Folsom Mayor Rosario Rodriguez delivered her first State of the City address since taking the mayoral lead of the city in December, following her previous term as vice mayor. 

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Standing before a sold-out crowd at Lakeside of Folsom, Rodriguez progressed through her presentation breaking it down into 10 different categories, starting with the importance of a healthy balanced community and prosporous economy and concluding with her vision into 2023.

“Ladies and gentlemen, let us tap into the strength, the drive and the excellence of our community,” Rodriguez said in closing. “The state of our city is strong. Join me as we leave our legacy on this great city of Folsom.”

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For those that were unable to attend the event. Below is the Mayor’s entire 2023 State of the City, in its original form courtesy of Rodriguez and the City of Folsom:

Folsom Mayor Rosario Rodriguez State of the City Speech

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When Joe Gagliardi, President and CEO of Choose Folsom and I first talked about the State of the City, he asked what my message was going to be. I let him know that I have a #GSD post-it on my desk in the Mayor’s office to remind me of my purpose…..“Get S*** Done”. He informed me that it wasn’t appropriate to use that that sort of language in a church setting. What Part-Time Clergyman Joe Gagliardi doesn’t know is that “dung” is spoken throughout the Bible 47 times! 

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Good afternoon and welcome. Honorable dignitaries, distinguished Chamber members, ladies and gentlemen, it is the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your mayor and to have the opportunity to deliver this annual message to you today. For many years, this day has been an important tradition in our city. I would like to thank Choose Folsom for bringing us together and for your tireless commitment to the Folsom business community.
And today, I am EXCITED to share the state of our great city with you. As I look around the room, I am inspired and hopeful. I see some of the best and the brightest representing the strength and diversity of our city’s business community. Business leaders, entrepreneurs, and community members who invest in our city because….you believe in our city. 

There’s something special about Folsom. Something magical! A deep sense of community, a spirit of generosity and a culture of caring and support. 
Before I proceed, let me give you a personal example. Let’s rewind to 2016. I had taken a leap of faith and traded my six-figure healthcare job to pursue my dream of owning a taqueria in Historic Folsom. As a new small business owner, I worked dual jobs for a few months until the demand was too great. I was working around the clock 24-7, while also caring for my now late husband Paul during his aggressive chemotherapy treatments. It became clear to those closest to me that I was in high gear for a prolonged period. Joe Gagliardi approached me in his best godfather manner saying, “I have an offer you can’t refuse”. He offered to manage my restaurant while I took a vacation. The Telegraph titled it, “Taqueria Takeover” as Joe, with six other trusted friends managed my restaurant for 8 days. I was able to get away and recharge my batteries on the beaches of Cabo San Lucas. I rested easy knowing full well that my new restaurant was in good hands. That, my friends, is the Folsom way.

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To quote Captain James T. Kirk, “To boldly go where no man has gone before” is our the starting point. Today, we look at where we’ve been, where we are, and where we are going. Together, we will #GSD! 

One of the toughest parts of my job today stems from the fact that we have a lot to share and a lot to celebrate. So let’s explore ten themes today – ten ideas, plans, and visions that give us insight about our city’s progress and potential. 
Let’s go….

#1 Healthy, Balanced Community and Prosperous Economy 
As we look to the future, economic development and job creation remain a top priority. We continue to see a promising future, as major investments continue to be made throughout our city.

I truly like the brand that has been adopted for our community of 
“CHOOSE FOLSOM – VISIT, CONNECT, PROSPER” – that says it all. We all know 
that the City of Folsom has so many wonderful things that we can be proud of but 
we often don’t tell our story to others. In recent times, I have had the opportunity 
to meet with both locals and visitors and many times people are not aware of the 
wonderful amenities and attributes we have not only in our city, but the region. 

It is an exciting time for economic development in Folsom, as today we are becoming a growing medical hub brimming with healthcare opportunity. 
Dignity Health is moving forward with a new state-of-the-art medical complex on a 27-acre site at the northeast corner of East Bidwell Street and Alder Creek Parkway. The project includes an acute care hospital with 300 beds and a ground-level heliport facility and two medical office buildings.

UC Davis Health is also expanding its care in Folsom. The health system purchased a 34.5-acre parcel on East Bidwell Street, south of Highway 50, and site work is well underway with its first building construction expected to commence in the second quarter of this year. Initial plans call for an outpatient medical office building and, in the future, a micro-hospital, an ambulatory surgery center, and a hotel.
And Kaiser Permanente recently announced its expansion plans for a 260,000-square-foot, four-story state-of-the-art medical office building located next to its existing ambulatory surgical center on Palladio Parkway. It will be Kaiser Permanente’s second comprehensive care center in Northern California and will include urgent care, a surgery center, and more than 90 clinical offices offering mental health, adult and family medicine. 
Increased economic investment isn’t limited to the healthcare sector. 
To further the city’s economic development goals, the City Council approved an agreement with SiFi Networks to deliver fast and reliable fiberoptic broadband internet connectivity to every home and business in Folsom. This fiber optic network enables Smart City applications, boosts economic growth, and helps close the digital divide. 
Higher education, as demonstrated by Folsom Lake College’s growing campus, also contributes to Folsom’s growing economy. Folsom Lake College recently broke ground on a new state-of-the-art science building. The 75,000-square-foot structure is set to open in 2024 and will house six biology labs, six chemistry labs, and a 4,000-square-foot science center. It’s the ideal training ground for a STEM career, and it will help cultivate a top-quality workforce in our city.
Speaking of sparking innovation, Choose Folsom’s Granite School is serving as a tech and innovation hub for startup companies and entrepreneurs. Located in a 105-year-old school building that was designated as an historical landmark, it now serves as a next-generation co-working space in the heart of Folsom’s historic district. 
Our local economy is growing modestly, and we are proceeding with caution as the market stabilizes from record inflation rates, the ripple effects of the pandemic, and a potential recession on the horizon. Home sales are up over 12.9 percent over last year, the average price of a home sold during 2022 was just shy of $800,000. We’ve seen continued growth in our assessed value of property – sitting at nearly 18 billion. This reflects a 7 percent increase over last year. There are nearly 43,000 jobs right here in Folsom, and our unemployment rate sits at 2.4% –among the lowest in region. 
My colleague Coucilmember Aquino had previously suggested setting up
economic zones within the city and have each Councilmember spearhead both
public and private projects in those zones that they adopt. I believe we can then
evaluate each project’s merit and prioritize the projects for both short term and 
long term implementation. 
We already have a Park Master plan, trail master plan and a plan for the Johnny 
Cash trail but all lack funding to start or complete so it would be important to 
evaluate innovative opportunities for those projects. We also recently had a 
subcommittee evaluate surplus City property for opportunities to develop, sell, 
joint venture or do nothing. 
We look forward to the future development of a town center in Folsom Ranch – a mixed use, walkable gathering place designed to inspire celebration and community connections. It will blend unique amenities with outdoor spaces that honor our distinctive nature. 
We have begun planning for the revitalization of the city’s Central Business District to encourage new investment in the older areas of East Bidwell and Riley corridors between Sutter Middle School and Blue Ravine Road. Working with our community will set a vision and determine our design, infrastructure, and circulation needs for this vital area of our city. While we plan, we will move forward with safety improvements on Riley Street, including upgraded sidewalks and new bike lanes – made possible thanks to $4 million, courtesy of Congressman Ami Bera. 
The city’s general plan calls for the preparation of a River District Master Plan, with the goal of activating our expansive waterfront for improved access, recreation, and economic development. Through strategic partnerships and community involvement, we will imagine the future our waterfront in the heart of Folsom… and the heart of nature… together. 
You can also expect to see Council Study Sessions that will enable this council to 
discuss important topics publicly and provide direction to staff.
As we continue economic recovery, we are as committed as ever to supporting and expanding Folsom’s economy and supporting our business community. 

#2 Opportunity and Expansion

Development activity in Folsom remains high. Our physical location, coupled with our high-quality amenities, easily translate into real estate gold. In fact, it’s what likely earned us our recent designation as one of the most livable cities in the county, from personal finance website SmartAsset.
In 2022, we issued more than 6,100 building permits that will create as many as 841 new single-family homes, eight multifamily apartment projects, and six new commercial buildings, including the new AC Hotel by Marriott at the Palladio. We also issued nearly 221 permits for residential, commercial, and office improvements and additions.
We are committed to providing a range of housing choices to ensure Folsom is a community for all. We launched a study last year focusing on growth in key areas near jobs, transit, and services. The goal is to reduce auto dependence and encourage higher density development and attainable housing opportunities. 
338 new apartment units were constructed last year and efforts to diversify our housing options are gaining ground. Our Accessory Dwelling ordinance provides additional housing options. And we helped more than 160 elderly community members age-in-place with home improvement projects through our Seniors Helping Seniors program.
These are important steps toward ensuring a mix of housing options so people of all ages, incomes, and stages in life have the chance to make, or keep, Folsom as their home. 
We welcomed more than 2,500 new residents to Folsom Ranch south of Highway 50 in the last year alone, and we are seeing a growing sense of place and community. The Folsom Cordova Unified School District opened Mangini Ranch Elementary School for the 2021-2022 school year and will break ground this year on Alder Creek Elementary School. Construction will begin this year on Folsom Fire Department, Station 34, three new miles of trail will be added, and we’ll soon break ground on the area’s first park. 
White Rock Road from Prairie City Road to East Bidwell Street has been reconstructed into a safer, higher-capacity four-lane expressway, as part of the Capital SouthEast Connector —which will one day connect Interstate 5 in Elk Grove to Highway 50 in El Dorado County. We also wrapped up the Scott Road Extension project, improving travel between Highway 50 and Rancho Murieta.
#3 We Mean Business
We know that to continue attracting quality development in the future, we must support the business needs of today. At City Hall, our goal is to make it as easy as possible to do business with us.
We’re bringing City Hall to our customers, instead of the other way around. Improvements to our permitting processes have improved with the launch of a new electronic permitting and payment system. This year, you’ll see a new state-of-the-art permit center at City Hall that will streamline planning, engineering, and building services and improve access to information. 
We are updating our zoning code and focusing on mixed-use and higher density residential development in key areas of the city. And we are exploring development opportunities on city-owned surplus land to support economic development and tourism.
Beloved parklets and al fresco dining will continue, as the City Council approved making the temporary outdoor dining permit program permanent. We continue to encourage residents to Shop Local – it’s always the right choice when you consider the fact that it creates jobs, supports local businesses, and results in tax dollars staying in our community, funding programs like public safety and critical infrastructure. 

#4 Impact of our Infrastructure 

When it comes to our infrastructure in Folsom, each new year affords us the opportunity to say that we’re improving on the last. 
This year, we’ll make intersection improvements on Iron Point Road at East Bidwell Street – providing much-needed traffic relief on a notoriously choked roadway. We’ll install median barriers, improve paving, and implement other safety measures on Folsom Lake Crossing. And we’ll continue design and environmental work on the Empire Ranch Road Interchange – Construction could begin as early as 2025. All these projects serve to improve the flow of traffic, the hum of commerce and the safety of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.
Upgrades continue on our intelligent traffic management system, and the city is considering roundabouts to reduce speeding and improve traffic flow at key areas of Folsom. 
We talk a lot about prevention in Folsom– because we understand the value. We are investing more than $2 million annually on pavement maintenance–filling potholes and repairing cracked pavement. As a result of these simple investments, we’ll extend the life of our transportation infrastructure, saving millions in the coming years on road replacements we won’t have to make.
When I talk about our infrastructure, I’m not just talking about roads and bridges. 
I’m proud to report that in one year alone, the city’s Waste & Recycling Division has diverted more than 11,000 tons of organic material from local landfills – making good progress on the greenhouse gas goals outlined in new California state law SB 1383. 
We continue to reinvest millions annually into water and wastewater infrastructure. The city has provided over 700 water wise house calls and supported more than 350 customers with water conservation rebates. In the year ahead, we will develop a long-range strategy and action plan for Folsom’s water reliability.

#5. Safe Community, Brought to You by Folsom Police and Fire Departments

The most important investment our city can make is in the safety of our citizens. In fact, half of our city’s budget is dedicated to public safety. 

Thanks in large part to public safety, Folsom has long been known as one of the safest cities in the country. According to Safewise, who pulls the data from the FBI Crime Statistics, in 2022 the total crime rate in Folsom is -39.79% lower than California total crime rate. Of the top 50 cities in California in 2022, Folsom ranked #30! To put this in perspective, there are 450 cities in California! 

We are home to some of the finest law enforcement professionals, equipped with the best tools and techniques to fight crime and serve the community. Our dispatchers are here for us 24/7—answering the call in our toughest moments at unparalleled speed. In 2022, dispatchers answered over 105,00 calls and our police officers responded to over 38,000 incidents.

Our new Citizens Online Police Reporting System allows an immediate submission of a police report for non-emergency incidents, offering a convenient way to report minor incidents.

The new body-worn and in-car camera program strengthens our relationship with the community through transparency. The new video technology automatically triggers when officers activate their red lights or draw their weapon.

Thanks to a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, the Folsom Police Department rolled out an expanded traffic services program to deter dangerous driving. And the Department has partnered with Sacramento County to place a Mental Health Crisis Worker on patrol with officers four days a week. The team responds to any incidents involving a person in crisis.

We’ve never lost sight of the wisdom found in an ounce of prevention. And it begins with our youth. Our School Resource Officers are constantly on-the-go during the school year, serving students at Folsom schools while educating our youth about important issues ranging from cyber safety to Fentanyl to drunk driving.

You see, public safety is a team effort that requires an open dialogue between the community and those who enforce the law. Community policing strategies are working well, and residents and police officers regularly collaborate to find solutions to improve public safety. This grassroots approach to policing allows our officers to get to know the unique needs of the communities throughout Folsom and allows our residents to help be our eyes and ears.
From Coffee with a Cop events, National Night Out, and police and fire open houses, strong community partnerships make our city safer and more connected. You will frequently see our public safety personnel at community events, in parades, in our schools, visiting neighborhoods with Santa’s Sleigh, and collecting toys for local community members in needduring the holidays. This year, in collaboration with other organizations, Santa held an evening for special needs kids to meet Santa. A mother of an autistic son sent an email of how excited her son was to have met Santa and how it blessed her family.
This year marked a transition in both our police and fire departments, as we said goodbye and thanks to longtime personnel. While goodbyes are never easy, we welcomed new police and fire personnel to our city. The Police Department swore in thirteen new officers to replace retirees. They also brought on three dispatchers, an animal control officer, and a records supervisor. The Fire Department graduated and pinned 16 new recruits from two Fire Academies, and promoted one Battalion Chief, two Fire Captains, and two Fire Engineers. 
Arguably, the Fire Department’s most popular employee is Blitz – a Goldendoodle therapy dog who was generously donated by local nonprofit Hearts 4 Heroes. Blitz gets deployed to reduce stress and provide comfort – and he brings out the biggest smiles wherever he goes.

Through the state’s mutual aid system, Folsom Fire Department and Folsom Police Department crews were among the frontline responders supporting firefighting efforts— including Electra, Rices, and Mosquito fires— while ensuring the Folsom community is safe and well-prepared.

In total last year, the Folsom Fire Department responded to more than 9,700 incidents and provided life-saving mutual aid to nearby communities. We invested in new fire engines, ladder truck, utility vehicles and upgraded wildland protection gear to ensure our crews are prepared for emergency response. 

#6 We Are Fun! 
As our tagline says, Folsom is Distinctive by Nature…. Home to more than 50 miles of paved recreational trails, Folsom Lake, Lake Natoma, and the serene American River. Mountain biking, cycling, hiking, and paddleboarding are just a few of our favorite pastimes, making us the destination for outdoor adventure and events. This year, Visit Folsom adds the Spartan Race to its robust calendar of races, runs, and rowing competitions.
The city offers everything from A to Z when it comes to amenities – from the aquatic center to the Zoo Sanctuary. Opportunities are everywhere in Folsom to learn, grow, and play. As we say, “Parks Make Life Better.” And this year, we continue to invest in our parks and trail system.

Design will begin on Benevento Family Park next to Vista del Lago High School. We heard directly from our community, and the new park will feature a children’s play area, sand volleyball courts, and a food truck area. Prospector Park in Folsom Ranch is set to open this year, complete with a field for soccer, rugby, and Farmer’s Market, a ball field, courts, and a dog park. We completed renovation of our pools at the aquatic center, and this year, we’ll invest nearly a million dollars from federal America Rescue Plan funding to support facility renovations and trail repairs. 

We will soon activate the potential of the Hinkle Creek Nature Center for education and enrichment programs. If you haven’t been, the nature center is surrounded by 73 acres of stunning nature – a welcome respite from the daily hustle and bustle. 

Our newly adopted Active Transportation Plan will serve as a long-range compass for creating the future of walking and biking through Folsom. This year, we’ll take a fresh look at our Parks Master Plan, and begin a feasibility study for an overcrossing on Folsom Boulevard.

This year will mark a major milestone in the one-of-a-kind Johnny Cash Trail Art Experience. We’ll install the first piece of public art on the Johnny Cash Trail entrance in Historic Folsom – a 7-foot tall black bronze guitar pick. This year, we renew our focus on making the art experience a reality, with a refreshed marketing and sponsorship plan and community celebration this summer. 

We played host to nearly 40 sporting tournaments and welcomed thousands of swimmers and spectators to meets at the aquatic center. More than just competition, these events support tourism and pay real dividends – from dining in local restaurants to hotel stays. 

The Folsom Public Library is more than your typical library – it’s a community center. The busiest library in the region, the library checked out more 550,000 items in one year alone. We have a community that loves to read, with nearly 1,700 participating in our summer reading challenge. And each week, Folsom’s youngest residents gather for story time, offered seven times a week.

Our library also thinks outside the book … you can also check out adventure kits, board games, and now even California State Parks passes… providing access to Folsom Lake to Tahoe State Recreation Area and beyond.

This year, the Friends of the Folsom Library will expand its bookstore and the carpeting will get refreshed. And the Children’s Storytime Room will be reimagined and renovated, thanks to generous community donations. 

#7 Strong and Connected Communities

Without our community, the items on this list aren’t possible. In Folsom, about 60 residents serve their city on boards and commissions to address community challenges and make Folsom the best city it can be. 
As I touched on earlier, we are a community of givers and a community that cares. A spirit that I truly believe is unequaled. On any given day in Folsom, you can find countless volunteers serving their fellow community members, neighborhoods, and city. Donating time helping our Zoo Sanctuary and library, planting trees and cleaning up parks, and supporting our public safety agencies.
Members from the Community Emergency Response Team, Citizens Assisting Public Safety (CAPS), and Sierra Law Enforcement Chaplaincy provide thousands of volunteer hours supporting our public safety departments.
Each year, thousands of Folsom community members join us for Folsom’s Community Service Day in September. Last year, over a hundred projects were completed and over 60,000 pounds of food was collected to benefit the Twin Lakes Food Bank.
Our strength as a community is evident in everything we do. 
#8 Finance Matters 
Now, I wouldn’t be providing a complete picture of our city if I didn’t address our city’s finances. For decades, our city has been committed to fiscal responsibility— keeping a watchful eye on our spending and saving funds for a rainy day, all while providing the highest level of service to our community.
We have a healthy rainy-day fund, our budget is balanced, and our finances are stable. Our city’s finance department oversees our $102 million general fund spending plan with clarity and transparency. 
But while our current budget is sound, we forecast a storm on the horizon. Sales tax revenue is no longer keeping up with the cost to provide services, and the city’s aging infrastructure is demanding attention. By 2026, we will see a multi-million-dollar shortfall. And if we factor in deferred maintenance – such as repairs and restoration put on the back burner – that number exceeds $20 million.
With one eye on city services and another on the city’s bottom line, our City 
Council will be having difficult conversations about closing a structural budget
deficit with more demands that we have revenues. So how do we expand our 
abilities to support and build an even better community?
We need a strong and growing business community to be able to stay on top and 
get better – that is why Economic Development is my #1 priority! 
And we will partner with our community to address the funding gap together. As always, you have our utmost commitment to transparency and public involvement. We stand committed to leaving a legacy for tomorrow, not a debt.

#9. Living History 
While we plan for the needs of today, we look to our past for valuable lessons. Our community would not be where it is today without the vision, leadership, and commitment of past leaders, activists, and public servants. 
Over 150 years ago, Folsom was settled by pioneers and innovators … restless to take control of their own destinies. As a railroad hub and a gold rush town, Folsom was built on a foundation of innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit.
Today, we honor and celebrate our deep roots and we are committed to protecting the special history that makes Folsom so unique. We respect our yesterdays as much as our tomorrows. 
I don’t need to tell you that the Folsom Historic District is a real jewel for our community. Sometimes referred to as our city’s living room, it’s a vibrant hub for shopping, dining, and rich history. This year, we will learn more about the restoration needs of both the iconic depot building and the Superintendent’s house, and I am hopeful we will lay out a road map to address the restoration needs.
And if you haven’t had a chance to visit the Folsom History Museum lately, you 
Must! Under the new leadership of Director Rita Mookergee Hoffstadt, who is 
launching the organization and its museums into a new era, Folsom History is 
reinventing themselves into a more broadly focused organization for all Folsom 
residents. It will be working on transforming Pioneer Village into a creative active 
historically inspired makerspace where visitors can engage in creative innovation. 
The Chinese heritage museum interior planning is now underway and will be a 
place to explore how cultural innovation can strengthen communities. Finally the 
Folsom History museum is looking to get an exterior facelift as well as an 
expansion to better serve schools and other groups.

#10 The Vision Ahead – Excellence

Just as those who came before us, we will continue to build a solid foundation for the future generations who will call Folsom home. We must look inward and onward.
Based on extensive community input, we are working on a comprehensive 5-year strategic plan. The plan will sharpen our focus, identify our key priorities, and create a clear path to achieve our goals.

So now you can understand why #GSD is an important message to me. There’s a lot of hard work that will take place over this next year, but excellence is attainable! It may get uncomfortable at times, but discomfort isn’t a bad thing. It means we’re progressing. What we need to do is year is surround ourselves with people who strive for excellence! 

In closing, I envision….
Our business community is strong and vibrant with plenty of jobs to service our community so that we have a jobs housing balance. 
Our public safety departments are able to keep our community safe and are at the top of comparative cities. 
A place where our high school students can live after graduation or get a higher education and return to live.
We are a healthcare hub.
We have a start up ecosystem that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship through collaboration.
Our historic district has a mix of business that makes it a strong vibrant destination for both residents and visitors. 
Our tourism amenities be developed so that Folsom becomes a destination and supports our hospitality, retail and restaurant businesses.
That our primary and secondary schools remain at the top. 
The River District plan be implemented so that our rivers and lakes have amenities that create a sense of place and desirability for both all kinds of recreation and cultural activities. 
The Johnny Cash Trail Art project is completed and is visited extensively. 
That the development of our infrastructure such as roads, trails and public transportation be expanded to make Folsom easier to navigate for all forms of transportation. 
The development of the Town Center be done so that it becomes a special place. 
That our extensive open space be utilized for unique educational and recreational uses.
That we continue to expand our collective efforts through the 50 Economic Alliance to market and promote all that we have in Folsom, El Dorado and Rancho Cordova for both Economic Development and Tourism.
I want us to never forget that we must continue to be strong and pursue excellence to remain a top competitor. I am confident that if we all work together we can take this great City that we are and make it even better. 
Ladies and Gentlemen, let us tap into the strength, the drive, and the excellence of our community. The state of our city is strong, join me as we leave our legacy on this great city of Folsom!

Folsom Mayor Rosario Rodriguez delivers her first State of the City address before a sold-out crowd at Lakside Folsom.
Photo: Jacob Canto, Voyage Creative Agency
Adam Frick
Author: Adam Frick