2019 State of the City

Mayor Roe_2019 SotC
Good morning. Thank you for joining me today for our annual update on the state of the City of Roseville.

Reflecting on 2018, and looking forward to 2019, I believe that we can continue to report that the state of things in Roseville is generally very good, with some known challenges and opportunities that we need to address.

Roseville continues to be “Perfectly Positioned” for success (to borrow a phrase from the Roseville Visitors’ Association) through our general location in
the state of Minnesota, which continues to have a stronger economy by most measures than the nation as a whole, but also through our specific location at the heart of our strong metropolitan area. Our location fuels our strength and also provides us with many of our challenges.

We are tremendously fortunate in Roseville to have highly engaged residents, service providers, and businesspeople, who every day give of themselves to make their neighborhoods better, their schools better, and our community as a whole better. In city hall, we know how blessed we are to in many senses ride the coattails of those grass roots efforts. I personally know how blessed we also are at city hall to have a tremendous group of dedicated and highly professional city employees, and engaged and thoughtful people serving alongside me on the city council. 

It is within that framework that the City works to assure the success of our community through all of the things we do. 

I’d like to illustrate that by sharing some City accomplishments and future plans, and how they relate to our community’s aspirations.
City Aspirations
As aggregated from our last community visioning effort, those aspirations are:

We in Roseville aspire to be a community that is:
  • Welcoming, inclusive, and respectful
  • Safe and law-abiding
  • Economically prosperous, with a stable and broad tax base
  • Secure in our diverse and quality housing and neighborhoods
  • Environmentally responsible, with well-maintained natural assets
  • Physically and mentally active and healthy
  • Well connected through transportation and technology infrastructure, and 
  • Engaged in our community’s success as citizens, neighbors, volunteers, leaders, and businesspeople.
GARE group

Welcoming, Inclusive, and Respectful

As previewed last year, a key city council priority in 2018 is labeled Inclusive Community and Governance. 
The primary focus in this area in 2018 has been City staff participation in the GARE program (Government Alliance for Racial Equity). GARE is a partnership of the League of Minnesota Cities and two national organizations called Race Forward and the Haas Institute for a Fair & Inclusive Society, and is part of a nationwide effort of folks in local government to do what we can to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all.

Fourteen Roseville City staff representing most departments and pay grades have participated in the GARE program over the last year. The major next step in the GARE process is to develop and implement a Racial Equity Strategic Action Plan for the City, in order to outline specific goals and actions to address inequities related to how the City does its business.
Fire Inspections

Safe and Law-Abiding

A number of initiatives in the area of public safety were instituted in 2018 designed to increase safety but also openness and transparency.

First among those was the implementation of the 2017 decision to equip all police officers with body worn cameras.

In addition, early in 2018 the police department released the first local data results from the Ramsey County Traffic Stop Data Collection initiative, and held an Imagine Roseville community meeting to present the data and encourage dialogue about it. The 2018 data will be released shortly.

Through a partnership with the Roseville Police Foundation and other community partners, a three-prong effort on addressing human trafficking was undertaken. It focused on education of local hotel and motel staff and management, increased and focused enforcement of trafficking laws, and getting victims into rescue and recovery systems. January was just Human Trafficking Awareness Month. The City and other local groups provided informational and educational forums to bring awareness and help to combat this tragic criminal activity.

With some well-publicized incidents of residential property crimes in 2018 (burglaries, thefts, and the like), we in the community re-focused our attention on efforts to prevent and prosecute crime in the city. As a result, the City will be continuing discussions through 2019 about the numbers and types of police staffing for Roseville going forward, as well as the costs and how any changes will be paid for.
Officer Toran_Body Cam
CSO Ruben Cortez
Key concerns relating to these discussions are general increases in crime, decreases in case closure rates, and increased demands on the time of individual officers and detectives related to training, prioritizing proactive efforts, and properly processing and investigating, and successfully prosecuting, cases. 

Two initiatives are already underway in 2019 that relate at least in some respects to police staffing. 
One is the partnership among suburban Ramsey County police departments and Northeast Youth & Family Services to provide mental health related case management follow up in Roseville, Mounds View, New Brighton, White Bear Lake, and North St. Paul. This is an effort to reduce the number of repeat mental health related police calls in these communities, which can free up more time for officers to be focused on other calls and duties.

A second initiative just recently supported by the city council is the Commitment to Diversity hiring program in the police department. This program allows temporary increases of up to 2 officers beyond the authorized budgeted force strength of the department in order to hire community service officers (CSOs), cadets, or reserves who qualify as “minorities in law enforcement.” This initiative is intended to help our police force become more reflective of our community and to hopefully prevent the loss of those quality individuals to hiring by other departments before vacancies occur here.

In the area of fire and emergency medical safety, 2018 saw the suburban Ramsey County fire departments – including Roseville Fire Department – receive recognition for their innovative “Closest Unit Dispatch” program, which de-emphasizes jurisdictional boundaries in the dispatch of fire and emergency medical units to incidents by Ramsey County dispatchers. This initiative is having an impact on response times and service to our communities.

Like in the Police Department, the Roseville Fire Department is continuing its discussion with the community and city council about appropriate staffing levels as the transition to a full time force is nearing full implementation. Key factors in the fire department discussion include the ability to staff for 3 relatively concurrent fire or medial calls versus only 2 at this time, in addition to properly and safely staffing a fire incident, and, like in police work, dealing with the increasing demands on the time of firefighters for training, inspections, emergency management planning, and the like.

Besides staffing, however, Roseville is dependent on volunteers to remain safe as well. A new part of that involves Roseville becoming a Heart Safe City. This effort includes increased training in CPR as well as placement of more electronic defibrillators in local businesses and institutions. Just recently, Ramsey County and its fire departments implemented the Pulse Point app, which connects those who know CPR to nearby cardiac incidents in order to more quickly deliver life-saving efforts to those in need. We encourage everyone to learn CPR and be a possible life saver.

Economically Prosperous

2018 saw the completion of the extensive remodel at Rosedale Center as well as the opening of the new Von Maur department store at Rosedale, which, along with the opening of Portillo’s and Revolution Hall, are all welcome commitments to and private investments in the ongoing success of Roseville as a regional retail center.

More exciting news about Rosedale may be coming soon in 2019, so we’ll want to stay tuned for that.

Beyond retail, however, Roseville continues to see business growth as well. Calyxt completed and opened its new corporate headquarters, and made several announcements about new innovations, products, and business growth. Long-time Roseville company McGough is progressing with plans for its own new corporate headquarters. And Colder Company is continuing efforts to finalize acquisition of the former Dorso site for its own consolidation of Twin Cities operations. Additionally, new state-of-the-art warehousing space opened in western Roseville in 2018.

To put some numbers to that anecdotal information, the City issued more than 4100 building permits in 2018 – about an 8% increase over 2017. These permits included 18 new single family homes, 7 new commercial buildings, over 1300 residential remodels, and over 180 commercial renovations. 

Commercial permit valuation increased 23% in 2018 over 2017 – from around $70 million to around $87 million. Of that permit value, just over 1/3 – or $31 million – represents new construction, with the rest being re-investment in existing buildings.
A major focus of the City in 2019, in conjunction with our partners in Maplewood, St. Paul, and Ramsey County, will be to begin implementation of the now completed Rice & Larpenteur Vision Plan. This will include efforts to foster the economic redevelopment of that area. I have been heartened to have already talked to a couple of local businesspeople who want to be active in the alliance of residents, businesses, and officials that will be steering that process forward.

Secure in our Diverse Housing
and Neighborhoods

Part of the City’s ongoing efforts related to housing and neighborhoods is the Multi-family Rental Licensing program. With the Fire Department taking on the inspections under that program last year, the building inspectors in the Community Development Department have been able to reconfigure the City’s other ongoing effort, the Neighborhood Enhancement Program. That proactive commercial and residential code education and enforcement effort will now cover all residential and commercial properties in the city every 2 years going forward, rather than every 3 years, to help us better stay ahead of emerging issues in our neighborhoods.

Those two ongoing programs help to ensure that our housing and our neighborhoods are healthy and maintained, and continue to provide safe housing of all types and at all price points.

To be sure we continue to understand the changing marketplace for housing in our community, the Roseville Economic Development Authority (EDA) authorized and received an update to our housing market study from Maxfield Research.
Weaton Woods
That update indicated demand in the next 10 or so years for nearly 550 units of multi-family rental housing, including over 200 affordable units at various levels. Beyond that, there is significant demand for denser ownership type housing such as townhomes at over 200 units.

Additionally per the study, demand remains strong for various senior housing types, at 700 to 800 units in the next 5 years. This can most visibly be seen by the new market rate senior housing being built across from City Hall to complement the new Applewood and Cherrywood developments nearby.

Toward the market rate and affordable multi-family needs in the local marketplace, the first phase of the Edison project at County Road D and Old Highway 8 is underway in northwest Roseville, and there is potential for multi-family housing as part of upcoming plans at and around Rosedale.
Solar Panels

Environmentally Responsible, with Well-Maintained Natural Assets

Big news for the City in this area in 2018 and into 2019 is the installation of solar panels on city hall, the fire station, and the public works building. Panels are already going in on the fire station. This program will allow the City to recoup the costs of the panels through utility savings, significantly reducing the City’s dependence on the power grid for its electrical use.

In addition to the physical solar panels, the City also invested in off-site community solar, paid for by energy credits. These two projects demonstrate the City’s commitment to alternative energy going forward.

That commitment is part of the City’s participation in the statewide GreenStep Cities program of best practices for environmentally responsible operations. Roseville is currently a Step 2 city, and we are striving in 2019 to achieve Step 3, with ultimately Step 5 (the highest step) coming within 2 more years. The city council designated our citizen Public Works, Environment, and Transportation Commission as the stewards of the GreenStep process, and we received the assistance of a capstone project by University of Minnesota students 2 years ago to inform our environmental efforts.
Soccer kids

Physically and Mentally
Active and Healthy

As in past years, Roseville continues to benefit from the efforts of community driven health initiatives such as the Roseville Alzheimer’s & Dementia group and the Roseville Community Health Awareness Team (CHAT). While not City programs, City staff provides insight and support, including a web presence on the City web site. Both programs provide educational offerings on relevant subject matter primarily for our aging population and their caregivers.

In 2018, at the instigation of CHAT the City helped fund a pilot of a weekly local circulator bus with NewTRAX, a suburban Ramsey County transportation company. The initial pilot showed some promise and some challenges, and the city council authorized another 6 month pilot with a modified route that now includes transportation challenged folks at the Rice and Larpenteur area and 2 grocery stores on Rice Street. A key to success of such a circulator has been proven in other cities to be local financial sponsorship beyond government funding. That aspect has not yet fully been realized, so this second pilot period will be crucial to what the future of the circulator might be in Roseville. The City encourages local sponsoring partners to step forward.

It was a pleasure for me to participate in 2018 in community volunteer efforts at our 2 newest City parks – a planting event at Midland Gardens Park at B & Cleveland, and a playground build in conjunction with Grace Church at Unity Park on Marion Street just north of Larpenteur.
Midlands Group Planting
Unity Park Build 5 - Assembly 2
The pleasure was all the greater because of the tremendous turn-out of volunteers at both events – one on a particularly hot day and the other on a particularly cold day. These new parks will be locally significant additions to the health and well-being of our community.

One important focus going into 2019 and 2020 related to health and activity in Roseville but also in the wider region will be the pursuit of State bonding funds for significant capital rehabilitation needs at the Guidant John Rose Minnesota OVAL. The OVAL was built in the 1990’s as a partnership between the City and the State from the beginning, and has always been an ongoing partnership to provide this key regional recreational asset. Roseville looks forward to renewing that partnership through the bonding process in the coming years, so that new generations of Minnesotans can continue to benefit from the OVAL for years to come.
Twin Lakes Parkway


In 2018, the City completed several small but important links in our pathway and sidewalk system, including links between multi-family housing and nearby bus stops. This was important to be sure that all of our residents have good connections to the full transportation system and to the range of job opportunities that transportation facilitates.

More broadly related to non-motorized transportation connections, the Public Works, Environment, and Transportation Commission and city council completed and adopted an update to the City’s Pathway Master Plan in 2018 that will guide future additions and improvements to the City’s system.

2019 will see some relatively small roadway system improvements by the City that can have large benefits along the Snelling Avenue corridor. Changes will be made at both the Lydia/Snelling and County Road C2/Snelling intersections. These improvements will streamline vehicle and pedestrian movement through those intersections, reducing wait times and increasing safety.
Lydia Improvements
C-2 Improvements
A significant regional transportation network improvement will begin in Roseville in 2019 when MnDOT begins the 35W Managed Lane project between Highway 36 and Blaine. While this project will produce short-term inconvenience, it will ultimately improve the flow of traffic through that corridor overall. Notably, MnDOT has worked ahead of the project to identify likely alternate routes and provide temporary improvements to many intersections along the corridor in order to minimize overflow traffic impacts. This is one of the first projects, if not the first, that has included this proactive work by MnDOT, and we’ll be paying close attention to how well it works.

At the same time as that state project begins in Roseville, another significant Ramsey County project will be done -- the resurfacing of County Road C west of 35W. That is a major route used for commerce in Roseville, and the City will be working with the county as well as partners like the Twin Cities North Chamber of Commerce to keep local businesses informed of construction activities and alternate routes.
FOR Parks Parade

Engaged in our Community’s Success

Probably nowhere in an assessment of the state of our city does the work of people besides City staff and officials show up more prominently than in the area of engagement.

I mentioned the CHAT group earlier. In addition, numerous school groups, faith groups, service organizations, and volunteer groups are undertaking all kinds of efforts to make the community better.

One group it is important to mention here is the Friends of Roseville Parks. That community volunteer organization is this year celebrating 50 years of raising money and volunteering in support of our parks across the city. Congratulations to the Friends of Roseville Parks for that long-time and ongoing commitment to Roseville! The work of FORParks makes a great park system that much better for our residents and visitors.

The City, through our Human Rights, Inclusion, and Engagement Commission, is continuing to work to understand how people connect with local decision-making and city government activities. They will focus on perhaps new and different methods that may be needed to make those connections with new residents who are not just new to Roseville, but indeed to the US and our institutions and culture.

The City is committed to doing better in this area. Just recently as part of soliciting input on winter street parking regulations, the City developed door hangers that volunteers distributed in local apartment buildings. That was done specifically to be sure apartment residents were not overlooked as possible changes that might directly affect them were being considered.

That door hanger method was also used to solicit input into the Unity Park planning efforts in southeast Roseville.

Beyond being committed to doing better in engaging all residents in City decisions and activities, we are also committed to continuing to learn from every engagement effort, and continuing to improve as we go forward.

Closing Thoughts

No city – and certainly no first-ring suburb – is immune from ongoing and new challenges that arise from our circumstances.

I am confident that Roseville City government, but also importantly Roseville residents, businesses, and community organizations, are committed to looking out for those challenges, and to looking to each other and working together in order to address them.
Beyond being in a good state now, those commitments will assure that we continue to be in a good state as a city, whatever we face together as we go forward.

Thank you very much.