California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence

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.

It takes a village; Moreno Valley partnership creates new afterschool program

One-third of California’s TK-12 students perform below grade level, including students in Moreno Valley, Riverside County’s second-largest city. The city recognized the need to support students, parents’ need to work, and the community overall. Realizing this, Moreno Valley collaborated with local school districts to create an expanded afterschool learning program.

Colton-At-Risk-Teens Academy helps empower families and put local teens on the right trajectory

The Colton Police Department believes that investing in youth, especially at-risk children and adolescents, creates healthier and happier communities. Guided by research, the police department developed a multi-agency partnership known as the C.A.R.T. (Colton-At-Risk-Teens) Academy, with the goal of providing at-risk youth with discipline, guidance, and career development opportunities. 

City of Davis’ partnership with local theatre company increases bike safety and fuels its creative economy

The city of Davis set out to find an innovative way to address its long-term environmental, public health, and safety goals by educating and engaging young Davis residents through its Safe Routes to School program. Looking to do something different, the city set its sights on sourcing local, partnering with a local theater company to create a memorable and engaging theater piece that promoted safe biking to young audiences.

Santa Maria develops a hands-on, career-based agricultural education program for high schoolers

When the opportunity arose to create a model program with students and local businesses, the city of Santa Maria stepped up. The city partnered with a local ag-related businesses to create a successful hands-on educational program, from work of planting pumpkins, and networking with community members, to creating fun events.

Santa Clarita mascot, Sammy Clarita, poses with children at a local event.

Santa Clarita uses creative mascot to engage youth and instill city knowledge and pride

Open house celebrations at Santa Clarita City Hall, documentary-style videos, and articles about what it took to become a city appealed to adult residents. At the same time, a small, stuffed horse named Sammy Clarita quickly became the city’s unofficial mascot and messenger to engage the city’s younger residents. The “I Found Sammy Clarita” campaign introduces the next generation of residents to their local government and teaches them the importance of being an engaged resident. 

The city of Glendale has a reputation as a regional tech center, with a diverse local tech economy, a highly-educated workforce, and many attributes needed to attract tech startups and employees.

City of Glendale kick starts local technology and innovation ecosystem

The city of Glendale’s efforts to grow the tech industry including the creation of “knowledge sharing” or places where local talent could go to innovate, inspire, and meet one another, inspired the creation of its Glendale Ecosystem for Tech Startups initiative. This helped focus on attracting new businesses including high-end co-working space operators; developing a strategy to offer more mentorship, business development, and investment opportunities to local startups; and helping tech companies expand. 

City of Alameda works to build climate resiliency and advance sustainability

The city of Alameda is an island community in the San Francisco Bay Area that faces an existential threat from sea level rise. The city responded to this challenge by developing a cutting-edge Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, including a roadmap for a “Climate Safe Path,” in which Alameda aggressively reduces its own greenhouse gas emissions as well as raise climate awareness.

Courson Arts interior of art gallery.

Palmdale’s latest housing innovation: the Courson Arts Colony

In recent years, the city of Palmdale saw housing costs outpace the area’s income levels, resulting in a shortage of affordable housing in the area. The Courson Arts Colony, the latest component of Palmdale’s city center revitalization and housing innovation, provides affordable housing and incorporates an arts component to serve as a healing element for veterans who may be suffering from PTSD.

City of Escondido public works employees remove graffiti.

City of Escondido develops innovative and collaborative program to eliminate graffiti

Graffiti destroys property, costs cities hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and can blight entire communities. To address graffiti issues, the City of Escondido created a custom designed smartphone app to crowdsource information from the community to help keep their city clean and free of graffiti. 

Santa Clarita prepares for “silver tsunami” with Gold Star College Internship Program

Through Santa Clarita’s College Internship Program interns get a taste of work life after completing their degree and gain exposure to key aspects of local government. The city benefits because it develops the next generation of public sector employees and provides professional development opportunities for current employees. Santa Clarita’s succession planning strategy has proven to be a success and can serve as a model for other cities as they work to develop future city employees and leaders. 

Norwalk Offers Empathy and Critical Support to Teens in Crisis

Developed by a volunteer team of recreation staff, the We Have Project offers a forum for dealing with challenging issues, including depression and anxiety, and links Norwalk teens and youth with professional resources.

Norwalk Offers Empathy and Critical Support to Teens in Crisis

Developed by a volunteer team of recreation staff, the We Have Project offers a forum for dealing with challenging issues, including depression and anxiety, and links Norwalk teens and youth with professional resources.

Alisal Vibrancy Plan Addresses Equity Issues in Salinas

This plan is the result of advocacy and a collaborative process with city staff, community-based organizations, and residents that increased public engagement, public dialogue, and trust and brought new leadership into planning processes.

Costa Mesa Summer Camp Focuses on Sports, Music, and Arts

This camp introduces youths to a range of sports, music, art activities, and extracurricular interests.

Camp Achieve Provides Summer Fun and Learning for Richmond’s Youth

This summer camp program delivers a diverse array of learning enrichment activities including robotics, chess, the arts, and physical fitness.

Greening the Concrete Jungle: Daly City Partners With Residents

Project Green Space is a robust urban forestry and green infrastructure program convened by the city and driven by residents. The program empowers community members to actively reshape the future of their neighborhoods by adopting new trees and planting and maintaining rain gardens.

South Pasadena Teens Provide Tech Expertise to Senior Community

This increasingly popular program bridges the digital divide and fosters intergenerational communication.

Dublin Provides Affordable Housing for Veterans

An innovative public-private-nonprofit partnership transformed a former car dealership site into housing for veterans, comprising 66 units that are 100 percent affordable.

Encinitas Retools Planning to Increase Housing Options

The city retooled its existing zoning and standards to make it easier for property owners to add accessory dwelling units, also known as granny flats. Encinitas also successfully sponsored state legislation to make the changes possible.