California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence

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.

Santa Maria Turns Two Environmentally Sensitive Liabilities Into an Innovative Community Asset

The City of Santa Maria won an Award for Excellence for this project in the Internal Administration category of the 2005 California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more about the award program, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.


Located in Santa Barbara County, the City of Santa Maria is a fast growing, predominantly agricultural community with a population quickly approaching 90,000. Santa Maria provides a full range of municipal services to its residents, including solid waste collections and disposal.

Cupertino Builds Webcast Studio and Creates Revenue Stream

The City of Cupertino won an Award for Excellence in the Internal Administration category of the 2005 California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more about the award program, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.


The City of Cupertino’s government access TV channel operation began to outgrow its control room space at city hall when live webcasting commenced. The professional ability of the staff, as well as residents’ appetite for information, had driven ongoing infrastructure improvements, but the city’s budget to support the operation was not keeping pace. The challenge then was to continue to improve, maintain and expand communication infrastructure in light of budget shortfalls and staffing cuts.

Beverly Hills Finds a Better Way to Serve Its Residents

The City of Beverly Hills won an Award for Excellence in the Internal Administration category of the 2005 California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program. For more about the award program, visit www.cacities.org/helenputnam.


The City of Beverly Hills consistently strives to maximize the efficiency of internal operations and the effectiveness of its public service. Several years ago, it recognized an opportunity to streamline customer service approaches to better meet the needs of residents, businesses and visitors. The city’s efforts resulted in the development of the Online Business Center (OBC).

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.