2012 MAYOR'S STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS

    

Full Text of Mayor Bozajian's Address:

 

I.  Opening Matters

Welcome

Good evening, and welcome to the 2012 Calabasas State of the City Address.

Introduction of Calabasas City Councilmembers

Let me start by introducing my fellow City Councilmembers:

Mayor Pro Tem Mary Sue Maurer.
Councilmember Fred Gaines.
Councilmember Lucy Martin.
And Councilmember David Shapiro.

Introduction & Recognition of Dignitaries

There are several public officials who have joined us here tonight, and I’d like to take a few moments to recognize them.  Please hold your applause until all introductions have been made.

Pledge of Allegiance

At this time, I’m going to invite Brownie Troop 1419 from Viewpoint School to lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

II.  Structure of City Government

Let’s begin by briefly reviewing the structure of our municipal government.

City Council

The City of Calabasas is governed by 5 Councilmembers who are elected to serve staggered, 4-year terms.  The Council selects 1 of its members to serve as Mayor every year.

City Commissions

There are presently 8 standing commissions which advise the Council on various matters pertaining to City government.  They are:

The Communications & Technology Commission.
The Environmental Commission.
The Historic Preservation Commission.
The Library Commission.
The Parks, Recreation & Education Commission.
The Planning Commission.
The Public Safety Commission.
And the Traffic & Transportation Commission.

Commissioners are appointed by Councilmembers.  The citizens who serve on these commissions generously volunteer their time in order to contribute to the well-being and improvement of our community.  There are also a large number of residents who volunteer their services to the City in other capacities.  Many of our commissioners are here tonight in person, and I would ask that they stand and be recognized for their excellent work. 

City Staff

Calabasas presently employs 98 full-time and 175 part-time employees.  These staff members are charged with implementing the policy directives of the Council, and conduct the City’s daily operations.

The staff is divided into several different departments, including:

Administrative Services.
City Attorney.
City Clerk.
Community Development.
Community Services.
Finance.
Media Operations.
Public Safety.
And Public Works.

 

All City operations are overseen by City Manager Tony Coroalles.

Please join me in thanking our staff for their service and dedication to Calabasas.

Homeowners Associations & Citizens

The Council actively seeks input from more than 50 homeowners associations and the residents they represent in making its policy decisions.

III.  Projected Sources of General Fund Revenue & Expenditures

Fiscal Year 2011-12

Now, let’s take a look at the projected sources of the City’s revenue for fiscal year 2011-12.

Revenue

  • Sales Tax (Calabasas receives 1 cent for each dollar spent by consumers):  30%

  • Utility Tax (assessed at 5% of gas, electric & phone bills):  17%

  • Property Tax (Calabasas receives 4.17% of each dollar assessed):  14%

  • Automobile Registration Fees (Calabasas receives 0.65% of a vehicle’s assessed value):  10%

  • Parks & Recreation:  7%

  • Transient Occupancy Tax (assessed at 12% of hotel rentals):  6%

  • Permit Fees (including building, planning, engineering & film):  5%

  • Franchise Fees (cable, gas & electric):  4%

  • Interest Income:  2%

  • Fines & Forfeitures:  1%

  • Property Transfer Tax (Calabasas receives 27.5 cents for every $500 in property sales):  1%

  • Other:  3%

Let’s turn to the projected sources of our expenditures for fiscal year 2011-12.

Expenditures

  • Payroll Services (employee salaries & related expenses):  43%

  • Law Enforcement (contract with Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department):  21%

  • General Services & Non-Departmental (including general overhead & facilities maintenance):  14%

  • Public Works, Capital Improvements, Transportation & Engineering:  8%

  • Parks & Recreation:  5%

  • Planning & Building:  4%

  • City Attorney:  2%

  • Media Operations:  1%

  • Administrative Services (including City Clerk, human resources & special projects):  1%

  • Finance:  1%

IV.  Calabasas: Tidbits & Trivia

Because it was such a popular feature of my last State of the City Address in 2008, how about some Calabasas tidbits and trivia?Most of these statistics are based on the 2010 national census

Population: 25,709.

Area: 13.7 square miles.

Average elevation: 796 feet.

Median age: 41.6 years old.

Population <18 years old:  25%.

Population 65+ years old:  13%.

Average household income:  $165,611.

Household income <$10,000:  3%.

Household income >$200,000:  27%.

Median home value: $885,100.

Housing built before 1940:  <1%.

Housing built after 1999:  6%.

Households with no vehicle: <1%.

Households with 3 or more vehicles:  27%.

Number of housing units:  8,997.

Average household size:  2.8.

Registered voters:  13,982.

 Of residents who are full-time employees, those who work in Calabasas:  22%.

Residents who are self-employed:  18%.

Residents living in Calabasas less than 4 years:  38%.

Residents living in Calabasas more than 30 years:  13%.

Median number of years lived in Calabasas:  14 years.

Residents who own their homes:  74%.

Residents who rent their homes:  26%.

Housing units that are occupied:  96%.

Housing units that are vacant:  4%.

Households containing at least 1 person with a college degree:  71%.

One more piece of notable Calabasas trivia: Tonight’s presentation marks the 14th annual State of the City Address.  It all started with a little suggestion one day back in 1998 from our Media Operations staff about how Calabasas should have its very own State of the City event.  The rest is history.

 V.  Highlights of the Past Year

At this point, I’m going to highlight some of the City’s significant achievements over the past year.

Among the recurring themes I have emphasized are trust, transparency, and accountability.  Adhering to these values helps ensure that our City government properly represents those citizens whom we are responsible to serve.  We have provided greater opportunity for direct citizen input into our decision-making processes.  We have expanded the role of our City commissions.  We have increased the use of public workshops.  And we have made a wide range of information more readily available to residents — such as when, for the first time ever, we televised our preliminary budget discussions.

The year began with some very big changes.  After our Municipal Elections in March, we bid farewell to retiring Councilmembers Dennis Washburn and Barry Groveman.  In turn, we welcomed aboard newly elected Councilmembers Fred Gaines and Lucy Martin.  Further changes occurred in December, when Councilmember Jonathon Wolfson resigned from office.  David Shapiro was then appointed in January to serve the remainder of Wolfson’s unexpired term.  Taken together, these changes mark the largest turnover for the City Council since incorporation.

In May, I became President of the California Contract Cities Association, a statewide organization of cities that primarily contract out for municipal services.  As a result, Calabasas now serves as the host city for the association, whose purpose is to provide its members with educational opportunities; exchange ideas and information; and combine resources to influence policy decisions affecting contract cities like our own.

Capping an effort spanning several years, the Mont Calabasas community was annexed into the City in August.  Located in Malibu Canyon, the added territory contains 110 single family homes with an estimated population of 303 people; and 493 acres of land, 395 of which are permanently protected open space.

As part of our ongoing open space acquisition program, we purchased a number of key parcels of real property.  The total inventory of land within Calabasas dedicated to permanent open space is 3,546 acres — 41% of our land mass —  much of it now owned by the City itself.

We continued to monitor proposed developments outside our City’s borders which could impact our residents, businesses, and protected open space.

The City took several actions to help preserve the unique nature and lifestyle of our rural communities.  In April, the Council halted consideration of plans to install a sewer system in the Old Topanga community.  And after much debate, in January the Council ultimately repealed the

City’s ordinances regulating the maintenance of septic tanks.

The City sponsored a large number of popular community events, many of which have become annual favorites, including:

An Earth Day Festival & Green Expo.

The “Egg-stravaganza” Egg Hunt.

The Calabasas Fine Arts Festival, one of many programs sponsored by our Calabasas Arts Council.

A 24-hour Relay for Life cancer walk.

“Movies under the Stars,” a series of outdoor evening films shown at various locations during the summer months.

A series of Summer Sunsets Concerts alongside Calabasas Lake.

Our traditional, all-day 4th of July activities, consisting of: the Lakeside Fun Run; Pet Show; Summer Splash Party; and Fireworks Spectacular.

The “Nuts for Mutts” 5K Walk & Dog Show.

A “Back-2-School” Pool Party.

The California International Theatre Festival.

The Calabasas Music Festival.

Walk to School Day.

The Calabasas Pumpkin Festival, our longest-standing and most popular yearly event.

A Drive-thru Flu Clinic to provide vaccinations for residents.

The Calabasas Classic 5K & 10K Runs.

A series of 3 creek clean-up events at our local waterways.  

A tree-planting event to celebrate Arbor Day.

And an open house celebration at the Community Center.

Our many municipal properties offer residents and visitors a diverse array of services and activities.  The beautiful Calabasas Civic Center, home to our City Hall and Municipal Library, is now in its 3rd year of existence.  Upon incorporation, Calabasas had just 1, 3-acre park to its name.  Today, we own and operate a network of 10 public parks and recreational facilities comprising a total of 54 acres of land.  They include:

Grape Arbor Park.
Gates Canyon Park.
Freedom Park.
The Calabasas Tennis & Swim Center.
Juan Bautista de Anza Park.
Highlands Park.
The Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center.
Calabasas Creekside Park.
Calabasas Bark Park.
And Wild Walnut Park.

Calabasas also enjoys use of other facilities through joint use agreements with the Las Virgenes Unified School District.  These arrangements are in effect at A.E. Wright Middle School; A.C. Stelle Middle School; and Lupin Hill Elementary School.

The Calabasas Municipal Library, established in 1999, continues to flourish.  To date, the Library has issued 36,618 library cards and now houses 63,000 items.  Last year alone, there were an estimated 214,000 visitors to our Library; 236,600 items were circulated; 50,000 reference questions were answered; and 470 programs were conducted involving 18,400 participants of all ages.

With monies allocated from Calabasas’ Art in Public Places fund, the City commissioned an artist to paint a mural on the ceiling of the Library’s children’s reading room.  The project will be completed later this month.

In the area of public safety, the City provided ongoing emergency preparedness and response training to the public, largely through its long-standing and successful CERP (Calabasas Emergency Response Program) and CERT (Community Emergency Response Training) programs.  We also offered a first-time-ever “Map Your Neighborhood” workshop to prepare individual communities within Calabasas for emergency and disaster situations.

In January, the City introduced its “Report-a-Problem” on-line feedback form.  Residents can submit their questions, comments, suggestions, and concerns on any subject by utilizing this form on the City’s web site.

The City expanded its “Connect with Calabasas” electronic notification service, which automatically contacts anyone who wishes to be personally notified about upcoming agendas, public hearings, and project updates of all types.

The City took several steps to provide more efficient and timely services for its constituents in the area of code enforcement.  There is now a 24-hour hot-line allowing residents to report concerns directly to code enforcement staff, and there is a code enforcement officer available and working every day of the week.

Canyon Creek Apartments, the City’s first senior affordable housing project, was completed and by December was fully occupied.  The project consists of 75 rental units and is located adjacent to Old Town Calabasas.

Despite the challenges presented by a protracted national recession, this past year brought many new retail and commercial businesses to Calabasas to serve our community.  Notably, the Council granted entitlements for Malamut Vintage Automotive, a retail dealership and museum to feature classic vintage cars and accessories; approved plans for Pedaler’s Fork, a restaurant in Old Town themed around cycling; and welcomed Harbor Freight Tools, which relocated its corporate headquarters here.  In addition, Viewpoint School completed the second phase of its modernization project, which includes a new upper school building, shared facilities, a competitive swimming pool, and a gymnasium.

In June, the Council enacted a moratorium on the installation of new wireless communications facilities throughout the City.  The moratorium will allow the Council to review and consider enactment of legislation regulating the construction and maintenance of these structures.  The new ordinances are scheduled to be considered next month.

In response to an increase in mobile billboards appearing along major streets, the Council adopted a new mobile billboard ordinance in November permitting City officials to tow away commercial trailers parked in our public rights-of-way for extended periods of time.

Calabasas remains at the forefront of California’s recycling efforts.  This past year, the City conducted 30 recycling events with more than 2,300 estimated participants.  Among the items collected and recycled were 251,712 pounds of mixed electronics; 19,319 pounds of dry cell batteries; 3,281 gallons of water-based paints; 477 gallons of used motor oil; and 428 car batteries.

Calabasas succeeded in obtaining several key grants for environmental projects.  These funds allowed the City to install “smart” irrigation control systems on all City-owned properties and public streets.  When fully operational, this improvement will allow us to conserve approximately 20% on irrigation water costs.  We received a grant to install catch basin screens on storm drain inlets within the Malibu Creek Watershed to prevent trash and debris from entering the creek.  And we received a grant to install bottle and can recycling receptacles at all transit stops within the City.

Solar permit fees for residences and commercial establishments were reduced in order to encourage more solar-powered projects in the City.  Calabasas currently averages about 3-5 new installations per month.

A large number of local students participated in the City’s annual “Recycling Drawing Contest,” a popular educational exercise which produced our 2012 Recycling Awareness Calendar.

As part of its ongoing conservation efforts, the City’s ordinances prohibiting the use of single-use, disposable plastic bags at retail establishments went into effect in July.  The legislation was modeled after similar ordinances approved by Los Angeles County and other California municipalities.

Our Community Services Department offered a large number of recreational, educational, cultural, and social activities throughout the year, including, among many others:

The Teen Activities Council.
Calabasas Teen Court.
Sports leagues and tournaments.
The Calabasas Klubhouse Pre-School.
After-school enrichment programs.
The Volunteen Program.
And Camp Calabasas.

This year, Calabasas inaugurated its “Savvy Seniors” program, which involves an ongoing series of recreation classes and activities geared toward senior citizens.  The first event, a registration and tea social, was held in December.  Within just 1 month, more than 500 seniors had signed up, and the program continues to expand.

In December, the City Council gave final approval to Calabasas’ new Coyote Management Plan.  The goal of the management plan is to support co-existence with coyotes through education and development of appropriate responses to the behavior of these unique animals; it balances promoting a respect for and tolerance of native wildlife with the need for adequate public safety measures.

Utilizing our comprehensive Historic Preservation Ordinance, Calabasas continues to identify, inventory, and protect its precious historic resources.  In April, the Council voted to designate Old Topanga Canyon Road as a local historic landmark.  In June, the Council voted to designate the Park Moderne Trail and Fountain as historic landmarks.  And in October, Calabasas was honored to receive the prestigious Governor’s Historic Preservation Award for its outstanding efforts toward preserving California history.

Calabasas was one of a small number of lucky California cities to be awarded a State grant to set up a “California of the Past” digital story station in its library.  This program allows digital stories of our residents to be recorded and archived on-line. 

The City kept its residents well informed about upcoming civic events and available public services through several different means of communication, including:

The City of Calabasas web site (www.cityofcalabasas.com), which includes both archived materials and live web-streaming from City Hall.

Daily programming on CTV, the Calabasas Channel.

Monthly e-news bulletins, along with timely emergency e-mail notifications.

And the quarterly Calabasas Recreation Brochure & Newsletter.

Our Media Operations Department received many accolades for its outstanding government programming on CTV, and for the City’s web site.

In order to promote the City’s economic, political, and social interests, Calabasas remained actively involved with many local, regional, and statewide organizations.  These groups include:

The California Contract Cities Association.
The Las Virgenes/Malibu Council of Governments.
The League of California Cities.
The Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley.
The Conejo/Las Virgenes Future Foundation.
The Valley Industry & Commerce Association;
And of course, the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce.

Our Public Works Department continued to manage the City’s 4 landscape maintenance districts, which are special assessment districts established to fund and maintain landscape and appurtenances for slopes and common areas.

The Public Works Department also implemented numerous streetscape improvements and landscape beautification projects.  This past year, the City resurfaced a total of 228,700 square feet of roadways and repaired 550,000 square feet of pavement.  Our urban forestry and tree management programs oversaw the installation, inspection, and maintenance of hundreds of street trees throughout Calabasas.

Calabasas provides an extensive network of citywide public transit services, managing a fleet of 12 shuttles and trolleys to serve residents, businesses, and visitors.  This past year, the Calabasas transit system transported an estimated 178,000 riders a total of 138,000 miles within City limits.

And finally, . . .

. . . The Council allocated more than $500,000 to public and private organizations that serve our community.  Along with other cities within the Las Virgenes Unified School District, Calabasas maintained its long-standing practice of providing critical monetary assistance to our local public schools.  And as it has for many years, the City’s renter assistance program provided financial aid to qualifying seniors and disabled persons.

VI.  Citizens of the Year: Our Founding City Councilmembers

And now, the Citizens of the Year.  Every year, the Mayor of Calabasas has the privilege of spotlighting one or more of our City’s residents to be honored for making outstanding contributions to the community. 

This past year marked the City’s 20th anniversary of existence, and we celebrated that milestone with a series of events designed to commemorate incorporation.

In keeping with the spirit of our anniversary, this year I have chosen to honor our founding City Councilmembers as Citizens of the Year.

Today, it is easy to take the City’s existence for granted without recognizing what it took to get to this point in its history.  For a variety of reasons, in modern times it is increasingly difficult and extremely rare for an unincorporated area to gain the requisite approval to formally become an independent city.  Indeed, Calabasas was the last of 88 cities to incorporate in Los Angeles County.  Statewide, we were the 466th city to incorporate; a scant 16 cities have come into existence since then.

There were actually 3 separate incorporation drives in Calabasas.  The first one, in the 1970s, envisioned a much larger city encompassing what is now Calabasas, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, and much surrounding territory into one mega-municipality to be called “Rancho Las Virgenes.”  Then, after the cities of Westlake Village and Agoura Hills successfully incorporated, a second effort to create Calabasas died in the mid-1980s.  A third and final effort, started in the late-1980s, came to fruition when the City of Calabasas was born on April 5, 1991.  More than 90% of its future residents voted in favor of incorporation.  In a simultaneous election for City Council featuring 13 candidates, the voters chose Karyn Foley, Bob Hill, Marvin Lopata, Dennis Washburn, and Lesley Devine to serve as founding members of the new Calabasas City Council.

Though none of them now serves on our Council, each of them has contributed invaluably to the City’s development.  Their work has served as a strong foundation for everything the City has successfully accomplished over the past two decades.  For their tireless efforts in establishing our beautiful City; for their foresight in making the wise decisions that led to what we are today; and for their continued involvement to make for a better tomorrow, they are the 2012 Calabasas Citizens of the Year.

I would like to invite up here Karyn Foley (who is here with her husband Jim); Bob Hill (who is here with his wife Kathy); Marvin Lopata (who is here with his wife Judy); and Dennis Washburn (who is here with his wife Carol).  Our fifth founding Councilmember, Lesley Devine, passed away in 2006; she will be represented tonight by her daughter, Beth Chambers (who is here with her brother Michael).

VII.  Concluding Remarks

At this time, I would like to thank the Calabasas Chamber of Commerce for co-hosting this event; the Teen Activities Council for their assistance this evening; and the wonderful staff at the City of Calabasas — especially the Media Operations Department — for all of their hard work in producing this event.  And finally, I wish once again to thank you, the people, for allowing me the tremendous honor of serving on the City Council these past 15 years, and of being your Mayor.

 

City of Calabasas © 2014