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Citrus Heights leaders revise 3-year goals, set 6-month objectives

City councilmembers joined senior staff in setting goals during a March 16 Zoom meeting. // Image credit: city website

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Sentinel staff report–
A group of about 15 city leaders and senior staff met for nearly five hours via Zoom on Tuesday to revise three-year goals and set six-month strategic objectives for the City of Citrus Heights – including plans to increase housing supply, reorganize the Police Department, and continue crackdowns on DUI activity.

Through consensus, the group drafted and approved 5 three-year goals, along with numerous objectives to accomplish over six months in line with those goals. The three-year goals are:

Maintain and enhance fiscal stability, maintain public infrastructure and enhance alternative modes of transportation, diversify for a resilient economy, sustain and preserve public safety, and enhance community vibrancy and engagement. A proposal from Councilman Tim Schaefer to include a focus on schools with a consideration of forming a Citrus Heights School District was not adopted.

Over the years, Citrus Heights has faithfully conducted strategic planning sessions every six months, with the exception of last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting is traditionally held in person, but was modified for a remote Zoom conference due to the pandemic.

Following 30 minutes of introductions and ice breakers, the grouped kicked off with a “SWOT” analysis, referring to an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats the city is facing.

Strengths, listed as brainstormed accomplishments over the past year included implementing an outdoor dining program during pandemic closures, hosting a drive-thru “Miracle on Fountain Square Drive” event for the Christmas season, adopting a revised fee list for city services and overseeing a drop in crime.

Weaknesses were a much shorter list, focused on lack of funding with most citing the failure of last year’s Measure M sales tax proposal.

Brainstormed opportunities included potential with Sunrise Mall development plans, a potential new “Measure A” on the 2022 ballot, cost savings from remote work, Bay Area exodus to the region, federal funding potential with a new administration, increased access to COVID-19 vaccines, and a hopeful end to the pandemic.

Threats, which were defined as external impacts that could have a negative affect on the city, included “skyrocketing” development costs, a politically divided nation, potential recession, high unemployment rates, legislation, one-party rule at the state level, potential non-renewal of the Sunrise MarketPlace business improvement district, and potential backlash against SJUSD for its delayed opening of schools.

Related: Funding of business district cop at stake in renewal vote

After setting three-year goals, the group broke into five smaller Zoom groups – each with a council member to discuss six-month objectives for each goal. The group then returned to the larger meeting for consensus.

The city’s longtime outside consultant Marilyn Snider kept the group on track as facilitator, interjecting comments to ensure goals were “SMART,” an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. She concluded the meeting with a quote attributed to Ben Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”

Objectives set during the meeting included staff presenting a balanced budget to the council by April 22 (not accounting for new federal relief funding) followed by revised budget recommendations by July 1, once more is known about federal relief funding. Plans to convert 500 streets lights to LED by Sept. 1 were also listed, along with the presentation of a draft Specific Plan for Sunrise Mall redevelopment by July 15.

Related: How much will Citrus Heights get from the latest federal stimulus bill?

Police Chief Ron Lawrence is also tasked with reorganizing his department in light of budget constraints by Sept. 1, along with overseeing continued DUI checkpoints and/or saturation patrols. Additionally, he will “collaborate with the County Health and Human Services Dept. for alternatives to police responses to non-violent, non-criminal mental health crises calls for service.”

The city’s development director is also tasked with promoting a new “permit-ready” accessory dwelling unit (ADU) program to help boost housing supply in the city with backyard secondary dwellings.

All tasks have target completion dates on or before Sept. 1, 2021, after which the council will hold another strategic planning session to review and set new six-month objectives. A full list of objectives drafted will be posted on the city’s website after being formally presented during the city’s March 25 council meeting.

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