Mayor upbeat about city’s future

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“The state of our city is strong and vibrant.”

So spoke Mayor Steve Jones during his State of the City address last week before a crowd of about 500 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove.

Mostly, though, Jones looked to the future of Garden Grove.

And the Garden Grove native and graduate of Rancho Alamitos High School is optimistic.

Dozens of business and civic projects are in the works; some are expected to be completed as early as this year or 2018.

“The state of our city is strong and vibrant.”

So spoke Mayor Steve Jones during his State of the City address last week before a crowd of about 500 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove.

Mostly, though, Jones looked to the future of Garden Grove.

And the Garden Grove native and graduate of Rancho Alamitos High School is optimistic.

Dozens of business and civic projects are in the works; some are expected to be completed as early as this year or 2018.

The biggest one of all is a $450 million project on Harbor Boulevard, south of Target, consisting of three hotels with 769 rooms. Jones called it, "The single largest, and hands-down most exciting development project Garden Grove has ever seen.”

Jones, 48, noted the difference between old ways of thinking about the local economy, and new ways.

Old ways, he said, involve traffic, traffic mitigation and the idea that people follow jobs.

That's changing, he said. Nowadays, people — especially up-and-coming millenials — look for location first, then a job and career.

That's where the idea of "Placemaking" comes into play. The plan is to make Garden Grove a desirable place to live, work, raise a family, shop and participate in recreational activities.

"We need to stop being slaves to our automobiles,” Jones said.

Toward that end, city staff are working to make Garden Grove friendly to walkers, bikers and those who favor public transportation.

Jones also addressed the new, seven-member council that serves individual districts; there used to be five council members serving at large. A district-driven council will be more concentrated on the distinct needs of neighborhoods, and more accountable to districts, Jones said.

And he sprinkled in some good news from 2016: for the first time in the city's history, the city's Transient Occupancy Tax exceeded its sales tax (The Great Wolf Lodge, erected fewer than two years ago at a $275 million price tag, is a big reason for this).

Jones ended his speech by emphasizing that there is no secret ingredient to making Garden Grove a successful city.

"We don't need a secret ingredient," he said.

Instead, he hammered home a simple point: it's every single person who lives and/or works in the city who makes it special.

So everyone… get to work. And have fun.

"I don't care how… sexy you are…" he said, smiling. “Let’s roll up our sleeves and get busy turning this city around.”