Article City Forum Eva Spiegel

Survey Shows High Ratings for the League and Grassroots Regional Network

Eva Spiegel is communications director for the League and managing editor of Western City. She can be reached at

In just five years, the Grassroots Regional Network (GRN) has become an integral part of the League’s effort to restore and protect local control for California cities. This innovative program put 15 regional representatives in communities throughout the state in 2002 to increase cities’ impact on the legislative process and statewide ballot measures. The GRN strengthens the connection needed between city officials and the League to accomplish common objectives. The League has a collaborative relationship with city officials, working to help them focus their message and ensuring an effective role for them in shaping public policy that affects cities at the state and national levels.

Some of the many accomplishments made possible by the GRN include the passage of Proposition 1A in 2004 to protect local revenues and the defeat in 2006 of Prop. 90, a ballot measure that would have seriously eroded local control of land use.

When the GRN was launched, the League committed to a periodic independent assessment by APCO Insight to measure how well the new program served its members. The third and final survey was recently completed, and the findings were very positive.

Key Insights Into the League’s Effectiveness

Over the course of the three surveys, the results show steady progress in terms of members’ awareness of the GRN and its impact. Responders also said the League is accomplishing its mission of advocating on behalf of California cities and protecting city revenues. The percentage of members rating the League’s effort as excellent has more than doubled since the first survey in 2001. The three surveys also show that members have become more involved with the League over the past several years.

Forming coalitions and organizing rapid response teams to address legislation are two of the most important functions of the regional representatives (now called regional public affairs managers to more accurately reflect their duties). A major ity of responders reported the GRN plays a critical role in defeating challenges to local control and fighting unfunded state mandates on local government. Almost 70 percent were familiar with the GRN; of those responders, 95 percent had a favorable impression of the program. And on a scale of 1 to 10, the program was given a score of 8.4 for its effectiveness in forming coalitions that support legislation benefiting all cities.

How the Results Will Be Used

Now that the third and final survey is complete, city officials should be impressed with the assessment of the GRN. Its accomplishments, according to a majority of survey responders, indicate that it is making a substantial difference for California cities. Members also offered comments on how the program can improve its efforts. This valuable information will help make the program even stronger and ensure that the needs of all League members are met. Executive Director Chris McKenzie said, “We are committed to continuing to improve the network and wish to thank everyone who participated in this survey process.”

This article appears in the September 2007 issue of Western City
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