King City Mayor Ken Gibson had a virtual audience of a couple dozen people when he delivered his annual State of the City address via Zoom on June 17, which increased exponentially after the event was put on YouTube.
But whether the audience was small or large, the message, recorded earlier at Tualatin Valley Community Television’s studio, was clear: King City had another banner year and is thriving despite doing business in the Age of Coronavirus.
Gibson touted the city’s 2019-20 accomplishments, noting that “we turned over our new City Hall to the city staff, and it has been an exciting time with getting approval for our urban growth boundary expansion, and we’re looking forward to the next steps.”
To cope with COVID-19, City Hall was closed to outside visitors, and the city shut down a significant part of the Community Park, including the basketball court and play structures.
“These were tough decisions because we want people to be active,” Gibson said. “But we have an older population in King City, and we want to do everything we can to protect them.”
When Gibson last checked the number of COVID-19 cases in the 97224 ZIP code, there were 25 cases and no deaths.
“I am pleased, but it is not over,” he said. “Volunteers delivered information to all the businesses about reopening. I am very pleased the volunteerism we see in King City really paid off.”
While the city could not offer financial aid to struggling businesses, Gibson said information on grants and government assistance is on the city’s website.
“We must be cautious,” he said. “The changes we have made won’t change that much over a long period of time. But the changes at City Hall have been pretty dramatic. We have not held meetings there for nearly four months and now use Zoom for our City Council and Planning Commission meetings.”
Gibson said that there are meetings around the region that mayors must attend, which are now done via Zoom. “I hope we consider doing it more in the future,” he said. “Our carbon emissions are down. I think I’m having more meetings now than pre-pandemic.”
Gibson also referenced the chaos nationwide over the shooting of Black people by police officers, noting, “Civic leaders and Washington County mayors have talked about these kinds of things. It has never happened in our territory and will not be tolerated here.”
Dealing with the pandemic and following Gov. Kate Brown’s safety measures have led to a new kind of normalcy in King City, and Gibson said he sees residents respecting each other and maintaining social distancing.
“I’m proud of our community and proud of the way we have come together, but it is sad we have to deal with the things we are dealing with today,” Gibson said.
City Hall saw a limited reopening June 1, “but the business never stopped,” he said. “I commend our entire staff… We have always done welfare checks on our residents, and the police have continued and expanded this program. I want to commend the King City Community Foundation for its virtual outreach to senior citizens.”
Two major accomplishments of the past year were working on a Transportation Master Plan for the city’s newly expanded urban growth boundary from 131st Avenue to Roy Rogers Road and starting the master planning process for that area that will involve the community.
“This is a community plan, and we are going to communicate with the community virtually,” Gibson said. “We will need to do zoning code amendments and make sure we plan for affordable housing and auxiliary dwelling units.
“I also am proud of the Community Park improvements to the sports field, and I am proud of King City’s participation in the 2020 Census. We have an 83.8 percent response, which is one of the highest in the state.”
Road construction projects were among the other accomplishments Gibson mentioned, including 131st Avenue and King Richard.
“There are lots of good things going on,” said Gibson, who praised support from Metro, Washington County, PGE, NW Natural and the King City Community Foundation.
In conclusion, he said that King City has a bright future, noting that “we are bound and determined to make all the adjustments we need to make… and engage as many people as we possibly can.”
He thanked all the volunteers in King City, including members of the City Council and Planning Commission, and pleaded with everyone to wear face coverings.
“I’m proud to be mayor of King City, and I’m proud of all the residents of King City,” Gibson said. “We are here to support you and support each other.”