State of the City: from ­housing to homelessness

It was my honor to give the State of the City address to the Concord Chamber of Commerce, in conversation with East Bay Leadership Council executive director Kristin Connelly.

We began with a look at Concord’s elevated regional profile and economic development efforts. Through city partnerships with entities like Visit Concord, our Tourism Business Improvement District, word is finally getting out about Concord’s great quality of life – as exemplified by “Concord’s Living Room,” Todos Santos Plaza. The heart of our vibrant downtown, the plaza attracts thousands annually to Music and Market concerts.

There is also buzz about new apartment complexes, like the under-construction Renaissance Phase II and the Grant apartments and Enclave townhomes poised to break ground. They will offer new homes that are more affordable than in much of the Bay Area.

Efforts are underway to grow Concord’s biomedical industry, including the recent increase in jobs and space leased by companies like Akesis and Cerus. I take economic development seriously, helping to provide business leads, assist with business retention or relocation and conduct outreach to Silicon Valley.

Turning to public safety, I acknowledged that like most California communities, Concord still faces car thefts, break-ins and petty property crimes. These are difficult to address due to 2014’s Prop. 47, which reclassified some former felonies as misdemeanors – making it hard to detain repeat offenders. However, violent crime rates remain low, and the Family Justice Center is helping combat domestic violence.

The Concord Police Department is focused on building strong relationships with the community through partnerships via the Monument Crisis Center to prevent youth gang involvement, placing resource officers in high schools and welcoming the Leaven to provide after-school programming at an apartment complex in the Monument. The PD also recently began the use of body and dash cameras to help ensure greater transparency.

The condition of Concord’s roads came up next. I was relieved to see SB1 transportation funds preserved in the November election, as that amounts to $2 million annually for Concord roads. By adding SB1 money to Measure Q dollars, Concord leverages these funds for regional and federal dollars to get as much bang for our roadwork buck as possible.

During our conversation, I emphasized that housing affordability and homelessness are issues across California and beyond, but the city of Concord is working hard to do our part. As mayor, I recently formed an ad hoc committee to develop proposed rental housing policies to be considered by the full council. Regarding homelessness, I reminded the audience that Concord is one of just two cities in the county with a full-service shelter. The county often locates services for the homeless in our community because of the shelter and Concord’s central location. I plan to dedicate an upcoming Pioneer column to homelessness.

When asked about the redevelopment of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station, I explained that the City Council continues to work with staff, Lennar/Five Point and the public to bring the community vision to fruition. I encouraged the public to remain active participants in development of the Specific Plan.

The final question was, “What makes you hopeful and excited about the year ahead as mayor of Concord?” I was thrilled to see a sell-out crowd of nearly 300 members of the business community present. That made me hopeful they were ready to consider applying for a city board, committee or commission, or to participate in the Concord Community Institute. It would be helpful to have business minds more deeply engaged as Concord assesses the opportunities and challenges our community is facing.

The entire State of the City address is available at www.cityofconcord.org.

Send questions and comments to Carlyn.Obringer@cityofconcord.org