Communications and Technology

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.


October 2023

Article Features By David Albaugh and Geoff Spencer

The many uses and potential pitfalls of generative AI

Tools like ChatGPT can produce incredible messages, but they don’t actually know anything. It’s best to think of them as very fluent parrots. You should fact-check everything, even if it sounds convincing. With that said, generative artificial intelligence can make some jobs easier.

Article Legal Notes By Benjamin R. Jones

A 2024 legal decision will impact local control over existing wireless facilities

Cal Cities filed a lawsuit over a declaratory ruling that restricts cities’ control over existing wireless facilities. A legal decision is expected next year. Here are a few key areas to watch.

Article Local Works By Kimberly Bonéy

City of Redding Podcast breaks down big topics and builds trust

It’s easy for people to mistrust cities when they are not privy to the day-to-day happenings within city hall. The wheels of government turn slow, and delivering information is a multilayered process. Enter the City of Redding Podcast, where no topic is too big or mundane.

Article Legal Notes By Matthew R. Silver, Lauren E. Brown, and Natalie Sahagun, Civica Law Group, APC

Don’t fly by these rules when developing a city drone program

More city officials are looking to drones for code enforcement and public safety. However, these uses are not without controversy. Critics have expressed concerns about privacy implications and a lack of adequate safeguards. Cities also need to consider legal and operational requirements.

Article Solutions for Cities By Larry Chung

New study outlines the steps needed to reach net-zero by 2045

The ability of the state to reach reach net-zero by 2045 relies on partnerships between companies like Southern California Edison, regulatory agencies, and local governments.

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 Local Works By Kristina Ray

Don’t delete the human: Five ways to humanize your high-tech communication

“Residents sending in pictures of their dogs” is not an official performance metric for the city of Carlsbad’s communication department. But it’s a perfect example of how the city’s new communications strategy has transformed the relationship between the city organization and the community it serves.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President Ali Sajjad Taj

Strong relationships and high-quality education propel our member-driven advocacy

I have learned that by working together through Cal Cities, all our cities are stronger, and our advocacy is even more effective. The importance of working with a unified voice is magnified as we approach the end of 2022.

Article Features By Jan Harnik

Billions of dollars have been invested in broadband infrastructure, but more advocacy and funding are needed

Despite bold steps from cities and historic investments from the state and federal governments, California’s digital divide persists. A 2021 survey on broadband adoption found that nearly 1.25 million households — 10% of the state’s total — remain unconnected to the internet at home. It is crucial that local governments continue to lead the way and advocate for swift action.

Article Legal Notes By Donald A. Larkin

Is your agency prepared for a critical incident recording disclosure?

In California, public agencies are legally required to disclose all audio and/or visual recordings related to critical incidents involving law enforcement. However, even cities where critical incidents are rare can benefit from using audio and video resources to improve transparency.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Taylor Buck

Making the most of the post: Ways to boost your city’s social media strategy

Social media can be more than a source of division. When used thoughtfully, social media can be an avenue for productive discussions and trust-building between cities and their residents. 

Aerial of Chico, CA
Article Features By Lisa Yarbrough

Elk Grove and Chico use technology to increase public engagement on important housing decisions

For many cities, a key component of addressing the affordable housing crisis includes planning for more high-density projects. However, cities must also ensure that community insight and feedback are front and center when deciding how and where affordable housing is constructed. Two Northern California cities — Elk Grove and Chico — have taken civic engagement to a whole new level.

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.

Fremont streets
Article Local Works By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Traffic fatalities across the US rose in 2020 but not in Fremont. What did the city do differently?

In 2015, Fremont’s city council committed to a bold goal: Reduce traffic-related fatalities to zero. Even though the city was already a national leader in traffic safety, this new mindset forced officials to rethink their approach to traffic safety. Known as Vision Zero, Fremont’s traffic safety focuses on integrating human error into transportation systems, instead of reducing it.

Article Legal Notes By Christine N. Wood and Jennifer Ransom

Online services and information: Considerations for ensuring accessible, legally-compliant city websites

The range of information and services available online varies from city to city, as does the level of accessibility offered by city websites. However, as cities continue to transition to internet-based information and services, they should take care to ensure that such information and services are equally accessible to all individuals, including those with disabilities