The 2023 Azusa State of the City Address highlighted the work the city has done and is doing through a thematic lens of collaboration and partnership.
At its most basic level, a city is a body of people functioning with a common purpose. Like organs, community organizations and government entities work symbiotically to provide for the larger body of the community. It’s this collaborative system that drives a city like Azusa forward.
This message of collaborative progress stood out as Azusa Mayor Robert Gonzales delivered the 2023 State of the City Address on Thursday, April 20, themed “Azusa — Better Together. Working Collaboratively for a Brighter Future.” The event, open to the community at City Hall, included a presentation by Gonzales of community projects followed by an outdoor reception.
“Running a city is a team effort … and we are thankful for the partnerships that make this all possible,” Mayor Gonzales said in his address.
His presentation, which varied from the usual format of past addresses, consisted of five videos highlighting the city’s current projects and accomplishments from the past year followed by Gonzales’ breakdown of specific achievements.
The first video highlighted the city’s effort last October to preserve the Old Azusa Schoolhouse by moving it from North Angeleno Avenue to a plot behind city hall. The city received a $3 million grant from the state to move the structure and curate it as a historic landmark.
Next, Mayor Gonzales presented a video focused on public infrastructure and utilities. The video highlighted the Arrow Highway Street Improvement Project, the $3 million, state-funded South Reservoir reconstruction, the $2.5 million, federal-funded Aspan Well Treatment and Rehabilitation Project and the Athens downtown cleaning service.
The next section of Mayor Gonzales’ presentation celebrated the city’s work in the area of economic and community development. Notably, this video looked at how the $500,000 Azusa Small Business Support Grant has supported local businesses.
In the fourth video, local officials described the benefit community programs and services have had in the past year. They highlighted literacy education services at the public library, the Azusa Youth and Family Center, social activities and meal delivery services provided by the senior center and youth sports and recreation.
The final video presented advancements in public health and safety. Azusa Chief of Police Rocky Wenrick touched on the police department’s goals of providing transparency and improving its use of technology. The video also detailed a recent grant to update the local hazard mitigation plan, and it highlighted resources the city provides for the unsheltered community.
At the end of the address, Mayor Gonzales revealed that the city anticipates a $39.8 million reserve at the end of the 2022–2023 fiscal year. He also outlined the city council’s priorities, including veteran support, downtown improvement, supporting local business resiliency and reinvestments in facilities and resources.
“One of the things that I’m very impressed that the city of Azusa is, just based on their theme today, is the word ‘collaboration,’ and they do it really well,” said State Senator Susan Rubio, an Azusa Pacific University alum and key actor in securing state funding for several projects highlighted in the address. “Because of their engagement with us as state leaders, that is why the community is in even better shape.”
Following his presentation, the mayor shared that the annual state of the city address is important because it’s documented proof of the work the city is doing and where Azusa is headed. He also emphasized the vitality of the partnership between APU and the city.
“We’re here for you [APU], we’re partners, we’re family, and that’s not going anywhere,” said Mayor Gonzales. “The goals in partnership are always going to be working together to make things more efficient for the city and the university itself. When you grow, we thrive as well and vice versa.”