Delivering today’s virtual State of the City address inside Garden Grove’s historic GEM Theatre, Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones highlighted the City’s emergency actions at the height of the pandemic, discussed difficult human and financial losses, and expressed profound gratitude for community heroes that “renewed our hope and spirit” during COVID-19.
“In 2020, COVID-19 set the stage for what would be a year none of us will ever forget. And in fact, we shouldn’t…it closed businesses, took away jobs and homes, prohibited human interaction, and kept us in lock-down and in fear of the unknown,” said Mayor Jones.
Describing the re-opening of the neighboring Disneyland Parks and Resort and the City’s Great Wolf Lodge Southern California as “the revival of our local financial recovery,” Mayor Jones spoke about the tragic loss of human life as the most difficult part of the community’s recovery.
“Among our community’s never-to-be-forgotten souls, is Garden Grove Police Lieutenant John Reynolds. Besides being a very dear and trusted friend to me, Lieutenant John Reynolds was hero among heroes,” said Mayor Jones.
Reynolds, a 25-year veteran of the Garden Grove Police Department and long-time board member of the Garden Grove Boys and Girls Clubs, passed away in early 2021 due to complications from COVID-19.
Acknowledging the work and collaboration from the Garden Grove City Council as well as the City’s management team, the mayor detailed the City’s priorities at the onset of the pandemic.
“Protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the community; maintaining needed programs and services; containing costs; enhancing communication; and assisting local business owners, were at the forefront of the City’s efforts, all of which continue today,” said Mayor Jones.
Among several City actions put into place during the pandemic were: enhanced online City Hall services; creation of a coronavirus webpage; heightened police enforcement; no citations for street sweeping parking violations; daily meal distribution programs; establishment of several business resource and relief programs; and vaccine administration by the Orange County Fire Authority at the county’s Point of Dispensing sites.
Mayor Jones opened a discussion on the City’s current financial state by citing a June 2021 economic forecast by the UCLA Anderson School of Management that described California’s economic recovery as “euphoric,” yet indicated a slower recovery for the leisure and hospitality sector due to massive financial declines during the pandemic.
“After experiencing annual increases in Transient Occupancy Tax since 2011, as of now, the City has lost approximately $28 million in TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax),” said Mayor Jones.
One critical source of revenue the City is relying on to help restore important City services and infrastructure is the $48 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act, also known as the federal COVID-19 Stimulus Package.
Moving on to new and continuing development projects, Mayor Jones introduced a new program called “Foods of Garden Grove” that features a dynamic City webpage and “foodie map” of several select local restaurants, many of which the City assisted through the Micro Business Relief Grant Program launched in 2020. The webpage is available at ggcity.org/foodsofgardengrove.
Other projects undergoing completion are Pavilion Plaza West near The Promenade center, featuring the city’s first Sprouts Farmers Market; and the 8-story Garden Brook Senior Village affordable housing project on Garden Grove Boulevard in OC Koreatown.
The program ended with a video by the City’s award-winning Garden Grove TV3, honoring community heroes. The City has created a “Garden Grove Strong” webpage dedicated to recognizing individuals and groups that provided donations and other support to the City and community during the pandemic. The page is available at ggcity.org/ggstrong.
A copy of the mayor’s complete speech is available on the City of Garden Grove website at www.ggcity.org.