2016 State of the City & Taste of Norco
Click Here to watch the Video of Mayor Bash's Presentation
On Thursday, March 31st, the Norco Area Chamber of Commerce held the 2016 State of the City event with the address delivered by Norco Mayor Kevin Bash, along with its second annual Taste of Norco.
From 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., community members were able to sample food from various chamber-member restaurants, including Chick-fil-A, Dona Luisa's Mexican Grill, Jersey Mike's Subs, Jimmy John's Sandwiches, Pizza Corral, Polly's Pies, Rancho Taco Shop, Sons of Liberty Aleworks, and Sports Nut Pizza, plus a bonus “taste” from Canine Caviar Pet Foods.
Each restaurant offered attendees the chance to sample some of their menu items and helped many community members become more familiar with dining options in the Norco area.
Following the conclusion of the Taste of Norco, NACC President and CEO Diane Collins welcomed those in attendance and invited Pastor Adam Smith of South Hills Church to the stage to deliver the invocation for the evening. Pastor Smith was followed by the presentation of our Nation’s colors by Norco Boy Scout Troop 999, who also led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance. Norconian Katherine Grossman was then brought to the stage to sing the National Anthem in preparation for the State of the City Address.
Collins returned to the stage to note the Chamber’s growth over the past year and focus for the coming year, including the development of the Visitors Center and expanding office hours.
Tokens of appreciation were presented to sponsors of the event, including Norco Valley Dental, Browning Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, Waste Management, DiGerolamo Family Insurance, Western Riverside Council of Governments, The Lansing Companies, and Exact Color LLC.
NACC Chairman Michael Ryan then arrived onstage and recognized the Chamber’s work over the past year in establishing successful annual events, including the Taste of Norco, and reported the money earned from the Military Appreciation Luncheon had gone toward charities that provide services to veterans. Ryan introduced Norco Mayor Kevin Bash and welcomed him to the stage to deliver the 2016 State of the City Address.
Bash began his address by reminding audience members of Norco’s unique history of stubborn citizens who fought to maintain a rural lifestyle and helped to preserve the values that are still at the core of Norco today. Bash noted Norconians’ persistent refusal to succumb to urbanization in order to maintain a city built on “large lots and open spaces.”
Bash pointed to a specific group known as the “Freeway Fighters” that prevented the expansion of the freeway into Norco for upwards of 30 years, in an effort to maintain the city’s rural lifestyle. He explained that this 30 year period allowed the city and its members to realize who we were and fully understand what we were trying to preserve.
With the arrival of the I-15 freeway in Norco in the 1980s, came an Auto Mall and the Target shopping center, both of which were staunchly opposed by residents. However, Bash emphasized that the two commercial centers created a base of financial support for the city, since the large lots central to the city’s identity create a shortage on property tax and require that the city’s main source of revenue be sales tax.
Mayor Bash then detailed Norco’s more recent history, describing the destructive impact of the 2008 economic collapse on the City and the dangerous drop in sales tax revenue. The City underwent various cost-saving measures and instituted a plan to diversify income by attracting more businesses to the city. Bash and the City Council, however, remained cautious in the businesses they chose to prospect for the community, to protect the City from any businesses that could potentially encroach on Norco’s rural and equestrian lifestyle. During that time, the Council was able to bring in more than 300 businesses to Norco, helping pull the City out of the recession, and allow its economy to thrive. Today, Bash noted, almost every industry group within the community has culminated around $6 million in sales tax revenue.
Mayor Bash then launched into an assessment of Norco as it is today, as well as a vision of improvements for the City, both currently underway and those that are planned for future implementation.
Requests by residents for the City to be more transparent have led to various improvements across social media platforms, including the introduction of a new, comprehensive website for the City of Norco. The City has also recently put to use the Nixle cell phone app, which provides residents with relevant, up-to-date information about events and the current state of the City. An app for Norconians is currently in development, which is being designed to allow residents a convenient and fast way to report problems relating to the city, as well as request repairs and offer suggestions.
In terms of public safety, Bash acknowledged the work of the Norco Sheriff’s Office and the newly implemented traffic enforcement program that has increased traffic citations and helped foster a safer environment in the City. Bash also noted the incredible volunteer work of the members of the Norco Citizen Patrol program, who have worked selflessly to keep Norco safe and volunteered over 100,000 hours since the program’s introduction in 1995. Bash recognized the work of CALFIRE in helping protect Norco and how the safety of the City has improved as many CALFIRE firemen live within the community.
Regarding water treatment, Bash assured that Norco has incredibly clean, safe water, and a reservoir project is currently underway to cool the water and provide Norconians with an even better source of water.
Bash also took time to address the newly opened SilverLakes park, noting the “vicious public opinions” that threatened to derail the project. The park stands today as a “green buffer,” as Bash describes it, between Norco and Eastvale, and provides residents with sports fields and equestrian areas that Bash remains incredibly proud of. By July, the park is expected to generate a cash flow of around $85,000 a month.
Bash then acknowledged the extensive work done by the Parks & Recreation Department, including the organizing of special events such as the summer Concerts in the Park series and the holiday season Parade of Lights. Bash also identified the George A. Ingalls Veteran’s Memorial Plaza as among the nicest public memorials in the area, recognizing Medal of Honor recipient George Ingalls, as well as other Norconians who have sacrificed themselves for the country. Bash aims to make the plaza self-funded and run by veterans themselves.
At the close of his address, Bash emphasized the fragility of Norco’s economy, reminding citizens that because of the rural lifestyle unique to Norco — which citizens have continually fought to maintain — the main source of revenue for the City comes from sales tax. Bash encouraged citizens to continue to Shop Norco and actively support businesses in the community in order to keep the City’s economy alive, as well as the rural, equestrian lifestyle that has been central to Norco’s identity since its beginnings.
State of the City & Taste of Norco
Taste of Norco Photos