“The state of the city is good,” said Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco this week.
The mayor discussed the city’s status as he was putting the finishing touches on a “State of the City” presentation set for Thursday, March 1, at 6pm at a Chamber of Commerce event at Old City Hall. He also is scheduled to give a free public presentation of his report on Saturday, March 3, at 10 a.m. in the Gilroy City Council chambers at City Hall, 7351 Rosanna Street.
“We are financially healthy, making investments for our future,” Velasco said. “Those future investments will pay off in terms of better services for our residents in the long term.”
“We are recovering” from the recession of 2008, Velasco said. “One of the the challenges for the city is the service demand that we are still experiencing.”
“Since the Great Recession, the population of Gilroy has continued to grow, but the number of employees to provide services to residents has not kept pace with the population growth.”
Velasco, a GIlroy native, previously served on the Gilroy City Council from 1997 to 2007 and again in 2014. He was elected to his first four-year as mayor in 2016.
He said Gilroy is working to change its image as a bedroom community. The downtown has seen recent additions to long-empty storefronts over the years, such as Golden State Brewery, Bartenders Union, Lazo Firearms and Consulting, and Book Buyers.
As mayor, Velasco has strived to draw more attention to the need for growth in the local business community.
“I think what I want to do is raise awareness regarding the importance of economic development in Gilroy,” Velasco said.
“Housing development by itself does not pay the bills. We need a multi-prong approach to making sure the long term financial sustainability of the city is there so we have to talk about economic development, what that means, and what we can do.”
While housing development might not pay the bills, this city is allowing the construction of several new infill projects like the 104-unit affordable-living apartment complex known as the Cannery at 111 Lewis Street, and the $700,00 single-family-home Cambridge Place development on Wren Avenue just south of the Gilroy Armory.
The infill projects fill vacant space within city limits compared to expanding regional borders and are in line with Measure H, a growth control measure approved by over 66 percent of Gilroy voters in 2016.
Despite the City Council’s 5-2 rejecting an extension of a residential development ordinance 5-2, which essentially slows growth until the adoption of the next General Plan, these projects will contribute crucial units in a statewide housing crisis.
“Gilroy I believe is doing more than our fair share right now,” Velasco said. “We have many approved projects, but are under construction. Those numbers are not counted until they are completed. While on the surface it might seem like we are behind, in reality we are at or doing better than what is required.”