Speaking before a sell-out audience of nearly 400 attendees, Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen gave high marks to technology, the economy, and quality-of-life, among other achievements, during today’s State of the City address.
Using one, large-screen television monitor that would serve as a visual backdrop during his speech, the program opened with the “Signs of Compassion” video, honoring the arrival of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to Garden Grove last July. The Mayor began his speech by recognizing the important roles of his City Council colleagues.
“The opportunity to work with such a diverse group of leaders has been invaluable to me. We all strive for excellence in our own way even though we may not always agree on everything. In the end, we are here to work together as a Council and we all keep the interests of our great city in mind,” he said.
The Mayor called 2015 the “Year of New Leadership,” pointing to last year’s addition of a new mayor, city manager, police chief, and fire chief to the City.
Crediting technology as the catalyst to achieving one of his main priorities: enhancing transparency and efficiency, the Mayor praised a number of technologically-driven programs and tools introduced in 2015.
These included re-designed websites for both the City of Garden Grove and the Grove District – Anaheim Resort; Google’s “Let’s Put Our City on the Map” program designed to assist businesses with their online presence; and Start-Up Weekend, teaching potential entrepreneurs about business startups.
Complementing the use of technology in transparency, the Mayor spoke about technology in communication. Specifically, the Open Government webpage, which allows users to access City finances, salaries, and other public information. Also, the Citizen Requests and Public Records online tools to instantly request services from a computer or mobile device. And, the re-designed Garden Grove Mobile App for the latest news, business discounts, and emergency alerts.
Information on the City’s district elections mapping process was updated to include the recent approval by the City Council to split the City into six voting districts and return to a directly-elected Mayor.
The Mayor pointed to tourism and sales taxes as fueling Garden Grove’s economic growth.
TOT, or hotel bed tax, went from $11.4 million in 2005, to $19 million in 2015. Planned openings of new hotels—including a new 750-room high-end hotel on Harbor Boulevard, south of Target—could boost TOT revenues to over $25 million in 2017. The Great Wolf Lodge Southern California alone is estimated to bring in $8 million a year, the most of any hotel in the city.
According to the Mayor, sales tax revenues went from $14.1 million in 2009, to $20.5 million in 2015.
Quality-of-life included new, affordable housing developments, such as a 47-unit facility for low-income families and seniors which broke ground this month. The project, Wesley Village, is a collaboration between the City, Jamboree Housing Corporation, and the Garden Grove United Methodist Church.
The Mayor closed his address by bringing the entire Garden Grove City Council on stage to congratulate the community on its 60th Anniversary this year, along with other milestone City anniversaries.
“After 60 years of growth and change, the city remains embodied in that local spirit, as we enjoy a great quality-of-life because of the amenities that surround us, like parks, schools, public safety, local events, and lots of things to do!” he said.
The program ended with a special 60th Anniversary video produced by the City’s GGTV3 news team.