He made the statement while addressing a capacity crowd during the State of the City in the Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Theatre at the Grand Theater Center for the Arts, 715 Central Ave.
“This is an exciting time for your city,” Ives said. “Hang on — this is going to be good.”
Since city government focused its attention on stabilization and strategy last year, Ives said those efforts are bearing fruit.
In 2012, more than 200 new businesses opened and a net of 2,500 jobs — a good deal of them in finance, real estate and health services — were added in Tracy, according to Ives.
“This recession taught us to shift toward a private-sector business model and look for partners that were in it for the long term,” he said.
Ives said city officials have created a plan for Tracy to capitalize on a post-recession economy by “substantially improving our planning systems, by changing a bureaucratic mindset, by investing in infrastructure planning, and lastly, by adopting a strategy element for sustainability.”
He cited two business agreements in 2012 as examples of the city’s progress.
Amazon.com announced in January that it is opening a 1 million-square-foot fulfillment center next to the Crate & Barrel warehouse at 1605 N. Chrisman Road. It’s scheduled to open in October and create around 1,000 jobs in the city.
ProLogis Inc., an industrial real estate developer based in San Francisco, recently purchased the rights to 1,200 of 1,700 available acres west of Tracy.
Ives said the company — which also has an office at 17284 W. Commerce Way in Tracy — plans to develop the area that he described as the “genesis of nearly 20,000 jobs to come.”
“The (City) Council has been quite involved in the design of that area, and we need to design that use carefully,” he said. “We have very promising talks progressing with many job producers from all over the world.”
As city officials plan for the end of Measure E in April 2016, Ives said it’s essential to protect the city’s financial reserves by conducting business in a way that lowers costs and increases revenue.
Measure E is a half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2010.
According to city records, Tracy received $18,422,071 in sales tax revenue in fiscal year 2011-12 — $5,910,308 of which was from Measure E.
The city received only $896,551 from Measure E in fiscal year 2010-11 because the tax was passed in November 2010, and collection didn’t begin until April 1, 2011.
A fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30.
Ives emphasized that the city’s leadership only has so much control, and said that unchecked fiscal spending by Gov. Jerry Brown and state leaders in Sacramento has strained relationships with cities like Tracy.
The mayor asserted that the recession was seen by the state “as an opening for the grabbing of revenue between governments.”
“The state and the governor need to return to seeing local governments as the places of innovation and economic creation,” Ives said. “I urge the governor to leave us alone and deal with his own issues and let us deal with ours.”
As time progresses, Ives said he wants to question the need of Measure A, a slow-growth law passed by voters in 2000 that limits housing allotments to an average of 600 a year.
Tracy’s housing market — which had 35 homes for sale at the beginning of March — needs more inventory, according to Ives.
“A major stumbling block to us growing economically is to have a constrained housing market,” he said. “I think it’s time for our city to have a serious discussion about the negative impacts of Measure A.”
Ives said there is “a pent-up demand for higher education” opportunities in the city that are “flexible and progressive.”
City officials are in negotiations with California Lutheran University “and perhaps others” to bring a satellite campus to Tracy, he said.
“I’m not sure what the specific new educational model will be, but, we are going to figure it out,” Ives said. “To make a college or university happen in Tracy, we as a community must be prepared to show significant interest, time, treasure and the indisputable desire to support a higher education presence.”
Other highlights from 2012 mentioned by Ives included:
• The city’s budget is “nearly balanced … years ahead of schedule.”
• Auto theft is down 17 percent, and violent crimes represented 6 percent of the overall crime in the city. That rate is among the lowest in the Central Valley.
• Efforts are under way to improve communications with residents by using social media and digital technology.
• Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 835-3030 or firstname.lastname@example.org.