Uploaded: Wednesday, February 13, 2013, 8:52 AM
Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013, 8:43 AM
State of the City has crime down, revenues up, San Ramon mayor says
Clarkson tells Chamber of Commerce audience that city's 'most exciting years are right in front of us'
|San Ramon is doing more with less, and is doing it well, Mayor Bill Clarkson said in his second State of the City address yesterday at a San Ramon Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Public safety was the main theme for San Ramon's leaders over the last year. Crime is down for the seventh year in a row, despite a population rise of 30 percent, Clarkson told 150 or so members of the community who attended the San Ramon Chamber's annual event.
In addition, he said more than 1,000 people have been trained in CPR and can step in when notified through the PulsePoint app developed by the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District.
Improving communications with the public has been one of Clarkson's pet topics. He said the city has been reaching out to residents, pointing to quarterly town hall meetings with the public, his monthly mayors' breakfast and to his open office hours on Tuesdays between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
"Anyone can call," Clarkson said, "and just share what their thoughts are."
He also said the city has a new communications team in place and is implementing new technologies to reach out to residents.
Clarkson also discussed the status of the long-awaited City Center. A report put out last year confirmed what Clarkson and many city leaders suspected.
"Until the economy gets better, it's going to be hard to pull the trigger," Clarkson told the crowd.
During his first full year in office, Clarkson also wanted "a candid, public discussion," about San Ramon's structural deficit of $4 million.
That, he told the crowd, came about because of the recession, when San Ramon received less in property tax as housing prices fell, less in sales taxes as people tightened their belts, and lower interest rates on the city's reserves.
As a result, he said, what was a ratio of 4.3 employees to every 1,000 residents has become 3.1 to 1,000.
He said some city workers are doing two full-time jobs.
"We're asking them to do more and more with less and less," Clarkson said. He added the city has a plan to eliminate its structural deficit in four years.
The city is also keeping an eye on open spaces, particularly development in the Tassajara Valley, Clarkson said. He noted that San Ramon hasn't approved a single new home construction project in 14 months.
"Almost all the growth in San Ramon is coming in the Dougherty Valley," he said. That area is controlled by Contra Costa County but has been annexed to the city bit by bit.
Clarkson also said the city is reaching out to a diverse population.
"It's out responsibility to make sure the door of opportunity is open," he said.
Two new projects are on the horizon, according to Clarkson: a fifth elementary school in the Dougherty Valley, where schools "are busting at the seams," and design work to build a bicycle overpass over Bollinger Canyon Road on the Iron Horse Trail, thanks to a $600,000 grant.
He said there's also the potential to built a 10,000-square-foot community center in Rancho Park,
Looking to the coming year, Clarkson said of importance were open space, "especially as it relates to the Tassajara Valley," the City Center project, and balanced economic development.
Clarkson also proposed a fall event that highlights the ethnic backgrounds of San Ramon residents.
"I want residents to feel and have an emotional attachment to the city," he said.
Clarkson said he thinks the city's best is just ahead.
"It's my conviction that San Ramon's most exciting years are right in front of us," he said.
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