California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence

Los Angeles Forms Partnerships to Clean Up Skid Row

The City of Los Angeles won an Award for Excellence for this project in the League Partners Award category of the 2005 California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more about the award program, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.

Library Gets “In the Zone” for Teens

When the newly constructed 60,000 square foot Mountain View Public Library was opened in October 1997, it was met with great enthusiasm from all segments of the community. It has since become a model for other libraries and welcomes visitors from neighboring jurisdictions seeking to implement a similar cohesion of utility and aesthetics at their library facilities.

Oakland’s Neighborhood Law Corps Puts Young Lawyers to Good Work

Oakland is the eighth largest city in California, and more than 125 languages are spoken within its city limits. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Oakland is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States. With this great size and diversity come many challenges. Generations of Oakland residents are caught in a cycle of crime and poverty, with little hope for advancement. Low-income neighborhoods are plagued with the chronic problems associated with blighted buildings, crack houses, toxic pollution and slum housing conditions. To make matters worse, corner liquor stores — which are overly concentrated in these neighborhoods — act as magnets for illegal activity.

The City of Oxnard’s Preschool Goes Mobile

The City of Oxnard has historically been home to numerous recent immigrants, primarily from Mexico and Central America. Many lack formal education, and few speak English. Families often remain uninformed about the need for early educational experiences for their children prior to compulsory school entry at age 6. Because they work long hours as day laborers in agriculture, packing houses, restaurants, motels and construction, these parents do not have the opportunity to transport their children to preschool programs.

Fremont Hears the Housing Needs of Deaf Seniors

Contact: Bill Cooper, housing project manager, City of Fremont; phone: (510) 494-4520; e-mail: bcooper@ci.fremont.ca.us.


America’s population of senior citizens is not only increasing but expected to live longer as well. This trend presents new opportunities and challenges to providers of affordable housing. Some seniors are able to move in with relatives or into age-restricted facilities for care and support. Others cannot, and as a result become isolated and vulnerable as they grow older. The City of Fremont has taken a lead role in identifying housing needs for vulnerable and underserved members of the community, including deaf seniors, who are approximately 3 percent of Fremont’s population.

Glendale Gets Systematic About Rental Housing Inspections

Contact: Elena Bolbolian, administrative analyst, City of Glendale, Neighborhood Services Section; phone: (818) 548-4802; fax: (818) 240-7239; e-mail: ebolbolian@ci.glendale.ca.us.


In 2002, the City of Glendale undertook a demonstration project to ensure that rental housing in a specific neighborhood met minimum habitability standards. From 2002 to 2004, inspectors visited properties with two or more units located in that neighborhood to educate residents and inspect the premises. Even though participation was voluntary, 92 percent of the properties were inspected. As a result of the project, housing standards improved, and the demand on traditional code enforcement services declined.

Goleta Resolves Decades-Old Conflict, Preserves Coastline in Perpetuity

The Gaviota Coast in Santa Barbara County constitutes approximately 15 percent of Southern California’s shoreline but represents nearly half of its remaining rural coast. This stretch of the coastline offers unspoiled views, numerous recreation opportunities and a refuge for wildlife populations that have been severely reduced or eliminated from much of their former range. One undeveloped area at the southern gateway to the Gaviota Coast, a scenic 137-acre property in Goleta known as Ellwood Mesa, is treasured by residents and visitors for its beauty and abundant recreational opportunities.

Calistoga Helps Families To Afford and Build Their Own Homes

In 2003, Calistoga Affordable Housing (CAH), a new local nonprofit, proposed to the Calistoga City Council a development of 18 mutual self-help affordable houses in the heart of Calistoga near schools, parks and shopping. Self-help affordable housing projects are unique, requiring a commitment from each selected family of 30 hours per week to work with the construction team that builds the houses.

Redondo Beach Transforms Busy Highway Into User-Friendly Street

Contact: Brad Lindahl, capital projects program manager, City of Redondo Beach; phone: (310) 372-1171, ext. 2286; e-mail: Brad.Lindahl@redondo.org.


Artesia Boulevard carries between 35,000 and 45,000 vehicles daily through the cities of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Lawndale. The street is lined with residential units, commercial areas and a regional shopping mall, the South Bay Galleria. Maintenance on the street had declined over the years; the road was deteriorating and aging trees had damaged the median curb and gutters.

Lincoln Cleans Up Its Wastewater With Developers’ Help

With the development of several large housing projects, the City of Lincoln is poised for rapid growth over the next 10 years. In 1997, the city’s population was approximately 7,900 residents, with projections of 50,000 residents by 2010 and build-out expected to be 60,000 residents. However, the city had concerns about the existing wastewater treatment facility’s environmental impacts and its ability to handle the demands of a growing population.

Martinez Invests in New Train Station To Revitalize Downtown

Contact: Richard Pearson, community development director and transportation projects manager, City of Martinez; phone: (925) 372-3525; e-mail: rpearson@cityofmartinez.org


Located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay Area, the City of Martinez has a quaint and charming downtown with a Main Street and old brick buildings. However, in the 1990s, the downtown area’s economic health was in danger. Both “anchor tenants” (Contra Costa County offices and the Superior Courts) were considering relocating, and no new businesses were moving in, no housing was being built and old businesses were leaving.