improved response time across other departments. For instance, last year the city implemented a mobile application in an effort to streamline communication between residents and the Elk Grove Department of Public Works. The department is responsible for the city’s drainage system, road work and solid waste (trash).
“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.”-Bobbie Singh-Allen, Elk Grove Mayor
Image source: www.ElkGrovecity.org
Hard Work Pays Off
Public Works is a key player in many facets of maintaining the city’s infrastructure, especially in the last year. For example, this past winter when the region was hit with a series of heavy rainstorms, according to Singh-Allen the city was “well-prepared.” Furthermore, she said during serious flooding, the city was able to assist evacuees from surrounding communities.
“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.”-Bobbie Singh-Allen, Elk Grove Mayor
At the same token, Singh-Allen touched on the city’s traffic concerns and gave several updates on city roadway improvement projects.
She mentioned the completion of the stretch on Interstate 5 that extends one mile south of the Elk Grove Boulevard overpass to the American River Bridge. The repairs were part of the “SAC 5 Corridor Enhancement Project” in partnership with CalTrans, and was a $370 million project that included the addition of High Occupancy Vehicle (carpool) lanes; construction of sound walls; improvement on pedestrian walkways and extending exit ramps.
Singh-Allen also acknowledged that the city’s traffic signal network system needs improvement, so a “Citywide Traffic Relief Project” to upgrade 76 intersections with traffic lights throughout the city is currently in the works. This project is scheduled to begin in early 2024
Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Trails Master Plan
Additionally, Singh-Allen also talked about partnering with CalTrans to add an interchange at Highway 99 and Whitelock Parkway, which also includes the addition of a bicycle and pedestrian path leading to Elk Grove Park. Due to the community’s increasing demand for access to connecting trails, the Council recently finalized the “Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Trails Master Plan” to develop more than 75 miles of connecting trails throughout the city. An expected total investment of $186 million will come from an increase in the city’s “Active Transportation Fee,” and grant funding to support these efforts. With this in mind, the pedestrian overpass that arches over Highway 99 will also be upgraded from an additional $2 million of federal funding that was recently secured.
Furthermore, the city is also wrapping up final design plans to relocate the Elk Grove Library to the former Rite Aid, located in the city’s Historic District. Approximately $7 million in grant funds has been issued, and is scheduled to open in 2025, according to Singh-Allen.
A Better Elk Grove
Old Town Plaza’s continued revitalization efforts has undoubtedly given new life to the city’s Historical District. To that end, Singh-Allen gave a warm welcome to Old Town Plaza’s newest restaurant-to-be, “LowBrau’s Slow & Low Smokehouse,” which will be owned and operated by Michael Hargis and Brock MacDonald. The new restaurant will be conveniently located next to Dust Bowl Brewing.
Singh-Allen also gave credit to the Wilton-Rancheria Tribe and the Sky River Casino. Their opening last August took the city by storm and continues to attract thousands of visitors from near and far.
“Their success is good for the Tribe and good for our City, ” Singh-Allen said. Phase 2 of the casino is projected to begin within the year.
Moreover, Old Town is constantly in flux with beautification projects making the historical area a soon-to-be desirable place to live. For example, “The Elk Grove Railroad Courtyards,” which is a planned 33 one-and-two bedroom live-work space. The project is currently in the planning stages, and updates will be announced sometime this year.
While there was no mention of the status to the allegations made by Attorney General Rob Bonta regarding the “Oak Rose Apartments,” Singh-Allen acknowledged the need for cities to provide adequate affordable housing.
“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.”-Bobbie Singh-Allen, Elk Grove Mayor
Importantly, Singh-Allen mentioned the multitude of affordable housing projects that are already entitled, or have a loan commitment. Those projects are currently in the planning stages, which totals more than 1,500 new units.
The mayor also touched on the homeless population within the city, which she estimated, “has an average of 100 to 150 unhoused individuals at any given time.”
She stated the city’s continued partnerships with organizations such as: Elk Grove HART; the Elk Grove Food Bank; and Sacramento County allows them to collaborate on solutions on how to further address homelessness within the city.
In addition to addressing issues surrounding homelessness, Singh-Allen talked about the city’s first workforce development plan, which was approved by the Council last month The program was made possible by the “American Rescue Plan.” Coming on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Elk Grove residents suffered job losses as a result of businesses being forced to shut down. As businesses slowly returned back to its pre-pandemic state, the need for jobs still remain. That said, the program will offer connections to employers for those seeking job training in the manufacturing, cybersecurity, and information technology fields.
In other news, the $60 million Kubota Tractor Corporation project is currently in the advanced construction stages, and expected to bring in more than 125 jobs to the local community as well.
Singh-Allen also talked about the city’s climate action plan. As electric vehicles are becoming the future of transportation, she said that new tax credits, provisions and rebates are on the horizon for Elk Grove residents and businesses.
The city continues to partner with the Sacramento Zoological Society on relocating the Sacramento Zoo by reviewing the environmental feasibility in Elk Grove.
“We remain committed to exploring the possibilities and the benefits that this project could present to our city and the region,” Singh-Allen said.
Final decisions on a new zoo in Elk Grove are still more than a year out.