The following was delivered by outgoing Mayor Sam Abed on December 12 at Escondido City Hall:
I am privileged and humbled to be a part of our community for 30 years and for serving the great people of Escondido for 14 years as your councilman and your mayor since 2010. Tomorrow, I will go back to manage my Real Estate development consulting company, Pacific West Consulting, and will also join Brush Real Estate.
I truly believed that every policy we implemented and every decision I made was in the best interest of the 155,000 citizens who live in this wonderful city. I am also very proud of our accomplishments and the fundamental economic, financial and positive image transformation we achieved together. Today, Escondido is a cleaner, safer, more efficient, more desirable, and a more prosperous city.
I have no regrets whatsoever. Escondido is a much better city today. I have held true to the promises I made in every election and never wavered on my principles. Getting re-elected has never been my goal. My focus has always been on doing the right thing for our community. A promise made, a promise delivered.
Our City Council Action Plan was our road map to success by focusing on the city’s core functions and services. We built a positive image and pride in our community. Here are the highlights of our achievements:
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The last decade, Escondido has seen an unprecedented intense economic growth. Today, we lead our region in business attraction, expansion and capital investments.
We have attracted 2,200 new businesses and 3,000 new jobs to the city, made Escondido a business-friendly city, streamlined regulations and the planned development process, reduced plan check time by 30%, created a minor conditional use permit and approved incubator opportunities for start-up businesses.
The City’s first full service hotel, the Marriott Springhill Suites will soon open in La Terraza, EDI made significant investment in their “On the Road to Zero Waste” Recycling facility. SDG&E built the world’s largest battery energy storage facility in our city. One Stop Systems, San Diego’s first IPO this year, is thriving and expanding in Escondido. Our economic indicators are doing exceptionally well: Unemployment is 4.1%, retail/commercial vacancy is 3.7%, industrial vacancy is at record low of 2.4%.
Sales Tax revenue nearly doubled to a record of $40 million this year, assessed property values increased by $1billion last year alone. This economic success is contributed to the City Council policies focused on strategic economic growth. A promise made, a promise delivered.
Escondido co-founded the unprecedented and dynamic regional collaboration the “Innovate 78,” working together to attract capital, jobs and talent to North County. The San Diego Business Journal and the SDUT have published our progress.
FINANCIAL STABILITY: We balanced our budget eight consecutive years without using reserves or raising taxes.
– We turned a $16 million deficit into a $12 million surplus.
– We built $33 million Emergency Reserve and Irrevocable Public Pension funds.
– Improved the city’s bond rating of AA- saving ratepayers millions of dollars.
PUBLIC SAFETY: We built a state-of-the-art Police and Fire Headquarter and built new fire stations and upgraded the existing fire stations. Escondido’s Police and Fire departments are fully staffed. I believe we have one of the finest public safety departments in the entire County.
Community-Oriented Policing achieved amazing results and built more trust in the community we serve. According to ICE, the Escondido immigrant community report more crime than sanctuary cities do.
I believed and governed under the rule of law, deporting thousands of criminals and gang members which has contributed to reducing crime by 33%. Escondido is as safe today as it was in 1980. A promised made, a promise delivered.
NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT: Neighborhood Improvement was one of our core missions.
We spent over $20 million in D1 alone and spent millions more to improve our 7 parks and 5 recreation centers.
Our historic downtown is thriving with special events, the California Center for the Arts presents outstanding performances to nearly half a million visitors every year.
Tens of Thousands of visitors attend our local, regional and national sports tournaments annually at Kit Carson and Ryan Parks each year. Safari Park and Stone Brewing Company attract over two million visitors every year.
We significantly improved our street maintenance program, paved and resurfaced 276-lane miles of streets, implemented the complete street program, added 5-miles bike lanes, 7-mile bike path and completed $10 million Bear Valley/E. Valley project.
SANDAG has approved $7M funding to expand the HOV lanes from I-15 to HW 78. Escondido will receive $12 million to complete the Citracado Parkway project.
We developed a Climate Action Plan and General Plan, approved by voters in 2012.
We partnered with our private, public and Charter schools, helped John Paul the Great Catholic University move and expand in downtown Escondido. Established a public safety committee, led by Chief Carter, to improve school’s safety.
We spent $2.6 million to address the homeless challenge, reunited 50 homeless individuals with their families and restored public spaces as safe places for families.
The water recycled facility at Ash and Washington will soon be built to provide competitive water rates to 125 farmers in Escondido. We finalized a draft policy for our future Business Park to attract technology companies and to create more jobs.
Escondido has become a Smarter City, using technology and innovation to improve service delivery. Escondido today is a proud, diverse and a vibrant city with rich history, a small town feel and a big city charm, a unique travel destination and a prominent economic leader. We are a welcoming place to live, do business, visit or raise a family. I am honored to have been part of Escondido’s success.
As your mayor the last eight years, I have always been inspired by the values that made America a great country. A conviction driven by the values of our Founding Fathers, values that we all share as Americans, values of tolerance, understanding, respect and love. Respect and love each other, our neighbors, our friends and our families.
The America that I immigrated to 30 years ago is not the same today. With a new year upon us, we should count our blessings and cherish the wonderful city and country we have. Let’s commit to embrace all the values that unite us and bring us together as one country, one city, one community, one neighborhood and one family.
For America to remain an exceptional nation, we must commit to a more civil discourse motivated by mutual respect, accommodation and compassion. Let’s also resolve to protect our fundamental rights of freedom, liberty, pride and love of our Country.
Thank you Escondido for your support the last 14 years, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I’m privileged, humbled, proud and grateful to be the mayor of the city that provided the American dream to my family and I, the city that I deeply love and care about.
God bless our City and the great people of Escondido.
God bless America.