Martinez Mayor's Message
Feb 09, 2018 09:59AM
By Rob Schroder
We are already a month into the new year, and it is time for me to start preparing for the annual State of the City Message. This year’s event is again being hosted by the Martinez Chamber of Commerce and will be held on February 13 at 8am at Creekside Church. In preparation for this event, city staff has charted out the major accomplishments of 2017 and major objectives for 2018. I will not go into great detail here but wanted to highlight a few major accomplishments of 2017.
- Measure H Parks & Library Improvements are wrapping up with the final few projects under construction now, with a few (including Golden Hills Park) to commence in 2018. The last large project (Waterfront Park) is an $8 million project that rebuilds the aging baseball fields with new grading, irrigation, pathways, lighting, parking, and a professional field that will be the home of the Martinez Clippers.
- Paving included the long awaited Center Avenue overcrossing and Morello Avenue undercrossing at Highway 4, over 30,000 sq. ft. of street repairs in the Brandview and Vista Way areas, and over 171,300 square yards of resurfacing of streets. With the successful passage and implementation of the ½ percent sales tax dedicated to roads and streets, our future paving budgets will be tripled, allowing us to pave many residential streets that have been neglected for years.
- The interim dog park was constructed and opened at Waterfront Park at the Marina Amphitheatre. Over the next year, a permanent site will be located, and plans for financing and construction will begin.
- The downtown core continues its renaissance, with quite a bit of construction taking place to upgrade buildings for new tenants. New businesses are opening every month.
- The city continues to have talks with the owners of Alhambra Highlands on purchasing the property for public open space. This property is the beautiful ridgeline above Alhambra Avenue from Forest Hills to Virginia Hills, which was once owned by John Muir and the Strenzels.
- City finances remain healthy, with a general fund budget of $22 million and an unrestricted reserve fund (savings account for emergencies) of $8.6 million.
On the issue of district elections, the city council has held three of the five required public hearings. The first public hearing was primarily an educational session for the public and the city council on the required California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) process. The second public hearing was to again review that process and take public testimony on the issue. At that meeting, the city council directed staff to come back at the third public hearing with examples of district maps that were inclusive and did not segregate one neighborhood against another. They also directed staff to move forward with four districts and retain the at-large, directly elected mayor.
At the third public hearing, proposed maps developed by the demographer and the public were discussed, and public testimony was again taken. At the fourth public hearing, testimony will again be taken, and then the city council will give direction to the staff to return at the fifth public hearing with a proposed ordinance for adoption.
Three proposed district map alternatives can be found on the city’s website: http://www.cityofmartinez.org/gov/district_elections.asp
Although I disagree with moving to district elections in a city the size of Martinez, with no specific neighborhoods clustered with “protected classes,” we need to adopt districts that benefit all neighborhoods in the entire city and not pit one area of the city against another for resources and services.