The town of Danville remains successful and financially solvent despite ongoing crises at the state level, Mayor Newell Arnerich told a group of local business professionals at the annual State of the Town address last week. The mayor highlighted the town's careful planning and partnerships as integral to Danville's continued success.
Barely 40 hours after passing the controversial General Plan 2030, Mayor Arnerich gave a brief history of the general plan process as well as updates and changes to the recently approved document.
"We kept in the same direction we have been for the past three decades. We looked at the details from top to bottom and our General Plan is a reinfection of that," Arnerich said, adding that there would be a continued community conversation on Measure S. "Our General Plan gives us the personality that we hope is a reflection of us."
Arnerich continued that the town already has programs in place that will help curb vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gases, goals outlined in the Sustainability Action Plan. "Danville Police Department's new fuel reduction fleet of cars and synthetic turf fields have reduced fuel consumption by 50 percent along with new town-wide bicycle parking," he noted.
Such sustainability measures are of increasing importance as Danville's population continues to grow, though at a reasonable pace. Danville has grown by about 30 residents every year since 2000 and now has a population of 43,000, with approximately 150,000 special events visitors each year. The town has 170 retail businesses, 202 restaurants or specialty food operations, 470 service businesses and 80 spas or salons.
"Economic development has been at the top of our list in every vocabulary since we saw the economy go down a cliff in2008," Arnerich said. "We figured out how to readjust business models --- by partnering with downtown retail, downtown development, our concierge service for small businesses."
The mayor said Danville would continue "reaching out further into the future" through programs like iGATE, the area's cooperative work with Sandia and Lawrence Livermore labs to move green technology into the private sector.
Other areas of local interest include transit funding, partnerships with the Chamber of Commerce and Discover Danville Association, as well as the Tri-Valley Council. Alluding to recent requests that the town remove it self from regional governing body Association of Bay Area Governments, Arnerich said Danville has to be a member so it can have a say.
"If you want to do something in this community, you have to learn to play in a very large sandbox. From (Washington,) D.C. To Sacramento...we have to be involved, if we don't have a seat on these they're going to tell us what they want to do," he said. "Little Danvillee has to puff itself out, make it look like one of the big guys."
Unlike many of the "big guys" or neighboring cities, Danville's budget is extremely cost effective and the only town in Contra Costa County to see sales tax above 2007 levels. Of its $26.1 million budget, Danville spends $600 per resident -- compared to $1,125 in San Ramon and $2,495 in Pleasanton.
"Danville contracts for 60 percent of its services. When the economy went down, yes we tightened our belt…but we didn't cut pay, we didn't cut doggy bags out of parks. You barely saw anything and we raised our level of service," Arnerich said.
Danville continues to be a desirable place to live with median home prices around $1 million, or $408 per square foot. Partnerships with schools and a high level of service is what makes the community valuable, Arnerich said.
The mayor highlighted Danville's community spirit and altruism, noting that the town has over 150 volunteers who contributed more than 16,000 service hours last year. Special events such as the Kiwanis Fourth of July parade, welcome home ceremony for gold medal olympians Maggie and Jessica Steffens, Hot Summer Nights and the farmers market, along with more than 700 recreation services, contribute to Danville's high quality of life.
Additionally, crime has been reduced by over 30 percent. Police Chief Steve Simpkins will present the department's annual report next month and highlight successes such as the arrest of a Los Angeles man suspected in a lottery scam.
"It sent a message to that type of criminal: don't do it here because of this incredible work," Arnerich said of the Police Department.
The town will continue with several capital projects in the coming year, including http://www.danvilleexpress.com/news/show_story.php?id=9200&approved=yes town meeting hall audio/visual improvements, solar panel installation at town offices and Diablo Vista Park, among others.