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State of the City

Remarks by Mayor Roosevelt F. Dorn     2/23/2006

Good Afternoon. I want to thank the Inglewood/Airport Area Chamber of Commerce for inviting me to present my 9th State of the City Address at this luncheon. I am delighted to be here with Inglewood’s committed business leaders, dedicated corporate citizens, involved citizens, neighbors and friends. I also want to take time to acknowledge my colleagues on the City Council who shape the State of the City by policies that we adopt. Council please stand, we thank you for your outstanding service to the City.

Please join me in recognizing other elected officials, the City Treasurer, Ms. Wanda Brown and the City Clerk Mrs. Yvonne Horton. Ms. Brown keeps us on track financially and Mrs. Horton keeps our records in order and helps to keep us focused during council meetings. Please recognize our commissioners who work hard and contribute greatly to the City without pay. Please stand.

Now please recognize the finest group of employees in local government anywhere in the world, led by our City Administrator, returning to Inglewood for the third time – Mr. Joe Rouzan. All Inglewood employees please stand. Give them a round of applause to show our gratitude. As we thank our employees who are here today, the ranks of our family have been broken with the loss of some employees last year. Their names are listed. Please join me in a moment of silence as we reflect on their contributions.

Nine years! It really seems like April 1997 was just a very short time ago. Since that time, we’ve made great strides and have accomplished exciting things in Inglewood. Time has passed so quickly that many people find it hard to believe that we have come so far, so fast. Today, Inglewood is a very different community than it was when I was granted the humbling privilege of being elected Mayor. Inglewood has progressed to such a degree that the so-called "good old days" of the past bare no resemblance whatsoever to where we are and where we are going.

Today’s challenges and opportunities are very different than those of 20, 10 or even nine years ago. Inglewood has progressed not by living in the past, but by looking forward to the future. The Inglewood of today subscribes to a principle of not looking at things the way they were and saying, "let’s go back," but rather dares to dream of the many possibilities of the future and saying, "let’s go forward!"

Today, I want to focus not on the past of what was, but rather on the tremendous accomplishments that together we have achieved and also on the fantastic community that we can create by WORKING TOGETHER. I believe that WORKING TOGETHER we can achieve great things; WORKING TOGETHER we will continue to move this city to a better, brighter more prosperous future. 2005 was a phenomenal year of progress and we can all stick our chests out and say, WORKING TOGETHER, we did it!

I won’t stand here and take the credit for everything that’s gone right since 1997. The truth of the matter is that when things go right it’s usually because many people are WORKING TOGETHER with a common purpose to assure that THINGS WILL GO RIGHT!

The progress that we have made as a community is a direct result of all of us WORKING TOGETHER. And when I say us I mean Mayor Dorn, Council Members Curren Price, Judy Dunlap, Eloy Morales, Jr. and Ralph Franklin, our City Clerk Yvonne Horton and City Treasurer Wanda Brown, Inglewood’s talented employees, our school district, the Chamber of Commerce, business leaders like those of you who are here today and most importantly our fantastic Inglewood residents.

Inglewood residents are the driving force for our progress. It is their desire for a better community, better quality of life, and better business and shopping opportunities that shape the goals we all work to achieve. They, like I, believe that by WORKING TOGETHER we can create a better community; and that through WORKING TOGETHER we will create an Inglewood that has a bright future.

As a resident of Inglewood for almost 40 years, I don’t like to think about how Inglewood was and how it was perceived 10 to 20 years ago. I ran for office, because I knew the Lakers and Kings were leaving, many businesses had left, Market Street was a ghost town, property values had declined, the school district was struggling, the crime rate was high, there was limited shopping, residential sound insulation was virtually non-existent, there were no new housing opportunities, and the City was headed for bankruptcy. Some people were even saying that Inglewood’s best days were merely long, lost memories of the past.

I wanted to join those individuals who were dedicated to inspiring hope and progress in our community. I, like my colleagues on the City Council, was convinced that by WORKING TOGETHER we could reinvigorate our city. WORKING TOGETHER we could make our community safer; WORKING TOGETHER we could not only create an economic environment that would bring businesses back, but also develop exciting cultural events to showcase Inglewood. All of this while reinforcing the "can-do" attitude fostered by our most valuable resource…Inglewood’s citizenry.

Some of you may remember that time. Well, my friends, the past is not a place where anyone can live. Dreamers, innovators, effective leaders live in the present, focus their energies and vision on the future, and develop policies and strategies aimed at making that vision of the future tomorrow a reality.

When most people reflect on the economic development and redevelopment accomplishments of this City in the last few years, they are in awe. But to tell you the truth, I’m not. I’m not, because I knew that WORKING TOGETHER we could achieve spectacular results. The spectacular is what happens when we all work together. No deal can be culminated and brought into reality without an affirmative vote of the City Council or Planning Commission, the contributions and expertise of staff, and of course, the willingness of businesses and investors to choose Inglewood.

During the past three years, the Economic Development Division has tracked our progress and WORKING TOGETHER we:

Completed or initiated more than 830,000 square feet of new retail development, representing over $150 MILLION in investments;

Neighborhood shopping centers that needed to be renovated have received major facelifts, with new paint, signage and landscaping – La Brea & Centinela, Crenshaw & Imperial, La Brea and Century, and several other small neighborhood shopping centers where developers and business owners recognized the great value in investing in Inglewood.

WORKING TOGETHER, we see both residential and commercial development prices soaring!

From 2002 to 2005, the sale of Hollywood Park property increased 120 percent. The September 2005 transaction was noted in the Los Angeles Business Journal as the 4th largest deal in Los Angeles County;

At the end of 2003, the median residential property value was slightly over $278,000; at the end of 2005, the median price was over $456,000 – that’s a 50 percent increase in just two years! And I should note, those prices do not reflect what’s happening in the Renaissance, the first single-family home development of this kind in Inglewood in 20 years. Those homes are selling in the $550,000 to $700,000 range. WORKING TOGETHER, we have created a situation where hundreds of excited new homeowners are eagerly anticipating moving into their new homes this year. It’s hard to believe that 80% of those 376 homes were purchased by people who live in Inglewood.

In 2005 alone, 529 new businesses opened in the City of Inglewood. Many of these businesses also decided to become active members of our Chamber of Commerce; we have some pictures of them compliments of the Chamber and JL Photography.

WORKING TOGETHER, we grew new Businesses

Delian Music, Pollo Campero, and the UPS Store
Fat Burger
AJ Wright and Superior Market.

I should note that AJ Wright, like many other new businesses, became a community partner as soon as they opened their doors. They donated $5,000 to Inglewood’s After School Recreation program. Also, Superior Market generously gave to our local schools to the tune of over $16,000. This included a donation of computers to Bennett-Kew Elementary School. I’ll say it again…we all win when we are WORKING TOGETHER.

In 2005, we were all proud to have broken ground on the exciting 190,000 square foot shopping center, the Village at Century. As you can see, WORKING TOGETHER, WE DID IT - the Mayor and Council, the School Board, staff, the developer and the community. I want to thank Andy Natker and the entire Alexander Haagen Company team for their commitment to fulfill the desires of the Council and the community. Please join me in applauding the Haagen Company, Mr. Natker and his team.

As these stores begin to open in the next few weeks, I am confident the Inglewood residents and shoppers from throughout the South Bay will demonstrate how much they appreciate this new retail addition.

WORKING TOGETHER, we expanded some of our existing businesses. Let me say that I really applaud these businesses because they sent a strong message that Inglewood is investment worthy. Join me in celebrating these businesses that grew the business base in the City.

Kaiser Permanente Department of Optometry
The Harry A. Mier Center
Washington Mutual
Gambro Imperial Dialysis Center
LAX Tacos; and
Hollywood Park – Bay Meadows

You know, small businesses are the foundation of any local economy, so I want to applaud all of our small business owners. We are committed to working with you. We want your businesses to become very successful. We are available to help you in any way possible. Please do not hesitate to contact the Mayor or Council Members.

Let me make a comment about Bay Meadows and their $260 million investment in the 238-acre Hollywood Park site. I salute them today for their commitment to thoroughly evaluate the highest and best use for the property, for their commitment to the employees of Hollywood Park and for their commitment to the residents of Inglewood.

Let me tell you, Bay Meadows has some spectacular plans in the works for these 238 acres. Presently, they are assembling a team of nationally renowned architects, development experts, and landscapers to transform this historic venue into…a city within a city. High class shopping, upscale housing, restaurants, entertainment - the whole works. You will be very pleased with their plans when they are fully formulated.

We are very proud of the fact that Bay Meadows has chosen Inglewood and they have already become a very dedicated corporate partner in a very short period of time. Thank you Bay Meadows; we look forward to a long and prosperous working relationship.

WORKING TOGETHER we did important things to improve the quality of life in our city. We recognize that our neighborhoods must not only be clean and safe, but we must also have places that we take pride in calling home.

Councilman Price and I were active supporters of Inglewood’s 2nd Annual Movie in the Park program and we were also instrumental in the opening of the City’s first skate park at Darby Park. We thank Commissioner Agee for his dedicated work in bringing the first skate park to Darby Park. In case you didn’t know it, Councilman Price is now officially known as the "Tony Hawk of Inglewood." Now for those of you not in the know, Tony Hawk is famous for being the best skateboard rider in the world. The Councilman didn’t even fall…not once. And you can believe me when I say that he didn’t, because if he had…I’d tell it!

In District Two, Councilwoman Dunlap partnered with Waste Management in a neighborhood clean up. The residents showed a great deal of pride as they beautified their neighborhood and enjoyed a down-home family barbecue.

Councilman Morales was the driving force and sponsor behind the hugely successful District 3 Family Fun Day at Siminski Park. This event gave residents an opportunity to receive information about various City services and enjoy an afternoon of community fun. To bring neighborhoods together, he has been a prominent force in creating 30 new block clubs in the third district.

Councilman Franklin organized Community Clean-Up events in District 4, which brought residents and City resources together to turn community beautification into a fun event. In fact, it gave Councilman Franklin and me great pride to participate in the grand re-opening of the Lockhaven Community Center. This is a project that the entire Council supported and is a true asset to the Lockhaven community. It even has a very nice computer lab that is a great resource for the neighborhood.

We all were involved in a special live television and radio broadcast from city hall by KTLA Channel 5 and radio station KJLH. This event gave us an opportunity to showcase local businesses, marching bands from Inglewood schools and tout the many good things that are found right here in Inglewood. We continue to Work Together on traditional citywide events such as the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Cesar Chavez Day Celebrations, our annual Market Street Festival, and our growing and phenomenally popular South Bay Jazz Festival.

Yes, Inglewood has come a long way. We are rapidly developing a reputation as being the place to be for shopping, recreation and cool entertainment. We’re not looking back, we’re moving forward!

This year, cutting-edge and innovation was the signature of Inglewood’s Public Works Department. After completing a full year in our new agreement with another community partner, Waste Management, the City not only made great strides in its State-mandated diversion efforts, but also made tremendous contributions to protecting the environment. Three of our businesses were recognized by the South Bay Business Environmental Coalition. They were given the Waste Reduction Award for their outstanding business operations in reducing waste. Let’s salute those businesses – SMG Forum, SCAPA Converted Products, and Von’s.

The City introduced the Sharps Disposal program, in partnership with Rite Aid Pharmacy and Walgreen’s Pharmacy, and funded by Waste Management. In this program, Inglewood residents who use hypodermic needles for medical purposes can safely dispose of them in special containers and mail them in a postage-paid mailer for proper disposal. 119 containers have already been distributed. Please thank Waste Management and the pharmacies for this very important public safety program.

We are pleased that the City has opened its own Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) station. We now have 14 CNG vehicles that can be filled up on site. We hope to partner with the business community so that we can all do our part to remove harmful emissions from the air.

I want to tell you about one other award winning program introduced in Public Works this past year that I am particularly proud. That’s the City’s Fleet Services Division’s partnership with the Los Angeles Opportunities Industrialization Center (LAOIC) to give at-risk youngsters on-the-job automotive training. They have graduated two classes and some of the young people have been employed in the automotive industry. California Fleet News, in its annual recognition of Best Management Practices, recognized Inglewood’s partnership with LAOIC for its innovation in assisting fleet managers to improve their operations.

Now although this is the State of the City Address, I want to share with you some very pleasing news about our public schools. We now have a school board that is very committed to doing what is best for our kids, teachers and school district administrators. Not only are major construction projects either completed or underway at several campuses, but test scores are on the increase.

Every morning when I come into the office, I’m excited for the children and staff of Crozier Middle School because they will soon be attending a campus that contains a 6-building two story complex containing 44 classrooms, science labs, a gymnasium, an administration building, a library/multimedia center, a cafeteria-style kitchen, an amphitheater and sports fields.

On the State’s 2005 Academic Performance Index (API), the District made its largest district-wide growth in recent years. While we’ve had great performing elementary schools for a number of years with three designated as California Distinguished Schools, I am pleased to report that six Inglewood secondary schools made double-digit gains in API scores. This surpasses improvement targets set by the State. So while we still have a ways to go before we reach the levels of performance that we all desire, 2005 was a year of progress for the District and our kids. And of course, if we have academically prepared children then that will provide job-ready employees for all of you. Let’s give them a round of applause for their efforts this past year.

Yes, 2005 was a good year for Inglewood. A good year, because we refocused our attention on the importance of all of our institutions WORKING TOGETHER. This is an emphasis that is especially important to communicate to our new residents. In addition to new residents moving into existing housing, we are happy to welcome newcomers moving into the Renaissance residential complex. On behalf of Council Members Price, Dunlap, Morales, Franklin and myself I, want to welcome these 376 families to our community and thank the construction companies Watt Developers, MKB and John Laing Homes for this very successful project.

I am very proud to report that we had a very good year in terms of the insulation of Inglewood homes. Not only have we continued our highly successful residential sound insulation (RSI) program, but we successfully reached a settlement agreement with Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) that will greatly benefit Inglewood. First of all, the LAX expansion is dead. Secondly, the City of Inglewood will receive more LAWA funds to insulate eligible Inglewood homes. The important elements of the settlement are as follows:

The City of Inglewood will receive a total of $24.5 million for sound insulation during the next two years.

Between 2008 and 2015 Inglewood and the other petitioners will receive a minimum of $240 million in funds to accelerate their sound insulation programs.

LAWA will support Inglewood’s effort to obtain FAA approval to insulate 15 traditional places of worship.

LAWA agrees to support end of block sound insulation.

$10 million will be available for discretionary funding for residential sound insulation.

LAWA will cooperate to secure $10 million in funding for Century Blvd. improvements and will support Inglewood’s application to the FAA for an additional $23 million to fund traffic improvements along Century Blvd.

LAWA will provide $500,000 per year for five years to fund job-training programs at the South Bay Workforce Investment Board in Inglewood to fund training for airport jobs at LAX.

LAWA will seek FAA approval of various penalties to be imposed on airlines for flights that violate nighttime flight restrictions.

FAA has promised Mayor Dorn to give the City of Inglewood $20 million a year for insulation and recycling until all eligible homes are insulated.

In addition to the above promised funds, Secretary of Transportation Mr. Norman Maneta provided an additional $27 million to be divided among El Segundo, the County of Los Angeles and Inglewood. Inglewood will receive the greatest portion of the $27 million.

These extremely positive outcomes are the result of people WORKING TOGETHER. I want to personally thank my colleagues on the City Council for supporting and affirming every aspect of the negotiations. Now that an agreement has been reached, I can tell you that the negotiations were very tough and stressful, but our City Attorney, Ms. Anita Willis and I were very successful. We were successful because everyone from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, LAWA Executive Director Lydia Kennard and the agencies that were a part of the litigation were committed to WORKING TOGETHER. Therefore, we were able to achieve great benefits for our communities. This deserves a round of applause.

Ladies and gentlemen, with all that has been accomplished in 2005 and over the past few years, we maintain that public safety is the glue that keeps everything together. We have the finest and most dedicated men and women in blue to carry this out.

With our outstanding police department WORKING TOGETHER with residents, businesses and other law enforcement agencies, 2005 reflected the third lowest crime rate in 30 years. In fact, when you compare the average annual incidents of crime during the period of 1988 through 1996, the nine years before I took office, vs. the period of 1997 through 2005, the nine years since I took office, you’ll see that crime has decreased more than 44 percent in Inglewood!

We recognize that the image of our city is important to visitors and residents alike. That’s why we have to step up our efforts to combat and discourage activities in what has been known throughout the ages as the world’s oldest profession---prostitution. In Inglewood, if you’re caught supporting that profession, not only will you be arrested, but you’re very likely to see your name printed in the newspaper so everybody knows what kind of business you patronize. You also run a substantial risk of having your car seized as well.

In 2005, our Vice Detail and Anti-Crime Team made 515 vice arrests and seized 47 vehicles. Our police department also works proactively to increase the safety of our streets and roadways. Last year, we conducted 11 Driving Under the Influence checkpoint operations that resulted in 9 arrests, the issuance of over 1,000 traffic citations and the impounding of 706 vehicles.

Inglewood, like most cities in California, continues to deal with a tenuous national economy and an environment where fiscal policies adopted at the State level adversely affect municipalities.

Throughout the years, we have taken steps to improve our financial standing. We have reduced our expenses for several years now and have done our best to be fiscally prudent while avoiding substantial reductions in essential services. We have grappled with this situation despite an environment where health care and liability costs continue to rise. Material costs have also been on the increase. As business people, I know you are completely aware of what I’m talking about. Even non-business people recognize the impact that rising fuel costs have had on their lives. Rising costs affect everyone, including municipalities like Inglewood.

The City’s General Fund is the source of funding for most common city services like, police, fire, library, tree trimming, street repairs and recreational activities for our children. This year, the City Council approved a General Fund expenditure budget of about $74 million. This represents a 3% decrease from last year’s budget. General Fund revenues are projected at about $72 million. Public safety accounts for 52% of General Fund expenditures. The difference between General Fund revenues and expenditures creates a structural imbalance in the General Fund. In essence, that means that we spend more money than we take into the General Fund. This structural imbalance is a matter that we must find a permanent solution to if we are to safeguard the financial health of the city.

The City Council has recently taken action to address this structural imbalance issue and to respond to the public’s demand for, and the legitimate need to, increase the number of police officers and public safety services for our city. The City Council has introduced an ordinance to place a measure on the June 6, 2006 ballot calling for a one-half of a percent (0.5%) increase in the sales tax. This would increase the current sales tax rate of 8.25% to 8.75% within Inglewood.

The measure would generate approximately $4.4 million annually for public safety and law enforcement purposes. These monies would be held in a separate account where an annual audit, conducted by an independent auditor, would guarantee that they would be spent solely for public safety and law enforcement related purposes. A minimum of 30% of the revenue raised would be used to increase the number of sworn police officers in our police department with the remainder used to replace and augment public safety equipment and provide other resources related to public safety and law enforcement.

Now, I know that no one likes taxes. I certainly don’t enjoy paying taxes. But if we are to preserve the service levels that we’ve become accustomed to while increasing the number of police that patrol our city, we must enhance the amount of revenues to get our financial house in order.

Let me speak in terms of real dollars so that everyone understands what we’re really talking about. Let’s assume that someone purchases $8,000 in taxable merchandise in a year in Inglewood. The additional one-half of a percent in sales tax would result in that person paying a total of only $40 extra dollars in a year on that merchandise. In this example, that amounts to less than 11 cents per day!

Now, what can you get for $40 in today’s economy? A trip to Disneyland or Magic Mountain? No. Dinner for two with desert at an average restaurant? No. A nice family outing at the movies with popcorn and refreshments? No. A week’s worth of groceries? Certainly not. Today, you can’t even fill up the tank of your car with $40!

What is it truly worth to have safe streets and financial stability in our community? More importantly, one might ask, "Isn’t our city, the place that we call home, the place where we go to work, and the place that many chose to locate their businesses, worth an annual $40 investment?"

Throughout the years City leaders have worked together to create increased shopping within our community. The beauty of this practice is that it translates into more people from outside the city spending their money here in Inglewood. Everyday we see more and more people from other areas coming to take advantage of Inglewood’s expanding shopping opportunities. This phenomenon will only increase in the coming years.

These shopping visitors, as welcome as they are, generate increased demands for law enforcement and public safety services. Isn’t it right that they also help to pay the cost for these services? Under this public safety measure, they will rightfully share in the responsibility for generating revenue to make our community safe. This measure creates an opportunity to have others help pay for the benefit we all enjoy from increased police and public safety service. That’s a win-win situation for both our residents and our businesses.

If we are to look to Inglewood’s future, we must recognize that public safety is a key foundation upon which the success of this city will be built. My friends, I say to you this afternoon, that if we are to have a bright future we simply cannot afford NOT to afford this crucial public safety investment. We need your support! We are counting on your support. WORKING TOGETHER, we can do this.

As I close this 9th State of the City Address, I am already anticipating my tenth address. I am anticipating new business partners sitting in this room that have been in full operation for more than six months at the Village at Century. We have talked about this for two years and in just a few weeks they will begin to open their doors. WORKING TOGETHER we will cut the ribbons together, dine together and shop together.

I am already anticipating my tenth address, just one year before our Centennial Celebration, as we open the new Grevillea Art Park where we will welcome the world to visit the historic Transportation Mural, a re-creation that has drawn the attention of muralists and artists worldwide.

I am already anticipating my tenth address when the Renaissance will be fully occupied with new homeowners and new voters to continue to hold us accountable and enjoy seeing the blossoming of a "new" Inglewood.

I am anticipating my tenth address where we will look back on 2006 and celebrate how we WORKED TOGETHER for new police officers, for a better infrastructure, for more community events, for an enhanced quality of life, for the ground breaking of our new senior citizens center, for the development of The Forum property, for the development of the Fox theater and other vacant downtown property.

I look forward to all that is in store for us in 2006. WORKING TOGETHER, WE DID IT in 2005, and WORKING TOGETHER, WE WILL DO IT EVEN BETTER in 2006!

God Bless you and God Bless Inglewood! Thank you.