This is a critical time for the future of our City. The decisions we make now will have a lasting impact for the next 10 or 20 years of the City's future. When I first got on the Council four years ago, we had to do a 10% across-the-board cut from all department operating budgets. Now, we are in a better place financially and we are fortunate to be expecting some new revenues from the new projects that are coming into City.
We will need to be smart about how we allocate new revenues to address all of the city's needs and I have asked our Finance Department for estimates of how much net new revenue we might receive so we do not over-commit. Clearly, we need to invest more money each year into fixing the streets (see Streets below). We will also need to figure out how to pay for a new Police Station which has been on the City's agenda for the past 12 years. In addition, I think we should beautify the entrances to the City so the first impression and physical appearance of our City reflects the pride and love we feel for it. Finally, many of our park facilities are also in need of updating and repair.
Later this year, we will be conducting a community survey to get your input and feedback on the City's priorities. If we are smart and accountable in how we allocate our resources, I am confident that we can overcome the challenges that lie ahead together and make San Gabriel even better for ourselves and our children.
Four years ago, our streets were still getting worse. Since then, we have invested more and gotten large portions of Las Tunas and Del Mar done and numerous residential streets. We have made a lot of progress but we still have a long way to go.
When I first got on the Council, we were only spending about $900,000 per year on street repairs. However, it costs roughly $2,500,000 per year just to keep up with normal wear and tear. That means that, just four years ago, our streets were still getting worse. Since then, we've invested more into street repairs and the projects I mentioned show the results we've been able to deliver. It also means that we have to commit to programming $3,500,000 to $4,000,000 for street repairs every year, year-after-year, for at least a 10-year period in order to make up for decades of "deferred maintenance." It will take at least that long to bring our streets back to an acceptable level.
During the last four years, the entire Council and City staff have been working hard to bring in more mainstream businesses and reduce the number of massage parlors. It takes time for these initiatives to work but I am cautiously optimistic that both of these efforts will bear fruit within the next few years.
The entire Council and City staff have met with many mainstream businesses like Starbucks, Aldi, Corner Bakery and Chipotle, just to name a few. I believe that the entire community would enjoy and benefit from these types of businesses and that they would generate additional sales tax revenue for the City.
We have been working with the developers of new projects in the City, especially those on Las Tunas Dr and San Gabriel Blvd, to build the right spaces at the right locations for these businesses. As these developments near completion, we can recruit these mainstream businesses to become tenants of these new projects and places for us all to enjoy when the projects are complete.
With respect to massage parlors, state law now allows cities to regulate massage parlors differently from other businesses. Last year, the Council unanimously passed stronger ordinances that require each massage parlor (including existing ones) to obtain a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and regulate numerous aspects of these businesses including their signage, the transparency of their windows, the minimum amount of lighting they must have, etc. We have also hired an additional code enforcement officer to help inspect these businesses and, where warranted, process citations and fines for violations of these new rules. In addition, I would like to see us work more closely with the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) which can now hold administrative hearings and revoke massage licenses if there is a preponderance of the evidence that a massage business or therapist is violating the law or other terms of their licenses.
I will continue to focus on these initiatives and I am cautiously optimistic that these efforts will bear fruit within the next few years.
With the support of the full Council and the hard work of our Community Services, Public Works, Mission Playhouse, Community Development, Police, Fire, Finance and City Clerk Departments, we have dramatically increased the number of community and cultural events, including adding our Summer Nights Series, Dumplings & Beer Fest, Fall Fun Festival, Surf's Up and Lunar New Year Festival. Later this year, we will be organizing the City's first-ever Cinco de Mayo Festival. Each of these community events is an opportunity to bring the entire community together to share culture and have fun. In this way, we hope to engage the community and break down barriers.
In general, too, I would say that it's easy to focus on the differences within our community that divide us. However, I talk to community members from all parts of the city from all kinds of backgrounds and the vast majority of us all want the same things from our City government - safe neighborhoods, improved infrastructure including nice streets and fixed sewer lines, a vibrant business community that we can all enjoy, parks for our families and children to enjoy and good schools. These are the elements that make up our quality of life.
That's why I firmly believe that the common goals and objectives that unite us far outweigh the differences that divide us and I am confident that the work we've been doing to deliver on these common goals has made a positive impact for the entire community.
Paid for by Jason Pu for City Council 2017 (FPPC ID #1349846)