A mixture of seriousness and good-hearted humor was on display as over 200 Lakewood residents and community leaders gathered at The Centre at Sycamore Plaza on January 23 to hear Mayor Diane DuBois deliver Lakewood’s annual State of the City address.
Mayor DuBois showed slides of many of the comments made by residents during the city’s ‘I Love Lakewood’ promotional effort. The positive comments helped convey the themes the mayor touched upon in her address, including Lakewood’s continuing support for parks and recreation programs, public safety, customer service and infrastructure, such as roadways and trees.
“The enthusiasm from residents that we have tapped into with the ‘I Love Lakewood’ campaign is very enlightening as we take stock of the state of our city,” said DuBois. “People really like living in Lakewood. Excuse me, they LOVE living in Lakewood. And there are good reasons for it.”
“Lakewood residents,” added DuBois, “know that too many people in California are living in cities where public services have been reduced and the quality of life has been negatively impacted. Because of a lot of care and cautiousness over the years with Lakewood’s finances, we have a city budget that has remained stable and can continue to deliver the good core services that Lakewood residents expect from a city government.”
DuBois outlined new features coming to Lakewood in 2013, including a colorful new tot lot playground and picnic area for Bloomfield Park, renovated pool for Mayfair Park, and new shade-shelter for Bolivar Park’s tot lot.
In the slides shown by DuBois, many residents mentioned the city’s well-maintained streets as a reason they love Lakewood. The mayor said that in early 2013 the city would reach the milestone of repaving 100% of its streets over the past 12 years. “That’s an achievement,” said DuBois, “that not many cities can say they’ve done in 20 or 30 years…or ever! Our smooth streets save on auto wear-and-tear for our residents. They’re quieter to drive on and live by. And they just add to the quality of life in Lakewood.”
The mayor indicated that the city would continue periodic repaving of major boulevards and localized spot-repairs when needed. But the city’s residential side streets now have a solid base of rubberized asphalt that will last up to 25 years without repaving. “That’s a great legacy to leave for Lakewood’s future,” DuBois said.
The Commander of Lakewood’s Sheriff's Station, Captain Merrill Ladenheim, spoke after the mayor to give an update on public safety issues. Ladenheim noted that Lakewood has experienced a beneficial five-year downward trend in crime, with auto theft down 41% and burglary down 21% over that time period. But Lakewood, like much of the region, is experiencing a one-year uptick in those types of crimes, which Ladenheim and other law enforcement officials attribute to the state government’s “prison realignment,” which has led to the release of many non-violent criminals.
Ladenheim complimented Lakewood on the many steps the city takes to keep crime as low as possible, including a vigorous Neighborhood Watch program, funding staff to take fingerprints at non-violent crime scenes (which many cities don’t do), and recently installing the Advanced Surveillance and Protection System (ASAP) at intersections around Lakewood Center. Ladenheim played a video showing ASAP’s automatic license plate readers and pan-tilt-zoom cameras leading to an actual arrest. Since its installation in November, ASAP has led to the arrest of several suspects traveling in Lakewood in wanted vehicles.
The State of the City Luncheon started with two videos. First was a memorial video about longtime Council Member Larry Van Nostran, who passed away on November 9, 2012. Following that was Lakewood’s 18-minute annual report video reflecting on the year past and looking ahead to 2013.