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Full Text of Monrovia Mayor Lutz' State of the City Speech

Full text of Monrovia Mayor Mary Ann Lutz' State of the City speech at the Krikorian Theater last night:


Good evening, and thank you for being here as we take a look at the State of our City in 2014.

I want to first and foremost thank the rest of the City Council: Mayor Pro Tem Becky Shevlin, and Councilmembers Tom Adams, Alexander Blackburn and Larry Spicer, City Clerk Alice Atkins, and City Treasurer Steve Baker.

These are extraordinary individuals who have devoted their time to helping Monrovia families.

Like everyone here tonight, they are committed to making Monrovia great and investing in our future. They are dedicated servants and I am proud to serve with them on Team Monrovia.

Thank you School Board members for being here tonight... What an incredible impact you have on our youth.

Members of the Planning Commission, Community Services Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Old Town Advisory Board, Library Board, Teen Advisory Board, and Youth Commission, thank you for your service.

And thank you to Corey, my husband of 34 years, for being here tonight.

There are those here in this auditorium who volunteer countless hours to Monrovia. Our service clubs: I see Kiwanians, Rotarians, Knights of Columbus, Quota Club, and MAP Neighborhood Leaders here. Without a second thought, you give of your time. You give your money. You give of yourself. Thank you for the support you so gracefully offer.

I see students, teachers, and our School District staff here tonight.

With passion, you have chosen to put your energy in Monrovia’s future, our youth.

As I look at the future of the City, I feel comforted knowing they are well-trained, well-coached, well-educated, and well-looked after.

I look out and see many of our local business owners and entrepreneurs. You chose Monrovia. You see the potential and the importance of being here. We thank you and support you. We want to help you grow your business, create more employment, and build upon the investment you have already made.

And I see our own City employees here tonight. You have been asked to take on more, expand beyond your reach, and have done so adeptly and humbly. We thank you for your service to Monrovia.

Over the past several years, Monrovia has endured many obstacles.

The economy, the State, Mother Nature, unlucky circumstance, and the winds of change have swept through our City. And yet here we are, as strong as ever before.

With the loss of Redevelopment, we refocused our energies on Economic Development.

With the turnover in Staff, we came together as Team Monrovia does, to focus on efficiencies, conducting a City-wide organizational study.

With budget constraints, we began budget study sessions to get a complete financial picture in order to move forward.

And with an eye on services, we focused our efforts strategically in Plan Monrovia.

We are a forward thinking community.

Last year we asked you what the City should focus on over the next five years.

Plan Monrovia is a joint vision from the Community and the Council to decide which efforts would maximize our future success.

Overwhelmingly your response was a focus on Economic Development, and we as a Council couldn’t agree more.

Let’s focus on business.

Let’s focus on jobs and job development.

The City of Monrovia provides services to the community based on sales and property tax revenue. Sales tax revenue accounts for 30% of our general fund. The better our businesses do, the more our community thrives.

Our Chamber is here tonight, including newly elected Chamber President Jennifer Stone, and can we take a second and give all of our Chamber members a round of applause?

Every quarter the Chamber hosts a small business seminar, and each month they not only personally welcome every new business to town, but provide opportunities for businesses to get together and network.

They continually encourage us to shop local, and have increased much of our business to business transactions.

Local business is so important. I have personally visited businesses to check in... see what they need and how we can help.

We want to be a partner in your success, and good relationships and open communication make that happen.

3Our mission is to strengthen Monrovia’s economy and tax base by proactively retaining and attracting businesses in Old Town... around the Gold Line Station Square... and along Huntington Drive.

We are proud to provide streamlined permitting and plan check processing.

Monrovia welcomed 216 new businesses in 2013, and 15 last month alone.

This includes great new developments like: the Panera, Chipotle, Smashburger at their location on Huntington Drive; the Del Taco and Car Wash soon to open near Mountain Avenue; and last year we welcomed our very first microbrewery to town.

There are many reasons that businesses choose Monrovia. Businesses here have employees who live in our beautiful Old Town district and walk to work. Others bring in international clients to stay at our hotels and dine in our great restaurants. Mt. Sierra designers will one day ride the Gold Line into town and spend their days on a brand new campus.

Old Town provides such an alluring shopping and dining experience with destination retailers and business services. I would like to take a moment to thank all of our Old Town merchants for their hard work in creating such a unique destination.

But our businesses are not the only ones helping spur economic development efforts.

Our schools become feeder organizations for these businesses, building a pool of innovative, hard-working and entrepreneurial-minded employees. The Monrovia Adult School, ROP, and Mt. Sierra College are providing curriculums and training that directly correlate to skills our local businesses are looking to hire.

Our Monrovia Public Library provides valuable services and training for job seekers. For these and many other reasons, we are one of LA Counties’ Most Business Friendly cities, and we want to keep it that way.

In order to retain all of our great amenities, Economic Development cannot be our only focus. You also said a main focus for the City of Monrovia should be our environment. I agree.

In 2011, I became a proud owner of an electric vehicle. I bought the car from a local dealership, and contracted for the installation of a charging station from a local high-tech company, AeroVironment, who made charging stations long before they were cool.

It’s much easier to go green when the local infrastructure and businesses support it. And we are proud to say that our business community is behind this commitment as well.


The Monrovia community expressed the ultimate commitment to the environment 14 years ago when we passed a bond measure to protect our hillsides, creating a preserve that would keep it free from development and open for us all to enjoy.

After a long wait, the first two trails in the Wilderness Preserve opened last year. This weekend you can make a trip up to our hillside and enjoy what you have spent years proudly earning.

Julian Fisher Park is well underway for improvements... after receiving a quarter million dollar grant to replace the playground equipment thanks to LA County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

Thanks to hardworking staff and volunteers, our Haunted Hikes in Canyon Park came back after a 5-year hiatus, spookier than ever.

Canyon Park was named one of the top 10 places to see in LA by KPCC.

Plus, thanks to a tip from Penny Katz, a local resident, look for replacement play equipment at Grand Avenue park, acquired at significant savings by our Public Works Department.

Energy Efficiency

I am proud to announce that Monrovia is the 5 th participating City in Los Angeles County to receive a Gold Level award for energy efficiency from the ...San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments... and Southern California Edison.

Since 2010, the City’s Green team has been steadfastly looking for ways to be more efficient. Through their creative efforts, we have reduced our energy output by over 10%, saving 1.3 million kilowatt hours of energy from City facilities. That is enough to power 191 homes for one year... saving the city about $33,000 in annual energy costs.

Our lighted traffic signals are now equipped with photocells. The HVAC units at the Community Center are more efficient. We have made upgrades to three of our water well pumps and water booster pumps. Not to mention that we have an accumulated energy savings of $195,000 for the City since 2006... and taken in $28,000 in incentives this last year.

This year our Old Town will be equipped with all new LED lighting. We started last year, and so far over 400 of the 750 bulbs have already been replaced. Through this project we make huge strides towards reaching Platinum status in energy efficiency, just the second city in LA County to get there.

We have always been a leader in our region.

Water & Stormwater

Just weeks ago, the Governor declared a State of Emergency... asking for cities to conserve water. Monrovia is conserving. Our Water for Life programs and 20% reduction by 2020 goals are already in place.

During this time of drought, we will do even more to conserve, because we approach it as a team.

Just look at our approach to stormwater.

The stormwater permit as it stands is a seemingly insurmountable unfunded mandated put upon us by the State. It is not the only unfunded mandate, but it is the most expensive we have seen in some time.

I want you to know that I have teamed up with our representatives in Sacramento and DC, and other Mayors across the country. We are leading the way to ensure that when these decisions are made, more than just policy is taken into consideration, but also the fiscal impact these policies have on a community.

We do not disagree with the spirit of the stormwater permit, it is important to protect our water sources, our rivers, spreading grounds and oceans. And we are moving forward to achieve that. Soon the City will have a Green Street Policy and Development Standards that will increase water infiltration and stop trash and other material from going downstream.

More than ever, it is so important that we realize we are not operating on our own, and focus on partnership.

This year we graduated 13 new MAP Neighborhood Leaders and 24 Youth Leaders.

Hundreds came to our annual neighborhood conference, proving that so many of our residents have seen the value of contributing to our City, through partnership. The National Day of volunteering, Make a Difference Day, is a partnership between many of our City’s service organizations and hundreds of residents willing to sacrifice a Saturday morning to help those less fortunate.

The third annual New Years’ Eve Event was a partnership of our Old Town Merchants, and the result is a fantastic, fun and safe event to ring in the New Year.

Same goes for the Taste of Old Town, sponsored by Kiwanis, and Healthy Kids Day, sponsored by the YMCA.

Our Oversight Board is a partnership of the City, County, and Schools to ensure that we properly unwind from Redevelopment.

This year I am so happy to announce another great partnership, with the City of Arcadia.

Two years ago, our Fire Department, with the Los Angeles County Fire Chiefs Association, sought to build a state of the art training facility right here in Monrovia. This is one of the most active fire seasons we have seen in a long time, a reason why it is so important that all of our staff are properly trained. It is my pleasure to announce that construction of the training facility at Station 102 is currently underway.

Utilizing multiple scenario training rooms, the training tower will be open to agencies all over LA County. With a cutting-edge virtual conference center, Monrovia will be able to cross train with other Fire Departments without ever leaving the City.

All of this is made possible at no cost to Monrovia thanks to several different grant sources and the City of Arcadia. Arcadia Fire Chief Kurt Norwood is here tonight and I would like to say thank you for all of your support.

Madison Fire

In May of last year, the Madison Fire hit our hillsides, and while it wasn’t the biggest fire of the season, we are certainly feeling the impact. The Madison Fire spread to 125 acres over two days and took over 200 firefighters from multiple agencies to quell. It spread quickly, over difficult terrain. Thanks to low wind and the rapid response from our Fire Department, not one resident, home, or structure was harmed.

The fire burned everything along the hillside, and without vegetation, the area has become susceptible to mudslides. Thanks to mutual aid efforts from LA County Public Works, we were able to put in mitigation efforts to ensure that even after the fire, no residents, homes, or structures are harmed.

For those of you who do not know or live up near these neighborhoods... there is now over 5,000 feet of K-Rail surrounding homes near the fire to mitigate effects of potential mudslides.

I would like to address the residents living in the Madison Fire area: Thank you.

Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your understanding. K-Rail is not an easy thing to live with, we know that, and are working on ways to speed up the seeding process so you can get your neighborhood back.

Tonight I want to thank our Police and Fire Department for the extraordinary work that they do, along with all of the volunteers who help right alongside them.

Monrovia is a safe community. It’s a safe community because every day we have hardworking men and women ensuring that it stays that way.

9Our gang injunction is working, thanks to our SET team and officers on Patrol. In 2011, 12,000 state prisoners were released into communities in Los Angeles County. Every city has felt an impact from the prison realignment. We have work very closely with LA County, the Department of Probation, and our elected officials to make sure our streets are safe. We have made great strides through a regional effort with the West San Gabriel Valley Anti-Crime Task force.

Monrovia is vigilant and proactive, and the results of those efforts are extraordinary.

We are experiencing the lowest crime rate we have seen in 30 years. Our annually reported Part 1 crime, which includes violent crime and property crime, is down 16% from last year. This is due largely to partnership and the proactive steps we have taken to address criminal issues.

Neighbors are becoming more active through the MAP program. Neighborhood Watch Captains are staying alert, calling in when they see something happen in their neighborhood. Code Enforcement inspections and Community Policing efforts are educating landlords on how to pick good tenants. The Monrovia Community Mediation Team continues to come together to address issues before they become major concerns.

All of these efforts, combined with our Patrol have made Monrovia the safest we have seen in quite some time.

Youth Employment Service

The City’s Youth Employment Service (YES) is just another way that we are tackling public safety head on.

By providing summer jobs for at-risk youth, we have successfully reduced tardiness and absenteeism rates for those in the program, and they in turn increased their GPAs.

Many of these youth have gone on to college, or successfully found jobs.

These proactive programs are key. It is so important to reach people before they reach our prison system.

The YES program is a success, and last year Monrovia won the Helen Putnam Award from the League of California Cities, receiving statewide recognition for our efforts and proactive take on youth intervention.


Safety takes a combination of the right officers and giving them the right tools. So we are focusing on technology:

• IPad technology for Fire inspections...
• Electronic hospital reporting for the Fire Department Paramedics...
• Personal video cameras and in-car computers to enhance officer safety...
• Emergency radio communications for our Park Rangers...
• Tools to maximize efficiency for officers writing reports...
• And a $250,000 grant to redo our Dispatch Center...

We’re giving the technology to our residents as well.

Nixle... the emergency text alert notification system. If you have not already signed up, please do so.

We want to keep you updated. it’s why we updated and reorganized our website. Its why we value our social media outlets, It’s why we’ve provided you free Wi-Fi at our facilities, and expanded workshops at the Library that focus on the benefits of technology. It’s why we built a City app so that you know what is going on in our community.

Let’s stay connected.

Many here tonight grew up in Monrovia, understand its history, and seek to preserve it for the next generation. It comes as no surprise to me that Historic Preservation was named as one of Monrovia’s top priorities.

We wholeheartedly commit to the preservation of our historic homes, structures, sites, and districts with sensitivity to the context in which they sit.

Right here in Library Park we celebrated the 100 th birthday last year of our Moreton Bay Fig. Historic preservation creates an investment in property improvements, increases historic tourism, and an improves property values.

40 years ago our City was rebounding. The Age of Redevelopment saw a revitalization of Old Town, the installation of a high-tech corridor, and a focus on creating a safer, more vibrant City.

We balanced retail and development with preservation. We kept our past in mind. And moving forward, it is our responsibility to maintain that balance.

Over the next few years, Monrovia is going to once again enjoy the development of public improvements. Our redevelopment properties are poised for opportunity. Private development is taking off. But there is one thing on all of our minds: GOLD LINE.

This 11.5 mile extension of the light rail system through the San Gabriel Valley will usher in over 1 million riders through Monrovia every month. It creates accessibility to Monrovia we have never had before, and changes the landscape of our town.

But we don’t see those results right now. Right now, we are enduring the inconvenience of construction. Myrtle Avenue is closed, and soon we will see temporary closures at Mountain and Magnolia. Remember, businesses are open here and we encourage you to support them during the construction months.

These temporary constructions zones, however, will lead to long-term benefits for the City. The Metro Gold Line Operations Campus is scheduled to be completed in the Fall of 2015, and the line is turned over to METRO at the end of next year. In fact, just today, Gold Line announced 50% completion of the Foothill extension construction from Pasadena to Azusa.

Station Square

I see more than the 11.5 mile light rail extension, Maintenance and Operations Campus, and 344 space parking lot. I see opportunity.

Monrovia is the only City along the line with $25 million to improve the area around our station, and you better believe we are going to take full advantage of that. Station Square will bring public gathering spaces, enhanced bike routes, green streets, more street trees, public art, new residential development, and a vastly improved intersection at Myrtle and Duarte.

We will become the premiere destination along the foothills by investing in ourselves by investing in public improvements. It will all center around a very important and historic structure right in the middle of this change, the very Santa Fe Depot that tugs at our heart strings. Our commitment to historic preservation means that the area will focus not just on economic development and utilize sustainable methods, but will mirror the historic nature of the Depot and our beautiful Old Town.

Gold Line and Station Square are amazing projects. Much of what we focus on and highlight is centered on the amenities that make Monrovia stand out. But our infrastructure, our backbone, cannot be ignored. In fact, it must be placed at the forefront of our decision-making.

Our infrastructure and facilities provide Monrovia residents, business and visitors with vital comforts: Our streets, traffic signals, street lights, water lines, sewer systems, storm drains, parks, and even our own City buildings.

We use these systems every day, and we have committed to develop a program for long-term maintenance, prioritizing these systems so that you never have to worry about them.

It starts with deferred maintenance. We need to repair or replace what can no longer be patched or ignored. Next comes studies to create Capital Improvement plans to assure our infrastructure is reliable and its useful life is extended as long as possible.

This year, thanks to Federal funds we procured in 2011, the remainder of Huntington Drive will be completely repaved. I would like to welcome our new Public Works Director, Carl Hassel, who has come on board to help us bring these projects to life.

Plan Monrovia sets ambitious goals. I would have expected nothing less from this town I love. In order to ensure we meet all of these goals, Monrovia must have a sound fiscal plan.

Fiscal responsibility has always been a top priority. The good news is: Our sales tax and property taxes are up and trending towards pre-recession levels; Our business base is diverse and stable; And we have adopted a structurally balanced budget.

But we still face challenges. Over the past six months, the City Council and I have sat through multiple budget study sessions. Budgets are complicated and there are many aspects to consider. We still need to maintain adequate reserves for economic uncertainty. Right now our reserve level is at 14% of the general fund; Our goal is 20%.

We have brought in over $2 million in grant funding last year alone, but we need to be able to fund ongoing costs with ongoing revenues. I am happy to report that all of our employees are paying their full share of pension costs, but pension costs are still expected to rise.

We are four months into an organizational study that will allow us to look at where we can streamline internally and become more efficient. This means utilizing the support of volunteers, like the 370 volunteer applications we received last year. We will need to look at ways to contain our costs or generate new revenues.

The City of Monrovia has faced unprecedented change over the past few years. Every City in California has. What sets us apart is the way we have responded.

Change is difficult. It is uncomfortable. But change is what makes us great. In the winds of change comes opportunity.

We are in the process of naming a new City Manager. In the meantime, I want to thank our Interim City Manager Fran Delach who brought with him wisdom, expertise and energy into City Hall. We wish you could stay.

This year we said goodbye to our long-time Community Services Director April Soash. That kind of spirit and dedication isn’t easily replaceable, but this year we will name her successor.

Last year we processed over 1,100 building permits, up 55% from 2012. We are starting to see the result of the economic recovery this year with new developments, residential improvements, and further investment in our community.

15BMW is expanding. Miyachi Unitek is renovating a new facility at the corner of Myrtle and Duarte Road which will further improve our transit village area. The development at one of the most travelled entryways to our City at 5 th and Huntington should begin this year. And soon we will welcome new residents into Old Town at 18 new units at the corner of Ivy and Olive Avenues.

Opportunities with business attraction abound, and we are keen to attract more high-tech companies and startups to add to the intellectual capital already here. We are also investing in our health. We joined City of Hope’s Foothill Fitness Challenge, and brought the most number of participants of any foothill City.

I am so excited to tell you that just two weeks ago, Monrovia was awarded $25,000 from the US Conference of Mayors to form a partnership with the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and School District, creating Fit Together, aimed at keeping our Monrovia youth healthy and active.

As eager as I am for all of the opportunities before us, success in Monrovia is never assured. It is the result of hard work, collaboration, and daring leadership. We must all pitch in and play a role.

As we work together, it is my hope that our path forward will focus on our hopes rather than fears, on our ideas rather than our limitations, and be grounded in our creativity, passion, and desire to be better.

It is my hope that we will meet our challenges head on, and bring to life both the opportunities before us and those we haven’t even imagined yet.

That we will constantly strive to grow this place we call home- Monrovia.

Thank you Team Monrovia, and good night.

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