By Miriam Raftery
November 27, 2021 (Lemon Grove) -- The City of Lemon Grove 2021 State of the City Address has now been released on several public digital platforms. The address, delivered virtually by Mayor Racquel Vasquez, focused on the City’s successes in 2020 including compassionate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, goals for the future, and a positive year-end budget.
“Essential workers remained steadfast in their commitment to provide services to residents throughout the pandemic,” said Mayor Vasquez, who praised city workers for their efforts. She noted that the city swiftly opened a COVID testing site and partnered with the county to set up a vaccination site for all city residents. She urged everyone to get vaccinated as a “selfless act” to keep others sate.
“Lemon Grove still delivers services at the lowest per capita cost than any other city in the County of San Diego,” she noted. Public works, fire and sheriff departments were highlighted for a number of successful metrics. A large number of potholes were filled and numerous graffiti tags, illegal dumps and trash removed in addition to 183 linear feet of sewer lines cleaned by the public works division team.
Recent online discussions in Lemon Grove have included citizen complaints of trash and homeless people camped out, with residents posting photos of some areas that remain concerns. Councilmember Liana LeBaron has sought to add these issues to a future Council agenda for an in-depth discussion, but the city manager indicated this was previously agendized and that the city is implementing new plans to address homelessness.
Progress has been made, according to the Mayor. Programs that were designed in 2020 to help homelessness and hunger were praised during the address. In 2020. City Councilmember Jennifer Mendoza spearheaded a food distribution program, “Feeding Lemon Grove,” maximizing state and local grants, which fed 5,400 families.
Food distributions continue on the third Thursday each month at the community center due to local nonprofits after funds ran out, efforts praised by the Mayor as “bright lights of compassion.”
Seventy-three Lemon Grove local small businesses received a combined $650,000 in Small Business grants, including businesses owned by women, Latino and black owners. The City partnered with Lemon Grove school district to create a free educational day camp to host online school students, providing lunch and after-school activities.
Making large budget cuts, monitoring spending and experiencing a growth in the City’s sales tax revenue, the City budget ended in the positive for 2020.
In 2021, the City aims to rehabilitate 12.4 lane miles of City streets, included in the comprehensive work plan.
The City’s goals from the 2021 comprehensive work plan include, but are not limited to:
- Increasing street repair
- Expanding homelessness solutions
- Funding a part-time communications position
- Funding a part-time motorcycle deputy
- Commission an economic development strategy
“When we forget regret and look forward to what is ahead, our future is bright,” said Vasquez, “Let’s look forward together to see our global city thrive.”