“Culver City’s journey is unique, and our collective efforts will bring us the brighter future that Culver City envisions.”
On Nov. 2, 2023, Mayor Albert Vera, Jr. gave his ‘State of the City’ speech in the cavernous lobby of 10000 Washington Blvd. a location that echoes its own importance to the city.
Each mayor over the past several years has stepped away from the traditional luncheon to create a unique format for the annual presentation. Vera used the venue to its best advantage, tailoring his address to focus on the recent accomplishments of the council, filling the space with a colorful broadcast and impressive list of facts.
After a Color Guard presentation and a Pledge of Allegiance by the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, the evening began with a multi-faith series of invocations from Rabbi Zach Shapiro of Temple Akiba, Director Arif Sayed of the King Fahad Mosque, and Father Esteban Marquez of the St. Augustine Catholic Church. In this new setting for the annual mayoral address, the speaker’s podium was backed by a video screen where images turned the speech into a layered, multi-media presentation.
Vera began by thanking the electeds in attendance, beginning with the Culver City council members and Culver City Unified School Board members, who were present. After noting the staff representing Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager, Assembly Majority Leader Isaac Bryan, and Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, Mayor Vera also offered his thanks to Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, and brought her up on stage to offer a bouquet of flowers.
“I knew Mayor Bass long before both of us had the honor of becoming Mayor in the same year, and we are happy to lock arms with her on taking on the issue of homelessness.”
Focusing in on the city’s emergency declaration on homelessness, Vera introduced a video about one of the residents of the Safe Sleep Site, Laromeo. Giving him the moment to tell his own story, with a supporting quote from a member of the Urban Alchemy staff running the site. Vera noted “In this inspiring story of hope, it is clear that our work has been worthwhile. . . With help from the County and the State, we purchased two hotels, and have turned them into Project Homekey [along with Safe Sleep] adding 157 beds [for the unhoused] to our community this past year.” He also mentioned the long awaited Mobile Crisis Team, “an unarmed response team, dedicated to reaching out to individuals in crisis and in need of support,” which would be active in January of 2024.
Vera reflected on the update of the gun retail regulations in December, and the purchase of the Martin B. Retting Gun Shop in September, saying “guns will never be sold at that site. [again.] We are in process to determine the future use of that site.”
Discussing the current consideration of revamping two of the city’s parks, “We have been gathering community input on the future of the Vets Building and Bill Botts Park; if you have not yet weighed in, there are more meeting scheduled for the future.”
Highlighting the city’s commitment to arts and culture, Vera offered a spotlight to the Actor’s Gang’s Shakespeare in the Park 2023, with Much Ado About Pooh, the Heidi Duckler Dance Company’s Ebb and Flo performance at Ballona Creek, the latest Artist Laureate Katy Kranz, and the reshaped Summer Concert Series.
He lauded the city’s preparation for Tropical Storm Hilary, saying that while we were lucky to have missed the worst of it, “Public Works cleared basins and storm drains, and offered 50 tons of sand and sand bags for residents. We showed our preparedness and capacity for dealing with extreme weather events.”
“We applaud the resilience of Culver City as it evolves …we show what can be achieved when the city comes together.”
Judith Martin Straw
Photo Credit – Dani Crum