Calling his State of the City address a “Conversation with Friends,” La Verne Mayor Don Kendrick shared why the city was selected as a “Top 10” city by Family Circle magazine in 2010.
In particular, he noted the city’s access to health care, a low-crime rate and financial stability despite tough economic times. “Our city hall is not glamorous, but it gets the job done,” Kendrick said at the Hillcrest Retirement Community Meeting House.
But the conversation was sprinkled with its fair share of sobering statistics. Kendrick noted that the city faces a $2.2 million shortfall for 2011-12. The projection comes after the city cut $1.5 million from the 2009-10 budget. The police department took the biggest hit with a $720,000 cut.
“In 2010,” Kendrick said, “we faced one of the toughest budget years in the history of our city.”
Making matters worse, if Governor Jerry Brown is successful in his bid to abolish City Redevelopment Agencies (RDA) across the state, La Verne could see $4.4 million RDA dollars dry up.
Despite the belt-tightening, Kendrick was able to point with pride to several accomplishments in 2010. The city, for example, secured about $3 million outside the general fund to reduce vegetation on hillsides, pave city roads, retrofit of several city facilities and remodel the lobby of the Public Safety Department.
Surprisingly, while the Police Department was experiencing cuts, crime was going down in La Verne, with robberies falling 44%, motor vehicle theft dropping 9% and burglaries and petty larceny down 6%.
“I don’t know this for certain, but La Verne is considered one of the absolute safest cities in the state of California,” Kendrick said, complimenting the LVPD for making the most of its resources.
Also on the plus side, La Verne reported the opening of six new restaurants in La Verne. They were Panera Bread, Pasta Cucina Rustica, Little Caesar’s Pizza, Chamela Grill, Café Cabo and Las Espanada Brazilian Buffet. He didn’t mention, however, how many had closed.
Several major projects are also moving quickly to completion, with the 101-unit Magnolia senior housing complex and the Kiddie Academy topping the list. Also stirring excitement is a new 369-bed residence hall at the University of La Verne at 2nd and D that is expected to be completed in the summer of 2012.
Farther out, the Gold Line is expected to reach La Verne by 2017, which is expected to spur a rash of development in the corridor north and south of 1st Street and along Arrow Highway by White.
Kendrick further noted that the city had reduced its water consumption by 13%, and let it be known that the Weymouth plant along Wheeler operated by the Metropolitan Water District operates the “foremost water laboratory in the United States,” which could attract more researchers and jobs to the city.
For a $20 ticket, local business people, pastors, government officials and friends of the city lunched on poached salmon, chicken in a creamy white sauce and fresh mixed vegetables. Desert featured brownies a la mode and fresh- picked oranges from Heritage Ranch. The Rotary Club of La Verne and the city’s Chamber of Commerce sponsored the luncheon.
Because tickets required cash up front, no budget deficit was reported.