Mayor Albert Vera Highlights Culver City’s Accomplishments in Speech

Published on November 09, 2023

Mayor Vera State of the City speaks in front of crowd at One Culver

In a compelling State of the City address at One Culver, Mayor Albert Vera of the City of Culver City addressed a crowd of 250 people, shedding light on the City's efforts to solve the homelessness crisis and other important initiatives to improve the quality of life for residents.

“As I reflect on my tenure as Mayor over the past year, I have had the privilege of witnessing the extraordinary efforts of many people, and how by working together we are helping Culver City undergo an extraordinary transformation,” Vera said. “Culver City is not the same City I remember from my childhood—but that is okay. Culver City has stayed true to its historic values—compassion, innovation, and hope—while forging its own unique path within the vast embrace of Los Angeles. We stand out because it is a choice we consciously make. Culver City’s journey is unique, and we maintain hope that our collective efforts will bring us to the brighter future our community envisions.”

During the past year, Culver City has shown its commitment to uplift unhoused neighbors, Vera said. A video sharing the story of a man named Laromeo showed his path to shelter and housing through Culver City resources. Between Safe Sleep, Project Homekey, and the Motel Master Leasing Program, Culver City has added a total of 157 beds to our community during the past year. Vera also spoke about the Mobile Crisis Team, dedicated to reaching out to any individual in need of mental health support, which will be in the field starting in January 2024. Vera praised City staff for their dedication to the cause, helping the City achieve its goals.

In the speech, Vera also touched on improved transparency and communication efforts, as well as adjusted firearms policies following feedback from the community. Those policies included adopting an ordinance requiring a permit, mandating inspections, and strengthening security and other requirements for gun stores. In September, after hearing testimony from residents, the City Council approved the purchase of the Martin B. Retting gun store property on Washington Boulevard. “Guns will never again be sold at that site,” Vera said to the crowd’s applause.

Mayor Vera talked about the strength of the business community. The City continues to promote the “Choose Culver City, Buy Local” campaign, as well as its Sustainable Business Certification Program with businesses helping the community reduce its carbon footprint. With the Olympic Games five years away, the City is working with residents and businesses how to best participate.

Arts and culture in Culver City is also a priority for support, Vera said. The City Council awarded $213,000 in Performing Arts Grants in 2023. This past summer, the City celebrated the return of live music to downtown with the newly rebranded Summer Sunset Music Series. “The enthusiastic response from our community was heartwarming, underscoring the importance of culture and community in our city's core,” Vera said. The City also welcomed Artist Laureate Katy Krantz to a two-year term. Soon her art project will be installed at City Hall.

Vera spoke about the City’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. In January, City Council approved a historical context study.  “We sought public input about experiences of discrimination, using these personal stories to help tell the full story of discrimination and put an end to it,” Vera said. Discrimination has no business here in our City – or anywhere.”

Both the Culver City Fire and Police Departments are also prioritizing the diversity of staff. In October, the fire department hosted its annual Girls Camp, giving youth a chance to experience what it is like to be a firefighter. Meanwhile the Police Department’s new “recruitment team” has recruited three new female officers. CCPD is also working toward a historic milestone, aiming to make Culver City the first city in the United States to hire a non-U.S. citizen as a police officer, Vera said.

Later in the speech, Vera welcomed Culver City’s 27th Chief of Police Jason Sims, who was appointed in 2023, having served in the department for over 20 years. Also this year, the City expanded its Partnership in Policing Team to six police officers and one sergeant. The team is focused on delivering a tailored approach to policing through collaborative efforts with various stakeholders, increased attention to improving the quality of life in neighborhoods, active engagement in community outreach activities, and attendance at Neighborhood Watch Meetings. The Police Department’s dedicated Special Enforcement Team, commonly known as the Bike Team, has been entrusted with the vital mission of safeguarding Ballona Creek. 

In the speech, Vera talked about the growth of Culver City, with a long-term planning processes underway for the 2045 General Plan. Vera said the City is working with the private sector to add more housing options including affordable units in mixed-use buildings along Washington, Robertson, and Jefferson Boulevard. There is also working being done for the 536,000 square foot creative office building that will be home of Apple in Southern California, as well as a 175-room boutique hotel on Jefferson Boulevard.

There was also an update on the Inglewood Oil Field. The City and the oil operator of the Inglewood Oil field, Sentinel Peak Resources, have been engaged in settlement negotiations regarding the City’s Oil Termination Ordinance. The ordinance prohibits the drilling of any new wells and the redrilling of any existing wells. The ordinance also requires the plugging and abandonment of all oil and gas wells and termination of oil and gas operations within Culver City. 

Since beginning discussions last year, Culver City and Sentinel Peak have made substantial progress toward a final settlement agreement, and the City anticipates the agreement will be executed within the next month. That pending settlement would, among other things, require Sentinel Peak to plug and abandon all remaining wells by the end of 2029, subject to the provisions of the agreement. “Soon, we will be able to start the conversation about the thoughtful redevelopment of the Inglewood Oil Field,” Vera said.

Transportation and public infrastructure were another portion of Vera’s highlights. He talked about the approved updates to the MOVE Culver City pilot project, including the new features of bike boxes, “bike buddy” signals, and continental crosswalks. “We have done what we said we would do on MOVE. Now, unfortunately, we have run into a lawsuit, filed by an anonymous group who wants to keep the project as it is. This has already slowed our progress—and even threatens to stop it entirely—on making the changes to the project that the community has asked for,” Vera said. “Have no doubt, I will keep fighting for the community on these and other issues that will make it easier to move through Culver City.”

Meanwhile, this year CityBus released its blueprint to transition to a full zero-emission, electric battery bus fleet. Studies have determined that by 2028 nearly all of Culver City can be served by battery electric buses. Vera also shared the accomplishment of the Higuera Street Bridge completion.

Toward the end of the speech, Vera thanked City staff who helped prepare and kept the community safe during Tropical Storm Hillary this summer. “I extend our gratitude to emergency responders, staff, and everyone who worked tirelessly to protect and assist the community. We showed our community’s preparedness and capacity for a quick response to emergencies,” he said.

In his final remarks, Mayor Vera shared his appreciation and love for the City he calls home.

“Through all this work and progress, we continue to celebrate the principles of compassion, innovation, and hope that have guided us. We applaud the resilience of Culver City as it evolves, embracing change while still maintaining the values that have united our community for over 100 years. We show what can be achieved when a city comes together, believes in its purpose, and commits to the well-being of its residents. Let us continue to work tirelessly, with hope in our hearts, to make Culver City an even better place for all who live and work here. Together, we can build a brighter, more inclusive future for this extraordinary city we are proud to call home.”

You can watch the Mayor’s speech in full on the City’s YouTube channel or below.

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