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Mayor Burton Authors 'State of the City'

Dec 23, 2015 09:05PM ● Published by Jeanne Fratello

Manhattan Beach Mayor Mark Burton


Editor's note: This piece was originally written for The Beach Reporter. It is used with the permission of Mayor Burton.

By Mark Burton, Mayor, City of Manhattan Beach

As your mayor, I am humbled by, and grateful for, the privilege, opportunity and responsibility to serve the residents of this very special and unique community – the city of Manhattan Beach. Quite frankly, serving for me is a profound joy.

Today, I believe we are the best city to raise your family, live and successfully age. As a resident once told me “Manhattan Beach, God’s plenty is here!” We are blessed with great weather, a beautiful beach, great schools and wonderful places of worship. We are a community that is safe. We, as residents, are kind, generous, well informed, thoughtful, respectful, well mannered, friendly, neighborly and most of all, accepting and inclusive.

As the city’s leaders, we must take the long view so that the Manhattan Beach of tomorrow is as great as our city is today. In coordination and collaboration with the community and the city staff, it is our shared responsibility to have a long-term vision for the city and to plan strategically for our future. And, the best way to predict the future is to create it.

To that end, in 2016, we are poised to secure the future of Manhattan Beach, while preserving our hometown character, ready to seize opportunities that will allow us to provide exemplary city services today and tomorrow.

Here are just a few of the topics of interest your City Council will be addressing in 2016:

Keeping us safe: public safety is job No. 1

A city’s first duty is to protect its residents. As we know, public safety is the cornerstone to Manhattan Beach being such a great city. MBPD is the finest beach city police department in California and we will ensure that it continues to be, so that we are the safest beach city in California. To that end, we will be considering the following initiatives:

  • Foot beat patrols: In early 2016, the police department will develop and present to City Council a foot beat deployment plan for regular and random foot beat patrols in Downtown MB, North Manhattan Beach and the mall. Foot beat patrols have long been recognized as a very effective community policing tool that fits perfectly with our small town character in Manhattan Beach.
  • Security cameras: In early 2016, the police department will present to City Council a plan for security cameras at critical points of ingress and egress to our city and other strategic areas within our city. Security cameras with automated license plate-reading capability are well recognized as an effective crime deterrent and apprehension tool.
  • Security camera database: In early 2016, the police department will present to City Council a program to register all security cameras in our city with the MBPD, including residential, commercial and retail locations, so that the police department will have a database of all security cameras to help prevent crime and solve crimes
  • Neighborhood Watch program: This year, the City Council will join the efforts of the police department and Neighborhood Watch to “paint the town orange” so that 100 percent of the blocks in our city are participating in our Neighborhood Watch Program. Remember, our police department’s motto is “no call is too small.” Please call 911 when you see any activity that is out of the ordinary or suspicious in your neighborhood.
  • MBPD strategic plan: The police department will be presenting to City Council, for adoption, its strategic plan that outlines the goals of the department for the next three years.

Economic vitality

One of the most important partnerships we can have as a city is with our business community. With sales tax being our second largest source of revenue, we must always be mindful to give our full support to our business community and, more importantly, strive to foster economic vitality throughout our city’s several commercial corridors. To that end, we will be focusing on several business-friendly initiatives this year, including:

  • Creation of an Economic Development Advisory Committee (“EDAC”) comprised of prominent and successful business leaders from our community. The EDAC is the type of forward-thinking public/private partnership that will result in Manhattan Beach being one of the most business friendly cities in Southern California.
  • Potential development of a high-quality lifestyle hotel on Parkview Avenue
  • Encouraging development of the Rosecrans corridor as a business/high tech campus and world headquarters for innovation
  • Renovation of the Manhattan Village Mall
  • Selection of an economic vitality manager

Needed municipal buildings

Many of our city’s buildings were built a generation or more ago and are in desperate need of replacement. Here are some of the municipal buildings we will be focused on this year:

There are major municipal building projects on the horizon that the city can no longer afford to delay, these include: a new Fire Station No. 2, possibly a Fire Station of the future with urgent-care functionality; a modern municipal swimming pool, the city would have programming priority for the needs of the community; and conduct a feasibility study for the construction of a new city hall with sufficient underground parking for all city, library and downtown employees, thereby freeing up the parking capacity for downtown and alleviating parking in our residential neighborhoods.

Manhattan Beach’s iconic pier and roundhouse will undergo extensive renovations in 2016. These renovations will include: replacement of utilities, repair and painting of railings, upgrades to the LED lighting, installation of surveillance cameras and a state-of-the-art life ring station. The roundhouse will receive new windows, doors and shutters and the exterior will be painted. The pier comfort station’s interior and exterior will also be renovated. Finally, the city will be working with OTS and their major donor on a complete remodel of the existing OTS Aquarium.

Fiscal sustainability

Although the city takes pride in its financial position, we are not a wealthy city. In fact, we do not have a robust capital improvement plan with designated depreciation accounts for projects such as our several municipal buildings. Also, the city’s finances are not immune to economic downturns and we need to examine new revenue sources to support being able to provide exemplary city services and a robust capital improvement plan. To that end, we will explore the following:

In order to remain fiscally solvent for future years to come, it is crucial the city explore developing long-term sustainable revenue streams, such as: a potential city facilities bond, a three-quarter cent sales tax increase, raising the Transient Occupancy Tax to 14 percent and other alternatives.

The council approved a two-year budget process beginning in FY 16/17. This is going to be a great process that offers the following advantages: 1) greater emphasis on management and service delivery; 2) greater emphasis on program evaluation and monitoring; 3) improved long-term planning; 4) relocation of human resources to more value-added activities other than budget preparation; and 5) reduction in staff time spent on budget development.

Environmental stewardship

For years, our city has been recognized as a leader in environmental stewardship. This year continues that legacy with the city forging ahead in the following areas:

Introduce a new climate action plan by conducting a comprehensive energy audit of city facilities with the goal of being a net zero and carbon neutral city before being mandated by the state.

Pursue the city’s commitment to working with Los Angeles County and partner cities to complete a countywide Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) study to determine the feasibility of the program that would result in 100 percent renewable energy.

Continue to purchase street lights from Southern California Edison, and explore the possibility of changing the lamps to LED’s and develop a “smart” network utilizing the street lights.

Provide education and conduct outreach to all affected multi-dwelling units and tobacco retailers to educate and enforce the newly enacted smoking ordinances and tobacco retail license program.

Community development

As we walk our city, it is evident that construction is at an all time high. It is important to manage this growth in a strategic and smart way. To that end, the city will be revisiting the topic of mansionization in early 2016. Other areas in community development will include, but are not limited to the following:

Our downtown specific plan to secure the charm of our small beach town character, while remaining economically viable, for years to come.

The city needs to be proactive in looking at development opportunities for a potential five-star hotel, as well as looking at existing or new hotels within the city.

Establish a vibrant commercial corridor along Sepulveda Boulevard through a Sepulveda specific plan process, which will incorporate a complete streets concept to create a sustainable economic engine for the city.

The Community Development department has been directed to prepare the final draft of the city’s mobility plan to address multi-modal citywide transportation and circulation issues.

Governance

In 2016, your City Council will continue its transformation into becoming a “Let’s Get Things Done” City Council, rather than a “Let’s Hear Ourselves Talk” City Council. We will continue to strive to conduct all city business with the highest degree of professionalism, integrity, competence and transparency. Our goal is to be a high-performing City Council, operating with the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.

Our sunshine policy, civility policy and meeting management policy will be fully implemented in 2016, enabling an open government, transparent in all its actions. You can be certain that this City Council “Tells It Like It Is.” Public comment will continue to be heard at the beginning, so that all residents will have an opportunity to participate in our City Council meetings.

Our City Manager, Mr. Mark Danaj, is a next generation city manager, who follows City Council direction and implements that direction. He and his staff continue to evolve into a very efficient and productive team with great capacity and innovation, all while respecting the will of the council and all the residents they represent.

Concluding remarks

My colleagues on the City Council and I, together with our city manager, his staff and all city employees, thank you for the opportunity to serve this community. We appreciate and cherish this opportunity to serve such a great community.

I invite you to take the opportunity to become informed about what’s going on in your city by visiting the city’s website at CityMB.info and sign up for e-notifications for any number of subject areas. As always, please feel free to contact me at mburton@citymb.info regarding any city matter or just to chat! I am forever MB for MB!

I hope you, your family and the ones you love are blessed with good health, success and peace in 2016! Please remember “Life is good … in Manhattan Beach!”


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