Mayor Goodman touts new projects, defends homelessness plan in annual address

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Christopher DeVargas

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivers her State of the City address at City Hall, Thursday, Jan 9, 2020.

Thu, Jan 9, 2020 (8:30 p.m.)

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivered her ninth State of the City address Thursday, touting new developments and infrastructure improvements in 2019, defending her homelessness ordinance, and touching on the city’s plans for 2020.

But before getting down to business, Goodman started off on a candid note, reflecting on her diagnosis of treatable cancer one year earlier and how that shaped her 2019.

“Just a year ago tonight, I had learned unexpectedly that afternoon that I had cancer,” Goodman said.

The experience made her even more grateful for her loved ones and for the opportunity to serve the city, said the three-term mayor.

Goodman went on to highlight new projects that came to the city in 2019, including the Circa Resort and Casino, the first casino built downtown “from the ground up” since 1980, and Area 15, a sci-fi-themed, multi-sensory music, art and entertainment complex that opened off Interstate 15 in Ward 1. She also praised the upgraded Fremont Street Experience canopy, now the largest LED video screen in the world, which was ready just in time for New Year’s Eve.

“This year’s recent New Year’s Eve debut spurred the largest attendance ever in visitation, which no doubt will continue in perpetuity,” Goodman said.

Although she focused primarily on issues downtown, she also commented on projects taking place in each ward, including new and planned residential communities in the outer west such as Skye Canyon and Summerlin West, an expansive 7.3-acre park that opened in Ward 4, and the new, ultra-modern East Las Vegas Library.

With the creation of the city’s Innovation Center, Las Vegas, Goodman added, is no longer simply known for tourism and gaming. Having opened in September, the 11,000-square-foot property is a hub for startups in cybersecurity, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, water innovations, autonomous vehicle technology and more.

“Our city of Las Vegas is coming to be recognized as a real leader in an ever-expanded center for innovation and implemented technology, for standalone, significant medical and clinical research, for appreciated, broad-based cultural developments and for a shared pride and recognition for our sustainability efforts,” Goodman said.

Looking ahead to 2020, the mayor highlighted progress being made on anticipated projects, including a LEED-certified municipal courthouse, two residential properties at Symphony Park, a new Downtown Loop shuttle route and the Expo at World Market Center. In addition, the city is building “complete streets” downtown featuring expanded sidewalks, bike lanes and new trees. These and more streetscape improvements will complement and support the businesses coming to the booming Arts District, she said.

“I’ve just been informed that this week and in the past few weeks, we’ve had 25 projects just in the Arts District pulling permits right in that area,” Goodman said.

Transitioning to a more controversial topic, Goodman defended the city’s new ordinance that bans sleeping, camping and other activities in many neighborhoods and near residential properties. Dismissing criticisms of the ordinance that describe it as an attempt to “criminalize the homeless,” Goodman said it will help people break the cycle of homelessness by compelling them to stay in shelters or the Courtyard Homeless Resource Center.

The Courtyard itself, she noted, is undergoing an expansion that will soon allow it to accommodate up to 800 people.

“It is our time to get started doing something, and the city of Las Vegas is no longer tolerating the extremely dangerous safety, sanitation and health conditions that face us daily and put us all in jeopardy,” Goodman said. Her comments on homelessness overall generated applause.

Echoing remarks made during past annual addresses, Goodman pledged to continue fighting for causes and priorities she has long stood for: An end to the development of a nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain, an annual Nevada Legislative session rather than one that meets every two years, increases to the state’s Medicaid reimbursement rate to better attract and retain physicians, and a widening of I-15 from Barstow, Calif. to the Nevada line.

In closing, she thanked the city’s partners and declared that Las Vegas’ future is bright, whatever challenges it may bring.

“I assure you, I will be ready and with you,” Goodman said.

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