California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence

Roseville Makes Smart Choices to Reduce Sprawl

By 2050 the population of the Sacramento region, including southwest Placer County, is expected to double to almost 4 million people. If traditional low-density development continues, this growth is likely to reduce the quality of life as open space and agricultural land is lost, traffic increases and air quality declines.

Signal Hill Revives a Failing Neighborhood

Las Brisas, a vibrant and attractive neighborhood in the City of Signal Hill, now thrives where dispiriting conditions once made any notion of improvement difficult to envision. This small but decisive urban victory was orchestrated by the Signal Hill City Council and redevelopment agency, which set their sights high and developed a clear plan to improve their community.

Eureka’s Multiple Assistance Center Maximizes Support for Homeless

The concept of a multiple assistance center (MAC) aims to break the cycle of homelessness by successfully transitioning program participants toward stable employment and permanent housing. The City of Eureka’s MAC project was first introduced in 1996 as a new approach to solving issues of homelessness. By integrating on-site specialized care and support services with on-site transitional housing and multiple-step programs, the MAC is designed to help families and individuals achieve self-sufficiency.

Lincoln Puts Neighborhood Electric Vehicles on the Road

The City of Lincoln won an Award of Excellence in the Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation category of the 2006 Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more information, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.


With its population expecting to hit approximately 50,000 residents by 2010, the City of Lincoln’s Department of Public Works had to address the following concerns: 

Los Gatos Builds Community Unity

“Imagine what could be done if you had 50 volunteers, or a hundred or more.” This was the challenge presented by the Los Gatos Town Council and the idea behind the creation of Community Unity. 

Santa Clarita Strives to Keep Teens Alive

So fast, so furious — and so dead. Santa Clarita’s 16- to 18-year-olds make up 12 percent of the driving population, yet they are involved in 25 percent of all driving collisions. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for those aged 16 to 19, and more than 60 percent of teen passenger deaths occur while another teen is driving. 

Carlsbad Makes Sportsmanship a Priority

Poor sportsmanship creates an unpleasant environment, impacts safety and results in huge declines in participation across many types of activities. In celebration of its mission to promote respect, unity, safety, enrichment, encouragement and teamwork, the City of Carlsbad’s Recreation Department pioneered a local solution. The Teaching Respect, Unity and Sportsmanship through Teamwork (TRUST) program integrates the value of good sportsmanship at all levels — including city leadership, staff, parents, children and volunteers — through a comprehensive training and communications program that has significantly increased satisfaction among the participants.

Monterey Park Improves Traffic Safety for Drivers and Pedestrians

The City of Monterey Park covers 7.73 square miles in the San Gabriel Valley east of Los Angeles, and the roadway system comprises 350 miles of paved streets. Most of the business districts and older residential sections have roads that were designed and installed in the 1920s. Traffic-related problems have increased due to the physical constraints of the streets, a burgeoning multilingual immigrant population and the city’s location between three of the most frequently traveled freeways in Los Angeles County. 

Cathedral City Launches “Stop Identity Theft” Program

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), approximately 10 million people are victims of identity theft each year. Each victim spends an average of $1,500 and 175 hours to recover a portion of their losses. 

Eureka Establishes Mobile Live-Fire Training Program

Consistent training on essential firefighting skills is critical for the protection of communities, citizens and firefighters. But the City of Eureka Fire Department and members of surrounding allied agencies lacked the ability to practice realistic structural firefighting techniques on a frequent, consistent basis. Unfortunately, this problem is not unique to the city’s fire department. There are no agencies within the tri-county area of Humboldt, Del Norte and western Trinity counties that operate facilities capable of simulating structural fire conditions in a controlled environment – despite the existence of qualified instructors. 

Cities of Los Angeles County Form Interagency Communications System

Before Sept.11, 2001, most public safety agencies lacked the resources to communicate directly with one another via radio. In some cases, even police officers and firefighters within the same city were unable to communicate over radio. Add the inability of public works crews to communicate with first responders, and the end result was a generally less-than-efficient emergency response.

Colton Modernizes Emergency Access for Gated Communities

Controlled access gates at residential communities can present a formidable obstacle for law enforcement. Nationwide, public safety personnel have been challenged with the task of gaining immediate emergency access to gated private communities. Agencies everywhere are faced with the same dilemma: what to do when access gates delay emergency services. How can municipal administrators assist emergency responders in better serving the public? One solution is to give them the keys to the city, or something even better, the e-keys to the city. 

Lincoln Partners With School District to Improve Infrastructure

The City of Lincoln is one of California’s fastest growing communities. In 1990, its population numbered 7,800; today, it has grown to 27,000. Lincoln has been faced with the challenge of expanding its municipal and recreational facilities fast enough to keep pace with the needs of the community.

Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Contra Costa County Join Forces to Construct a Veterans’ Memorial Building

The San Francisco Bay Area cities of Lafayette and Walnut Creek, together with Contra Costa County, recently cooperated to build an elegant new Veterans’ Memorial Building. This $7.8 million development is one of the most significant projects for veterans completed in Northern California during the past 50 years.

Fairfield and Solano County Collaborate to Meet Community Needs

In 1998, the County of Solano had outgrown its offices in downtown Fairfield and planned to consolidate its operations in another location. The county was considering a site in one of Fairfield’s business parks.This move would have had a major adverse economic impact on downtown Fairfield because the county is the downtown area’s largest employer, occupying an area equal to four city blocks. The move would have also taken prime industrial land slated for private sector job generation and eliminated tax increment revenues from the local redevelopment agency, as the business park was in a redevelopment project area.

Glendale’s Junior Ambassador Program Promotes Environmental Stewardship

For 12 years, the City of Glendale’s Neighborhood Services Department has operated successful environmental education programs in the city’s elementary schools. Continuing this education at the middle school level was the next obvious step to maintaining environmentally sustainable behavior in Glendale youth. Neighborhood Services needed to develop a program that would motivate junior high school students to take civic responsibility for their environment.

La Habra’s Teens Help Turn Things Around

In the early 1990s, the City of La Habra was experiencing rising numbers of drive-by shootings and homicides. The city ranked second in Orange County for gang-related shootings. The increased violence was attributed to several factors, including a lack of organized recreation programs for youth and a recent influx of gang members from outside the area. In response, a concerned group of community members formed a task force to work with the city to address the problem.

Foster City Gives Youth an Advisory Role and a Voice

Located along San Francisco Bay on the peninsula between San Francisco and San Jose, Foster City is a growing community of 28,803 residents, offering the benefits of metropolitan living with small town, neighborly appeal.

Pacifica Improves Beach Facilities and Environmental Quality

The City of Pacifica won an Award for Excellence for this project in the Planning and Environmental Quality category of the 2005 California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more about the award program, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.


Each year, more than one million people visit Pacifica State Beach, which many consider one of Northern California’s better surfing beaches. Owned by the state parks system and locally operated by the City of Pacifica, it’s the first beach south of San Francisco that is safe for swimming and water sports. Flanked to the north and south by rocky headlands, the beach stretches along Highway 1 in a narrow swath of sand, cobbles and upland dune structures. It was once the site of a historic railroad that traversed the area. But over the years, buildings and construction fill had encroached upon the beach.

Oxnard’s GREAT Program For Groundwater

The City of Oxnard won an Award for Excellence for this project in the Planning and Environmental Quality category of the 2005 California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more about the award program, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.


Like many California municipalities, the City of Oxnard faces a number of challenges related to water resources, including a growing population, greater demand on water supplies, reductions in groundwater, more costly and less reliable imported state water, and the need to restore local wetlands.