On July 13, Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones delivered his annual State of the City address before a live audience of over 400 at the Hyatt Regency Orange County. This year’s program themed, “Mind, Body, and Spirit of Community,” focused on the City’s efforts to ensure the community’s mental, physical, and economic wellbeing, while highlighting Garden Grove’s deep hometown spirit.
“Over the last year, our city has been on a winding road to recovery…. For us [City], it’s all about the journey that begins with healing and strengthening our minds and bodies and celebrating our extraordinary spirit of community,” said Mayor Jones.
Pointing to the increase in mental health concerns caused by the pandemic, particularly in the homeless population, Mayor Jones introduced the City’s new Be Well OC in Garden Grove Mobile Response Team. The Be Well program provides in- community assessment and stabilization of individuals experiencing substance abuse, psychological crisis, and homelessness, via a mobile response team.
Mayor Jones explained how the Be Well program is part of the City’s Comprehensive Strategic Plan to Address Homelessness, a 5-year roadmap identifying alternate solutions for ending homelessness, which includes the development of a future Garden Grove navigation center.
Moving to the City’s physical wellness, the mayor highlighted the opening of healthy grocer Sprouts Farmers Market at Pavilion Plaza West; operation of the City’s new water filtration plant at West Haven Well 21; and several park improvements that include a $6 million grant-funded project at Woodbury Park, installing a new walking trail, swimming pool, skate spot, basketball courts, and more.
“Despite the difficult times we’ve faced, our best defense against the pandemic has been our spirit of community. It’s our energizing life force that’s kept us united, inspired, compassionate, positive, and enthusiastic, and deepened our love for this very special city,” said Mayor Jones.
Among several examples of Garden Grove’s community spirit was the Garden Grove Strong Heroes recognition that honored individuals who demonstrated selfless acts of service during the pandemic.
Mayor Jones also touted the successful return of both the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival, and the Re:Imagine Garden Grove Open Streets events.
Regarding Garden Grove’s post-pandemic financial state, Mayor Jones indicated the City’s Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) making a remarkable re-bound, from a $28- million loss during the pandemic, to an estimated $22.5-million gain this year. Supporting the City’s strong tourism outlook were a number of developments and new business additions. These included:
- Le Meridien by Marriott and Kimpton Hotel breaking ground in the Grove- District – Anaheim Resort this year.
- The opening of Raising Cane’s restaurant on Harbor Boulevard.
- New business tenants to the West Garden Grove area, including Starbucks and a new restaurant, Estrada’s Grill, at the former Coco’s restaurant site on Valley View Boulevard.
Mayor Jones also announced the first tenants of Cottage Industries, an innovative project in the Garden Grove Civic Center that features unique eateries and shops within repurposed Craftsman homes. They are: White Elephant; Spotless Burgers and Spotless Ice Cream; Smoke Queen Barbecue; Boba Guys; Eco Now; and GameCraft Brewing.
The program ended with a video by the City’s award-winning Garden Grove TV3 on the Garden Grove Police Department’s Support Canine Program, offering trained police therapy dogs to provide social-emotional, and de-escalation support to local students. The support canines, Misha and Nellie, along with their partners School Resource Officers Patrick Julienne and Derek Link, made a surprise appearance at the conclusion of the event.
A copy of the mayor’s complete speech is available on the City of Garden Grove website at www.ggcity.org.