It's a new year and the cycle of the winds of change has been set in motion once again. This past Nov. 15, our City Council selected me as your new mayor. I am honored to have the Council's confidence and to have the opportunity to serve you and our city.
Although our local newspaper hasn't chosen to conduct an interview with me, to date, regarding my goals and objectives, our local National Public Radio station conducted a mini-interview with me back in early December. Moreover, NBC Channel 3 News out of Eureka has conducted three interviews with our City Manager Rod Butler and I about our current Crescent City renaissance and my goals and objectives. I have a relatively aggressive agenda for our city in 2011, therefore I am writing because I wanted to share my vision with you.
To begin, my adopted mantra is "forward," and if we can continue to
move our city forward in these times, that's a very positive thing! The
current state of our city is as follows: We are relatively financially
stable, especially given the current economic climate, thanks to the
good works of Butler, Finance Director Ken McDonald, the recent past
City Council and former Mayor Kelly Schellong. My first goal is to
build on the foundation previously laid. As a city, we have also
maintained full employment and successfully negotiated new labor union
contracts over the past two years.
I am also interested in building on my predecessors' foundation of
moving the badly needed Front Street redesign and reconstruction ahead;
cleaning up downtown and the preparation the new Beach Front Park Master
Plan to include a dog park along with several additional new
I too have identified downtown redevelopment as key to our future
success. The previous and current Council is committed to moving
redevelopment forward in RDA 1 and RDA 2 zones, as well as low-income
housing development. The city has been working for almost a year now
with our consultant Pacific Municipal Corporation (PMC) for assessment,
reassessment, and guidance in these areas of redevelopment. Now, new
Gov. Jerry Brown is proposing to take our development agency monies away
to solve the state's ongoing budget woes. Obviously, this action would
have a very negative effect on our associated redevelopment plans.
I believe our downtown Business Improvement District (BID) Board is
also critical to downtown's survival and renaissance. Minimizing our
downtown building vacancies, ongoing disrepair and resultant blight is
critical. BID, along with the city's partnership, is currently
reassessing BID's boundaries, annual fees, and possible increased BID
areas through a current survey being conducted along with a late
February BID Board strategy meeting to define the future of BID.
Once again, the city's plan is to have a BID and RDA financial
partnership to lessen the annual BID fees. The ongoing challenge for us
as a city is the "branding and selling" of our great city.
We also need to complete our disaster preparedness and City Hall and
public safety facilities liabilities/location assessments so we can
continue to proactively chart our course for future civic center/public
safety facilities. This will enable us to better define and serve our
citizens more efficiently, economically and re-establishing our downtown
Additionally, I want to maintain and strengthen our city bond with
our county colleagues through proposed monthly meetings to include the
mayor, Chairwoman Leslie McNamer of the Board of Supervisors, the city
manager and county chief administrative officer to maintain clear,
direct communications and to investigate the notions of shared resources
and/or asset integration when and where possible. I also hope to
maintain joint City Council and county Board of Supervisors quarterly
meetings in the spirit of cooperation.
Continuing with our city's stronger relationship with our county
neighbors, I think it's time for the city to aggressively look at the
annexation of the county to the "urban boundaries." This would reduce
some of the county's financial burdens while providing new Police
Department protection services and associated crime and drug prevention
programs for which our city Police Department is noted for, under the
leadership of Police Chief Plack.
In concept, this would free up the county's Sheriff's Department to
better cover the outlying county service districts. It's important to
note that the majority of those residents currently residing in the
"urban boundary area" already receive city services in one form or
another with water and/or sewer service. The other upside is these
folks would be able to vote in elections on various city issues,
resulting in a win-win situation!
I also think it's time for our City to reassess the notion of a city
trash franchise to possibly reduce city trash collection costs. I know
it's more complex than meets the eye, but I think the current and
ongoing economic crisis obligates us to revisit current conditions and
identify potential cost savings for our citizens.
As a City, we need to continue to fully support our Visitors Bureau
as tourism continues to be our city and county's No. 1 "economic
From a larger point of view, I'm also proposing an annual North Coast
Mayors and Vice Mayors forum with the first meeting to be held in
Crescent City. I believe our cities share a lot of common challenges
here on the North Coast, i.e., crime, drugs, homelessness, unemployment,
new business, tourism, rivers, ocean and timber issues. I believe the
sharing of our individual and collective thoughts and experiences could
result in better, quicker solutions.
Locally, I intend to have a once a month, "Monday meet the Mayor and
City Manager" public meetings at City Hall, the second Monday of each
To complicate everything, our outstanding city manager is leaving us
now, after fulfilling his two-year contract. Rod Butler has been a
strong, stabilizing leader, bringing staff, citizens and county partners
In the meantime, the City Council has retained an excellent
administrative leader in local, semi-retired Jeannie Galatioto as our
interim city manager. Jeannie will continue our city's course of
stabilization, liaison, "setting the table" for our City Council and
leading us in the search for a new city manager, interviewing, vetting
and securing process, which is our council's top priority.
So my friends, there's much to do in the months ahead in conducting
the business of your city. I appreciate your participation and support
in these challenging times. Together, our Council and you the citizens,
can continue to develop trust and confidence as we continue to work
together to move our city "forward."
Charles Slert is mayor of Crescent City.