March 10, 2011
In his State of the City address Thursday, Mayor Dennis Donohue was moved to tears reflecting on the collaborative neighborhood watch and revitalization efforts that have spring up organically around the city. Even with citizen efforts to combat gang violence, "We are making the right moves today, but I do not believe we are on a sustainable course for the future of the city in this area," Donohue said.
"The bad news is that there is a shark in the water," he said of the city's estimated 3500 gang members. "The good news is, unlike many cities, we probably can catch it."
Donohue said resources for ending the gang problem are dwindling, and said the Gang Task Force will likely lose all federal funding over the next several years and federal and state funds law enforcement depends upon are rapidly drying up.
Speaking about long term economic viability for Salinas, Donohue mapped out some specific proposals for economic growth. Among his plans: 300 to 500 acres of industrial zoning north of Russell Road for new development, a sale of under-used city properties, lobbying the University of California for a Salinas extension office and supporting Hartnell’s effort to build a research park on its Alisal Campus efforts. "In light of recent developments in Sacramento that threaten local redevelopment agencies," Donohue said, "We need to be bold."
After mapping out these specific plans, Donohue spoke about his overall vision as a mayor, acknowledging the fiscal and violent roadblocks Salinas faces. "My mayoral focus remains as it has been all along to focus on how we become a more peaceful city, expand our tax base and find an economically sustainable way to deliver those services to break the stop-start cycle of 'now we’re funded, now we’re not.'"