The State of the City is strong, and over the last two years Gilroy has steadily and strategically prepared itself for the future. We are moving up and to the right!
Gilroy businesses describe an incredible growth curve.
Our median income is up to nearly $87,000. Our unemployment rate is 3 percent as of December. Most economists will tell you this is considered full employment. Our vacancy rate of industrial property is down to 1.5 percent, which is excellent. We are running out of space to accommodate companies interested in a Gilroy location.
Sales tax revenue has continued to increase and exceeds pre-recession revenues with over $1.7 billion taxable sales annually. Over 1,400 Gilroy kids participated in recreational youth sports. Nearly 15 new food and retail establishments have opened or expanded.
We approved over 44,000 square feet of commercial space and over 184,000 square feet of industrial floor area space. Our police and fire answered over 45,000 calls for services.
City Hall issued over 1,000 fire code permits. We collected over 120 tons of trash during the encampment cleanups.
The number of unreinforced masonry buildings has seen a significant decrease, from 40 in 2012 to five as of February 2019.
One of the most visible construction activities going on in Gilroy right now is the First Street water line replacement and resurfacing project. This is all part of the city’s ongoing program to improve our infrastructure. Meanwhile, city staff is working very closely with Caltrans to rebuild and repave First Street, which is scheduled to start this summer when the waterline project is complete.
I believe communication and engagement with our residents is essential for healthy communities. In fact, bridging the gap between residents and the decisions of City Hall was a cornerstone of my campaign for mayor.
So we are discarding the traditional public information model. We have increased our efforts to provide accurate and timely information across city channels including Facebook, Twitter, Nextdoor and the weekly Email Express, and adopted new approaches to our Spanish-speaking community, including translation of messaging and boosted Spanish Facebook posts.
The development of a vibrant downtown has been an important goal of the City Council.
We have increased power washing of sidewalks and added parking lot directional signs. We have partnered with the Welcome Center on wayfinding signs, with the Bicycle Pedestrian Commission on new artistic bike racks throughout the downtown area and with the Gilroy Downtown Business Association for a bike fix-it station.
One hundred and fifty—that’s how old Gilroy will be in 2020. I’ve initiated a kick-off committee to start planning for our 150th birthday celebration. Early conversations seem to be centered on a series of birthday themed events during the entire year with a big celebration on March 12, the day the city became incorporated. The committee will be meeting throughout the year preparing for this milestone.
We are a city of promise and hope. We are a city on the verge of major changes in City Hall, in our downtown, making improvements on city infrastructure, and on restoring trust and faith in our elected officials.
We don’t ignore our challenges but rather we confront them. We try and sometimes we fail, but we don’t give up. Our success comes when we stay on course and we act as one.
Mayor Roland Velasco delivered a longer version of this guest view as the 2019 State of the City speech March 7. To read the full text of his speech, visit gilroydispatch.com.