Article Solutions for Cities By Robert Mungerro Sanchez

Fire sprinkler systems can harm the environment and people. EcoSmart Filters can fix that

Enough polluted water is discharged every year to fill 21 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. EcoSmart Filters are an affordable, easy way to remove those harmful containments.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Sunny Wang

Santa Monica’s water self-sufficiency project snags state and global awards

For decades, Santa Monica chipped away at water self-sufficiency. Now it’s on track to increase local water supplies to 90% by summer 2024. The project was recognized at the 2024 Global Water Awards, second only to the United Arab Emirates.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Karalee Browne

So you have a climate action plan and a budget deficit. What now?

Many cities in California are planning for and mitigating the effects of climate change. Yet, many of those same cities are looking for ways to do more with less. Here’s how three budget-conscious cities are funding and developing local climate action plans — and a free, flexible framework for your own city. 

Article Features By Casey J. Day

How police can better plan for sea level rise

How public agencies collaborate and plan will be vital to how they weather climate change crises. This may mean forgoing traditional top-down emergency planning in favor of participative scenario planning, which can include a wider range of stakeholders. 

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Daniel Parra

Inclusivity keeps California vibrant, but representation can’t solve everything

In 2022, California became the first state to achieve 10% LGBTQ+ representation in the state Legislature. This inclusiveness has a profound impact on policymaking. But representation doesn’t solve everything, notes Cal Cities President Daniel Parra.

Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Welcome to the first AI election. Here’s what local officials need to know and can do to prepare

Experts are warning that artificial intelligence (AI) could undermine this year’s elections. But just what does that mean? Here’s what AI can do, the threats it poses to election security, and how local officials can help their communities prepare.

Article Solutions for Cities By Tim Seufert

The municipal CEO was a significant evolution for California cities

Local agencies are where most Americans interact with their government and these interactions generally leave people with a positive impression of government. Yet it wasn’t always that way.

Article Local Works By Anthony Valdez 

Bakersfield, known for moving quickly to address California’s homeless crisis, has a simple message: More must be done

For the past two years, Bakersfield has had more homeless people living in shelter than those without shelter. Yet as is the case across California, Bakersfield is staring down an inflow crisis. For every six people placed in permanent housing locally, another ten become newly homeless. 

Article Legal Notes By Solange Z. Fortenbach and Stephen E. Velyvis

How could a new CEQA law impact your city’s infill housing projects?

AB 1633 (Ting) does not amend the California Environmental Quality Act. Instead, it clarifies that withholding approval of a housing development that otherwise meets the state’s environmental review law could be a violation of the Housing Accountability Act.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Justine Jimenez

West Sacramento hits a home run for employers and high schoolers

When it comes to improving career readiness, West Sacramento is knocking it out of the park. A paid internship program has placed over 200 high school students in local internships that equip students with industry-specific and transferable skills.

Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Hate campaigns are creating a ‘real legitimacy crisis’ says former Berkeley Council Member Rigel Robinson

At 27, Rigel Robinson’s political future was bright. His election to the Berkeley city council had broken barriers and his campaign for mayor won the endorsement of California Attorney General Rob Bonta. But earlier this year, he resigned, citing burnout and a long-running harassment campaign.

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu

“The legislative process produces better outcomes for cities when lawmakers are informed and educated by the united voices of city officials,” writes Cal Cities CEO Carolyn Coleman. “If we don’t show up — early and often­ — bills we oppose that hurt cities could become law, and bills we support could die.”

Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

There’s no way roundabout it. Cities dominated this statewide award program

Western City has several guiding values, chief among them collaboration. Unless we are talking about award programs. After two years of county domination, cities have reclaimed their rightful place at the top of the Outstanding Local Streets and Roads Project Awards.

Article Features By Jackie Krentzman

This is ‘on the level of the Flint water crisis,’ warn advocates at California’s southern border

Toxic waste from the Tijuana River has created a public health, economic, and environmental nightmare for cities in San Diego County. The ongoing crisis is a classic example of a local issue that requires a bipartisan regional, state, and federal response.

Article President's Message By League of California Cities President Daniel Parra

Effective storytelling builds trust and delivers results

“When we share stories about the opportunities or challenges in our cities, we are generating trust, inspiring people to get involved, and driving progress,” writes Cal Cities President Daniel Parra.

Article Features By Peggy Flynn and Alex Renirie

How fair is a fair? People-powered decision-making at the Petaluma Fairgrounds

There is no magic bullet for disengagement and polarization. But there are ways to tackle these issues that don’t require dramatic new investments. Petaluma used one such method to resolve a decades-old conflict over an iconic property.

Article Solutions for Cities By Ryan Gunstream

NORESCO can help you save and find money for your decarbonization and resiliency projects

A rapidly changing climate and new state laws are complicating local infrastructure challenges. Yet, the same wisdom still holds true. Success is in the details, and public works are the foundation of a cleaner, sustainable future.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Nikita Sinha

How cities are using open data to advance climate equity

Climate action planning and data are more important than ever. Funding programs are increasingly prioritizing projects that empower and benefit vulnerable populations. Some cities have found it beneficial to incorporate multiple layers of data into their systems.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By David Franz

One of California’s busiest libraries isn’t where you think it is

The Shafter library was seemingly doomed to closure in 2020. Today, it is one of the busiest libraries in the state per square foot of space.

Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Anti-Asian hate crimes are down, but people are still worried. And for good reason

It’s easy to think of anti-Asian hate as a red or purple state problem. But most incidents occur here in California. Even though anti-Asian hate decreased in 2022, experts are warning this could be an aberration. Here’s what cities can do to mitigate the next wave of hate.

Article Features By Jackie Krentzman

Gaining purchase: How three cities overcame the pandemic-fueled retail blues

Retail in California has struggled in recent years, especially businesses with smaller footprints. For some cities, this is just another potentially disastrous change they’ve turned into an opportunity. Here are some of the steps three cities have taken to support and grow their retail sector.

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

Our unity and ground-up advocacy make Cal Cities uniquely powerful

“The power of our grassroots activities through the regional divisions statewide not only makes Cal Cities unique among advocacy organizations,” writes Cal Cities CEO Carolyn Coleman. “It is integral to our effectiveness on behalf of cities.”

Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Small business support keeps Dublin’s economy humming

If you’re looking for the best ways to support local businesses, travel east of San Francisco to Dublin — one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. for several years. But for many leaders, the best is yet to come. 

Article Local Works By Catherine Way and Rachel Kertz

How to become a fire-adapted community

In 2020, Marin County voters approved the state’s first JPA dedicated solely to local wildfire protection. The agency has a clear mission: Help Marin County co-exist with wildfire by adopting fire-adapted strategies. This starts with a “House Out” strategy that all cities can follow.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Phil Pitchford

The Riverside Art Museum makes history with ‘The Cheech’

When the city of Riverside was looking for a way to reuse its historic library building, it turned to an unlikely ally: the comedian Cheech Marin. The tired structure was reborn in 2022 as “The Cheech,” a national cultural center for Chicano art.

Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

In this rural city, a ‘nothing off the table’ mindset gets housing built

California’s housing crisis stretches from one end of the state to the other. For many small cities, the odds often feel insurmountable. Huron — located in the state’s agricultural heartland — shows that progress is possible. Cities just can’t do it by themselves.

Article Special to Cal Cities By Rob Wilkins

2024 brings optimism and pessimism alike for affordable housing

Californians consistently cite affordable housing as one of their top concerns. Yet each year, the state falls further behind on its own housing production goals. In some respects, there is little reason to believe this will change any time soon. But there are also reasons to be optimistic.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Daniel Parra

Our housing crisis puts people one paycheck from precarity

The housing crisis in our communities is linked to our economic vitality. When residents are spending so much on housing that they can’t visit businesses, it puts a significant strain on the local economy. Low-income residents and communities of color are impacted the hardest.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Edgar R. Garcia

Modesto creates a countywide system of care for youth experiencing homelessness

Success creates success, even for seemingly intractable issues. Modesto is at the forefront of a new system of care for homeless youth thanks to a strong public-private partnership. The city launched several related programs in recent years, including a navigation center and Homekey project for youth.

An aerial view of a suburban community.
Article Local Works By Jackie Krentzman

Gateway cities band together to bridge housing funding gaps

Approximately 4,000 affordable housing units in Southern California’s Gateway region have stalled due to funding shortfalls. A group of cities has formed an affordable housing trust fund, which they hope can close funding gaps — especially in small, under-resourced communities.

A judge's gavel sitting on a desk.
Article Legal Notes By Matthew R. Silver, Lauren E. Brown, and Natalie Sahagun, Civica Law Group, APC

How does CARE Court, California’s new legal approach to behavioral health care, work?

The CARE Act takes a novel, albeit controversial, approach to mental health care. Unlike previous laws, it focuses on incentivizing long-term treatment rather than imprisonment or involuntary commitment. Seven counties have already begun implementation. The rest must follow suit in 2024.

A group of men and women posing for a picture next to podcasting equipment and cardboard cutouts of wildlife.
Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Ramiro Adeva

Agoura Hills podcast is a blueprint for community engagement

Agoura Hills once faced a familiar conundrum: How do you bridge the communications gap between a city and the people they serve? The Good Life Agoura Hills podcast is helping the city close that gap in a fun, cost-effective, and accessible way.

A group of mostly white men, and a few women, standing together for a photo in 1911.
Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

Cal Cities at 125: The issues change, our mission has not

Over 100 years ago, city leaders from throughout the state came together as the League of California Cities because they wanted to make a difference. “They sound much like the city officials I’m privileged to serve alongside today,” writes Cal Cities CEO Carolyn Coleman.

A group of residents watching a Lakewood city council meeting in person..
Article Features By Jan Perkins and Dan Keen

Essential tips for effective city council meetings

Effective governance doesn’t happen by chance. There is a cadence to a successful meeting, with a long chain of steps that start well before the meeting starts. Here are some best practices for smoother, more effective council meetings that staff and elected officials alike can use.

An artificially generated image of farmers picking vegetables.
Article President's Message By League of California Cities President Daniel Parra

Climate change impacts us all, but some more than others

A new report found that the existential effects of human-caused climate change are getting worse. The bright spot in all of this is that many cities in California are at the forefront of trying to address climate change. That’s why we must think locally but act statewide.

A child biking alone on a protected bike bridge.
Article Features By Melissa Lee, CNU-A

Transportation networks are at a critical crossroads

Access to transportation in under-resourced communities — both in rural areas and large central cities — has reached a critical juncture. In these neighborhoods, transportation isn’t just a convenience, it’s a lifeline.

A group of commission members sitting at a long dais.
Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Oakland and Sacramento city attorneys: Civilian oversight is crucial to policing

More cities are using civilian oversight organizations to reform and oversee their police departments. But what these organizations can do varies from city to city. Western City sat down with city attorneys from Oakland and Sacramento to discuss their cities’ approaches to civilian oversight.

An artificially generated image of a man speaking a podium.
Article Special to Cal Cities By Liz Campos

Opinion: We cannot let hate campaigns upend remote public meetings

Cities throughout California, including Ventura, are dealing with an uptick in hate speech during remote public meetings. But just knowing that vile, hateful comments can happen does not fully ready you for a well-organized hate campaign.

Group of professionals reviewing data
Article Solutions for Cities By Jasmine Nachtigall-Fournier

GovInvest’s Live Compensation Module paves the way for agile workforce strategies

Employers can no longer afford to be reactive when recruiting new employees. GovInvest’s new compensation module provides continuous insights in a digestible format that can keep your agency competitive and responsive.

A girl in a motorized wheelchair works on a laptop.
Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Mike Lee

Moreno Valley puts youth on the path to career success

Like many cities, Moreno Valley grapples with a low college completion rate. A new set of low-cost programs aims to change that. Nearly two-thirds of participants have experienced an improvement in their GPA. Most have secured full-time jobs in their fields and reported positive changes in their wages.

Fire departments,  like the Newport Beach Fire Department, can do much more than put out fires. A well-funded and well-trusted fire department can provide a wide range of social and public safety services.
Article Features By Jeff Boyles

Firefighters can do much more than just put out fires

The combined cost of funding public safety agencies can occupy over half of a city’s budget. Yet many fire departments’ emergency response systems are underutilized. As cities struggle to meet greater social needs, the fire service can lean into some of its strengths and fill some of those gaps.

The city of Palmdale launched #FightFentanylAV — an initiative aimed at reducing drug overdose deaths through education and community engagement.  
Article Local Works By Nardy Lopez

Palmdale’s #FightFentanylAV shows the power of a united community

Palmdale wanted to do something about the growing number of fentanyl-related deaths. City officials knew they could not enforce their way out of the crisis. Working with key stakeholders, they launched an initiative aimed at reducing drug overdose deaths through education and community engagement.

City leaders participating in a panel on combating hate crimes and hate speech at the League of California Cities 2023 Annual Conference and Expo.
Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

Local officials are pushing back against hate speech and bigotry

While federal lawmakers grappled with the challenges of electing a new House speaker, council members and mayors — regardless of their political affiliation — were tirelessly moving forward to serve the public. Yet, an emerging challenge is making this crucial work much tougher.

The Victorville Wellness Center is a low-barrier shelter with medical care, interim housing, and other supportive services.
Article Local Works By Alex Morales

Victorville to open the High Desert’s first-of-its-kind homeless shelter

Victorville is preparing to open a low-barrier shelter with medical care, interim housing, and other supportive services. Officials hope the shelter can serve as a model for other cities looking for ways to offer better services and more shelter to homeless residents.

As part of Pleasanton's Alternate Response Program, clinicians have helped place over half of all identified unhoused persons in permanent or long-term housing. 
Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Kurt Schlehuber and Pamela Ott

Partnerships provide hope and help to Pleasanton residents in crises

Just three years ago, Pleasanton police were placing over 350 people per year in psychiatric detentions when they were judged to be a danger to themselves or others. There were no follow-ups after initial evaluations. Today, someone experiencing a mental health crisis in Pleasanton has a much different experience.

Article Features By David Albaugh and Geoff Spencer

The many uses and potential pitfalls of generative AI

Tools like ChatGPT can produce incredible messages, but they don’t actually know anything. It’s best to think of them as very fluent parrots. You should fact-check everything, even if it sounds convincing. With that said, generative artificial intelligence can make some jobs easier.

Article Legal Notes By Benjamin R. Jones

A 2024 legal decision will impact local control over existing wireless facilities

Cal Cities filed a lawsuit over a declaratory ruling that restricts cities’ control over existing wireless facilities. A legal decision is expected next year. Here are a few key areas to watch.

Article Local Works By Kimberly Bonéy

City of Redding Podcast breaks down big topics and builds trust

It’s easy for people to mistrust cities when they are not privy to the day-to-day happenings within city hall. The wheels of government turn slow, and delivering information is a multilayered process. Enter the City of Redding Podcast, where no topic is too big or mundane.

Article Legal Notes By Matthew R. Silver, Lauren E. Brown, and Natalie Sahagun, Civica Law Group, APC

Don’t fly by these rules when developing a city drone program

More city officials are looking to drones for code enforcement and public safety. However, these uses are not without controversy. Critics have expressed concerns about privacy implications and a lack of adequate safeguards. Cities also need to consider legal and operational requirements.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Daniel Parra

We will go far, together

A diversity of people and perspectives matters. That is the backbone of Cal Cities. Make no mistake, we face great challenges. But together, we are stronger.

Article Solutions for Cities By Larry Chung

New study outlines the steps needed to reach net-zero by 2045

The ability of the state to reach reach net-zero by 2045 relies on partnerships between companies like Southern California Edison, regulatory agencies, and local governments.

Article Solutions for Cities By Taylor Budrow, CFA

Do you know your investments? Why proactive credit research matters

The Public Trust Advisors Credit Team helps California CLASS evaluate the credit profile of investable entities and determine their suitability as counterparties. But what does that mean for cities reviewing their investment options?

Article News from the Institute for Local Government By Erica L. Manuel

A new training helps cities turn ‘down the fires of contempt’

The rise in incivility, partisanship, and polarization is making it difficult for agencies to maintain the basic decorum needed to carry out their missions. ILG’s partnership and training with Braver Angels seeks to bridge the partisan divide and rebuild the social fabric.

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

The biggest wins don’t happen overnight

Cal Cities has had many successes over its 125-year history. While the outcomes may not be resolved in one legislative cycle, our accomplishments will be felt by California residents for years to come. The key to Cal Cities’ effectiveness is the generations of city leaders committed to uplifting California’s communities.

Article Features By Teri Black, Maxine Gullo, Reina Schwartz, and Tony Winney

Investing in diversity may make you a better employer

Retirements, generational shifts, and changing attitudes about work-life balance have shifted employee loyalties and tenures. Many of us are wondering how to stop the churn and make our organizations places where people want to work for long stretches of their careers. One solution is to invest in diversity recruitment and retention.

Article Features By Jason Roberts

Community preparedness helps mitigate the worst disasters

Even many well-funded cities are unprepared for large-scale emergencies. This lack of preparedness can cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars. These crises will only grow worse and more frequent. The best way to mitigate this is to put time and effort into community preparedness.

Article Solutions for Cities By Amy Wade

Meet the 2023 Annual Conference and Expo exhibitors

Over 220 exhibitors are scheduled to showcase their products, solutions, and services to League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo attendees Sept. 20-22. Get to know the exhibitors

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Erin Olsen

Pismo Beach transforms an iconic neighborhood

Shell Beach Road is Pismo Beach’s oldest road — and one of its most important downtown connectors. What began as a community concept to make it a safe, efficient, and enjoyable street for all its users turned into one of the largest projects ever completed by the city.

Article Special to Cal Cities By Josh Fryday

Youth Jobs Corps is a win for young people and cities

As the former mayor of Novato, I know the importance of creating opportunities for underserved youth. Youth Jobs Corps proves state and local governments working together is a winning combination, with benefits for young people, cities, and communities across California.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Ali Sajjad Taj

The secret to Cal Cities’ enduring success

Our success lies in the fact that we are always evolving and in our passion for bettering the lives of Californians. I can guarantee you that 125 years ago, I would not be your Cal Cities President. We are all different and unique. But at our core, we care about the same things.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Carmen Gil

Youth-led study prompts change to mental health care in Gonzales

Youth throughout California are struggling with mental illness — a trend made worse during the pandemic. As lawmakers advance major changes to the state’s behavioral health system, students in Gonzales are also making changes to their own systems of care.

Article Features By Amanda Cabral and Gail Carlson

California’s youth are anxious about climate change and need to see concrete action

California’s youth are worried about the climate crisis. They face a long future of climate extremes, with consequences for their health, well-being, education, and livelihood. Many are experiencing a great deal of eco-anxiety and are looking for help or ways to take action.

Article Local Works By Karina Gonzalez

Pacific Grove closes the coastal trail gap to provide a safer experience for all

Until 2022, people had to weave through parked cars and native dune habitats to visit Pacific Grove’s beautiful, rocky coastline, known as Point Pinos. Today, visitors can safely walk or bike along the shore. The new section of the trail is built to last for years to come. 

Article Solutions for Cities By John Paul Jewell

Milpitas new energy and water modernization saves money, dazzles judges

Milpitas received global recognition for its energy and sustainability work last year. Its Smart City Infrastructure Program aims to generate over $1.5 million in annual energy and water cost savings for the city.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Seth Yund

The struggle is real, but so are the options. How cities can attract a strong workforce

It is no secret that cities are struggling to hire and retain staff. Employment is well-below pre-pandemic levels and a majority of workers are considering leaving their jobs. These trends illuminate both the diminishing capacity of city government and the opportunity for norm-breaking programs.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Justin Martin

Struggling with e-bike safety? Laguna Niguel has a plan that may be a solution

E-bikes became popular in Laguna Niguel during the pandemic, especially with younger riders. This led to heightened concerns about rider safety. But when the city began developing a safety plan, it found few case studies and strategies to pull from.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Nikita Sinha

Smaller cities charting a path to carbon neutrality

The California Air Resource Board released a plan mapping out a path toward carbon neutrality by 2045. But with little over a decade remaining in the state’s timeline, there is still a lot of work ahead. Fortunately, many cities are ahead of the game. Some are even aiming for carbon neutrality earlier than 2045.

Article Features By Heidi Sanborn, Tim Goncharoff, and Jordan Wells

California’s packaging producer responsibility law is a game-changer for cities

Reducing waste and pollution at the source is key to achieving an equitable, circular economy. A new law passed last year will phase out single-use packaging and food ware. It is the most stringent plastic reduction rule in the U.S. and the only comprehensive circular economy policy in the nation. 

Article Features By Adam Link

Efforts to limit ‘forever chemicals’ are underway. What does this mean for cities?

PFAS are ubiquitous, virtually indestructible, and linked to significant health risks. We are only beginning to determine how to best manage, communicate, and ultimately assess liability for the cleanup.  

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director

Cities can be powerful leaders for climate action

Reducing emissions from heavy trucks and other large vehicles is key to California’s efforts to slow the impacts of climate change and improve the quality of the air we all breathe. However, reducing greenhouse gas emissions — particularly through the transition to zero-emission vehicles — does not come without significant challenges.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Jessica Hill

Modesto leverages good data to help a growing homeless population

Around 80% of Stanislaus County’s homeless population lives in Modesto. City leaders know what services to provide. However, coordinating those services was difficult without good data. Inaccurate data can slow down services and drive up costs.

Article News from the Institute for Local Government By Ruben Duran and Victoria Hester

What cities need to know about the state’s new remote meeting law

Some local agencies are considering making remote or hybrid meetings the new normal and recent changes to the Brown Act — including AB 2449 (Rubio, Blanca, 2022) — have given cities a new way to conduct hybrid meetings. However, this law has several restrictions and raises a host of administrative questions.

Article Features By Doug Linkhart

Cities in California are making systemic changes to advance racial equity

In the U.S., public trust is tied not just to good governance and public outreach, but also historical issues of racism. To create change and increase trust, we need to change the structure of our systems.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Ali Sajjad Taj

Trust is critical to governing and advocacy

Public trust is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Just as our residents count on us to deliver services, they trust us to govern in a way that considers their best interests and improves their communities. At the core of this responsibility is advocating for our communities.

Article Local Works By Sarah Henry and Andrew Thomas

Alameda’s journey from restrictive to pro-housing policies

Alameda was the first Bay Area city to have its 2023-31 housing element certified by the state. How did a city that had restrictive and discriminatory land use regulations change its tune? For starters, it had a two-year conversation with the community about equity and housing.

Article Solutions for Cities Alex Mellor

What cities need to know about naloxone distribution

Fentanyl is behind an alarming spike in drug overdose deaths. While more can be done at the state and federal levels to end this tragedy, cities have at least one tool at their disposal to help reduce the number of overdose deaths: naloxone.

Article Legal Notes By Breana Inoshita and Austin Cho

Litigation is taking California’s public trust doctrine from the waterfront to the forefront

The public trust doctrine was once limited to the management of shores, navigable waterways, and submerged lands. It once operated more as a background principle in California, but a 2018 legal decision has expanded the doctrine and opened the door to new litigation.

Article Local Works By Karina Gonzalez

Santa Monica puts people first to spur a post-pandemic comeback

Like many cities across the country, Santa Monica was devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The city faced a projected revenue shortfall of about $225 million due to hotel and business closures. In response, the city invested more than $5 million in 25 city programs to accelerate local recovery.

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

Federal clawbacks will further shift the burden to local governments

If our experience in California is any guide, the federal government may be losing sight of one of the key lessons learned from the pandemic as it responds to the latest national economic challenges: People, and the communities that nurture people, must come first.

Article Features By Jessica Sankus

Everything (well, almost) you need to know about sales tax but were afraid to ask

Have you ever wondered what happens with the sales tax you pay at a retail counter or online? What can cities do with that money? Here are 10 things you should know — but may have been afraid to ask — about California’s sales and use tax.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Scott Wolfe, ICMA-CM

Buellton boosts its burgeoning arts and culture scene

Buellton residents have long pushed for more arts and culture opportunities to increase their quality of life. Many have come to view the arts as a way to incentivize economic development. Like many aspects of government, this is easier said than done, especially with just 20 full-time city employees.

Article Features By Greg Kester and Adam Link

Wastewater treatment facilities could be a solution for cities’ organic waste challenges

Reducing methane emissions through SB 1383 is one of California’s primary climate change mitigation strategies. Municipal water resource recovery facilities could partner with the state for this, but some significant challenges need to be addressed first.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Ali Sajjad Taj

Extreme weather is putting California’s infrastructure in uncharted territory

As our climate crisis deepens, so too does the threat of extreme weather and the increased strain on our infrastructure. Despite recent federal investments in infrastructure, California cities need more support from the federal government to address the needs of our communities.

Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Berkeley and Monterey’s awarding-winning infrastructure projects reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Two innovative infrastructure projects in the cities of Berkeley and Monterey received top honors from the Outstanding Local Streets and Roads Project Award program. The statewide program recognized Berkeley for its renovation of the “worst streets in town” and Monterey for a citywide adaptive traffic control system.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Damien R. Arrula

Placentia to provide high-speed internet access for all

Service providers are often reluctant to deploy high-speed universal broadband due to costs. To get around this, Placentia helped develop new microtrenching construction techniques that allow for quicker broadband deployment, even in areas with no existing connections.

Article Legal Notes By Gail A. Karish

Is your city ready to regulate 5G wireless infrastructure? Think again

In 2018, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission placed stringent limits on local regulations that control the placement of small wireless facilities. Even if your city passed new regulations early on, it could be at risk due to changes in the law that favor the streamlined deployment of all types of wireless facilities. 

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Jeff Davis

Eureka uplifts vulnerable residents with social services program

Eureka is reversing an unusually high rate of homelessness thanks to an innovative set of social service programs. Since launching the program in 2019, Eureka has housed over 120 individuals and helped more than 200 people obtain employment.

Article Features By Marina Wiant

Cities across California have adopted big new affordable housing plans. Now comes the hard part

Statewide affordable housing production is not growing fast enough to close the state’s housing gap. However, it is not impossible to reverse the trends that got us here — so long as we can learn from our mistakes.

Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Nevada City exceeds its low-income housing allocation

A lack of buildable terrain, funding, and skilled labor, as well as the threat of wildfires, makes building affordable, multifamily housing difficult in California’s rural, mountainous communities. Until 2023, Nevada City’s last large, multifamily development was built in 2001. Before that, the 1980s. So, what changed? 

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

On housing, let’s get beyond the rhetoric of blame

Seven in ten Californians view housing affordability as one of the top problems in their community. City officials understand this and are working hard to find solutions that ensure families of all income levels can afford to live in their communities.

Article Solutions for Cities By Carolina Alban-Stoughton

Oceanside’s landscape management balances beauty and water conservation

Landscape management is often dismissed as “just gardening.” In reality it requires a large amount of specialist knowledge. It can also create enormous health, economic, and aesthetic benefits for cities.

Article Solutions for Cities By Brent Turner, CTP

Designing a well-balanced liquidity strategy in the face of uncertainty

There is no shortage of opinions as to what the Fed will or will not do. That said, the undeniable fact is that this recent and historical tightening of monetary policy has transformed cash into a compelling asset class.

Article Features By Shayne Kavanagh

Rethinking budgeting: An idea whose time has come

Local governments have developed their budgets in essentially the same way for decades — and for good reason. It is simple, predictable, and provides a sense of control. However, there are new forces that both make the traditional budget less tenable and offer new ways to achieve more optimal, fairer results.

Article Legal Notes By Betsy Strauss

Breaking down the impact of two new municipal finance laws

As we settle into the new year, two new municipal finance laws need your attention. One law involves local Gann Limits and has a March 1 reporting deadline. The other adds new requirements for development impact fees.

Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot and Johnnie Piña

Spend money to save money: How four cities are managing their pension obligations

California’s unfunded pension woes could become worse in the next few years. Thanks in part to the painful lessons of the 2008 recession, cities have more tools that can help them prepare. However, the window to prepare is narrowing.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Ali Sajjad Taj

Local control starts with protecting local revenues

Fiscal certainty is critical to the sustainability of local services that residents rely upon. In the face of economic uncertainty and a growing state deficit, Cal Cities is focused on pushing back against any proposals that would disrupt this certainty.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Angélica Palmeros

Montebello’s community assistance program frees up emergency resources and reduces homelessness

Firefighters and paramedics often do not have the time to address the chronic causes behind emergency calls, such as homelessness. Montebello is filling that service gap by treating people where they are, building long-term relationships, and developing evidence-based solutions.

Article Features By Melanie Perron

Legislative year in review: What city leaders need to know about 2022

California’s massive state budget surplus dominated every legislative conversation this year and lawmakers competed fiercely to ensure their priorities were passed. Through it all, Cal Cities fought for the best interests of cities: Cal Cities tracked or engaged with 1,430 bills and protected cities’ interests in the courts, at the federal level, and in the regulatory arena.

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

Strong city leadership is all about collaboration and partnership

Local officials understand the importance of shifting past divisive campaign rhetoric and focusing on how to effectively, collaboratively, and collegially carry out the duties that voters expect them to fulfill. Just as there is strength in collaboration at the local level, there’s strength in collaboration at Cal Cities.

Article News from the Institute for Local Government By Taylor Buck

Leadership strategies for cities experiencing workforce challenges

Labor shortages and high staff turnover have created challenges for both employers and employees. Taking cues from other sectors, city governments have found creative and proactive ways to address workforce gaps and create sustainable organizations.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Colette Curtis

Paradise’s long-term recovery plan centers community healing and public safety

Many looked at Paradise after the Camp Fire and saw a “clean slate” — a chance to rebuild completely anew. However, town leaders and the private owners of thousands of the now vacant parcels needed to come together before they could move forward.

Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Lessons in leadership: Six former mayors share advice for leading in challenging times

Many city leaders weathered the nonstop crises of the last few years by relying on the fundamental tenants of good governance. With nearly 90 years of experience between them, these six former mayors have invaluable advice for new council members or those who want to take their leadership to the next level. 

Article Features By Marlene Coss

Redwood City implements first citywide equity plan, articulating its commitment to equitable services and programs

Like many communities, Redwood City was caught off balance in 2020. The resulting two years of work underscore the long-term commitment needed to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Ali Sajjad Taj

We must double down on our equity commitments during tougher fiscal times — especially those for unhoused residents

With the state foreshadowing some belt-tightening, things could get worse before they get better. Now more than ever, we need to keep fighting to ensure that the cities have the resources they need to help our most vulnerable residents.

Article Legal Notes By Robert Lennox, Simon Silva, and Glen Googins

So you have diversity: Now what?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives often stall out due to a lack of personnel, resources, or formal policies. Diversity management is one way that leaders can champion these principles and make meaningful change.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Bill Grady

Enhancing public trust and inclusion in one of California’s most diverse communities

Once a nearly all-white community, Lakewood has become one of California’s most diverse cities. When the murder of George Floyd made national news in 2020, the resulting public outrage shook the bedroom community and led to calls for change. The resulting 10-point action plan and first year of implementation are major milestones for the city.

Article News from the Institute for Local Government By Roberto Carlos Torres

State and federal funding are advancing environmental justice. Here’s what that means for cities

Federal and state governments are funding environmental justice programs at record levels. For some cities, this raises an important question: What is environmental justice? The answer may look different for each city, but the processes are often similar.

Article Local Works By Karina Gonzalez

Mountain View breaks language barriers to create a community for all

Mountain View created the Spanish and Chinese Language Civic Leadership Academy programs as part of its commitment to diversity and inclusion. The eight-week programs improve participants’ understanding of local government and city services. Some graduates have even applied for boards and commissions or ran for city council.

Article Local Works By Alexander Hamilton

For a decade, the Oxnard Fire Department focused on improving mental health. Now, it’s helping others

A firefighter’s job is no longer about putting the wet stuff on the red stuff. The demands of the modern fire service can often have a negative impact on firefighters’ mental health. Peer support teams like the one in Oxnard are one way that cities can provide firefighters with the tools needed to bounce back from traumatic events.  

Article Features By Marty Neideffer and Hilary Bass

Five ways Community Capitals Policing reimagines public safety

In recent years, calls for police reform have mounted alongside calls to reduce the rise in crime. By understanding and addressing the root causes of crime, cities can address both concerns and create communities where everyone can feel safe and succeed. This requires a radical reshaping of how we understand public safety.

Article Legal Notes By T. Peter Pierce and Natalie C. Kalbakian

How the U.S. Supreme Court’s concealed firearm license ruling affects local governments

Over the summer, the U.S. Supreme Court dramatically reshaped the nation’s firearms laws. This change has far-reaching implications for state and local regulations — including California’s “good cause” requirement for concealed firearms licenses.

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

Feeling safe and connected is the key to thriving communities

Everyone wants to feel safe where they live. And that feeling of safety is the foundation for creating thriving communities where residents, business leaders, and visitors alike feel a strong sense of belonging and connectedness.

Article Solutions for Cities By Laura Glenn

Cal Cities sponsors new investment pool for public agencies

California CLASS provides an investment option for daily liquidity and strategic reserve investments that prioritizes safety, liquidity, and yield, as well as transparency and diversification. 

Article Features By Ed Fleming

How communities can enhance their viral wildfire immunity

In many ways, wildfires spread just like viruses, but faster. So, what can epidemiology teach us about making our communities safer against wildfires? It is a question worth investigating given our current fire conditions.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Michael Webb

Redondo Beach’s outdoor court helps reduce homelessness by 44%

Like many communities, Redondo Beach saw an increase in homelessness in the years leading up to the pandemic. Thanks to a new program that brings supportive services to residents and dismisses nonviolent misdemeanors, the number of people experiencing homeless has fallen far below pre-pandemic levels.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Teresa Gerringer, Matt Francois, and Dominic Aliano

Anyone, anywhere, anytime: 19 cities and towns transform behavioral health crisis response and care

Like many communities, the cities and towns of Contra Costa County had a complex and fragmented system of behavioral health intervention and treatment. Behavioral health calls were routed through 911 and handled like fire, crime, or medical emergencies. By the end of 2023, anyone in the county experiencing a mental health crisis will be able to receive emergency care from a licensed clinician within 10 minutes.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Taylor Buck

Making the most of the post: Ways to boost your city’s social media strategy

Social media can be more than a source of division. When used thoughtfully, social media can be an avenue for productive discussions and trust-building between cities and their residents. 

Article Legal Notes By Donald A. Larkin

Is your agency prepared for a critical incident recording disclosure?

In California, public agencies are legally required to disclose all audio and/or visual recordings related to critical incidents involving law enforcement. However, even cities where critical incidents are rare can benefit from using audio and video resources to improve transparency.

Article Local Works By Kristina Ray

Don’t delete the human: Five ways to humanize your high-tech communication

“Residents sending in pictures of their dogs” is not an official performance metric for the city of Carlsbad’s communication department. But it’s a perfect example of how the city’s new communications strategy has transformed the relationship between the city organization and the community it serves.

Article Features By Jan Harnik

Billions of dollars have been invested in broadband infrastructure, but more advocacy and funding are needed

Despite bold steps from cities and historic investments from the state and federal governments, California’s digital divide persists. A 2021 survey on broadband adoption found that nearly 1.25 million households — 10% of the state’s total — remain unconnected to the internet at home. It is crucial that local governments continue to lead the way and advocate for swift action.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Ali Sajjad Taj

Strong relationships and high-quality education propel our member-driven advocacy

I have learned that by working together through Cal Cities, all our cities are stronger, and our advocacy is even more effective. The importance of working with a unified voice is magnified as we approach the end of 2022.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Erin Olsen

Pismo Beach’s Central Coast Blue collaboration addresses water needs while building community support and cross-agency partnerships

Changing environmental conditions have dramatically impacted the water supplies of Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach, and Pismo Beach. In response, the three cities teamed up for an innovative regional water reuse project that will protect and sustain a vital groundwater basin for generations.

Article Local Works By Matthew Tate

Four steps to beef up your rural retail development strategy

Retail development is a critical part of creating communities where people can grow and prosper. However, rural markets are often overlooked during initial retail expansion plans. The rural communities of Blythe, Clearlake, and Fortuna have each invested in proactive retail attraction strategies that raise their profile, creating tangible, positive results in the process.

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

Inspiring keynote speakers, policy experts, and solutions for top city issues — all at the 2022 annual conference

The annual conference will showcase the creativity and innovation of cities, recognize city leaders who are moving their communities forward, and celebrate the success of our advocacy. We’ll also hear from two powerhouse keynote speakers about leading with courage and the economic future of the Golden State.

Article Solutions for Cities

Meet the 2022 Annual Conference and Expo exhibitors

Over 200 exhibitors are scheduled to showcase their products, solutions, and services to League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo attendees. The Expo is open on Sept. 7 and 8. 

Article News from the Institute for Local Government By Erica L. Manuel

ILG explores housing, ethics, climate, and equity at the Annual Conference and Expo

The Institute for Local Government will host sessions on a number of timely topics, including housing, climate change, and equity, at this year’s annual conference. 

Article Solutions for Cities By Carolina Alban-Stoughton

Vista’s 360-degree green strategy keeps trees green without wasting water

Green spaces are a core part of Vista’s identity. So, when large, mature trees started dying, the city sprang into action. Today, the trees are thriving, thanks to a holistic approach to urban forestry and smart irrigation controllers from Calsense.

Article Features By Ken Striplin

How to respond to harassment and incivility without sacrificing civic debate

Peaceful protests are a staple of American democracy. However, public discourse has become increasingly abusive and violent. When this happens, it is vital that municipalities respond with solutions that build greater community trust and equip city leaders with strategies to protect themselves and their families.

Article Features By Jennifer Whiting

What to expect at the 2022 Annual Conference and Expo

Next month, over 1,800 California city officials will come together for the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo in Long Beach. The conference offers numerous ways to learn, collaborate, and connect with like-minded professionals about top city issues, including housing, infrastructure, organic waste recycling, and public meetings. 

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Cindy Silva

Six lessons learned while serving California’s cities

I started this year with just one goal: To help all of us, as city leaders, re-energize and put new vigor into our collective work to improve the quality of life of all Californians. Little did I know, the year would turn out to be so much more. I learned valuable lessons that will serve me well beyond this year as president.

Article Features By Helene Schneider

The secret sauce: Creative ways California communities are addressing homelessness

Public agencies are often caught between demands for swift action to solve or hide homelessness and the reality that sustainable solutions take time, investment, and political will to bring to scale. Officials throughout California are finding bold, creative ways to break this decades-old stalemate.

Article Legal Notes By Harveen Gill

Brush up on major land use, public safety, and public works laws at the Annual Conference and Expo

The Annual Conference and Expo offers multiple ways to earn legal education credits. These practical, “how-to” sessions provide training on the most important legal issues for cities, such as land use, public safety, and public contracts.

Article Solutions for Cities By Christen McKay

Benicia leverages forecasting software and federal financing tool to pay down and plan for pension liabilities

Benicia’s pension obligations are projected to reach 28% of its general fund revenues by 2031. To create better policy responses, officials are using financial forecasting software to simplify information and provide real-time projections.

Article Local Works By Richard Rojas

ARPA funding and tailored public engagement spur neighborhood revitalization in Norwalk

Many cities hoped that the American Rescue Plan Act would both help address pandemic-related issues and build an inclusive future for communities. For the city of Norwalk, this hope is becoming a reality. Staff focused their efforts on one of the city’s oldest and most underserved neighborhoods: the One-Ways.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Laurie A. Smith

Buoyed by local partnerships, Modesto is on track to transform once-neglected parks into a regional jewel

Modesto is home to two regional parks — Tuolumne River Regional Park and Dry Creek Regional Park. For years, many residents deemed parts of the parks unkempt or unsafe. Today, thanks to strategic community partnerships, the parks are becoming a gateway for outdoor adventure. The renewed interest has also allowed the city to pursue state and federal funding aggressively and successfully, creating a profound impact on the cityscape and its residents. 

Article Solutions for Cities By Justin Skarb

Four ways Cal Water is keeping water safe, reliable, and affordable

California Water Service takes a holistic and preemptive approach to water sustainability, safety, infrastructure, and equity to ensure their customers have access to water that is safe, clean, reliable, and affordable.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Hanna Stelmakhovych, Nikita Sinha, and Allison Shea

Reach for the switch: Engagement strategies for California’s energy future

Passing energy efficiency policies can be a cost-effective and impactful way to meet the state’s climate goals. Making this change effectively and equitably requires intentional public engagement strategies — especially since these policies are highly technical and can negatively impact low-income residents.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Joshua Richardson

South San Francisco staff and residents team up to restore rare grassland and endangered butterfly habitat

Sign Hill Park is South San Francisco’s last undeveloped refuge and the home of two endangered butterflies, the mission blue butterfly and the callippe silverspot butterfly, as well as a variety of rare wildflowers. For many years, the park suffered from habitat degradation, reduced funding, and a lack of public interest. 

Efforts to reverse this decades-long trend took off in 2018 when the city’s Parks and Recreation Department staff applied for and received a Measure K grant from San Mateo County, which awarded $75,600 to the city. This critical ecosystem is now thriving, and public engagement is strong thanks to an ongoing restoration program.

Article Features By Maria West

Here’s how cities are responding to organic waste recycling regulations — and the resources available to help them

California’s new organics waste law is the most ambitious change to trash in 30 years. The law seeks to dramatically reduce methane pollution, a key contributor to the climate change crisis, by reducing organic waste. Although the road to full implementation is ongoing, the state has seen remarkable progress since the requirements took effect earlier this year.

Article Local Works By Karina Gonzalez

Oceanside’s crystal-clear vision for achieving greater water independency propels city to open first water purification facility in San Diego County

Following the drought in 2008, Oceanside knew it was time to act to ensure the community had a reliable water source. After nearly a decade of research, planning, and construction, the coastal city opened the first high-tech water purification facility in San Diego County, which will provide 30% of the city’s water supply. 

Using state-of-the-art technology to purify recycled water, Pure Water Oceanside produces clean, locally sourced drinking water that will help serve the community for generations to come. 

Article Special to Cal Cities By Hung Wei

From Taipei to Cupertino: The journey to find and serve my hometown

Public trust is built in — and with — the community. It cannot be mandated. This article is a first-person account of how the connection between city and citizen develops. Cupertino Council Member Hung Wei reflects on her journey to become an elected official and what it means to be honorable. It serves as an excellent example for Western City magazine’s public trust and ethics issue.

Article Advertorial By Patricia Kirk

A cultural tradition; a spiritual calling

The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians practice the spirit of Yawa’, the concept of acting on one’s belief.  Part of that belief system is taking care of your community. Thirty years ago, when the tribe was living in poverty, people from the San Bernardino area brought food, clothing, and whatever else was needed to sustain tribal members through the difficult times. The tribe has been giving back to the residents of San Bernardino ever since.

Article Features By Doug Linkhart

Making equity stick: How to build diversity, equity, and inclusion into the foundation of your city

Equity and inclusion are at the heart of good civic engagement. Communities with inclusive civic engagement experience stronger civic responsibility. As our nation’s values have evolved, local leaders have placed an increased emphasis on creating more equitable and inclusive services, policies, and recently, government charters.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Elaine Jeng

Rolling Hills Block Captain Program improves public trust and disaster preparedness

Like many of California’s communities, Rolling Hills is located in an area that is extremely vulnerable to wildfires. City officials have long attempted to pass policies that enhance wildfire safety, but these attempts were often interpreted as infringements on individual freedoms. Today, attitudes and policy have shifted considerably thanks to a community-city partnership.

City hall meeting
Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Melissa Kuehne

Tools to strengthen public trust in the face of increased divisiveness

Elected leaders cannot effectively address challenging local issues without the strong bedrock of good government — accountability, responsiveness, and transparency. Recent political turbulence has made building, or even maintaining, that foundation extremely difficult. The Institute of Local Government has a suite of public trust and ethics resources to help local leaders navigate the issues and build a strong foundation for success. 

Article Local Works By Karina Gonzalez

Building housing and trust: Santa Ana turns neglected neighborhood center into a vibrant community hub

Located in the heart of Santa Ana’s La Artesia Pilar neighborhood is La Placita Cinco — an innovative and community-oriented urban hub. The city and developers worked closely with the community to transform the once-neglected neighborhood center, while keeping residents’ priorities top of mind.

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

Outside the box approaches to economic development are fueling local economies and revitalizing communities

There’s no denying that global events, many spurred by the pandemic, have had a significant impact on California cities over the past couple of years. As city leaders focus on retooling their local economies for today’s new market realities, the need for robust, effective economic development tools is readily apparent.

Article Legal Notes By Rick Jarvis

Your city’s development fee account could be vulnerable to multimillion-dollar refund claims

New development projects increase demand on existing public infrastructure. To fund improvements, cities often impose development impact fees, which are governed by the Mitigation Fee Act. Recently, courts have interpreted this law in a more rigid manner, suggesting that any fees held unspent for more than five years must be refunded.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Jennifer Schoeneck

Escondido’s K-rail murals save businesses, boost community spirits, and lead to permanent outdoor dining

In the early months of the pandemic, Escondido’s bustling, historic downtown turned into a ghost town overnight. The city responded with a creative, collaborative, community-driven program that stimulated the local economy and celebrated the beauty and resilience of Escondido.

Article Local Works By Karina Gonzalez

From rice mills to infill, West Sacramento transforms city’s waterfront into a model of mixed-use

A project decades in the making, West Sacramento has turned what was once a nearly century-old industrial district into a growing and thriving mixed-use community where people can live, work, and play. To make the city’s vision a reality, it helped create a new financing tool.

Article Features By Caroline Beteta

Cities, regions, tourism agencies collaborate to accelerate the state’s uneven tourism recovery

Tourism is spurring the recovery of lost jobs and revenue in many cities, particularly rural ones. However, those gains have not been felt equally, especially in large, urban communities. It is crucial that cities and other tourism stakeholders, regardless of their recovery level, have plans in place to help them navigate future uncertainties.

Article Solutions for Cities By Haig Kartounian

Need help planning electric vehicle charging projects?

From planning and design to permitting, and construction, Southern California Edison has helped its customers install thousands of charging stations for passenger vehicles and hundreds more for heavy-duty vehicles like buses and trucks through its Charge Ready programs.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Cindy Silva

Federal infrastructure package ends a years-long funding drought, and Cal Cities is committed to ensuring all cities get their turn at the faucet

After months of negotiations, Congress passed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. If your city is like mine, you have a long list of infrastructure projects that need funding. The challenge is that the federal infrastructure package is incredibly complicated, encompassing hundreds of separate programs across multiple agencies.

Pismo Beach aerial view of street
Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Outstanding Local Streets and Roads Project Awards showcase local infrastructure projects; Pismo Beach takes top prize

Pismo Beach and Santa Clarita were honored for their innovative infrastructure projects at this year’s Outstanding Local Streets and Roads Project Awards. Both cities show that, when given the necessary resources, local leaders can find creative solutions to statewide problems, even during the worst economic conditions in decades.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Rhea R. Borja

Windsor builds one of the nation’s biggest floating solar arrays

When the town of Windsor realized that its wastewater treatment facility produced as much as 45% of the town’s total greenhouse gas emissions, it began searching for a cleaner, greener way to power the facility. The resulting project, one of the largest of its kind, has numerous environmental benefits and saves the town about $175,000 annually.

Old bridge
Article Features By Caroline Cirrincione

Congress passed a historic infrastructure law: What this means for California and its cities

For years, the League of California Cities has fought for state and federal infrastructure funding. In 2021, the federal government responded with an infrastructure package, including $45 billion expected for California. Cal Cities is carrying out multiple strategies to ensure cities have what they need to access the funding.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Karalee Browne

Isolated and costly: The unique infrastructure challenges facing rural communities

Rural communities face different infrastructure needs and challenges than many larger cities. And although the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has many cities excited about the upcoming opportunities, rural leaders worry that they lack the staff and matching dollars to compete with bigger cities for their fair share of the bounty.

Apartment complex exterior
Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

As housing challenges reach new heights, cities pave the way for millions of homes

The supply and affordability of housing is one of California’s most persistent, high-profile issues. Cities are actively planning, zoning, and approving millions of new homes, but even in the highest-producing cities, there is still an acute lack of housing. This begs a figurative, and increasingly literal, million-dollar question: Why?

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

The real scoop on cities’ efforts to spur housing production: They’re making real progress

While there is a critical shortage of housing in California, there is no shortage of media coverage and commentary on the topic. However, current coverage and commentary often fail to tell the whole story. What’s often missing is the focus of a recent op-ed I authored for CalMatters. Cities are making real progress to spur housing production in their communities.

City officials at ribbon cutting
Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Eddie Fenton

Buena Park Navigation Center transforms shipping containers into new possibilities for unhoused residents

The city of Buena Park is no stranger to the nationwide homelessness crisis. A 2019 Orange County Point in Time Count Report found that 6,860 people in the county were experiencing homelessness. However, thanks to a collaborative, regional effort, the city is now part of an effective, cost-efficient solution that looks to permanently break the cycle of homelessness.

Women on computers
Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Melissa Kuehne

Planning for the future: New land use and housing resources for cities

To help support planning commissioners, their staff, and other officials interested in land use and planning, the Institute for Local Government has updated its flagship Planning Commissioners Handbook and compiled a list of related resources. The update is intended to help local officials understand the planning process and provide a window into future planning challenges on the horizon.

Aerial view of affordable apartments
Article Local Works By Anita D. Gutierrez

Pomona’s housing toolbox: A holistic, long-term plan for housing construction

To address its housing shortfall, Pomona has adopted a set of holistic housing and land use policies. The tools help address a range of related issues, including housing, racial inequity, accessibility, and transportation. When used together, they can boost production and ensure that housing is safe, affordable, and supports a higher quality of life.

Article Local Works By Jeff Kraus

San Bernardino is breaking cycles of violence with community partnerships and flexible funding

As is the case in many cities, gang connections go back decades in San Bernardino, spanning generations of family members. To disrupt the cycle, the city partnered with community-based organizations to create a program that aims to prevent gang gun violence and de-escalate tensions through personal interactions with gang members and at-risk youth in ways that law enforcement cannot.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Cindy Silva

Going forward, municipal finance will require new levels of leadership resilience

Local leaders are astutely aware that the pandemic is not over and that our local communities continue to reel from its public health and fiscal impacts. Despite this uncertainty, city leaders continue to press forward as we chart a path to recovery. And prudent financial decision-making will be critical in our recovery efforts.  

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Katie Galvin-Šurbatović

How Whittier kept local businesses afloat with targeted funding, relief, and business-friendly policies

Like most communities, the pandemic challenged Whittier’s economy across industries. In the early days of the pandemic, a once buzzing and vivacious Whittier became a shadow of its former self. Small businesses were forced to close their doors and furlough or lay off employees. Amidst considerable uncertainty, the city acted swiftly to implement critical solutions and assist the business community in a variety of effective, innovative ways.

Article Special to Cal Cities By Frank V. Zerunyan

The value of local public service

As we reflect on the many projects made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act this month, it is important to consider that which has incalculable value: public service. Put simply, local government is where the rubber meets the road and policy becomes action. This article by Frank V. Zerunyan, Mayor of Rolling Hills Estates and Professor at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, reflects on the unique, vital role that city officials play in keeping our democracy and communities healthy. 

Article Solutions for Cities By Kevin Knopf

Employee benefits: An underutilized recruitment tool

How can cities retain their current workforce and attract new employees when battling against the attraction of a work-from-home model? The answer is total compensation.

Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Transformative and desperately needed: The American Rescue Plan Act one year later

In March 2021, cities across the nation breathed a sigh of relief as an economic package that included $65 billion for municipalities finally made its way through Congress and was signed into law. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided badly needed direct and flexible funds to cash-strapped cities on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020.

Article Solutions for Cities By Lisa Holmes

New vehicles for the same old budget … or less

With age taking its toll on existing vehicle fleets, many local government agencies are learning how to not only improve the lifecycle of their vehicles but reduce their total cost of ownership with no impact on their current budget.

CalPERS headquarters
Article Legal Notes By Steven M. Berliner

New state law increases pension-related costs for cities: How municipalities can mitigate the impact

A new law went into effect at the beginning of this year that creates new liabilities for public agencies when reporting compensation, shifting exposure for reporting mistakes from retirees almost exclusively to the employer. 

Aerial view of Sacramento and the state Capitol.
Article Features By Melanie Perron

2021 Legislative Year in Review

For many, the beginning of 2021 felt like a continuation of 2020. COVID-19 continued to significantly impact the globe and cities throughout the state were still reeling from the economic impacts of the pandemic. Any guarantee of state or federal relief for cash-strapped cities was tepid at best. One silver lining was that the League of California Cities was able to build upon key relationships in the Legislature to advance top priorities for cities in 2021.

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

City leaders level up again in 2021, serving their communities and charting a clear path for Cal Cities’ 2022 Action Agenda

2021 was another year of considerable change and challenges for our cities, yet these leaders remained resilient and dedicated to keeping their residents safe, rising to challenges, and taking action to ensure a strong recovery. When many of these same leaders came together late last year to review the achievements and accomplishments that the League of California Cities delivered in 2021 and plan for the year ahead, it was clear that they were ready and more prepared than ever to lead their communities in the new year. 

Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Lessons in leadership from outgoing or former mayors and council members

Four outgoing and former elected officials from throughout the state shared the most important elements of leadership, their advice for newly electeds, and the local projects that they are most proud of.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Robert Simmons

How Irvine evacuated more than 100,000 residents during a major wildfire

Driven by unparalleled wind conditions, the 2017-19 wildfires — Tubbs, Thomas, Woolsey, Camp, Kincade, Tick, and in Orange County, Canyon II and Holy Fire — underscored the significant challenges facing police and fire agencies in these at-risk areas and the urgent need for enhanced planning measures.

Article News from the Institute for Local Government By Melissa Kuehne

Breaking the cycle: Steps for reducing negative discourse and incivility in public meetings

According to a recent report from the National League of Cities, more than 80% of local government officials have experienced some form of harassment, abuse, or violence while in office. That same report states that 87% of public officials have observed an increase in such behavior, with many noting a dramatic increase since the beginning of the pandemic.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Cindy Silva

Cal Cities’ equity roadmap can help cities chart an equitable pandemic recovery

On any given day in any newspaper across the country, you’ll most likely find a story chronicling how communities of color have been hit hardest by the pandemic, and how economic recovery in these same communities is occurring at a much slower rate. The facts make it very clear that the pandemic accelerated and exacerbated many of the already-existing inequities in our communities around income, housing affordability, and homelessness.

Article Features By Eric Rosoff, Mike Despain, and Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the fire service: Seven steps agencies can take

Firefighters are some of the nation’s most trusted professionals, even more than healthcare workers, first responders, and teachers. However, within the fire service ranks, the trust is more fragile when it comes to creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. The very things that have made fire departments successful — a strong sense of brotherhood, an emphasis on measurable operational results, and a close living-working environment — are often the very things that make attempts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion inside fire stations uniquely challenging.

Hayward sign
Article Local Works By Alexa López

Becoming your community’s ally: How the city of Hayward continues to move the equity needle by listening and learning

While Hayward had an anti-discrimination action plan in place since the 1990s, city officials realized five years ago that it was in dire need of updating. Hayward city leaders took immediate action to reassure the community that the city was in fact an ally. 

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Julia Salinas

Change happens at the speed of trust: Key lessons from ILG’s equity roundtable

The pandemic has brought equity to the forefront of many city programs and services. From updating recruitment practices and hiring equity officers to developing equity ordinances and reexamining public policies and programs, cities throughout California have made notable changes to their daily and long-term operations. 

Article Legal Notes By Amy Oppenheimer and Christina Ro-Connolly

Unintentional misconduct is still misconduct: Tips for investigating unconscious bias

Countless studies have confirmed that bias, particularly unconscious bias, informs our interactions, even in people who are genuinely committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). In the workplace, this is commonly expressed in who we prefer to hire.

Kids eating pizza
Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Daniel Mestizo

Pizza, politics, and tough questions: How Cupertino and others helped foster civic engagement among young adults

How do we engage young voters and inspire them to participate in the civic and political process? Cupertino, located in Silicon Valley, asked itself this question in 2012. The city is well known for its robust education system, beautiful weather, and for being the home of Apple Inc. After much deliberation, the cities of Cupertino and Saratoga — and later Campbell — answered by developing a teen-driven and teen-centered political forum. 

Man flying drone
Article Local Works Features By Don Redmond

Chula Vista’s high-flying first responder reduces costs and response times, improves de-escalation tactics, and saves lives

In the wake of tragedies throughout the nation involving police officers, communities are asking for police reform and better de-escalation tools and training. The Chula Vista Police Department, serving a population of 270,000 in San Diego County, responded in part by developing an innovative drone program that can respond to emergencies and provide officers with the information needed to de-escalate situations.

Article Features By Elisa Arcidiacono

The state passed major police reform bills in 2021: what the new laws mean for cities

Police reform has been a top legislative priority for progressive lawmakers in California for years, and while there have been some significant criminal justice measures signed into law in the past decade, many more bills never made it to the governor’s desk. This year was different.

Police car
Article Features By Deanne Machado

The perfect storm: policing in the era of decriminalization and unfunded budget pressures

In a decade, how might city leaders recall this period of policing in California? Will it be remembered as a period of great reform or one of great posturing? The evidence appears to support the former, as criminal justice reform in the domains of drug decriminalization and property crime have significantly affected the role and expectations of California law enforcement agencies.

Man talking to seniors
Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Erin Barrows

Burbank expanded senior programs to keep vulnerable residents safe — and connected — during the loneliest months of the pandemic

In 2015, Burbank — a San Fernando Valley city of roughly 100,000 residents — launched Project HOPE (Helping Others Prosper Everyday), a Parks and Recreation program with a simple mission: “Promote the independence, health, and dignity of older adults through compassion, kindness, commitment, and positivity.”

House on fire
Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

How Cal Cities is helping city officials prepare for the next big wildfire

Every day, cities deliver an array of public safety services to protect the residents and businesses within their communities. Recent events across the nation have sparked conversations around reimagining those services, particularly in the area of local policing.  However, in many cities in California, local leaders are also reimagining how to deliver public safety services when a wildfire strikes.

Article Legal Notes By Christine N. Wood and Jennifer Ransom

Online services and information: Considerations for ensuring accessible, legally-compliant city websites

The range of information and services available online varies from city to city, as does the level of accessibility offered by city websites. However, as cities continue to transition to internet-based information and services, they should take care to ensure that such information and services are equally accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities

Aerial of Chico, CA
Article Features By Lisa Yarbrough

Elk Grove and Chico use technology to increase public engagement on important housing decisions

For many cities, a key component of addressing the affordable housing crisis includes planning for more high-density projects. However, cities must also ensure that community insight and feedback are front and center when deciding how and where affordable housing is constructed. Two Northern California cities — Elk Grove and Chico — have taken civic engagement to a whole new level.

Man on computer

Irvine’s building and planning portal saves time and trees

As part of an ongoing effort to enhance customer service, the city of Irvine launched a new, streamlined, web-based platform for planning, building, and engineering applications. Launched in 2019, IrvineREADY! is a web-based platform that provides a portal for customers to upload plans and pay fees online using either credit card or electronic check.

Article Solutions for Cities By Gail Beal

Solving tomorrow’s budget challenges now

Municipal budgets in California are experiencing significant new stressors. As cities and counties work to provide equitable access to public programs, address the growing homelessness crisis, and deal with the many other challenges facing their communities, public agencies are again forced to spread limited budget dollars across more programs.  

Fremont streets
Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Traffic fatalities across the US rose in 2020 but not in Fremont. What did the city do differently?

In 2015, Fremont’s city council committed to a bold goal: Reduce traffic-related fatalities to zero. Even though the city was already a national leader in traffic safety, this new mindset forced officials to rethink their approach to traffic safety. Known as Vision Zero, Fremont’s traffic safety focuses on integrating human error into transportation systems, instead of reducing it.

Cal Cities new president  speaks at podium
Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Cindy Silva

Finding light in dark times, city officials emerge stronger together

The League of California Cities Board of Directors elected Walnut Creek Council Member Cindy Silva to serve as 2021-2022 President during the Annual Conference and Expo. For Silva’s first “President’s Message,” she talks about the future of cities, and shares her view of Cal Cities as a place where local officials can work together to tackle challenges, capitalize on new opportunities, and move forward for the betterment of all communities.