The theme of this year’s State of the City is “Focus on Recovery: Rising above a Pandemic in Ventura”. We are now 6 months into this pandemic, and all of our lives have been impacted in immeasurable ways. I hear story after story of the personal ways COVID-19 has impacted so many individuals, families and businesses in our community, and it breaks my heart – because so many of our friends and our family are struggling right now.
And I can only hope that through this despair, we find opportunities for progress and improvement. I am someone who always looks for the silver lining in difficult situations, and I believe that despite the challenges we are facing today, we can find opportunities to create a more prosperous tomorrow.
I hope many of you come to share my belief that although it has been an incredibly tough year for the City, we are well positioned for an effective recovery, and more importantly, the groundwork has been laid for future success in 2021 and beyond.
City Facilities have now been closed for close to 6 months, our commitment to serving the community and its residents hasn’t stopped. When COVID-19 hit, the City quickly transitioned operations to re-imagine City services in order to support online services for residents and businesses. The City isn’t satisfied with simply providing the same service as before, we are seeking to be better. We have aimed to improve operations, and to close service and technology gaps.
We initially struggled – the transition to digital, to moving all of our operations online was difficult and there were hiccups and delays. And I know this stressed the patience of many in our community. But we persevered. We fast tracked, we went online, we streamlined, and we accomplished all of this with a staff largely working from home. And although there were definite problems in the first months after COVID forced the City to completely change the way it did business, I believe the system we currently have in place will serve us incredibly well as we transition from recovery to future successes.
In the last 27 weeks, the City Council has had 23 council meetings, there have been 47 Boards, Commissions & Committee Meetings, and there have been numerous Administrative Hearings held by our planning department. The bottom line is that the people’s business has continued, and the City has taken extensive steps to keep important projects moving forward by adjusting our process to meet the needs of our new COVID realities.
Our crime rates are at a 20-year low thanks to the courageous and proactive work of the brave men and women who serve as our police officers. Our firefighters respond to close to 18,000 calls a year, and work around the clock to protect us. Our Public Works department continues to repair close to 50 miles of roads and sidewalks every year. Our Parks department maintains the City’s 30 parks and ensures we have access to safe and clean outdoor space. I take immense pride in the hard work of each and every City employee, and I know they are all committed to improving the quality of life here in Ventura.
It is hard to believe my 4 years on the City Council is coming to an end. For a hometown kid, it truly has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as Ventura’s Mayor. We endured so much as a City the past 4 years, from the Thomas Fire to the COVID pandemic. But we have always remained Ventura Strong, and my faith in this City and its people has never been stronger.