King City State of the City Address
King City Recreation Manager Andrea Wasson (from left), Public Works Director Octavio Hurtado, Mayor Mike LeBarre, City Manager Steve Adams, Police Chief James Hunt and Fort Hunter Liggett Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Trotter share the city’s latest efforts and challenges during the State of the City Address on Jan. 31. (Courtesy of City of King)

KING CITY — Long-term financial stability seemed to be the theme of this year’s State of the City Address, during which City of King officials provided an update on King City’s progress over the past year while presenting their latest efforts and challenges.

The Jan. 31 luncheon, co-sponsored by the King City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture and the King City Rotary Club, took place at the Salinas Valley Fairgrounds and featured a talk with Mayor Mike LeBarre, City Manager Steve Adams, Police Chief James Hunt and other local officials.

LeBarre kicked off the event by discussing some of King City’s recent accomplishments, such as the downtown improvements, and the strategy to pursue grants to fulfill these projects.

“Over the past few years, this city — because we have such dedicated individuals — brought over $50 million in grants for improvements in our infrastructure, into our recreation programs and into our city, and that is amazing for a small city like ours,” he said. “We’re starting to see a lot of those efforts now come to fruition.”

The Downtown Streetscape Project, which included an overhaul of the downtown area with new bulb-outs, crosswalks and medians along Broadway Street, is almost finished. LeBarre said only a few “odds and ends” are left to be done.

King City’s Downtown Plaza project should be completed this spring, featuring an all-new recreation area for visitors downtown. The new park, on the northeast corner of Broadway Street and Vanderhurst Avenue, includes open-lawn areas, outdoor seating and tables, children’s play elements and more.

“That’s going to be an amazing component for downtown,” LeBarre said.

Also on the horizon is adding outdoor dining areas downtown, as well as working with property owners to improve building facades through grant funding.

LeBarre also mentioned the City’s sidewalk improvement project, which was completed last summer and replaced more than 130,000 square feet of concrete. He said the City is now budgeting $50,000 each year to continue making sidewalk improvements.

Financial stability

Speaking of budgets, LeBarre announced that the City has established a reserve fund of nearly $3 million — a far cry from a few years ago when finances were in the red.

“The next important step is long-term financial stability, and that’s where we have to find a path and a set of goals and priorities where we can continually improve the city, continually keep it maintained, and keep us all moving forward,” he said.

Adams continued the discussion on the City’s finances.

“We’ve made some substantial progress,” he said. “But, at the same time, we do still have some major priorities that we are not able to fund in our ongoing operational budget.”

According to Adams, many of these unfunded priority items are the result of deferred maintenance and expenditures that occurred while the City was having financial challenges. The City recently developed a more detailed 12-year plan on these needs, which include street improvements, staffing at the police department and public works, and upgrading and maintenance of City facilities.

“We believe that addressing these costs really represents the last major step in our efforts to establish true sustainable, long-term financial stability,” Adams said.

Community engagement

Community outreach was another topic of discussion, with Hunt saying that it is one of the King City Police Department’s core priorities.

“We’re not in this alone, and we all realize that we can’t be successful without the support of the community,” he said. “We value community input, and we want to make everything we do a collaborative effort to try to make the city not only a safer place, but a much more enjoyable place to be able to live and work.”

The department has hosted and participated in many community gatherings over the past year, from district block parties and food with a cop events to National Night Out and countless school presentations and sporting events.

“Our ultimate goal is to continue with those events, especially the food events,” Hunt said. “We do get pretty good turnouts and actually gives us a chance to share a meal with somebody and sit down and talk. That’s super important. People are more likely to talk to us in a much more informal setting than they are when they come down to the police department.”

Hunt also plans to continue his Chat with the Chief events on Wednesdays at different businesses around town. Interested community members can check the department’s social media for the times and locations.

“These have proven to be a good source of information for us about what’s actually going on in the community and what it is you’re looking for from us,” Hunt said.

In addition, the City has updated its website (, released quarterly newsletters in English and Spanish and added an Instagram account to expand its social media.

According to LeBarre, the City will continue working with Blue Zones Project and plans to host community walks again on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. in March. It is also looking into bringing back the Ciclovia event and having it be an annual occurrence downtown.

“Community outreach is one of our big goals coming up, as well,” LeBarre said. “To expand those activities and get more people engaged, involved and informed in city activities.”

Other speakers included Fort Hunter Liggett Garrison Commander Col. Stephen Trotter, King City Public Works Director Octavio Hurtado and King City Recreation Manager Andrea Wasson.

A bilingual presentation of the annual Address also took place Jan. 30 at City Hall.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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