|Wow, what an honor! Now that’s a great introduction.
You know, just about fifteen months ago, the people of California did say, “enough is enough” to politics as usual and a declining California. And they took a chance on a Governor who certainly breaks the mold. And it’s looking more and more like the faith we have in the wisdom of the California people is justified. In his first year in office, Governor Schwarzenegger stopped the bleeding. He cut the car tax, led us in refinancing the debt he inherited, made a good start on reducing the structural deficit, passed historic reform to improve the business climate, and began marketing California once again as a place where entrepreneurs can and should locate their businesses.
For us in local government, one of the most significant events of last year was the negotiations and passage of Proposition 1A, the result of an historic compromise between local government, the Governor and the Legislature to ensure that the state never again would raid local government resources to balance their budget. You saw in the video my pal Jerry Brown, who I like to call the San Francisco Mayor of Oakland. Who would have thought you’d see Jerry Brown appearing in a video saying nice things about Curt Pringle?
But that is really the kind of cooperation and unified effort put forth by the Big 10 Mayors last year. Last year, the Mayors of California’s ten largest cities really stepped up our efforts to work together in a bipartisan fashion to advocate for the future of cities. Being part of that group has been some of the more enjoyable parts of being Mayor. Through this group and through other efforts, Anaheim really has taken on its rightful place as one of the leading cities in this state. We are recognized statewide as a leader, a force to be reckoned with, and a community with its own identity.
And don’t you ever doubt it!
Thinking again about the Governor, perhaps more than anything, he restored in all of us some optimism that California was not in permanent decline, and that with some leadership and hard work, we could once again call CAL-EE-FOR-NEE-YA, the Golden State.
OK, so I’m not so good at saying it like he does. But it’s been my honor the past year to work with the Governor to chart an upward path for California, I will continue to do so this year, and Governor, we know you’re hard at work in Sacramento, and we thank you for having a part in our program today.
Wasn’t that video great?
It gives you a great sense of what we’ve accomplished in Anaheim in the past year and the promise of what’s to come.
Anaheim has made great progress in 2004, and we’re on a great path towards our future. That kind of success does not happen accidentally, especially not two years in a row. Here in Anaheim, we’re blessed with strong capable leaders at City Hall, in our business community, and in our neighborhoods.
Last year saw the departure from the Council of Shirley McCracken and Tom Tait. Both left with the knowledge that they contributed in their own way to the successes we’ve had. Shirley as a tireless advocate for Anaheim neighborhoods. And Tom Tait also as a tireless advocate, in his case, as an advocate for freedom. On virtually every item before the Council, Tom asked first whether the question would add to or restrict our residents’ freedoms.
Councilman Bob Hernandez and Mayor Pro Tem Richard Chavez completed their second year of service on the council. Bob has given most of his adult life to serving Anaheim, and his council service these past two years is just another aspect of his commitment.
Richard Chavez and I continue to show that differing political backgrounds do not mean different goals. We share a commitment to improving the lives and opportunities for all of Anaheim, and I am as proud to call Richard “friend” as I am to call him “colleague.”
The departure of Tom and Shirley gave an opportunity for new blood on the Council, and we are excited to have two outstanding new council members in Anaheim with divergent backgrounds but here with common goals.
Harry Sidhu’s background is actually one that sounds quite familiar…small business owner, commitment to public safety as government’s number one priority, and a focus on neighborhood improvement and economic development for our city.
Lorri Galloway brings great passion to her service, as you would expect from someone who has spent her life helping those with the greatest needs in our society. She brings a unique style to our council and is guaranteed to make her colleagues and the city staff see things from perspectives that we might not otherwise see.
But while the council sets the vision and tone for the city, our city staff implements this vision everyday. Led by our City Manager, Dave Morgan, and a strong team in every city department, from the executive staff, including our legal team and City Clerk, to our planning and community development staff, our utility department, public works, human resources, finance offices, convention/entertainment department, community services, and of course, our “best in the nation” fire and police departments, the people and businesses of Anaheim are served by some of the finest and most committed government staff around, and we simply would not have all there is to talk about today without them.
Before I go any further, I would like to offer three more thanks and an introduction, thanks to the Chamber of Commerce, for once again putting on our State of the City luncheon, to all of our sponsors who support this event, and to all of you for sharing this day with us. And may I introduce my wife, Alexis. She continues to be the best care-giver for our family and the rock in our relationship. Thank you honey.
Now let’s talk about where we’ve been, and where we’re going, together as a community
What a great year 2004 was for our city! I really feel like I would have to be that FedEx guy in the old commercials to be able to talk fast enough to tell you everything about which we could rightfully be proud. I am forced to really just talk about the highlights, or this would be about the past, and I really want to talk about the future. But if you believe as I do that we can only move upward from a base of past successes, then you will be as confident as I am about our future.
So what did we do in Anaheim in 2004?
Home Improvement Holiday.
General Plan Update.
The Anaheim Challenge for Education.
Tower of Terror.
The Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Sports Facilities.
MVP Vladimir Guererro.
The Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim as Arena of the Year nominee
Record Attendance at the Disneyland Resort.
The lowest unemployment rate out of the largest fifteen cities in California.
The 2008 political convention bid.
The NFL comes knocking.
A new Haskett library project.
The Tiger Woods Learning Center in West Anaheim.
New park projects
Anaheim Hills Golf Club House Opening
Greater representation on the OCTA Board.
Undergrounding of 11miles of utilities
1,000 New Housing Units
Promotion of the Canyon business center.
A new police chief.
A balanced budget.
And The American League West champion ANAHEIM ANGELS.
That’s quite a list. But when I say that we’ve got a lot happening in Anaheim, I’m not kidding.
A year ago in this venue, we talked about many of these ideas and proposals from the perspective of looking ahead. As we look on them now from a different perspective, I am reminded of a statement made by Dr. Alan Kay, one of the great pioneers of our time, who is credited with creating many of the concepts that define the Information Age, including personal computing, the laptop computer, and many others.
Dr. Kay said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
That’s exactly what we do in Anaheim…we imagine and then invent the future.
Last year, I announced a Home Improvement Holiday, saying that we would waive permit fees, provide amnesty for past unpermitted repairs and expedite processing for a period of one hundred days, thinking the residents of our city would respond by investing in our neighborhoods and creating their dream homes. And did they ever!
Over twenty-eight million dollars in home improvements in just one hundred days. 111 new swimming pools. 1548 add-ons or expanded kitchens and bathrooms. These and many other projects, all told, led to 3,562 homes improved. But most importantly, a renewed sense of pride in our neighborhoods. And the reports just coming in show that home improvement activity in our neighborhoods has stayed at a high pace, even after the holiday period ended. And other communities around the state, from Riverside to Redding, have followed our lead, establishing home improvement holidays of their own.
We updated our city General Plan, with a special focus on the area surrounding us here, called the Platinum Triangle. Just imagine, a year ago, I talked to you about an ambitious plan to create a new downtown for our whole County, with high density housing, ground floor retail, and with new nightlife and entertainment options. Last January, it was a plan we were working on. Today, not only is this new overlay zone adopted, but ground has been broken on the first project of the Platinum Triangle, the Stadium Lofts. When we’re done, over 9,000 new housing units will occupy what was once low lying, warehouse/industrial space.
Last year I spoke of an Anaheim Challenge for Education working in cooperation with the Southern California Children’s Scholarship Fund, to provide scholarships to needy kids in Anaheim to attend the school of their choice. Our goal was to raise over $1 million for all of these scholarships. Today, we not only awarded over 100 scholarships to Anaheim children, but because we raised our goal and support from the community has been so great, we’re expanding the program to add 150 additional children in this coming year. I am happy to welcome some of those Anaheim families here this afternoon.
We broke ground on the Anaheim Downtown Redevelopment, providing new housing and retail for our city center, while preserving and enhancing this historic part of our city.
Under the leadership of Tom Tait…indeed, his legacy to this city, we established Freedom Days in Anaheim, an Annual Celebration of the City’s freedom friendly initiatives. This is a time we have set aside for Anaheim to explore new ways to promote and protect the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans and report to the residents on ways we have implemented this mandate. Imagine a government which focuses on eliminating rules and bureaucracy, not creating new ones.
In 2004, Anaheim continued to assert leadership in regional and statewide affairs. Through legislation sponsored by the city, our representation on the Orange County Transportation Authority was strengthened. And as mentioned by Governor Schwarzenegger and Mayor Brown, we worked with the Mayors of the other ten largest cities to negotiate the deal that led to Proposition 1A, protecting city revenues from state budget raids.
We continued our successful efforts to enhance the Anaheim brand. We launched an effort to host one of the 2008 Presidential conventions, with Mayor Pro Tem Chavez representing us in Boston and me traveling to New York. This effort got great press, with national and indeed international press referring…pay attention…to Anaheim’s bid for the conventions. Our effort was endorsed by the Governor and has received more mentions as a potential 2008 host city than any other city in America.
2004 was a record setting year for our tourism and convention business, with the Disneyland Resort and the Anaheim Convention Center having their best years ever. And this year, we’re so pleased that Disney is celebrating their 50th Anniversary here in Anaheim with worldwide promotion and festivities.
And not withstanding some recent legal issues…2004 was a great year for Anaheim sports. The Anaheim Angels won the American League West title, the team had the third highest attendance of any team in baseball, and slugger Vladimir Guererro won the AL MVP. The Anaheim Storm, our professional Lacrosse team opened their first season here. And notwithstanding the NHL lockout, the Pond had its best year yet, with three times the major concert dates for national tours as the year before. In fact, I am so proud that the Pond has been nominated for 2004 Arena of the Year, and I want to salute Anaheim Arena Management and Tim Ryan, Mike Schulman and Henry Samueli for their commitment to the city.
While three sites just north of here fought over a football team, the NFL came to Anaheim and asked us to put together a proposal for the return of professional football to the nation’s second largest media market. They recognized that Anaheim is the demographic, economic, and social center of this market, with better affinity not only to Orange County, but Riverside, San Bernardino, and portions of Los Angeles County as well. By this time next year, we will know if a new football stadium will be in our future, moving forward on our terms.
Investing in neighborhoods. New business opportunities. Freedom friendly policies. Record-setting years in sports, tourism and entertainment. 2004 was a great year for Anaheim.
Indeed, when you look as the great strides we took last year, and the plans we have for the year ahead, how can you say anything but that the State of our City is as strong as it ever has been, and can only move even higher from here?
As we move forward into 2005, Anaheim will continue to invent its own future.
We will continue to make Anaheim the best place in the Southland to own a home, locate a business, and see a ball game or vacation with your family. We will continue to promote freedom friendly policies that trust the individual, and the business owner, to make the right choices and build our community.
How will we top a year like 2004? With the same hard work and vision and leadership, only more of it. And we’ve got so many exciting things happening in our community this year that I am confident I’ll be able to deliver just as positive a report to you next year.
This year in Anaheim, we will annex the Garza Strip, a 495 acre piece of land southwest of Anaheim that for no good reason sits as a county island. Even while it identifies itself with Anaheim, it is often plagued by inadequate services, affecting the Anaheim neighborhoods just across the city border. This common sense move will help both the residents of the Garza Strip and those within the current incorporated borders of Anaheim.
The city finances as they continue to improve, will allow us to consider hiring new police officers, focus on capital priorities, and maintain a strong forward thinking community, which will continue to make Anaheim one of the best communities in America to live.
We will continue to promote Anaheim as the premier sports, tourism, entertainment and convention destination in the world.
My friend, longtime Anaheim leader Bill Taormina will chair a new Anaheim/Orange County Sports Association, a public private partnership to promote our community to the NFL and other sports and entertainment options. Bill, thank you for your service.
As I mentioned before, this year Anaheim and the world will be celebrating the vision of one extraordinary man and the legacy of a company dedicated to spreading joy throughout the globe when we join Disneyland for their 50th Anniversary festivities. Half a century ago Walt Disney laid down the foundations, not just for a world renowned resort, but a relationship with a community that Anaheim continues to value.
Over the years the generosity of the Walt Disney Company has made our city shine even brighter, and the charity of their staff has improved the lives of countless residents. I am so proud to honor such an extraordinary member of the Anaheim family and I hope the rest of the world joins Anaheim when the celebration begins this May.
And we’re talking about Disney, right? So this is not a one day party. We’re so excited to be a part of an eighteen month long celebration, in which Disney will invite the world to celebrate with them in Anaheim.
Projects like the Downtown Redevelopment and the Platinum Triangle will continue to move forward, and we will look for the final plans for the Mountain Park development in Anaheim Hills to be brought before the city.
I will work as Anaheim’s representative at OCTA to get relief for the suffering commuters on the 91 Freeway. In the next few months, we receive and present to the public several options for traffic relief within this corridor. And we will aggressively look for other ways we can improve surface and freeway traffic in and around Anaheim.
In fact, if you look at all of this, you could say that if we did nothing other than continue what we started last year, we’d have a pretty darn good year this year.
But this is Anaheim, and we don’t rest on our laurels, we invent the future.
So in addition to continuing all the good things going on in our city, I want to take our remaining time here today and talk about three new priorities that I bring to our city in this coming year. Our Small Businesses, Our Public Safety, and Our community environment.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of any community and the most important segment of the economy. Small businesses are responsible for two-thirds of the job creation of America and account for half the job force and economic output of our country. By nature, small businesses are more deeply ingrained into the fabric of their communities.
In fact, many economists believe that the role of small businesses, the self-employed and home based businesses will only increase in the future. The trend towards micro-specialization, the ability of the Internet to allow any business to meet any customer world wide, and with fierce global competition cutting margins for large businesses, whether by necessity or by choice, more and more people are forming their own business and working for themselves.
I believe this to be true. For most of last year during the Presidential election campaign, we were confronted with economic growth numbers that showed a rapidly expanding economy, pleasing the President’s team, while at the same time lower than expected job growth numbers, giving rise to criticism and calls for change from Senator Kerry.
The fact is that they were both right. The economy is growing fast, but it is in areas of the economy that job numbers at traditional businesses don’t measure…self-employed and home based businesses. There is a revolution in our economy going on right now, and Anaheim should be a leader in promoting this growth.
And we will do it with Anaheim style, not with big government programs and studies, but by just getting out of the way.
The most critical time in any businesses’ life is its first few years. This is when the difference between success and failure rides on the slimmest of margins. A missed sale, a lawsuit, or an extra tax or fee can all break the back of a struggling new enterprise that might one day be one of Anaheim’s greatest companies.
The city of Anaheim cannot help every business close a sale, and we have little authority over the needed reforms to curb lawsuit abuse in California, but we can help just a little bit on the tax and fee side of things, and here, I am asking my City Council colleagues to join me. Let’s adopt a New Business Tax Holiday for all new businesses that start up here in Anaheim.
For a small or home-based business, the business license tax in the city of Anaheim may be no more than a few dollars. Whether this is a lot of money depends on your perspective, but for a small business starting out in the garage or the spare bedroom, or a rented store-front or a small warehouse, it may make all the difference in the world.
That is why I would like to ask for something unique…the City of Anaheim to not tax any new business that starts up in our city or relocates to our city from April 15th to July 30th, for those businesses first year of operation here.
Also, I would like to waive all of the penalties and interests for any business that has started up or who has recently come to Anaheim. If you come forward during this 100-day period of the Anaheim New Business Tax Holiday, we will provide an amnesty program, waiving penalties, fines and interest, as long as you pay your past tax.
It may not be much money, but for those small businesses, we need to provide a welcome mat and a home for their prosperity.
What’s more, I am calling for a complete review of our business tax policy as it pertains to the very smallest businesses here in Anaheim. Why do we charge what we do? Who do we charge it to and why? When we collect a tax, let’s not suppress success BUT encourage entrepenuerism.
I will admit I fall on the low taxes side of the political spectrum. But obviously, some level of taxation is appropriate to pay for essential government services. Finding the right balance is a policy decision that we on the Council must make, and I want to ensure that our business license tax policy is sound and serving its intended purpose.
The business license tax is intended to have the business pay for the incremental government services that the company uses in our city. At its core, that is a sound policy. But do we charge the right amount, and to the right people.
As an example, think about this. Through our city Parks and Recreation department, we contract with people to teach some courses, from crafts to tennis lessons and many more. Of course, we pay them for their time. But did you know that if a person’s sole business activity in the City is to teach a City course, we still require them to obtain a business license and pay a tax. Does that make sense?
So in addition to the New Business Tax Holiday, I am asking that our council committee on business, work with the Chamber of Commerce and conduct a complete review of our business license tax policy and report to the Council before our 2005 Freedom Days in July, so that the Council can act at that Council meeting to make any needed changes to the business tax policy.
As with the Home Improvement Holiday last year, this is an investment in our city’s future. By a simple and frankly, non-forward looking analysis, the New Business Tax Holiday will cost us some money. Perhaps it will in the short run. But in the long term, we will help a few more businesses survive, grow, and become profitable. These businesses will open their doors in Anaheim, hire our people, buy goods in our city, and pay a larger business tax at a later date, when they can afford it, and hopefully prosper. Every few hundred dollars not collected by the city at a start up business’s most vulnerable time will be an investment in our economic future, and make Anaheim a leader in the small business revolution which is sweeping the globe.
Along with the increased global challenges to our economy, of course, there is the daily reminder that the world is a dangerous place to our safety and to our very way of life. In a community famous for its many high profile events and places, Anaheim is also necessarily a front in the ongoing battle for homeland security. Along with the Ports of Long Beach/Los Angeles, LAX, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Space Needle in Seattle, Anaheim is a West Coast home to the kind of attention grabbing venues that our enemies talk about.
Fortunately, along with the law enforcement personnel and first responders who protect those other locations, Anaheim’s Police and Fire Departments are among the very finest in the world. And this year, Anaheim will be testing and rolling out some of the latest 21st Century tools for preventing and responding to any emergency incidents that may occur.
Last year, along with our city IT partner, EDS, Anaheim began testing the EVOC system, which stands for Enterprise Virtual Operations Center. EVOC is like a mobile operations center, only much more so. It allows first responders and city leadership to access data and use modern communications tools from multiple sources, have all this information at our fingertips, and enable those responding to a crisis to make better and timelier decisions.
I really can’t do the system justice trying to describe it to you. So that is why we are creating a video that will show this system well. You will be seeing it for yourself in just a few weeks.
But imagine a super laptop computer that has wireless high speed communications with headquarters, police or fire fighters in the field, the latest federal intelligence warning, all city documents such as building plans and designs, and breaking news alerts, all at your fingertips.
Even that description doesn’t do it justice…it is truly amazing technology.
Starting this year, thanks to a grant from the federal Department of Homeland Security, Anaheim will put into action this new EVOC system and in order to implement it, we will construct a citywide, hi speed wireless internet which will allow mobile units in the field to literally carry their EVOC system with them and access the full range of communications, intelligence sharing, and multi source information tools that come with the system, anywhere in the city.
You’ve seen movies where they have the Situation Room. Imagine not having to go into the White House Bunker to have all those tools available to you, but having it in a police car, or on a fire engine, or at a mobile command center near an incident.
Suffice it to say that it is very cool stuff, but with a very serious purpose.
I’d like to thank President Bush, and outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, for choosing to fund this program here in Anaheim, and for providing Anaheim with homeland defense grants of over $10 million each year for the past two, as part of a national reprioritization of homeland security grants to communities.
Now the clever ones out there heard the mention of the city wide WiFi for the EVOC system and may have thought, “citywide high speed wireless internet…wow. Maybe they’ll open it up to everyone?”
You may have seen a few cities, Philadelphia to name one, which are building citywide wireless internet networks and then providing access to their residents. And while I think it is a good thing for more people to have Internet access, especially broadband, I do have concerns about the government competing with the private sector and essentially using tax dollars to fund a service that the private sector is already trying to create business models for and trying to fill the market demand.
Right now, you can go into most Starbucks in California and access a T-Mobile hot spot. In fact, the number of wireless hot spots has grown from a handful just a few years ago to 35,000 today, and that number is expected to double every other year for the foreseeable future.
With the private sector moving so rapidly to expand public wireless Internet access, it would not be the proper role of government to interfere in this market. In fact, some private providers have sued the city of Philadelphia for just this reason.
At the same time, we can all point to technologies and services that the government has built for its own uses, and then allowed the public to access through private providers. Most notably, the Global Positioning Satellite system.
So we are building an incredibly valuable backbone for a city wide, wireless Internet service, and for an important public safety purpose. But one that could provide a way for many people to get Internet access. And I would like to issue a challenge to Internet providers and telecommunications companies. Come to us with a business model that recognizes the public investment in this system, does not unfairly undercut the market for those who have already begun to provide this service, and allows you to make a profit, and we’ll see if there is a way to make this work and to provide greater WiFi access to all Anaheim residents and visitors
Now our economic climate and homeland defense efforts are important work, among the most important we do. But we can accomplish these tasks and still continue work to make our communities more livable. Expanding parks will continue to be a focus of mine. This year, we will open or plan for seventy acres of new or redesigned parks and sports fields. We will also focus on undergrounding more utilities, planting grass and trees over concrete medians and greenscaping the major entries to our city.
But this year, I want to focus some particular attention on our historic relationship with the Santa Ana River. Our very name, Anaheim, is German for Home by the Santa Ana. It is an important part of our heritage, and this year, I would like to see us starting to reclaim some of that history and to reclaim some of the habitat and natural resources of the river.
I would like to start with the area known as the Burris Pit. A water retention and percolation basin adjacent to the River operated by the Orange County Water District. Burris Pit. The very name helps you envision an unappealing, industrial looking pool of water. While it serves an important water purpose for our county, it adds no aesthetic value to our community. If anything, it detracts from it.
This year, in cooperation with the Orange County Water District, Burris Pit will be no more. Instead, it and the area around it will be reclaimed by the city of Anaheim for greater public action and community interaction. The natural habitat, attractive to rare birds and other wildlife, will be restored. The fences around the area will be taken down, and walking paths put among and around the water, becoming once again an area which can be enjoyed by our residents. And this area which will be added to our list of public amenities will be known as Anaheim Coves.
The event this month with the rain and the concern at Prado Dam reminded us all that the Santa Ana River is, in fact, a river.
And in the aftermath, I saw a picture on the front page of the Register which showed green grass bordering the riverbed and water running through the center. That picture was taken in Santa Ana along the River View Golf Course. But that struck me because there is not one place in our city where green grass touches the river bank. Not one. And that is why, I hope, the creation of Anaheim Coves is just the first step in a process of reclaiming some of the naturalness of the Santa Ana River, while maintaining its important water retention and flood prevention purposes.
The fact is that the River does not need to be a concrete and dirt channel to serve these purposes at all. If you have ever been to San Antonio, you know how they have restored the historic San Antonio River, which was once a straight concrete channel as well. Now, the River Walk in San Antonio is one of their greatest attractions, providing a green belt through the city along with riverside shops, restaurants, parks, concert venues, and historic sites.
Well, if the river named for Saint Anthony can be restored, then so can Saint Anne’s.
Last year, we began some preliminary studies to see how a Riverwalk might work on portions of the Santa Ana River. This year, those plans will accelerate. And I look forward to the day when this Home by the Santa Ana River once again recognizes and celebrates its relationship with the river that gave it her name.
The year ahead will be one of exciting promise for our city. We will continue to build on the successes of the last two years, with continuing work downtown and here in the Platinum Triangle. With the grand celebration of the Disney 50th anniversary, our political convention bid, the competition for the NFL team and another winning season in store for the Anaheim Angels, our efforts to build the Anaheim brand will intensify, and nothing will stop us.
Our economy is strong yes, but we will fulfill an exciting promise for all the would-be entrepreneurs of Anaheim by removing one burden from their success. And my message today goes out not only to those living in Anaheim who are thinking of starting a business here. Our message goes out to anyone who wants to start a new business in our city. Anaheim is open for business. We have the lowest utility rates in Southern California and, hopefully, the lowest business tax rate for start up businesses. We want your business, we want you to succeed here, and we welcome you.
We will fulfill the primary promise and duty that we have to protect our citizens with the greatest homeland security technologies to back up the finest public safety personnel around.
And we will continue the promise to make our community livable, with greening projects along our river, in our neighborhood parks, and along our roads and byways.
And we will fulfill the promise to make Anaheim Freedom Friendly, by applying all these goals in a way that seeks input, cooperation and a leading role not for government, but for people.
I hope you see the excitement of being a part of Anaheim. You are a part…and we appreciate you. And I join with my council colleagues in asking you to consider how you can take the next step in making this city even greater.
Thank you very much for being here today, and let us go forward together to invent our future. Good day.