MARTINEZ -- Mayor Rob Schroder's State of the City address focused on positive 2013 economic improvements for the city and the need for more.
Schroder said the city needs to say "yes" to economic opportunities such as the possibility of having a Pacific League professional baseball team in town.
"All too often, Martinez has said 'no' and it eventually turns out to be a big mistake in the future. In the 19th century, Martinez said 'no' to Leland Stanford and Palo Alto said 'yes.'"
Schroder reported that Martinez property tax revenue is up $400,000 from last year, and sales tax is up $100,000 and at $3.7 million for the fiscal year. The operating budget has a $100,000 cushion of income over expenses in the general fund, and savings (unrestricted reserves) amount to almost 25 percent of the general fund.
Recalling when Costco's move to Concord took a big bite out of city coffers, Schroder warned of the long-term risk of depending on a few businesses for support.
"A handful of businesses account for 30 percent of the sales tax revenue," Schroder said. "The loss of any of them would create major issues with our ability to provide top-rate services to our residents and businesses."
The mayor named a list of development and improvement projects as a sign of local economic improvement and reviewed upcoming events aimed at attracting people and businesses to the city.
At the Feb. 11 address sponsored by the chamber of commerce at the Creekside Church, Schroder also turned to the well-being of the Martinez Marina, which has been a seemingly intractable financial and regulatory quagmire for many years.
"Through the generosity of Shell Oil, we have managed to perform a partial dredge of the marina," Schroder said, "but over half of the $500,000 that Shell gave to the city for waterfront improvements went to regulatory agency permit fees, required environmental reviews and consultants."
The city owes the state of California $2 million in loans. A complete rebuild of the sea wall, entrance and docks would cost $6 million, according to Schroder, who noted that no marinas are self-sufficient.
"It is the landside development that supports the marina," he said. Over the years consultants and the city staff have worked on various overall plans for a self-supporting, functional marina.
A marina stakeholder task force was formed to "put the process back on track, pull together the various parts that had been complete," Schroder explained.
That task force expects to see a final draft plan and a completed environmental report by summer. That will be followed by a 60-day public comment period. Then the plan will go to the Martinez Planning Commission and the City Council for approval, according to Schroder.
"I expect final adoption of the general plan in January of 2015," he said.
State Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) have introduced a bill to grant the marina waterfront lands to the city of Martinez under the public trust in perpetuity.
If approved, that would give the city more control over the waterfront lands, but would prohibit residential development. It would allow restaurants, hotel and water-related commercial sales.
Schroder reported that Martinez, Hercules and Antioch are all still planned as ferry service landing sites. A recent study suggests that Ferry Point, just west of the marina, is the preferred ferry landing site.
The Contra Costa Transportation Authority is currently looking at ridership to include those three cities and San Francisco. There is consideration of a hovercraft as well, according to Schroder.
Contact Dana Guzzetti at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-202-9292.