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Lancaster State of the City Address 2012
(2011 Accomplishments/2012 Goals)

Time is the most valuable intangible asset in all of our lives; we never have enough of it; we’re appreciated most when we give of it freely; and we regret when we run out of it. The amount of time we invest into our work, our relationships and ourselves directly correlates to the amount of success we have in those areas. Whether we are evaluating the past, focusing on the present or planning for the future; the most significant contribution we can apply to any effort is our time. And when our time is coupled with fervent effort and precious resources, the outcome is nothing short of extraordinary.

The City of Lancaster has been recognized locally, regionally, nationally and internationally as a city which excels at overcoming obstacles and accomplishing the unimaginable, particularly given our size, this economy, and the incomprehensible timeframes within which we have achieved so much. Because we are open to new possibilities, unafraid of action, intolerant of barriers and unwavering in our goal to make Lancaster the best city it can be for our residents and even the world; we have been able to bring about a tremendous amount of change and growth in a relatively short period of time. Let’s reflect on how Lancaster moved toward this end in 2011.

“Safety first” is more than just a coined phrase. Life presents us with numerous challenges which make family, work and social living a bit trying at times. However, nothing is more disturbing to personal and communal peace than the threat of being harmed or violated by a criminal. For this reason, attacking crime in our city has been the number one priority for this City Council. In 2011, we realized crime reduction outcomes unheard of in our Valley’s recent history. There wasn’t a single gang-related or gun-related homicide in our city. Overall crime has dropped more than forty percent over the past four years, while Neighborhood and Business Watch group participations reached unprecedented numbers. Thanks to our Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Criminal Justice Commission, Public Safety Office, and many active citizens, our crime rate has drastically decreased over a brief period of time. This downward trend was necessary for us to be able to move forward in other areas of development.

By enhancing public safety, the City has positively impacted a major factor which typically limits citizen participation in local events. As the pulse throughout the City has improved, we have infused a variety of events and features for our City to contribute to the ongoing building up of our community. New and recently added events such as the Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix, Celebrate America, BooLVD, the Magical BLVD Christmas, the farmers’ market, and more join our list of long-time reputable events such as the California Poppy Festival, Bark at the Park, JetHawks games, 7Summer Day Camp, Lancaster Performing Arts Center shows, and museum exhibitions to create a year-round host of excitement, engagement and opportunity for all to experience in Lancaster. With well over 100,000 people participating in these annual events each year, it is evident that Antelope Valley residents and visitors see the value in seizing the moment and enjoying today, even in the toughest of times. We offer these free and low-cost activities for the public in order to give everyone a reason to smile each day, be proud, and contribute to their community.

I don’t know if any of us can put an actual figure to the number of hours city staff has put towards improving and serving our community. I do know, however, that the effort I see every day and at every function is selfless, innovative, attentive and genuine. And the only thing that impresses me more than this display of care and commitment to the public is our ability to pull all this off while becoming increasingly efficient, frugal and effective at the same time.

Staff is continuously cutting costs in a sea of rising demands and expectations, representing the epitome of “doing more with less.” We’ve instituted online payment systems, which add convenience and reduce spending. We’ve instituted electronic processing for development applications, while offering a one-stop-shop for developers. We’ve reduced telecommunication costs and installed solar lighting at major facilities, including Lancaster Municipal Stadium and our Performing Arts Center. We’ve established a number of commissions which provide Lancaster with the ability to steer itself into the future. We’ve invested in the safety and infrastructure of our community by upgrading City Hall’s emergency generator and providing training for Emergency Operations.

We’ve done all this and more while avoiding layoffs and managing our fiscal health in a manner which has once again garnered national award recognition. The City of Lancaster has been hard hit by this economy and by the State of California, in particular, but instead of cowering down to circumstance, we take the bull by the horns time and time again, doing what is necessary to survive and flourish.

If there is any doubt in anyone’s mind about what the will and heart of a community can accomplish, consider the barriers Lancaster has overcome this past year, and the precedents we are setting on the global front. As our nation struggles to recover stability, regain integrity and heal its population of disheartened citizens, the City of Lancaster has maintained a strong foothold in economic growth, innovative accountability, and invigorating opportunity.

Our most recent and grandest accomplishment locally is our City’s revitalized epicenter. Forty new businesses provided 1,100 construction jobs and 802 permanent jobs within our City’s core. By offering the BLVD Boot Camp and BLVD Holiday Retail Marketing programs, we were able to provide more than 400 hours of small business training through 23 different programs. We have served more than 150 business owners, operators and entrepreneurs.

Last year, we also explored a new concept called The Winning Pitch, which connected local entrepreneurs with private investors. Then, to further draw crowds to our weekly farmers’ market, as well as other downtown shopping, dining and entertainment businesses, we installed The BLVD’s walk-able design. These programs and added features have been overwhelmingly successful in supporting the local economy.

As part of the infusion of economic progress with entrepreneurial spirit, the City has helped businesses do more with less, mirroring our own organizational practices and fiscal initiatives. Our Building Incentive Stimulus Program and Small Business Incubator have produced phenomenal results, bringing more entrepreneurial businesses to our City each year. In fact, we reached more than 86 percent leased capacity through the Incubator last year.

In addition to celebrating the endurance of local businesses throughout our community, we can revel in the continued popularity of our sports tourism and cinematography projects, which have generated nearly $15 Million in Economic Impact (EI) in 2011 alone.

Lancaster’s economic growth within the local business and tourism sector has been remarkable. However, the steps we’ve taken to lead the nation in alternative energy ingenuity and expansion are even more impressive. Forming the Lancaster Power Authority, High Desert Power Authority, and California Clean Energy Authority has put us in control of our own carbon footprint. We can now make decisions about our own energy resources and infrastructure, where we were once severely limited by outside entities. We’ve set our sights on becoming one of the first Net-Zero cities by partnering with Beautiful Earth Group, and are exploring sister-city relationships worldwide with like-minded communities who strive to produce more energy than they consume.

While attending the World Future Energy Summit last month, all the work Lancaster has put into incorporating alternative energy structures and facilities into its blueprint became more than justified as we received excessive kudos for doing more than just talking a good game.

While there, we discussed “Who We Are…” Much like Abu Dhabi, the City of Lancaster traces its roots to a small rural desert community. Standing boldly and championing itself as a progressive fast-growing community, our City evolved from a pre-60’s settlement of small towns and villages to a trend-setting community of nearly 158,000 residents. Oil wealth fueled extensive modernization and Lancaster’s historic aerospace-centered culture guided our city to great heights. Today, we continue to be a bold community, positioning ourselves on the tip of the spear, ready to harness the tremendous power of the sun.

We talked about the advantages of where we are located, as well. Here in the sunniest place in America, we are quite capable of expanding our alternative energy agenda. With intense sun 350 days out of the year; prevailing winds more than three-quarters of the year; and an elevation which enables us to generate seven times more photovoltaic energy than major U.S. cities, our geography offers a tremendous supply of available natural resources. In addition, Lancaster is centrally located near major cities and ports; boasts an industrial railroad, commuter passenger train and major freeways; and is positioned next to the second largest Load Center in the nation, Los Angeles.

We began our journey by building landmark relationships with green energy leaders like eSolar, Build Your Dreams and KB Homes, as well as Beautiful Earth Group.  Our later partnerships with U.S. Topco Energy, Psomas FMG, Morgan Solar and other solar developers will equip Lancaster with more than 70 megawatts of solar-generated power locally. This is in addition to the 25 Solar Voltaic projects completed throughout the City’s facilities and schools in 2011.

We concluded our presentation with an invitation to world cities to join us on the road ahead. The road ahead is indeed promising, as we continue to make bold moves on the global energy platform.  At home, we have made bold moves in another area as well, citizen health and wellness.

The City has put a tremendous amount of time, energy and focus into building up community resources for the benefit of our citizens. We strongly believe that a truly successful city provides opportunities for all of its residents to flourish. We know that dealing with serious health and wellness issues can literally cripple one’s ability to enjoy, participate and engage in everyday activities; while also diminishing the quality of life, be the problem physical, mental or emotional. Recognizing our community as one with significant health risks and social concerns in certain areas, the City expanded its rollout of community Wellness and Neighborhood Impact homes.

Lancaster’s five Wellness Homes proactively address the healthcare needs of community residents and help them understand the importance of good health. Volunteers in these homes provide help with the management of chronic illnesses, medication intake, preventative information, domestic violence issues, holistic care options and more.

In addition to expanding our Wellness Homes from two to five this past year, we had the added benefit of being selected for the National Children’s Study hosted locally by UCLA. This study will help to identify key factors which influence the overall health and development of a person from conception through adulthood. By dealing with these hard facts head-on, the City of Lancaster is doing everything it can to improve the health of its citizens, as well as future generations.

Health and wellness involves more than eating right, exercising and managing physical illnesses. This is where our Neighborhood Impact Homes come into play. These community-based centers provide safe after-school activities, homework assistance, and educational information to neighborhood residents by providing homes away from home throughout the City. Volunteers at these homes offer creative ways to get youth positively engaged in their community. We were proud to have added five more Neighborhood Impact Homes to Lancaster, bringing our total to seven.

Additional progress in the health and wellness of our community was realized via the City’s strides toward reducing and preventing homelessness. This past year, the City provided rental and utility assistance along with case management and housing placement to 224 Lancaster residents. We also acquired two grants from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority to assist with the management of the Lancaster Community Shelter programs, which provide year-round and special wintertime assistance to homeless citizens.

These various programs address some of the root problems our neighborhoods face, but there’s also the matter of providing accessible, usable land for our residents to utilize in maintaining an active lifestyle. The City worked diligently to complete the draft Master Plan of Trails and Bikeways, which will transform our open land and fresh air into a community-wide outdoor gym.

All of these community health and wellness efforts have been overwhelmingly successful due to the hard work and contributions of our many churches, doctors, organizations and citizens who have joined together with the City to help nurture the bodies, minds and hearts of our residents in need. We thank all of you for your continued time and dedication towards this cause.

All of the aforementioned successes are proof of our intelligent and passionate use of time, energy and resources. By putting forth 110 percent in all of our efforts, we have brought our past to our present, and the results are far greater than any of us imagined. But today is tomorrow’s yesterday, so what’s even more important than what we have done is what we are going to do. The best time we’ve spent hasn’t been in looking at the past or looking at what we’ve accomplished today. Our greatest use of time is looking to our future. What awaits us beyond the horizon is far more substantial. And the only way we will get there is to keep doing what works, while exploring more opportunities for growth and development.

Take crime reduction, for instance; criminals will always exist and they will get smarter as their tactics and resources get shut down. Therefore, we must always be one step ahead of them. I realize some of our available resources have been made out to be controversial, but once you and your loved ones have been personally violated by a criminal, your appreciation for tools which can exponentially increase public safety in our community will become evident. We anticipate the completed development of the Law Enforcement Aerial Platform System (LEAPS) within a few months. If you think the forty percent drop in crime over the past few years is incredible, wait until the Sheriff’s become airborne and are able to put even more criminals behind bars.

As we work to increase the livability and vitality of our City and our citizens, we expect the overall synergy amongst residents to continue to grow. Our next steps in building community seek to cultivate that connectivity. Lancaster’s Museum of Art and History (MOAH) will open in a few months, offering a doorway into the arts at a level not previously experienced locally. This new museum will become yet another epic anchor in our City’s cultural center.

We will also be expanding The BLVD’s farmers’ market, which will provide more opportunities for local growers and more healthy eating options for residents; while strengthening the social hub that has developed on The BLVD every Thursday afternoon.

Gathering with family, friends and neighbors will be even easier as the City incorporates more parking downtown and completes renovation of the old abandoned church at the northeast corner of American Heroes Park. The new facility will feature a fountain, a garden and a miniature outdoor amphitheater, offering the perfect rentable space for weddings and other gatherings. These added elements will provide greater accessibility to the downtown area and convenient usable space for the community to host special celebrations.

In addition to downtown improvements, we will be moving forward with a number of other projects which will improve traffic and road use. The improvements to the 14 Freeway and Avenue I interchange, as well as the construction of the Lancaster Blvd and 10th Street West Roundabout will be completed this year. The Road Diet Project, a 1.5 mile segment from Valley Central Way to 10th Street West, including bike lanes, will also be finished; while construction of the Avenue L and Challenger Way Roundabout will begin. Implementation of our Traffic Calming Policy will continue as well.

As we move forward into a future of endless possibilities, the City of Lancaster will continue to ensure long-term financial stability. We will continue to expand and nurture economic development through new and existing programs. Destination Lancaster will be further developed and entrepreneurial projects will continue to flourish.

On the energy front, our endeavors will continue to expand as we complete installation of the Lancaster and Eastside School District’s 7.5 megawatts of solar energy. We will also launch the community PACE program, as well as the California Clean Energy Authority, unrolling new and innovative ways for residents to save money and energy. As you already know, I recently returned from Abu Dhabi where Lancaster took a seat at the World’s Future Energy Summit. We are aggressively looking to align ourselves with other progressive cities globally, hoping to ultimately form an alliance of Net-Zero communities which will make the world a better place for future generations.

Now that we’ve established several Wellness and Neighborhood Impact homes throughout the community, our focus has shifted to maximizing their use and effectiveness. This year, our Wellness Homes are implementing “Project Get Fit” to further our ongoing efforts to end childhood obesity. We will also begin implementing the Master Plan of Trails and Bikeways, putting in motion a community-wide project to make staying healthy easier.

I don’t believe any of us had any idea Lancaster would have such incredibly innovative and promising projects, programs and developments in its future several years ago. But here we are… after years of fighting crime; developing health and wellness alternatives; building and restoring the community; managing through one of the toughest economies of our time; and putting every thought and action possible toward economic growth, development and sustainability… here we are. And I can honestly say that I consider our time well spent.

The City of Lancaster has a rich, pioneering history; an exciting, innovative present; and an unprecedented, ground-breaking future to look forward to. Let’s continue to use our time, energy and resources wisely.

 

Lancaster State of the City Address 2011
(2010 Accomplishments/2011 Goals)

Introduction

What you’ll see today is a presentation highlighting the greatest strengths of the City of Lancaster. I will identify five pillars on which we stand to sustain and grow us as a city. These five pillars are:

Pillar One - Superior Management in Tough Economic Times
Pillar Two – Alternative Energy Capital of the World
Pillar Three – Building Our Neighborhoods with Care
Pillar Four – Advancing Our Community’s Quality of Life
Pillar Five – Forging Ahead with Invaluable Partnerships

These are the strengths which enable us to appreciate our past and shape our future.

Pillar One - Superior Management in Tough Economic Times

This past year presented us with significant challenges. Just like everyone who has been affected by this struggling economic market, the City of Lancaster is not immune to its consequences.

We have nearly 50 vacant positions at a time when quality service and attention to our community needs are at an all time high. Employees have been working diligently to provide not only the basic services expected by our citizens, but also a level of service which continues to grow and advance our community.

Our residents, business owners and associate organizations throughout the region and abroad have shown their appreciation and recognition of our efforts and successes during this most challenging of times. We are simply overjoyed to be able to keep moving forward for our citizens and our community.

Several key elements have contributed to our successful city management during this difficult period. These include maintaining financial stability; sharpening economic strategic focus; implementing global expansion; and fostering local business.

The Lancaster City Council has adopted a policy of maintaining a 10% operating reserve, as well as a 20% financial stability reserve. The City has long recognized the value of long-range financial forecasting, and has incorporated 5- and 10-year forecasts into our budget processes.

Were the value of our practices not evidence enough, the consecutive double-digit awards we’ve received for exceptional budgeting and financial reporting from agencies such as the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada speak for themselves.

Sustainable management isn’t only about financial stability; it is about growth and expansion. A comprehensive economic strategic plan is necessary to ensure we employ initiatives which will continue to build up our local economy.

The City Council has adopted “Positioning for Prosperity” as the guiding tenet for the economic and business development efforts of this community, focusing efforts on advancing commerce, industry and innovation.

Such a plan must recognize and address the big picture of economic success. Our vision must include the necessary incorporation of a global outreach, as well as a fervent effort to drive local business. This is what we have done and will continue to do as we move forward.

Our Global Lancaster program is designed to attract new businesses, manufacturing and investment to Lancaster, with our initial extension reaching out toward China and our global partners, such as Neo Power.

Concurrently, we are growing our local entrepreneurs by providing customized business development programs and trainings to help them focus on e-commerce and social networking & marketing – new and current ways to enhance their businesses’ appeal to today’s market.

Our City has made it through the toughest of times by following a system of organizational management which has served us well. We will continue to utilize these practices in order to sustain and grow this great community.

Pillar Two – Alternative Energy Capital of the World

We have survived yesterday. We are alive today. The question in all of our minds is will we be able to live through and prosper tomorrow? Many try to deny the inevitable, but if we don’t take care of this world we live in, there will be no tomorrow.

With today’s technology, resources are limitless as to what we can do to save this planet. It is not a matter of “Can we?” It is a matter of “Will we?” The City of Lancaster has proudly proclaimed, “Yes We Will.”

This year has been one of giant first steps for the City of Lancaster, with efforts made in the realm of smart energy and conservationism which hurl us toward our goal of becoming the Alternative Energy Capital of the World.

Sun, wind, water and waste are all reusable resources which can alter the way we all think about energy and green efficiency.

There is no better place on Earth to harness the power of the sun, than right here in the Antelope Valley. With temperatures reaching the triple digits in summer months and an elevation which positions us at an ideal location from the sun year-round, companies such as Solar City, BYD, and Beautiful Earth have recognized the potential for solar-generated power in our valley. 

Lancaster and Solar City have joined efforts to create the Solar Lancaster program, which includes six local solar projects at this time. The first major project at Clear Channel Stadium is underway and will save the ballpark as much as $48,000 in the first year of installation based on a 98% conversion rate. Additional projects include City Hall, the Lancaster Soccer Center, and Lancaster and Eastside School Districts.

The City was also instrumental in joining KB Home with China-based BYD, an automotive and green energy technology manufacturer. This union promises to build energy-efficient residential communities while creating green jobs and a hopeful outlook for this place we call home.

Residential wind energy systems have also been made more affordable to install in the Lancaster community. The modified review and approval process implemented by the City Council further encourages greater use of alternative energy.

In addition to the wonderful things we are doing with the power of the sun and wind, Lancaster is making great strides in the area of recycled water. The City has designed and constructed a recycled water system which runs from north of the Lancaster University Center to south of Lancaster City Park.

Once the Park is converted to a recycled water system, the use of potable water will be reduced by more than 160 acre-feet per year, resulting in a tremendous cost savings to the City.

Recycling waste is also very important to us. With our partner Waste Management, the City participates throughout the year in a number of programs to help residents discard hazardous waste and recycle applicable materials that may otherwise be improperly or wastefully disposed of.

The City goes a step further than just recycling and reusing resources. We also return back to nature its most basic component – the earth herself. Each year, the City plants trees to help replenish our most natural and pure resources. What better way to be green, than to put green right back where it belongs?

Pillar Three – Building Our Neighborhoods with Care

Progress begins at home. Life is challenging enough without having to come home to a neighborhood in disarray; unaddressed community medical issues; neglected personal health and wellness, and an environment not conducive to community pride and ownership. We work hard to provide our citizens with the necessary resources to get them mentally, physically and emotionally engaged in progress – self progress, family progress, and community progress.

We all call Lancaster home. This is why it is imperative that we all take care of our community and each other. The City has worked to incorporate assets into our neighborhoods, real and tangible assets, which can serve as conduits for a better living, working and playing environment for our citizens.

We began by working with community churches to develop Neighborhood Impact Homes which offer a safe, nurturing and educational refuge for families and youth seeking to enhance themselves or simply get away from their challenging daily routines.

Next, we reached out to our medical community to create Wellness Homes, which provide an educational environment supporting those who need information and assistance pertaining to medical conditions, medications and holistic approaches to the gamut of ailments and diseases our society is faced with today.

A person without medical insurance can come to one of our neighborhood Wellness Homes and receive the same expert information they would get in a doctor’s office.

Providing refuge and resources within our neighborhoods was a good start, but we wanted to go a step further by instilling a sense of ownership in one’s community and in one’s own well-being. This goal prompted us to support a number of ideas and programs.

The first Neighborhood Garden was constructed and opened with great success, pulling together residents of all ages interested in contributing to a project which provides nourishment for all of their neighbors to share in. A second garden has already been planned for downtown.

The City also expanded its offering of Health and Wellness related programs, including more seasonal classes at City facilities throughout the community and new larger-scale projects such as the City-wide Master Plan of Trails and Bikeways, developed in conjunction with the Antelope Valley Partners for Health and the Architectural and Design Commission.

As impressive as these community homes and city-wide projects are, let’s step back for a moment and consider the less-grandiose aspects of what we do; the everyday, regular responsibilities of our staff which seldom gets the glitz and glamour of a news article or prestigious award.

Our men and women in the field are out there every day building up our neighborhoods with care. When those heavy storms hit our community and our residents were at home sound asleep, our field staff was out at 3:00 a.m. securing the streets, sandbagging and repairing the damage.

Each day, they’re out there maintaining, repairing, constructing, rebuilding, filling, modifying and developing every aspect of this City’s infrastructure to ensure that our daily lives are as uninterrupted as possible by the amenities we all take for granted as we carry on our daily activities.

Another way we continue to build up our neighborhoods is by winning the war on crime. There has been a continued reduction in Part 1 Crimes through the combined efforts of our Criminal Justice Commission, community involvement, and data-driven initiatives.

In 2010, we made more than 14,000 arrests. This includes over 2,000 arrests in the area of Narcotics, which is the most significant cause of burglaries.

We also made a huge impact on Part 1 Crimes with nearly 1,530 arrests in that category. Aggravated Assault occurrences plummeted this year as well.

Thanks to our Special Teams and Sheriffs, dedicated staff, diligent commissions and involved citizens, we are winning the war on crime.

Pillar Four – Advancing Our Community’s Quality of Life

Never in the history of our City have there been so many opportunities to get involved, get engaged, get moving and get connected. The arts are abound, The BLVD is happening, the neighborhoods are active, many businesses are flourishing again and our residents are smiling.

Lancaster has become the cultural epicenter of northern Los Angeles County. Our Performing Arts Center offers world-class entertainment year-round, with programs available to ensure our community’s youth get much needed exposure to the world of the arts.

Our distinguished collection of exhibits featured at the Lancaster Museum/Art Gallery throughout the year offer a wide array of artistic genres to be appreciated. Soon, these exhibits will be located right on The BLVD, along with additional resources for cultural entertainment to come.

Speaking of The BLVD, where else in the world can such a fine community gathering place be constructed in just eight months time? The traditional home of our Celebrate Downtown Lancaster events, Hospitality Walk, and several other holiday-themed activities; The BLVD has been transformed into this Valley’s premier destination spot with numerous unique businesses and restaurants, as well as a series of celebratory extravaganzas slated for year-round community enjoyment.

Advancing our community’s quality of life goes even deeper than cultural experiences, fine dining and entertainment, and year-round events. The quality of our community is evident in the ties that bind… our unity… our morality… our commitment to making Lancaster the best it can be.

When we all come together to help our neighbors and give back to our community through sweat and labor; these are the efforts which reveal the depth of quality within each of us, which transposes to the quality we pour into projects, activities and events that enhance everything around us.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service, Unite, Not In Our Town… these are only a few examples of the programs we have initiated throughout our City to bring together a cooperative determination amongst our residents and businesses to make this community one we can all be proud of, from its center to its boundaries.

We’ve done our best to facilitate such efforts throughout the City by transforming areas with greater needs, such as our North and South Downtown Districts, into aesthetically pleasing environments.

We’ve provided homeowner guides and desert landscaping guides to help assist those invested in their area with making a more personal transition, which will in turn affect the desirability of their neighborhoods, as well as the value of their property.

We will no longer accept being treated badly by anyone. People will only treat you as badly as you allow them to. We’re not going to allow this anymore. Lancaster is great, and we are making it even better. 

Demand for your community the respect it deserves. Our natural resources alone give us a greater potential than the most exclusive of communities.

Demand only the best in public safety; the best in education; the best in healthcare; the best in customer service; the best in every aspect of life here in the Antelope Valley. 

You should be proud of where you live, work and play, and not allow naysayers to have their way. This is YOUR community.

An added measure which has proven valuable in creating a greater understanding between the community and its government is our communications initiative.

Our communication mediums have grown substantially, with the City reaching thousands of citizens every day via television, newspaper, internet, email, phone, and good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. We have made community engagement and government transparency a requirement of everything we do, not an option – a requirement.

You have to be working very hard to avoid us in order to not be touched by us in some way. This is a purposeful effort because we know the more you know about what is happening in your community, the better equipped you are to participate, voice your opinion, and make a difference.

Anyone paying attention has seen this City soar to new heights in 2010. This year, we promise to continue our upward momentum, as well as create more record-setting “firsts” as we fail to hesitate at bringing all of our visioning to fruition for the betterment of our wonderful community.

Pillar Five – Forging Ahead with Invaluable Partnerships 

None of the aforementioned achievements were accomplished by the City single-handedly. It’s all about relationships. No entity can flourish without the right connections.

Fortunately for the City of Lancaster, we have aligned ourselves with the best partners our community has to offer. Our school districts, auto dealers, local businesses, City partners, arts community, active residents and great City staff have created an unbeatable collaborative of invaluable partnerships which will carry us to magnificent heights in the years to come.

The City is immensely grateful for all of its many partners who have made the past year such a magnificent success, often pulling off feats which had us all touting faces filled with awe.

Lancaster 2010 is simply a testament to what can be accomplished when you work hand in hand with your community.

Lancaster 2011 will be a testament to how well we all can flourish by nurturing these relationships, maintaining focus, pursuing vision and fulfilling the destiny of our great City.

The work we’ve all done over the past year is more than noteworthy, but this upcoming year will prove to be even greater for the City of Lancaster and all of its partners. We will keep up our momentum and do even more in 2011.

We will continue to provide great financial stewardship and City management.

Our efforts to continually enhance public safety will persist. We will improve customer service at the Lancaster Sheriff’s station and reduce crime through data-driven initiatives and operations.

We will further grow this community’s economic prosperity guided by an economic strategic plan, an expanded focus on tourism, a global business development agenda, and a functional level of support for local businesses.

More alternative energy partnerships will be forged as we attain our position as the alternative energy capital of the world.

We will complete the development of The BLVD and the surrounding downtown projects, including a new museum, American Heroes Park, and a new movie theater; adding even more opportunities for local events and community activities.

Working hand-in-hand with the Arts Foundation, we will bring public art to the downtown area, and then expand this effort throughout the community.

With continued joint ventures with our medical community, we will proactively address and improve community health.

Through the extended arms and hearts of our local pastors, community organizations, and other helping hands in our City, we will implement diversity and humanity initiatives.

Education is an area which certainly requires more from us – ALL of us. Schools like SOAR can and should be everywhere in our community.

We need only to change our focus from the negative 1% and build up the incredible potential of our youth.

Nearly $150 Million went into the development of Eastside High School, which is a magnificent structure offering a wonderful art program and beautiful theater. This school has the infrastructure to produce and develop great minds. So why don’t we have a “90% attendance required” rule there? If your child does not show up for school 90% of the time and does not have a valid medical excuse for being absent, he or she should go somewhere else, opening up a valuable spot for another child who desires to learn and help grow our community.

All these things will be done efficiently, effectively, and successfully through our partnerships; the invaluable relationships we will continue to build upon with our citizens, our schools, our businesses, and our community supporters regionally and abroad.

 

City of Lancaster 2009 Accomplishments 

Administration

• Crime rate reduced by 24% over prior year
• Partnered with Sheriff’s Department to host five Town Hall meetings throughout the community
• Adopted Aggressive Dog Ordinance
• Established 192 Neighborhood Watch Groups and 170 Business Watch Groups
• Negotiated two-year extension with Teamsters
• Established Volunteer Service Program
• Implemented Voluntary Separation Program
• Conducted 34 recruitments
• SharePoint / InfoPath staff training and implementation
• Coordinated 500 volunteers to improve South Downtown district
• Certificate of Insurance Tracking Program
• Coordinated meet and confer with non-represented employees
• Administered retiree health opt-out program
• Established CLEAR Choice Program
• Conducted Quarterly SABER Luncheons for employee recognition

Communications

• Substantially increased media coverage of the City and its efforts, with features on regional and national networks, including:

o CNN
o NBC Nightly News
o Fox News
o Wall Street Journal
o Los Angeles Times
o National Geographic Channel
o ABC 7
o CBS 2/KCAL 9
o KTTV Fox 11
o KTLA

• Earned six CAPIO Awards from the California Association of Public Information Officials
• Re-designed the City’s website to make it easier to navigate, as well as providing online reporting tools for crime, graffiti, water wasting, and more
• Substantially increased video output to better utilize this medium to communicate with residents, making all video programs available online, on local cable channel 28, and on the City’s YouTube channel
• Launched a weekly e-newsletter
• Made City news and updates available on Google, Yahoo, and AOL homepages, as well as an RSS feed
• Maintained social networking sites on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and YouTube, as well as a Wiki online discussion forum

City Clerk Department

• Processed numerous City Property Claims and recouped approximately $83,000 for damages to City property
• Processed approximately 550 requests for public records regarding City related documents
• Effectively maintained the Citywide Retention Schedule through indexing, cataloging, retention and destruction
• Streamlined several agenda processes and election processes for improved efficiency
• Moved into the electronic age with Microsoft SharePoint as a program to research documents
• Maintained continuous indexing of resolutions, ordinances and minutes
• Maintained continuous updates to the Lancaster Municipal Code
• Prepared more than 25 agenda packets for the City Council and the Redevelopment Agency
• Continued to provide development to staff through the New Law & Election Seminar and other necessary seminars for staff to achieve required certifications

Economic Development/Redevelopment

• Implemented the Lancaster Economic Stimulus Package (ESP), successfully generating an economic impact of over $123 million dollars
• The ESP’s Shop and Drive Program prompted more than $25 million dollars in new auto sales
• Over 5,000 gift cards were issued as part of the ESP’s Shop and Dine Program. More than 400 Lancaster based businesses and over 6,000 citizens participated in the Shop Lancaster program
• Grand Opening of three new restaurants; The Brooklyn Deli, Blvd Express, and Giannini’s in Downtown Lancaster
• Construction started on a $12 million dollar drainage channel enabling the future development of a new Kaiser Permanente facility and the Promenade at Amargosa Creek
• Launched “Destination Lancaster,” a new visitor’s bureau aimed at promoting tourism and supporting businesses within Lancaster and the surrounding Antelope Valley region
• Grand opening of eSolar’s Sierra Sun Tower, a 5MW solar thermal demonstration facility
• Grand opening of the Artist Lofts and Gallery, a 21-unit mixed use project in Downtown Lancaster, representing a $9.4 million dollar investment by Incite Development
• The inaugural “Streets of Lancaster Grand Prix” roared through Downtown Lancaster, garnering more than 20,000 visitors
• Finalized construction plans for $7 million streetscape improvement project in Downtown Lancaster
• Created a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with DayStar Farms, Inc. to cooperatively develop the nation’s first solar park
• The University of Antelope Valley was established in Lancaster and will begin to offer Associates, Bachelors, and Masters degrees at its newest campus, the former Antelope Valley Inn site
• Created new partnership with the Small Business Development Center, Wells Fargo Bank, and the AV Board of Trade to provide free one-on-one counseling and low-cost business workshops
• In conjunction with the County of Los Angeles and the City of Palmdale, hosted the Antelope Valley Enterprise Zone kick-off breakfast
• Launched Mayor’s new home-based business initiative to provide additional education, training and resources for home-based businesses in Lancaster
• Established two Community Neighborhood Impact houses through partnerships with local faith-based organizations
• Implemented ten Neighborhood Revitalization Plans to improve housing and public improvements within the newly designated areas
• Received the 2009 International Economic Development Council (IEDC) Promotional Award in recognition of the “Shop Lancaster” marketing campaign. The city also received a Savvy Award from the City-County Communications & Marketing Association (3CMA) for its “Shop Lancaster” marketing program

Finance Department

• Implemented Gift Card Process for the City’s Economic Stimulus Package
• Encouraged increased participation in paperless paystub delivery via EZ Stub, a website which allows employees to access current and historic payroll information, eliminating time and material cost associated with hard copy paystubs
• Developed a system implemented 1/1/10 whereby retention of Accounts Payable documents becomes paperless, which reduces handling and storage costs
• Set up groundwork for Business Licensing retention to become paperless, again reducing handling and storage costs
• Completed testing and verification of a system of electronic delivery of W2’s to employees. 2008 W2’s were made available to employees, as well as 2009 wage records
• Received Certificate of Award for Outstanding Financial Reporting from the national Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) for the 23rd consecutive year
• Received Certificate of Award for Distinguished Budget from the California Society of Municipal Finance officers and GFOA
• Items sold through the Public Surplus Auction site brought in $190,822 in additional revenue for the City

Housing Department

• Implemented 10 Neighborhood Revitalization Plans to improve housing and public improvements within the newly designated areas
• Established three Community Neighborhood Impact houses through partnerships with local faith-based organizations
• Approved the Piute Neighborhood Revitalization Plan and completed a $300,000 contract for the Pedestrian Linear Park, completed in September 2009
• Construction started on the Arbor on Date project, a 40-unit apartment complex for low-income residents in downtown
• Awarded $6.9 million dollars in Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) grant funds in March 2009 which are being used to purchase and/or rehabilitate foreclosed residential properties 

Parks, Recreation, & Arts 

• The Film Office and Sports Tourism combined generated $22.6 million in economic impact. This included $10 million generated from hosting 250 teams in the week long Far West Regional Soccer Championships and $2.6 million generated from a successful softball tournament season in which 686 teams played at the Big 8
• Construction of Capital Improvement Projects:

o Whit Carter Park was completed & construction started at American Heroes Park
o The Phase II Trails project and the Pavilion at the Prime Desert Woodland Preserve were completed
o The first irrigation improvement project for water conservation at Tierra Bonita Park was completed and a second is near completion

• Completed the Design of the new Lancaster Museum/Art Gallery
• Bark at the Park drew its largest crowd, 7500 people and more than 50 vendors, community groups and animal rescue organizations
• CARES program serviced 800 local children per day during the 08/09 school year
• The Lancaster Museum/Art Gallery Associates raised $30,000 with Metamorphosis, their first fundraising gala to support programming of a new museum
• Celebrating our 20th year of the Aerospace Walk of Honor program and the induction of 100 pilots. The Department compiled and edited a hard bound book commemorating 20 years of the Aerospace Walk of Honor
• Established the Lancaster Leadership Academy, presented by professors from the Kennedy School of Management at Harvard University; taught skill building, provided opportunities for networking and challenged local entrepreneurs, business leaders and those with political aspirations to get engaged in their community
• Completed the re-establishment of the Musical Road, along with the Public Works Department, in the westbound lanes on Avenue G starting at 32nd Street West
• Served more than 280,000 citizens with our sports leagues, arts outreach, volunteer opportunities, tournaments, special events, day camp, after school programs, contract classes, Performing Arts Center program, aquatics program, and Museum/Art Gallery exhibits and programming

Planning Department

• Adoption of new 2030 General Plan (July 2009)
• Adoption of new Design Guidelines Manual (December 2009)
• Completion of entitlement process for future Westside commercial sites (July 2009)
• Adoption of streamlined regulations and process for small-scale vertical axis wind turbines in residential zones
• Introduced electronic development process

Public Works Department

• Michelle Cantrell voted Public Works Employee of the Year by the Local American Public Works Association (APWA)
• Constructed Space Plan alterations at City Hall and relocated HNR to the first floor
• Developed a policy to work closely with developers to complete projects left unfinished and non-maintained by the developer
• Completed all traffic painted line work (long line painting) in 1/3 of the normal time by using the new long line paint truck
• Obtained the following grants:

o $1.3 million Energy Efficient and Conservation Block Grant to:

~ replace 800 signalized intersection safety lights with LEDs, and 
~ upgrade heating and air-conditioning units at City Hall

o More than $5 million through the 2009 Metro Call for Projects
o $4.2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Funds
o Approximately $190,000 from the California Bicycle Transportation Account
o Approximately $160,000 in rubberized Asphalt Grants

• Implemented efficient, green and highly sustainable processes which save money, conserve natural resources and reduce emissions. The processes include the following:

o 100% electronic bidding process
o Allow use of Class 2 recycled aggregate base
o Innovative pavement rehabilitation techniques such as Cold in Place Recycle, Central Plant Recycle and Full Depth Reclamation of existing streets in lieu of conventional methods

• Started delivery of recycled water for sewer flushing, street sweeping, dust control and irrigation
• 36% reduction in fatal collisions from 2008 (seven this year vs. 11 in 2008)
• Kept all major arterials open during winter snows in addition to providing snow removal support to the City of Palmdale
• Provided necessary maintenance as follows:

o Pothole repairs: 24,129 locations
o Graffiti Abatement: 18,114 locations
o Illegal Dump abatement: 5,421 locations

 

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