California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence

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 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 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 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.

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 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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.