Mayor Kevin Johnson, entering his seventh year in office, threw a hip-hop party Thursday night at Memorial Auditorium and squeezed in a State of the City speech as well, offering a road map of his 2015 agenda.
Top topics included body cameras for police, a potential local minimum wage, and a push to build 10,000 new housing units in downtown over the next decade.
Here are some themes from the mayor’s talk:
Johnson suffered a jarring November ballot defeat when voters rejected his strong-mayor initiative, Measure L. But he isn’t giving up on one of its concepts, albeit in watered-down form: Johnson announced that he intends to turn the tables on the regular city budget process this spring, giving himself and the council more say up front, and more influence on the city manager.
Typically, the city manager presents an annual budget to the council and the council reacts. This year, Johnson said he plans to present his own budget priorities to the council first, and enlist the council as a group to present budget priorities to the manager. He said he wants some up-front community budget forums as well, “so we can look at our priorities and build accordingly instead of the other way around.”
One of those priorities, he said, is “income and equality.” Johnson will convene a task force to look at, among other economic issues, creating a higher minimum wage for workers in the city than the state’s $9 an hour.
The officer next door
Spurred by the police shooting last year in Ferguson, Mo., Johnson, Police Chief Sam Somers, the council and others have been talking about what Sacramento can do to better connect its officers with the community. Johnson wants to formalize what he calls the “Officer Next Door” program, equipping police with body cameras, hiring more officers and setting up “diversity goals that are real for recruitment.” Seventy-five percent of Sacramento police officers are white, slightly more than a decade ago.
That’s what Johnson calls the next iteration of the city economically. He said the Gold Rush and agriculture created Sac 1.0, and the state government dominated Sac 2.0. Version 3.0 will be a place that knows how to tap into new technology to grow its economy.
“Sacramento 3.0 has to be a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship” to be a winner in a world where there will be “more cellphones than land lines … more smart devices than toothbrushes,” he said. “It’s true.”
Yes, the city lays claim to being the farm-to-fork capital. But if Sacramento can land the UC Davis World Food Center at the empty downtown railyard – Johnson predicted it will – the city can become an international food research hub. Johnson wants to designate the railyard an “innovation district,” where foodies and thinkers come together at think tanks, incubators and startups, and where people will live next to jobs, in a transit-oriented Wi-Fi and wireless lifestyle.
The mayor set out this ambitious goal Thursday night: 10,000 new housing units in the next 10 years. Those people, he said, will be getting around via streetcars and light rail, not so much in cars. That way, the downtown will finally become a people place again. The downtown is getting its arena, and new businesses are emerging. “Housing is the missing component,” he said.
A big topic in his last two speeches, the Kings and the downtown arena got only a few mentions this time around. The mayor said ESPN plans to air a documentary later this year on how the city kept the Kings and got a new arena built.
Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak, (916) 321-1059.