In review of City activities in 2016 and anticipating 2017, the New Year is a good time to pause and reflect; it is of value for enlivening our optimism, trust, patience, civility, and motivation for forward progress. When reflecting on the state of our City, the significant contributions of so many City volunteers, staff and members of the public come to mind. If it were not for everyone's efforts, sustaining the City and our forward progress would be significantly more difficult, not as positive or successful.
2016 included a number of challenges that engaged residents and non-residents alike, drew media attention, consumed hours of meetings, and generated unanticipated activity for the City. With the topics involving the shared use of the roadways by bicyclists and motorists, matters involving surfer localism, removal of the unpermitted patio structure in Lunada Bay, locations for wireless cellular sites, temporary “do not drink” order from Cal Water, significant public interest in a variety of City Council/Commission/Committee decisions, and appeal in the CEPC v. City lawsuit - among several large and small matters that engaged the community, the City was a busy place. At times, the City was in a reactive mode, continually explaining and educating “why, where, when, how, and what” of what we do. However, it is important to recognize that this is a component of what government does. In reflecting on 2016, the institution of government is focused on responsiveness, process and policy for serving the public, hearing the public’s voice and acting in the public interest. Notably in 2016, following the leadership and direction of the City Council, the City worked hard to accomplish these foundational principles through service and focus on transparency, communications and responsiveness - fulfilling requests for records, meeting with residents, holding workshops, improving the website, creating FAQs on important topics, webcasting more meetings, utilizing social media, and talking with the media. It is important to see that there were many great accomplishments this year; Citywide, there is much to celebrate, including:
- The safe and peaceful enjoyment of living in Palos Verdes Estates, through the services provided by the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department.
- Continued preservation and maintenance of the City’s urban forest and parklands open space, maintained by the Urban Forester and Streets/Parks Maintenance personnel.
- Quality roadways under the purview of the Public Works Director/City Engineer and Streets/Parks Maintenance personnel.
- Stability of City finances maintained through reserves of 50% ($9 million) and an unqualified auditor’s opinion as managed by the Finance Department.
- Continued strong reliance on, and support of, neighborhood compatibility requirements, permitting processes, and code enforcement for maintaining community character as facilitated through the Planning Department.
- Well-maintained and financially strong recreational venues.
- The availability of and opportunity for public discourse in the forum of Council, Commission, and Committee meetings.
- Events for seniors sponsored by PVE-CARES including a concert in Lunada Bay Park, forums at the PV Golf Club, and the Annual Senior Health Fair.
- Annual Coastal Clean-Up Day with Heal the Bay, currently in the 31st year of partnership.
- Inaugural class of the Citizens Academy to educate residents on the inner workings of City Hall.
- Growth of the Disaster District Program and Neighborhood Amateur Radio Team.
- Three new Police volunteer programs: Volunteers in Patrol, Parkland Rangers and Department Chaplain.
- Decorative lighting in Malaga Cove Plaza.
- Completion of a community-wide survey providing valuable results and information.
- Agreement to install automated license plate readers that have resulted in enhanced policing on the Peninsula.
- Automation enhancements to the City’s payroll system through contracting with ADP.
- Paperless agenda packets.
- Creation of a 5-Year Capital Improvement Plan.
- Removal of the unpermitted Lunada Bay Patio Structure.
- Completion of Weed Abatement Project in Solano Canyon.
- Newly added irrigation to PV Drive West median.
- Increased coastline patrol.
- Environment Expo.
- Participation in the Peninsula-wide Disaster Preparedness Expo.
The opportunities that allowed:
- A Police Captain to attend the FBI National Academy.
- City staff training for working in the Emergency Operations Center.
- The City Clerk to earn credits towards master municipal clerk accreditation.
- Training for an active-shooter incident at Palos Verdes High School.
Looking ahead, 2017 is also shaping up to be an exciting year with new and continuing dialogue on a variety of topics of community interest. In welcoming and embracing the upcoming activity, the year will undoubtedly include challenges, include celebratory accomplishments, and will be dynamic. Of particular importance and core to our democracy is the municipal election in March. The City has a measure of critical significance on the ballot that asks voters to decide whether or not to continue funding fire and paramedic services through the existing special parcel tax. Passage requires 2/3rds voter approval. If the measure does not pass, the City will be addressing significant decisions for City budgeting and finances. Other 2016 topics and projects will continue into 2017, notably cell siting, roadway safety (inclusive of traffic studies and master planning), landscaping the north entrance triangle, matters related to tree management, Malaga Cove Plaza and Lunada Bay Plaza studies and improvements, employee contract negotiations, on-line plan-check for building permits, and hopefully, the resolution of lawsuits, among many work plan goals. There will also be new topics that we don’t anticipate. All that we do in 2017 will continue to be in the interest of public service, serving resident and public interests alike, and maintaining community character, the quality of life, and service excellence for residents of this great City and the public at large to accomplish these goals.
City officials and staff have the opportunity and privilege to provide public service. Together, we accomplished this in 2016 and will continue to do so in 2017. Happy New Year and wishing you the best for 2017.