Thank you and good afternoon.
It feels great to be here again at the Chamber’s annual State of the City program. Even better, is that I’m here not as a guest, but as the guest speaker, because I get a better table. Plus, I get to tell you how deeply proud and grateful I am to be representing this great city.
As we all know, we’ve been on a long, bumpy, and unpredictable road over the last few years. We’ve had to reduce our speed, make tough decisions, and work even harder to get through every mile. But we’ve managed to stay on course, and arrive at this important point in our journey. I truly believe we can finally see a turn in the road just up ahead.
Yet, we’d be foolish to go forward without careful planning, wise caution, or proven performance. In 2012, Garden Grove used all these elements to gain important ground. This summer, our hotels along Harbor Boulevard reached capacity. Sales tax and property tax also surpassed the last previous years.
The arrival of Disney’s “Cars-Land” this summer, gave Garden Grove a big chunk of the region’s tourist dollars. And, speaking of cars, our Auto Mall was another 2012 winner. Nearly all of our dealerships showed impressive gains last year. Our newest dealers—Kia and Hyundai—experienced record sales, with Toyota coming in strong at the end of the year.
In 2012, building and construction in the city zoomed out of the slow lane. Last year, the city reviewed over 600 building plans, compared to an average of 400 over the last four years. Permits for new residential and commercial projects went from zero during one year, to eight in 2012.
The end of last year saw the successful passage of Measure Y. A 1.5% increase in the hotel visitor’s tax is equal to another $1.5 million dollars a year for our city, at no cost to our local tax payers. Now, how many cities can say that? So now that we know “Y,” let’s talk about an important “How?”
How did we do in terms of new businesses? Adding to our local labor force was the arrival of convenient, neighborhood groceries like “Fresh & Easy Express,” “Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market,” and “Fresh Choice Marketplace” on Katella. After all that food, we needed to keep our waistlines in check by visiting 2 new, indoor sports facilities on the west end—”Next Level Sports” and “The Map Sports Facility.”
While these are all great and much-needed businesses in our community, it’s the multimillion dollar developments that have given us the edge.
Now, let’s watch as our Channel 3 News team takes you through the twists and turns of 2012…
Thank you to the Channel 3 team for another great video.
…and to my grandchildren, who always seem to upstage me!
Before moving on, I want to say a little bit about our latest community endeavor, the Vietnam War Museum of America Foundation. Over the last year, this non-profit, that I’m very involved with, has worked extensively to bring awareness to an important goal: To build the first Vietnam War Museum, not only in Garden Grove, but in southern California.
The museum will be a tribute to all the Veterans, fallen heroes, and their families, and anyone else touched by the war. Last year, the foundation began a free speaker series that continues into 2013 that I encourage everyone to attend. The next event will be on Thursday, March 21 and will feature the founder of “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day,” José Ramos. You’ll find information on this event at your table setting. Also this year, the foundation embarks on a capital campaign to begin raising the funds necessary to make the museum a reality.
So, for 2013, how do we stay on course and avoid any more bumps in the road? Believe it or not, I don’t always have all the answers. Instead, I have to rely on what I know, what my instinct tells me, and what I hear from the businesses and residents of this community. What I see is a better, stronger, and wiser Garden Grove.
We’ve come across some dangerous turns, but we’ve never lost our traction. This year, we’ll see some of our large scale projects, like the water park hotel, break ground. Others, like the new “City Ventures” housing development, will celebrate grand openings.
More records are set to be broken this year, as the hospitality industry estimates that occupancy rates along Harbor Boulevard will increase by 6 percent. Renovations to several local schools will be completed, adding to improved educational offerings for our children. And the former Crystal Cathedral will further its transformation into the Christ Cathedral.
And, there will be birthdays! This year, Atlantis Play Center turns 50, and the Garden Grove Community Foundation celebrates 15 years of bringing free concerts and other quality programs to the community.
And for a personal goal, I’d like to see plans for a new community gymnasium start to take shape. Similar to our Garden Grove Park Sports Complex, it will offer a place for community sports and swimming.
Indicators show that our economy and our job and housing markets will continue to mend and grow. In 2013, Garden Grove will maintain its focus; carefully move forward; and steadily set the pace. And while the finish line may seem just up ahead, we never really finish. Every victory leads to bigger goals and bigger dreams to follow.
As mayor, I’m prepared to be your driver, with a new City Council on my team. But most important is having the community as my guide.
I’m looking forward to a new year, and a new term of office. I know 2013 will be a winning year for all of us.
Mayor Bruce Broadwater