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Walnut Creek Magazine

Mayor Cindy Silva’s State of City Address

Mar 08, 2023 11:55AM ● By Harper Klein

Speaking at Boundary Oak during a breakfast sponsored by the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau to over 100 business and civic leaders, in late February Mayor Cindy Silva delivered her State of the City speech. Now in her fourth term on the city council, besides a sharp focus on the economy, Silva spoke about everything from public safety to housing. Here are some highlights:

On Crime & Safety:

“Walnut Creek is one of the safest cities in the country. Over the last five years, our crime rate has been relatively constant—95% comes from theft and property crime. The city is hyper-focused on preventing another retail theft incident like the one at Nordstrom in 2021. We took immediate action and allocated $2 million for the deployment of five additional police officers, along with upgraded technology. We know it is making a difference. Measure O has the dollars for us to continue that funding. This spring, the temporary orange K rail barriers will be removed, replaced by retractable bollards, and Broadway Plaza Street will reopen.”  

On Housing:

“Besides homelessness, the consequences of lack of housing supply are high prices, overcrowding, and long commutes. Our statistics show that 50% of Walnut Creek households are housing-cost burdened. This impacts our workforce and our local economy. Our 2023-31 housing element focuses on housing downtown, and includes affordable housing, work force housing, and affordable dwelling units.”

On the Environment:

“We are nearing the completion of a new Environmental Sustainability Action Plan that will help us adapt to climate change. We’ve added more than 30 public EV charging stations, installed ‘cool’ roofs, added EV vehicles to our fleet, and we’re testing electric handheld tools for our parks.”

On the Economy:

“We recently conducted a series of studies. We found Walnut Creek remains the retail center for the East Bay and a key regional shopping destination. As we look to the future, we want to keep the concentration of retail downtown to maintain a vibrant shopping district, rather than distributed across a large geographic area.”

“In contrast, the office market is a bit more unsettled, as hybrid work models continue to evolve. Class A office space is being leased near amenities as companies upgrade to entice employees back to the office. We expect greater demand for medical office space because of the development of two major cancer centers in Walnut Creek: John Muir Health/UCSF and Bass Medical in Shadelands. The city has healthy reserves with $23 million in the pension fund and another $18 million in facilities reserves.”

On Workforce Development:

“We are an office-based economy and retail/restaurant-based economy. Finance, insurance, real estate is where the focus will be to fill office space; biotech is an interesting idea. I think the future is open. We’ve looked at what would it take for a big biotech company to relocate here, and there is alot of cost that goes into that kind of thing.”

On Infrastructure:

“We’ve been working on a new aquatics center since 2006 when I first entered into public office. We’re going to build two pools: one Olympic-sized for lap swimming, and another for recreation, as part of an aquatics complex combined with a community events center. We should have our architecture team in place by July, then a two year process begins to get it designed with the first signs of construction in spring 2025.”

On Job Recruitment:

"There is a talent shortage. It is hitting our Community Development Department particularly hard. It’s a recruiting challenge, especially when people want to work from home. You can’t dig ditches and fill potholes from home or meet with builders to review plans and issue permits. This is a game of patience right now."


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