The following is a press release issued a message from the Ukiah City Manager Sage Sangiacomo:
On behalf of the City of Ukiah, I am pleased to wish you a happy New Year. As we reflect on the past year, there is a lot to be proud of in the City of Ukiah. The City is busy at work building, reinforcing, and expanding on the foundations that make our community a great place to live, work, invest, and visit.
We are investing wisely in community priorities in a way that benefits Ukiah today AND positions us well for the future. I am proud to be part of a team of dedicated, talented staff, and to work closely with the City Council that shares common goals and passion for our community. Here are a few of our achievements from the past year, and our priorities for moving forward into 2023.
We are Responding Responsibly to water challenges, keeping our community resilient against drought.
- Our City’s work to put into place “Structural Conservation” methods, such as our investment in the recycled water facility, allowed us to scale up and down water efficiency tools as needed. This greatly reduced the need for individual families to enact harsh cutbacks like those of our surrounding communities.
- As other cities around the state faced serious shortages, not only did Ukiah avoid State-mandated water cutbacks, but we also utilized our expertise to lead the way in developing a Water Sharing Agreement with the State Water Board. This ground-breaking agreement was touted as a model for regional cooperation, and made the Ukiah Valley better prepared to work together in addressing supply shortages.
- In 2023, we will build upon this work. We will continue to demonstrate leadership and position our community to handle whatever hydrological challenges the year presents.
We are making progress on environmental initiatives.
- We recognize the significance of the global climate emergency and are taking concrete steps to do our part. In June 2022, the Ukiah City Council unanimously voted to approve a resolution endorsing the declaration of a climate emergency and issuing a call to action to restore a safe climate — joining the County of Mendocino and 2,104 jurisdictions that have passed similar declarations. We are grateful for the work of Climate Action Mendocino for being the tip of the spear on this effort.
We have successfully delivered significant street improvements.
- Across the city, we have been implementing major street improvements, making it safer to travel by foot, car, or bike. Our approach has been to invest in holistic improvements that will stand the test of time, rather than implement a patchwork of short-term fixes. Streets that were reconstructed include Dora from Luce to Grove and from Beacon to Washington, State Street from Beacon to Cherry, Grove Avenue from Dora to Bush, Bush from Walnut to Grove, and a large number of streets that were slurry sealed.
- Included in this effort was a complete rebuilding of Dora Street from Mill Street to Grove Avenue with new water and sewer infrastructure underground that will last generations.
- These improvements were made possible because the City was in a strong financial position and able to secure bond funding. For example, through Measure Y, the City is able to leverage bond funds with matching grants from Caltrans to do major projects.
- In 2023, our philosophy of prudent fiscal management and leveraging of responsible financial mechanisms such as Measure Y will continue to allow us to plan ahead, make improvements, and make our City a better place to traverse.
We are prioritizing and promoting strategies that advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
- We understand that we have a unique responsibility as a city to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. As such, in January, we published our Equity Action Plan, which identifies and establishes equity objectives and goals, specific steps, and measurable indicators for each goal.
- The City invested in a new website that is more accessible to those with disabilities. The website also includes a feature that seamlessly translates all of our content for non-English-speaking visitors.
- The City negotiated new contracts with our seven labor union partners that includes giving financial incentives for employees who are bilingual in Spanish and American Sign Language.
- In 2023, we will continue these efforts through the leadership of our Diversity and Equity Committee which serves as a steadfast champion for DEI-related initiatives, ensuring our diverse groups are represented, engaged, and heard.
We have updated the General Plan, setting Ukiah on a path of prosperity.
- The City of Ukiah is pleased to announce the adoption of the 2040 General Plan, a long-range plan that guides decision-making and establishes rules and standards for new development and city improvements. It reflects the community’s vision for the future and is intended to provide direction through the year 2040. The 2040 General Plan process, which began in Spring 2019, included several community engagement events where community input was solicited to help guide the future of the City.
We are expanding child care and community recreation options:
- The City has greatly expanded access to sports, classes and activities run by the Parks & Recreation Department. Check out our Recreation & Activities Guide for information on all the upcoming fun!
- The City has partnered with Ukiah Unified School District to increase capacity and improve the activities offered for their After School Education and Safety (ASES) Programs at five Elementary School sites (Oak Manor, Yokayo, Nokomis, Frank Zeek and Calpella). The City employees about 150 young adults in this program.
We have implemented fire mitigation measures that will protect our community against increasingly threatening fire seasons.
- Along with the beauty provided by our valley’s rolling hills and abundance of trees comes the annual threat of wildfires. As a result of proactive actions, wise allocation of resources, and a strong network of collaboration, the Ukiah Valley is more prepared than ever to protect our region from the increasing threat of wildfires.
- The City acquired open space in the western hills through a combination of purchases, trades, transfers, and donations. The land is important for fire mitigation and water supply planning.
- Ukiah also secured grant funding from FEMA to do utility undergrounding and fire mitigation work in high risk areas.
Protecting public safety remains a top priority.
- We are using technology to fight crime. License plate scanning cameras have been installed at entryways to the city. The cameras integrate into a network of crime-fighting software and databases that help resolve Amber Alerts, recover stolen or vehicles otherwise flagged by law enforcement.
- We are rebuilding leadership at the Ukiah Police Department. Ukiah has engaged a professional recruitment firm to help fill the role of Police Chief. This has included a process to conduct stakeholder interviews and gather input from the community to help inform the candidate profile. The recruitment process is underway, and we expect the position to be filled in the first quarter of 2023.
- We have also improved emergency response. The Ukiah Valley Fire Authority has increased staffing and resources to improve emergency medical response within city limits which has resulted in lower response times for residents.
We have implemented a user-friendly interface to connect residents with their utility provider.
- The City rolled out a new system for billing and has been working with customers to answer questions about the new format. The utility payment website has been updated to provide more information and interactive explanations about what labels and charges are reflected on customer bills. The new system replaces outdated technology, offers an easier way for customers to make payments, and provides more transparency.
We are extending the Rail Trail, creating more outdoor space for Ukiah residents to recreate.
- Through 2023, the City worked through extensive state review processes and secured grant funding. By virtue of this secured funding, we are now in a position to begin constructing one more mile of Class 1 bike trail parallel to the existing abandoned railroad.
We have completed a Municipal Service Review (MSR).
Although this is a government administrative task, it is hugely important for planning how the City serves the community most effectively. Updating the MSR is mandated by the Mendocino Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) and is an essential part of good governance so that we can show where the City provides services and how, and positions us for growth in the future.
Generally, we are prioritizing initiatives that improve our residents’ quality of life.
- The 2022 Pumpkinfest was a clear demonstration of why it’s so great to be here. In 2023, we will continue to support community events that bring our community closer together.
- We are fortunate to be home to the Grace Hudson Museum, which this year acquired 16 Grace Hudson paintings. The Grace Hudson Museum continues to be valuable institution which promotes the culture of the Ukiah Valley.
This community is special. It has been incredible to see us bounce back from pandemic challenges and make meaningful progress on key city priorities.
We are working well with regional partners, like the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority, Sanitation District, and regional water agencies. That allows the entire region to improve efficiencies, ensure the reliable and affordable delivery of municipal services, and continue to strengthen the foundations that support work and play.
We are keeping the lights on with an increasing reliance on sustainable energy sources; we are keeping the water flowing while doing our part with structural conservation measures; we are taking steps in advance to reduce the risk of fire or service disruption; we are rebuilding infrastructure with a focus on long term efficiency, all while providing affordable, reliable, high quality local services.
At the same time, our quality of life locally is something to be protected, celebrated, and continuously prioritized.
The City of Ukiah is here to serve YOU. We invite your engagement, and welcome your feedback at any time.