STATE OF THE CITY: Although Hamstrung by Tight Budget, City Still Manages to Put on a Good Show

January 27, 2012
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State of the City production will likely go straight to video.

Golden Globes La Verne Style: State of the City production will likely go straight to video.

Mayor Don Kendrick and Bonita Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Gary Rapkin gave their best Brad Pitt and George Clooney impressions at Thursday’s State of the City address at the beautiful Hillcrest Meeting House in La Verne.

The joint presentations by the mayor and superintendent adopted a “movie” theme because La Verne served as the location for five film productions in 2011, including an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” featuring Charlie’s Bistro, which will air Feb. 17 on Fox.

While the city didn’t experience any nightmares in 2011, Kendrick noted there was plenty of drama, led by the shuttering of the state’s more than 400 redevelopment agencies (RDAs), including La Verne’s. With the decision, it’s estimated the financial blow to the city will be about $4 million in its first year and $2 million in subsequent years.

Kendrick noted that the city had successfully used RDA funds to revitalize old town La Verne, create the Target Center and the San Polo business park among a handful of projects.

In another nod to Hollywood or life imitating art (CBS’s “Person of Interest” in which a mysterious billionaire and a former CIA field officer try to prevent crimes before they occur with the help of a powerful 24/7 video surveillance systems), Kendrick awarded one of two “Best Visual Effects” awards to the installation of 17 security cameras  throughout La Verne, which the police can use to monitor activities. 

For “Best Design,” Kendrick announced a cadre of businesses and companies, including the new Marshall’s, the Kiddie Academy, the University of La Verne and Magnolia Courts, a 101-unit development along Foothill Blvd. in east La Verne.

Other rising stars in 2011 receiving mention included Chipotle, Granny’s Yogurt, the Third Street Wine Shop, Dillon’s Pit Bar-B-Q and Chase’s Wine and Beer.

As for “Coming Attractions,” the mayor said there were several projects in the pipeline. This summer should see the completion of the four-story, 369-unit University of La Verne dorms. Other scheduled openings include Staples, the Patio Restaurant and the House of Wings.

Meanwhile, the University of La Verne is expected to break ground on the first phase of a new sports park this fall southwest of Wheeler and Arrow. The Hutton Company is also proceeding with development plans to convert the former Person Ford auto dealership into 170 luxury apartments along Foothill.

Other projects farther out on the development timetable include the construction of 56 patio homes behind the Edwards La Verne Stadium 12 cinema and a 23-acre technology park developed by Trammell Crow.

The city is also in discussions with the Metropolitan Water District and the University of La Verne to create a “one of a kind” water college, a world-class facility devoted to water research, reclamation and conservation.

Whatever problems and challenges La Verne faces in 2012, its citizens and public officials and electeds should have the brains to figure them out given the outstanding quality of education in the Bonita Unified School District.

Despite facing constant budget reductions of $13 million since the 2007-08 school year, Rapkin noted that Bonita High School in La Verne ranked among the top 3 percent of all high schools in the nation (Newsweek). Rapkin presented an avalanche of statistics supporting Newsweek’s survey. Among them, the district boasts a 96.8 percent graduation rate and a 95 percent attendance rate. The district’s 2011 Academic Performance score of 854 reflected improvement for the ninth consecutive year.

Funding is also in place to build a new gym on the Ramona middle school campus and a performing arts center for the district. Bonita’s new gym is expected to be completed in the fall.

While the audience could debate all day on how the city and school district on limited budgets can best serve their stakeholders (and which deserving actors and performers were overlooked for Oscar consideration in 2011), all agreed that Hillcrest turned in another five-star performance, sweeping the all the awards for best venue, best hospitality and best lunch menu.

For outstanding help and guidance with your income taxes and business services, call Andy Mutschler of Mutschler Accountancy at 909.305.2530, located at 1024 Bonita Ave. in La Verne.

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