Lincoln Partners With School District to Improve Infrastructure

The City of Lincoln is one of California’s fastest growing communities. In 1990, its population numbered 7,800; today, it has grown to 27,000. Lincoln has been faced with the challenge of expanding its municipal and recreational facilities fast enough to keep pace with the needs of the community.

Without a proactive, creative response, such rapid growth could pack school rooms, severely impact public infrastructure, and overstress public services and facilities. For example, Lincoln residents were being served by one library with a collection of 24,850 titles, falling significantly short of the number considered adequate to serve its population.

With growth has come the need for more public employees to serve the needs of the community, including both city and school employees. Lincoln’s priorities were twofold: 1) finding enough public building space to house all new employees without having municipal services scattered throughout the city; and 2) providing enough affordable housing so new employees can live in the same community in which they work.

These priorities, combined with limited financial resources, prompted the development of the Lincoln-Western Placer Unified School District Collaborative Program in March 2003 to meet the growing demands of the community by pooling financial resources to build several public facilities. The collaborative program includes:

  • A joint use public library. This project included the city, the school district and a local community college (Sierra College). Once the details of the joint use library had been ironed out, the city, college and school district applied for and received a $10.4 million grant from the state to help build the new library.
  • School infrastructure improvements. The city and school district applied for a state grant to improve the infrastructure in and around district schools. They received a Safe Route to School grant for $341,000 for much needed sidewalk and safety improvements in and around several existing schools.
  • An agreement between the city and school district about sharing all new school buildings and adjoining recreational areas. The school district and city entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that calls for the district to pay for the construction of all new school buildings and the city to pay for the construction of all adjoining recreational areas at the new school sites. The details of the MOU call for the joint use of both the school buildings and the recreational facilities.
  • A joint city hall/school district administrative office building. The city and school district entered into a joint use agreement for an administrative building. City staff will occupy three floors of the new four-story building, and school district staff will occupy the fourth floor of the new building.
  • A city-initiated Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to build three single-family residences. These homes will be built by students at Lincoln High School. The completed three-and four-bedroom units are part of a curriculum-based program to train students interested in pursuing the construction trade after graduation. Called the Zebra Housing Project, the units will then be sold to individuals meeting the requirements of the CDBG program for target income. The units will be offered first to school district employees and then to City of Lincoln employees. If there are no interested parties, the home will then be placed on the open market for anyone meeting the income requirements.

The Benefits of Collaboration

By joining forces with the school district and Sierra College to build a joint use public library, the city is saving a great deal of money and gaining an extraordinary facility. Because of this three-way effort, the new state-of-the-art library will result in a 67 percent reduction in administrative overhead for the city, a 30 percent reduction in operating costs, and a 50 percent increase in hours of operation. In addition, the new library will have the capacity to carry more than 150,000 titles as well as provide additional services, including a reference desk, group study rooms, tutoring rooms, media viewing and listening stations, media screening, a young adult area, a homework center and computer lab.

By collaborating with the school district to secure a Safe Route to School grant, the city now has the financial resources necessary to make much needed improvements to sidewalks and roadways surrounding city schools. These improvements will result in much safer routes to schools, keeping children out of harm’s way and giving their parents and teachers greater peace of mind.

Under the city and school district MOU, both entities are able to build much larger schools and recreation facilities. Maintenance costs are shared, and the facilities built under the city and school district MOU receive much greater use than those individually owned by the school district or the city.

The joint city hall/school district office building provides residents with an attractive and efficient public facility at a greatly reduced cost. In addition, this larger facility enables the city to keep all pertinent city services in one building as opposed to splitting up various city services into multiple smaller facilities throughout town.

Contact: Jill Thompson, public information officer, City of Lincoln; phone: (916) 645-4070 ext. 217; e-mail:

The City of Lincoln won an Award for Excellence in the Effective Advocacy, Intergovernmental Relations and Regional Cooperation category of the 2005 California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more information about the awards program, visit

This article appears in the September 2006 issue of Western City
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