Text: State of the City
by TP staff
Mar 29, 2013 | 2422 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
• Editor's note: The following also appears on the city of Tracy's website at www.ci.tracy.ca.us

Mayor Brent Ives

This morning’s reception featured two great vignettes, I hope you watched them. We saw a montage of our noted accomplishments and media footage this past year. We also heard commentaries from residents and businesses who unabashedly shared what they love about our town.

The welcoming, giving spirit, great schools, family atmosphere and attentive businesses, which combined, help unify our community.

When taking a panoramic view of how communities thrive, several trends and conditions emerge that every City should consider when planning its future.

These trends combined with quality of life characteristics equate to a prosperous community.

These trends are undeniable and we can see the effects of these around us.

These trends include:

• The Discipline of Keeping a Long-term Economic Outlook.

• Proactively Addressing Resource Challenges

• Working through Strained Relationships

• Understanding Demographic changes.

Let’s take a view through these five lenses and see how we have done and where we are going.

A responsible municipality is disciplined at maintaining a long-term economic outlook.

Our friends at the University of Pacific say California will experience a 4th year of sluggish recovery in 2013 while California job growth remains steady at about a 2% pace over the next few years.

This is marginally faster than the U.S., and an expected outcome given the depth of California’s recession and our legislature and some of its legislative actions.

While the overall state is tracking the national economy, the Bay Area is definitely surpassing it.

Locally, we are seeing signs of improvement. For instance, Tracy’s unemployment is the lowest in the county and even lower than the State of California.

We are most certainly seeing recovery in Tracy a little sooner than most. Why? Simply because we differentiated ourselves by pre-recovery planning for the next 25 years of job growth, 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.

This is possible because of one simple truth that we adhere to, “What is best for residents of Tracy”

Daily, we work in the areas of business retention and assisting our current businesses thrive. If you are a current business owner in Tracy, creating jobs and commerce here, THANK YOU

Please let me know how we can serve you better. You are the bread and butter, the heart and soul of our town. Our efforts at business attraction are also beginning to bear fruit, and the job creation results are encouraging.

In 2012, we welcomed over 200 new business establishments. In your program, we have highlighted just a few. Led by the industries of finance, real estate, and health services, in 2012, Tracy saw a net of 2,500 new jobs!

One example, I need to tell you about is Buffalo Wild Wings. They created 150 jobs !

What’s even more important is the over 2,000 applicants they received. That says something about the significant need for job creation in our region.

Tracy is meeting that challenge!

Looking forward, dedication to our Vision, years of consistent hard work, some applied faith, and a commitment to continuous improvement has led Tracy to several new economic and business coups.

Amazon highlights the list of course, and I am here to tell you, Amazon was not accidental!

For one reason, we share many of the same values as Amazon. Amazon takes a long-term view to business; they are patient and are willing to wait as long as seven years for an idea to take fruition, while most companies, kill a project within two or three years if it does not return a quick profit.

Two examples that took years to develop are The Kindle and the Amazon Prime. Amazon had a strategy, believed in that strategy over a sustained period and is now enjoying the benefit; much like Tracy.

Furthermore, like Tracy, Amazon commits to differentiating itself. In a Harvard Business Review Interview, Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, replied to the following question, “Does Amazon deal with many disruptions?” by stating: “When things get complicated, we simplify by saying what's best for the customer? If we do that, it'll work out the long term.”

We believe the same to be true here. Amazon is not an accident, but a result.

This recession taught us to shift toward a private sector business model and look for partners that were in it for the long term, just like us. We appreciate Amazon’s partnership.

From the Council and throughout the entire City staff, we have re-invented the way we do business, looked at our business model and made the necessary changes.

Our relationships with new business must be a long-term relationship; they must be unique, and designed with the consumer’s interests at heart. As a city, we are humbled by Amazon’s desire to be our partner and commit to them and others that we are truly partners. Please join me in welcoming Amazon to Tracy!

It’s also important to mention another partner and long-term relationship that we’re

excited to be working through the progressive stages of, the entitlement of over 1,700 acres of industrial/commercial property west of town.

Of those 1,700 acres, Prologis, the leading owner, operator and developer of industrial real estate in the world, has purchased 1,200 of those acres.

Along with other job producing areas in town, these properties will be the genesis of nearly 20,000 jobs to come.

The Council has been quite involved in the design of that area, and we need to design that use carefully. We have very promising talks progressing with many job producers from all over the world.

It looks like Prologis will be our partner for some time to come. They, and we, are well positioned for the emerging economy!

As previously stated, we actually took advantage of the recession to plan long-term. I’ve been asked many times, “How did Tracy fare in the recession”? ; My answer? We in Tracy went into this recession with a distinct advantage to many other communities.

We had significant fiscal reserves allowing us to look forward, not retreat into spending all of our time and attentions inward. That allowed us to be forward thinking. It gave us time for strategy. Contrary to most cities, during a recession, we did not decimate our planning and permitting capabilities. Instead, we substantially improved them.

Our reserves, or savings account, also allowed us to work on some of our most pressing fiscal revenue issues. I am proud to announce that the City will achieve a nearly balanced budget as early as this year, years ahead of projections!

As seen in this chart, we expect similar results in the years ahead.

The City will experience revenues exceeding expenditures in the next few years with the aid of Measure E. The City Council and I are grateful of the Community’s faith in this local government, and we will keep our commitment to sunset the term of Measure E, which is set to expire in April 2016.

We will also continue to work hard on the challenge of closing the gap. I assure you, as Mayor, that we will continue to find better ways to conduct business, with the aim of lowering costs while enhancing our economic development efforts that ultimately increase revenues and yield the balanced budget we all seek, post Measure E.

Our revenues are critical to levels of services that we can provide and are reasonably expected by a community and depend upon tremendously.

I mentioned those reserves earlier: we will continue to protect them and build them properly to meet the next fiscal challenge.

Our economic development efforts are a key solution and tactic with these challenges.

As a municipality this year we implemented leadership and organizational changes to all our Departments. In the Police and Fire Departments, changes were designed to address crime trends and impediments to Public Safety in a comprehensive manner. These changes are the behind the scenes, mundane work of city business that most community members do not see.

The results proved the changes were the right ones to make.

Tracy experiences far less crime than any other Central Valley City and is actually more comparable to Dublin, Livermore, and Pleasanton. It’s terrible when we experience the occasional horrific crime, but perspective is valuable and always necessary.

For 2012, Tracy's crime rate remained stable, with violent crimes representing only 6% of all serious Crimes. Our current Per-Capita Crime Rate is lower than it has been for more than a decade and we have achieved a 17% reduction in Auto Thefts.

I applaud the successes of the police department and Chief Gary Hampton, and I also applaud city departments for meeting the community expectations and striving to provide our community with services that are essential to our daily lives. Our successes are not accomplished alone, they are joint accomplishments shared with you all, the community.

We are well-positioned to guard against calamities while providing the ability to seize upon emerging opportunities whether it is in public safety, economic development, services and infrastructure improvements. Our technologies are state-of-the-art, our workforce is motivated, and we fully understand this is critical to creating wealth, jobs, and opportunities for you.

That being said, there are other factors that challenge us as we look forward. Our City revenues are impacted by uncontrollable changes like those made at the State level. We, like many other cities, have a strained relationship with the State of California. While we have withstood the decimation of redevelopment agencies, the recession was seen by the State as an opening and justification for

the grab of revenue between governments. Their efforts have produced little

results, and, unfortunately, many hard feelings. While in the region we need think about how we can be better positioned and made more resilient in the growing economy, the State and the Governor need to return to seeing local governments as the places of innovation and economic creation.

We must also consider the interesting and challenging changes that are facing us as well. California and our region are seeing significant changes in demographics, changes in the way we communicate as a City, we are seeing trends in what consumers want in their shopping experiences, and differences in the desire for housing and learning opportunities.

These challenges manifest themselves in a number of ways. Do we properly understand the wants, needs and opportunities represented in the changing demographics of the region and Tracy? Are we taking into account these changes in our business models, and how we structure meeting the needs of our changing society?

Creating opportunities for you and communicating the work we do on your behalf is critical. The advent of 24/7 media tools has shifted how municipalities communicate, respond and engage its citizenry through digital technologies. There is an emerging demand to provide, interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation through media content.

Local governments are discovering a number of benefits to responding to this 24/7 news demand. The city must provide opportunities where two-way communication is the norm and citizens are cognizant of our successes.

Democracy in the new media is the generation of new and unregulated content. We are all too familiar with unregulated content thrown our way, and up until recently the City followed the traditional approach of not responding and maintaining a corporate stoicism.

I believe the City needs to participate in this 24/7 media and technology trend and pioneer it with an eye towards breaking through the clutter. We are going to push information out to you in an effort to build relationships with you, our community.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks on how the City will re-connect with you.

There is also a reasonable question about our ability to meet the new set of consumer expectations? Consumers are now expecting the in-store experience to be more exciting, entertaining and educational. E-Commerce is poised for growth. Is our business community ready to embrace and leverage this, rather than resist? The traditional brick and mortar store is poised for reinvention, and I trust our business community has foresight to see these upcoming opportunities.

We must embrace mixed-use development and see how shopping, dining, and entertainment can integrate and happen in unique settings.

This is why the City Council recently approved an apartment complex in the middle of our I-205 shopping area. This was outside any box we had built for ourselves before.

I eagerly await similar approach for downtown living. People want to live differently and they want options.

Right now, I’ll take ANYTHING! There were only 35 homes for sale in Tracy at the beginning of March. We need more housing choices. I seriously challenge the development community to meet the demand and deliver a variety of choices.

The changes also tell us that people want to learn differently. Our trending demographic changes affect our long-term views, but also challenge our ability to be forward thinking.

Tracyites and the surrounding region, seeks educational opportunities that are flexible and progressive, and there is room for growth. There is a pent-up demand for higher education even though the State is slipping in bachelor degree attainment and technical training. Improving these numbers is critical to Tracy’s future economy. It is time for a higher education presence in Tracy. I challenge this entire community to get behind this vision!

I am excited to report that we have held a number of promising meetings here in town with some significant institutions!

I’m not sure what the specific new educational model will be, but, we are going to figure it out with California Lutheran University and perhaps others.

To make a college or university happen in Tracy happen, we, as a community, must be prepared to show significant interest, time, treasure and the indisputable desire to support a higher education presence. They need to be convinced that Tracy is their place to be. You will have your opportunity to engage as time goes on with these discussions.

This wave of changes is certainly upon us and I am confident that the Tracy community can be flexible and visionary, inclusive and engaged... enough to be able to leverage these changes into opportunities for our town. Those who have been here for generations and those who proudly now call Tracy home can make an even greater community for those still to come.

Tracy is poise and ready!! Bring on the Changes, we’re ready!!

The City Councils in the recent past have been resolute with priorities. Our Executive, City Manager Leon Churchill has expertly put action to those priorities, and I thank him today and salute his staff for the way they responded to clear direction.

I thank the current and recent past Councils for being clear about Tracy’s future, going against the grain and being proactive about the future in an unprecedented recession where they could have easily and justifiably retreated.

Local government is the only sector of government that still enjoys a modicum of positive public opinion. Councils that are consistent, visionary, and disciplined with their direction, being practical, not always political, then coupled with proficient Executives and staff that are smart, professional and capable, is why we can get things done where other larger form of governments struggle!

Last year, I stood up here and assured you that Tracy is in a great position. We are poised for continued successes, and some are beginning to allow us to talk about those successes.

I stand here today with the same message, we are pioneering through change, through innovation and through prosperity, but like last year, you don't have to take my word for it! The last few years have been all about stabilization and strategy. This last year was the beginning of implementation; Tracy is now beginning to see how it is all working...the results.

While Tracy has always been the gateway for the Central Valley, Tracy now, in this fulfillment stage, is becoming the indisputable business leader for companies throughout the world in the Central Valley and will continue to take actions that stabilize its economic future through economic and public safety strategies that set the example for others to follow.

This is an exciting time for your City, the future is bright, the time is now, hang on; this is going to be good!!

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