Technology is centerpiece of Concord mayor’s address
CONCORD, CA (Feb. 15, 2023) — In her sixth State of the City address, Mayor Laura Hoffmeister noted that she foresaw the advent of the hand-held computer (otherwise known as the cell phone) – but she hadn’t predicted the growing popularity of pickleball or the advent of retail cannabis sales in the city.
Describing the high-tech environment at the new Coastal and CoCo Farms marijuana dispensaries, she said: “It’s not the old days where you got a dime bag down on the street corner.” But, she quickly added: “Not that I would know anything about that.”
In other technological advances, Hoffmeister pointed to the Police Department’s use of drones and license plate readers to help solve crimes and find missing persons. She also encouraged residents and business owners to join the city’s Community Camera Registry Program. “It gives us another tool to try to combat crime effectively in our community,” she told the crowd at the Hilton on Feb. 1.
More innovations at hand
At the event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, Hoffmeister touted the Feb. 22 open house for the Concord Life Science Center. “It’s a privately owned flexible space laboratory suites. It’s going to be home to many cutting-edge life science companies in North Concord,” she said, noting that the city team is providing marketing support and technical assistance.
And while we aren’t quite in the age of flying cars, the mayor said traffic signal improvements should help drivers sail through the city’s roads more quickly.
“We’re trying to upgrade our signal technology, so that we’re not having to wait at the red light, go to the next light and it’s red,” she said. “If we can improve traffic flow, we’ll improve also, I think, the business community as well because the customers can get to your businesses and deliveries can be made more efficiently.”
It always come around to potholes
Speaking of the roadways, Hoffmeister reported that the two-year Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding is the largest in the city’s history.
“I assure you that fixing our roads is the mantra that we’ve heard from our community. So we’re on it – and we’re working to improve it,” she said.
“And we would not have been able to do this without the passage of Measure V, so I thank the business community and all those in the community who supported that and the voters. That ballot measure was able to allow us to create that additional sales tax revenue which has allowed us to leverage funding to get immediate investment that we are now putting back to work.”
Hoffmeister, a lifelong Concord resident, was first elected to the City Council in 1997 and has been reelected six times. Last November’s victory came after her well-publicized arrest for DUI last spring.
In a speech entitled “Rebounding, Rebuilding and Renewing,” she also talked about the city’s recovery from the pandemic. With better than expected tax revenues, Concord has brought back 19 staff positions. Meanwhile, the Police Department has made progress in filling vacancies, thanks in part to a new bonus program.
Among her other top priorities are continued efforts to help the unhoused population, new tobacco sale policies, updating the Housing Element – including accommodating more affordable housing – and finding yet another developer for the Naval Weapons Station.
“I’m grateful and proud of how our city has rebounded from the pandemic. It’s not been an easy task, and we still have work to do. But we have largely weathered the storm, and we are stronger for it,” she said.
“We have much on the horizon, and I’m thankful that you are all a part of our growth and success.”
Bev Britton graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of North Dakota and moved to the Bay Area with her soon-to-be husband Jim in 1986. She was features editor at the Contra Costa Times in Walnut Creek before becoming managing editor of the Contra Costa Sun in Lafayette in 1995. She retired from newsrooms in 2001, but an ad for the Clayton Pioneer drew her back in. The family moved to Lake Wildwood in the Gold Country a few years ago - but working at the Pioneer keeps her in touch with her old neighborhoods in Concord and Clayton.