Lodi’s state of change

State of the City looks at eco­nomic, pop­u­la­tion growth

Lodi News-Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Wes Bowers NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

LODI — Lodi Mayor Mark Chan­dler said right now is an ex­cit­ing time to be in Lodi.

The sec­ond-term coun­cil­man, serv­ing his sec­ond stint as mayor, laid out how the city is cur­rently grow­ing both eco­nom­i­cally and pop­u­la­tion-wise, and what lies ahead in the com­ing months dur­ing his State of the City ad­dress on Wed­nes­day morn­ing at the Wood­bridge Golf and Coun­try Club.

“You’re go­ing to see some things we’re do­ing that are go­ing to sig­nif­i­cantly en­hance our qual­ity of life,” he said. “We have a lot to cel­e­brate, we have some chal­lenges, as you all know.”

One of the things the city can cel­e­brate is the re­cent re­open­ing of Lock­e­ford Street, which was closed for re­pairs and ren­o­va­tion for about five months.

Chan­dler high­lighted sev­eral im­prove­ments hap­pen­ing on the thor­ough­fare, in­clud­ing the de­vel­op­ment of the ad­di­tion of Doors Plus, Pa­pa­pavlo’s and the King­pin Bowl­ing Al­ley, com­ple­mented by Es­tate Crush.

“There’s a lot go­ing on down on Lock­e­ford Street, if you haven’t no­ticed,” he said. ‘It is now a real gate­way into Lodi,” he said.

The bowl­ing al­ley, which broke ground in Fe­bru­ary, will be a 42,000-square-foot project with 32 lanes on two sto­ries. There will also be a res­tau­rant, sec­ond-story ban­quet hall and a bar. King­pin Bowl­ing Al­ley is ex­pected to open some­time next year.

Other im­prove­ments planned for Lodi is the city­wide bike lanes im­prove­ment project, city-wide pedes­trian en­hance­ment project, and on­go­ing res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

Chan­dler spoke briefly about Tues­day’s of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ing on In­dus­trial Way, com­mend­ing the of­fi­cer who es­caped in­jury from gun­fire

He added the city is us­ing Mea­sure L funds to ful­fill its prom­ise to keep Lodi streets safe, stat­ing 75 of 77 po­si­tions at the Lodi Po­lice Depart­ment have been filled in re­cent months. Mea­sure L has also al­lowed the Lodi Fire Depart­ment to keep

En­gine 1 in op­er­a­tion full­time for the first time in about a decade, he said.

Last year, Lodi vot­ers ap­proved Mea­sure L, the half­cent sales tax in­crease that is ex­pected to gen­er­ate $5.4 mil­lion in rev­enue an­nu­ally. Funds will be used to hire new po­lice of­fi­cers and im­prove many of the city’s parks and play­grounds, among other al­lo­ca­tions.

“It’s not easy to at­tract new of­fi­cers into po­lice th­ese days,” he said. “They’ve had a pretty rough go the last five years. It’s a tough job, and some­times you have ap­pli­cants that can’t pass the back­ground check or can’t get through the academy. It’s a big job to fill those po­si­tions.”

Also of note were a new vir­tual-re­al­ity sys­tem to help train of­fi­cers, a new drone for sur­veil­lance and ap­pre­hen­sion, and the re­duc­tion of gang-re­lated in­ci­dents from 252 in 2011 to 17 this year as more ac­com­plish­ments Chan­dler said the city should cel­e­brate.

Chan­dler touched on the city’s ef­forts to com­bat home­less­ness as well, not­ing he re­cently in­sti­tuted a pub­lic and pri­vate part­ner­ship to fund re­duc­tion ef­forts.

He said he made a $1,000 do­na­tion to the part­ner­ship, as did his wife Jan and her par­ents, Dave Kirsten and Vino Farms. In ad­di­tion, lo­cal developer FCB Homes do­nate $5,000 to the part­ner­ship.

The do­na­tions, he said, will be matched with pol­lu­tion pre­ven­tion funds to re­move un­reg­is­tered recre­ational ve­hi­cles from Lodi streets that are over­stay­ing their wel­come through­out town.

“(Com­mu­nity Li­ai­son Of­fi­cer) Dan Scheile and the PART­NERS went out and tagged about a dozen of those RVs about two weeks ago,” he said. “Just the threat of be­ing towed away, and know­ing the re­sources are there to con­duct that work, five out of the six that were tagged left. So it’s work­ing, just the threat.”

Out­side Lodi, Chan­dler sits on the North­ern Cal­i­for­nia Power Agency board, and noted a re­cent grant the city ob­tained through that agency that will be used to fund sev­eral so­lar projects through­out town.

Those in­clude in­stalling pan­els on the Down­town Park­ing Garage, at Pix­ley Park and along Cen­tury Boule­vard.

Sev­eral city parks will also see a va­ri­ety of im­prove­ments soon, as the DeBenedett­i Park mas­ter plan is cur­rently gain­ing steam.

In ad­di­tion, Mea­sure L and Propo­si­tion 68 funds will be used to ren­o­vate Blakely Park and its wad­ing pool, as well as to ren­o­vate Hale Park and the Lodi Lake Park na­ture trail.

Propo­si­tion 68 was ap­proved by Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers last year au­tho­riz­ing $4 bil­lion in gen­eral obli­ga­tion bonds for state and lo­cal parks, as well as en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, wa­ter in­fras­truc­ture and flood pro­tec­tion projects.

Other de­vel­op­ment projects planned

John Vierra, owner of NJA Ar­chi­tects, pre­sented a list of new devel­op­ments Lodi res­i­dents can ex­pect to see com­plete in the near fu­ture.

Along with the Lodi Bowl­ing Al­ley, Vierra said a mixed used de­vel­op­ment planned for the cor­ner of Lower Sacra­mento and Turner roads is “very ex­cit­ing.”

Lo­cated across the street from the former Gen­eral Mills plant, the project in­cludes a bou­tique ho­tel with ground-level re­tail.

“It will be al­most a city cen­ter for the north por­tion of Lodi,” he said. “It will have cof­fee shops, bak­eries, a res­tau­rant... more hos­pi­tal­ity-driven uses.”

The new de­vel­op­ment will also in­clude a park­ing struc­ture to ac­com­mo­date visi­tors and keep the sur­round­ing green, open spa­ces avail­able for peo­ple to enjoy, he said.

In Down­town Lodi, a long-time busi­ness has plans to ex­pand its ser­vices and at­tract more tourists to the re­gion.

The Danc­ing Fox on School Street will re­place its park­ing lot with a dis­tillery, brew­ery and beer gar­den, along with two tower res­i­dences that will be break­ing ground this spring.

In the city’s in­dus­trial area, plans are un­der way for a $6- to $7mil­lion com­mis­sary project at Guild and Lock­e­ford av­enues.

“Food trucks have kind of evolved in the last 10 to 15 years,” Vierra said. “They’re not taco trucks any­more. They’re decked out in new tech­nolo­gies to cook food. This will house about 100 food trucks and will be a nice draw for the city of Lodi.”

He said the com­mis­sary will of­fer the at­mos­phere of a res­tau­rant, de­pot and gro­cery store in one lo­ca­tion.

New Cham­ber pro­mo­tional project

Lodi Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Pat Pa­trick also un­veiled a new mar­ket­ing tool his or­ga­ni­za­tion plans to roll out in the com­ing months to at­tract new busi­nesses to the area.

The “Grow in Lodi” web­site will show­case the city’s av­er­age cli­mate, hous­ing costs, trans­porta­tion as­sets and trends as mech­a­nisms that may goad busi­ness owners in the Bay Area to move op­er­a­tions to the Cen­tral Val­ley.

Pa­trick said the web­site fo­cuses on at­tract­ing peo­ple from the Bay Area be­cause many of their em­ploy­ees live the val­ley, and would trade hours of com­mute time for hours of rest­ing at home after work.

“The goal of the web­site is to com­mu­ni­cate the beauty, his­tory and wealth of our cul­ture to the Bay Area,” Pa­trick said. Lodi is a great place to work and live, and there’s never been a bet­ter time to do that than there is now.”

The web­site is funded com­pletely by lo­cal busi­nesses such as F&M Bank, Adventist Health and Wine and Roses, Pa­trick said, and should be on­line in about three weeks.

“Pretty ex­cit­ing stuff,” Chan­dler said of the pre­sen­ta­tions made Wed­nes­day. “There are so many more en­ter­tain­ment venues and ways that are go­ing to help cre­ate more em­ploy­ment. It’s an ex­cit­ing time to be in Lodi.”

NEWS-SEN­TINEL PHO­TO­GRAPHS BY BEA AHBECK

City of Lodi Mayor Mark Chan­dler speaks dur­ing the Mayor’s State of the City break­fast in Wood­bridge on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

City of Lodi Mayor Mark Chan­dler speaks dur­ing the Mayor’s State of the City break­fast in Wood­bridge on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Lodi Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent/ CEO Pat Pa­trick speaks dur­ing the Mayor’s State of the City break­fast in Wood­bridge.

Kini San­born, pres­i­dent of San­born Chevro­let, listens dur­ing the Mayor’s State of the City break­fast.

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