Appearing before a meeting of the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis discussed the importance of building strong neighborhoods while tying it to a new volunteer clearinghouse he helped establish.
Davis, who won Elk Grove's first directly elected mayoral race in November in part on his promise to help build strong neighborhood, said Elk Grove's fast growth and the housing bust has created varying levels of resident involvement in the city's various enclaves. Davis said those neighborhoods that have less resident involvement typically have higher property crimes.
"Our objective is to ensure that every neighborhood is strong and that every neighborhood has infrastructure of people in place, neighborhood leaders, that are working together," Davis said.
Davis went on to say the process is in part data driven and there are analysis of things such as where property crimes or code enforcement calls are coming from so there can be an objective measurement to determine where help is needed. Aside from providing analysis, Davis said the hope is to develop neighborhood leaders who help facilitate neighborhood involvement.
|Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis.|
The mayor went on to discuss a new group he helped establish, Serve Elk Grove, which will act as a sort of clearinghouse to help communicate and coordinate volunteer civic projects throughout the year. Davis said having several volunteer civic improvement projects will help strengthen neighborhoods.
"This is a community with a lot of caring people and they want to be involved," Davis said. "It needs to be easy to find the opportunities."
Davis also fielded several questions from the audience, most of which centered on neighborhood concerns such as code enforcement and affordable housing.
When asked about affordable housing in the city, Davis said that while the city has done a good job of providing affordable housing, it could do more to help families in the extremely low income groups.
"That is something that is not sitting on deaf ears," he said. "Its got a ways to go, but we are working on it."
Another question asked of Davis involved how neighbors might address homeowners who violate covenants, conditions and restrictions. Davis said one neighborhood group teamed with the city and sent correspondence on city letterhead informing the resident of the violations.
One of Davis' mayoral rivals who attended the meeting, Lynn Wheat, suggested that more information be sought from the violator so as not to immediately make the situation punitive in nature. Wheat suggested that perhaps the violators be approached with the help of city about a related items such as creating a neighborhood watch program.
"There are a lot of people in this area who are really hurting and they might not be paying attention to their yard because financially they can't do that," she said. "Once you begin that [punitive] route, it really doesn't build a better community real well, it is negative."
Davis also took the opportunity to thank the club for their support in last November's election and to help spread the word about Serve Elk Grove's first project on Saturday, May 11. More information about that project and other upcoming volunteer opportunities is available here.
Note: Also attending the meeting was Assembly Member Ken Cooley (D), Rancho Cordova. A separate story on Cooley's comments regarding the recently approved Cordova Hills project will be posted later today.