2017 State of the City Address

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2017 State of the City Address

Mayor Jim Desmond's 2017 State of the City Address Prepared Remarks

Supporting Presentation

2017 State of the City Address
Discover San Marcos, a community uncovering it economic engine

Thank you all for coming to support your City, and the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce. 

Special thanks to President Haynes and the students of Cal State San Marcos for this beautiful venue

It is truly, a privilege, and honor to serve as Mayor of such a great city, with such great people

I’d like to recognize a few guests:

Kerri, (I hit the jackpot) with my beautiful bride of 33 years.

Chamber Board President Rick Rungaitis

The Mayors of Carlsbad, Vista, and Escondido
               Matt Hall       Judy Ritter        Sam Abed

I want to recognize all our citizen commissioners and volunteers that contribute to the success of San Marcos

And our City Manager Jack Griffin and his excellent staff

I want to especially thank all our sponsors and staff members (lead by Sarah McDonald) who have made this event possible.  And to Palomar College who is live-streaming today’s event.

In San Marcos, we continue to build upon our foundation as the education hub of North County, within the framework upon that foundation, are jobs and economic vitality. Within that foundation and framework, is our engine of economic potential.

The engine consists of is the educated people, the talent, created here, which attracts business, technology, innovation, and jobs, which attracts hotels, restaurants, housing, shopping, entertainment and the arts, creating a lifestyle, that attracts, young families. Who in turn have children and starts the cycle over again, with the next generation of talent attracting technology, innovation, amenities, housing, lifestyle, and young families.

I wish we, the Council, could take credit for bringing the educational institutions that are in San Marcos today – but I will say, it is mine and your jobs to keep that engine running. To keep it greased, oiled, and lubed.  So, that we are always striving to reach both our educational and economic potential. 

Sorry, if I offended anyone with references to petroleum products.  I’m not always the greenest person in the room. But if future engines, via innovation and technology, run on kale, quinoa, and coos coos (which my mother never served) then so be it.

But, we alone, can’t keep that engine economic running.

We need partners

Partnerships  with San Marcos Unified School District, Palomar College, Cal State San Marcos— University of Saint Augustine, Saint Katherine University, High-Tech High, and stellar charter schools. 

Programs like Gear-Up, and RESPECT, and organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, TERI, SM Prevention Coalition, and service clubs, the Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lions.

Partnerships with Health Providers like Tri City Hospital, and North County Health Services, and Palomar Hospital.

Partnerships with our neighboring cities along the 78 corridors.  Where the Mayors have opened communications between business, education, and government creating and opportunities for regional, innovation and success,

San Marcos Unified School District recently opened another school, it’s first K-8 school – Double Peak School. 

Through the San Marcos Promise, SMUSD helps qualified San Marcos students, pay for college here, at CSUSM.

Palomar College – the largest community college in California—welcomed a new President – President Joi [Joy] Lin Blake.  Not to be outdone, Palomar College created the Palomar Promise, to provide financial support to eligible high school students.

Cal State San Marcos now has 15,000 students and is ranked 11th out of nearly 1,200 universities, for how well they prepare students, for the workforce. To keep our economic engine running.

City Priorities

The priorities are Safety, management of resources, and quality of life.  (airplane) pilots license

In 2016, we have much to be proud of.

With all the recent rains, your City crews, worked 24/7 clearing debris, and clearing channels and inlets, offering free sandbags. Keeping the wet city running.

Our Fire Department continues to make San Marcos proud.

With more than 11,000 calls for service last year alone, an 11% annual increase, with no decrease in quality, from our fire department. 

Speaking of the recent rain, and looking at all the nice green hillsides, aka new kindling, or fuel for fire.  San Marcos is still under a threat of wildfires.

We salute our brave firefighters and Fire Chief Bret Van Way.

The city is also proud of our Deputy-Sheriffs, some of whom volunteer for a youth RESPECT Project, helping at-risk kids, by providing positive role models, and offering better life choices, and opportunities.

One of our safety challenges is with the State of California who is letting non-violent offenders out of jail early, mostly drug and mental health, related offenders.  Unfortunately, most of these release people are set up for failure.  The can’t get a job, or housing and end up living on the streets. 

The state has offered no funding or programs to cities, just the transfer of an unaddressed problem.  Our Sheriffs are doing their best in dealing with this issue.

The good news is San Marcos saw a 22 percent DECREASE, in reported crimes, from last year.   We rank as one of the safest cities in San Diego County.

Let’s recognize Captain Mike McClain and his Sheriff Deputies for their leadership in making, and keeping, San Marcos safe.

We keep the Economic Engine running with a balance budget and strong reserves.

Our annual operating costs (general fund) are nearing 70 million

The combined city properties (you own) under the new DMV, the Hobby Lobby, WinCo, Best Buy, and around City Hall, the First-Choice Building, LA Fitness, Spaghetti Factory all generate more than nine million dollars in annual revenues, not only offsetting taxes, but providing hundreds of San Marcos jobs.

Out budget is not without challenges.

It is going to be a difficult road ahead, battling rising pension costs.  CalPERS, continues to overestimate, investment returns.  You the taxpayer, end up covering the gap. 

The most recent, downgrade made by CalPERS, equates to a potential pension cost increase of 4.5 percent in 2018, and up by 42 percent by 2022.

That’s about 15 percent of our general fund, or $10 million annually, just going to pensions by 2022. 

Why not just go to a 401k you ask? We could, but the cost to buy out of the current CalPERS system, is so overwhelming it would almost certainly bankrupt the city today. 

The stock market rising is a good thing – but not yet enough, to offset increasing costs.

Your city council had a workshop in December, and have another scheduled next month, to evaluate potential long term-strategies to reduce the burden to our taxpayers.  It isn’t going to be easy.

Our Roads – why are they so nice? we made them a priority.

We do this by setting aside, off the top, General Fund dollars for long-range infrastructure maintenance. 
Short term pain – for long term gain.

Finally, we are making it easier to understand the city’s budget

We created a budget-in-brief, a graphic brochure, that makes it easy to understand San Marcos’s budget. There should be one available at your seat.

Overall, excluding the looming pension issues, the city’s finances remain steady.

Property values in San Marcos are up, which is good.

Sales tax is basically flat, and lease (rental) revenue are stable.

Keeping our Economic Engine Running

We are streamlining our processes at city hall.

City Hall is always trying to make it easier for residents and businesses work within and understand city processes. 

To take on that entire task, we welcomed a new development services director, Dahvia Lynch, former Chief Planning Officer for North County Transit District.  I’ve already heard two very complimentary comments about Dahvia and her work for San Marcos.

So, How is our Economic Engine running?   What is it producing in town?

The Marc, (400 apartments) on the old Armorlite site, is almost complete, creating more, transit-oriented housing, and a neighborhood park.

The Major grading effort at the corner of San Marcos Boulevard and Twin Oaks Valley Road is complete.  Also at that location is the soon to be opened, 118 room Fairfield Inn and Suites hotel, a retail/office building, and townhouse residential units by ColRich, all within walking distance to the Sprinter.

The nearby Rancho Tesoro is coming out of the ground – on the old Hansen rock crushing site.  This residential project will bring single-family homes along Twin Oaks Valley Road just south of CSUSM.

The San Elijo Hills Town Center will break ground soon.  Shops restaurants, and an actual town center, in the SEH town center.

“North City” project with the Quad for student housing, across Barham Rd from CSUSM is alive and thriving. Block “C” apartments are available for rent.

Facing the freeway and still a part of North City is the new construction of the - Pima Medical Institute.  Another educational opportunity in San Marcos

The Urge, Gastropub and Common House, will be opening soon in North City, with bowling lanes.

In May, the first Creek District project –Promenade at Creekside—was completed, and we are expecting a neighboring second, affordable housing community -- East Gate—to open soon.

Notice what we are building in San Marcos – housing for all.  Single Family homes, townhouses, apartments, affordable housing.  All to house the young families, we want to attract to San Marcos. Keeping our Economic Engine running.

We took first steps towards re-calibration of the San Marcos Creek plan.  The current plan, now 10 years old, had too much retail for today’s standards. With the increase of online buying, the current retail plan cannot be sustained.

But, that doesn’t mean, that our Creek District can’t be an exciting high-quality neighborhood.

So, we expanded the San Marcos Creek Oversight Board to engage the public, and fine tune, the Creek’s development direction. 

Addressing Traffic, We are closer to the construction of two new bridges, over San Marcos Creek: a four-lane bridge on Via Vera Cruz, and a two-lane bridge on Bent Avenue.  (pink house note)

Also Addressing Traffic, We are working with Caltrans to widen the 78 between Woodland Parkway and Twin Oaks Valley Road interchanges adding eastbound and westbound auxiliary lanes.

We removed the road damaging trees, from the medians in the Santa Fe Hills neighborhood, along Las Posas and Borden Roads, and transformed the medians, into water-wise designs. To help keep the aesthetics of the medians, we are adding more trees (less root invasive) than were taken out.

Finally, at the Civic Center, we used grant dollars to transform the landscaping, to a more a drought-tolerant native species of grass and plants; (government should be the example – not the exception) which I found out, last Father’s Day, is a family picnic spot.

Thanks to our Community Services Department, our Parks are in demand, and heavily used.

Each year, San Marcos welcomes more than 900 youth sports teams, bringing more than 55,000 visitors.

Later this year, Council is considering a new Parks Master Plan to guide parks, trail and recreation opportunities for the next 20 years.

District Elections

Under threat of a lawsuit, and after a series of public meetings we moved to district elections– a move that was not welcome, and comes with challenges, but saved the taxpayers, potentially millions in litigation dollars.

District representation marks a huge shift for San Marcos, which throughout its 53-year history has always elected council members at large.

The districts are being phased in and will be completely in place by 2020.

To recap the priorities:
Safety, Management of resources, and a high quality of life.

Again noting our foundation as the education hub of North County, upon which is the framework of jobs and economic vitality.  Inside is our economic potential engine. Kept in motion by everyone in this room.  We will not be the economic engine that could, or should, but the engine that will – get the job done.

With that, I’d like to invite our host, Chamber CEO Rick Rungaitis to the stage for some closing remarks.