Environment and Energy


Environment and Energy

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Sunny Wang

Santa Monica’s water self-sufficiency project snags state and global awards

For decades, Santa Monica chipped away at water self-sufficiency. Now it’s on track to increase local water supplies to 90% by summer 2024. The project was recognized at the 2024 Global Water Awards, second only to the United Arab Emirates.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Karalee Browne

So you have a climate action plan and a budget deficit. What now?

Many cities in California are planning for and mitigating the effects of climate change. Yet, many of those same cities are looking for ways to do more with less. Here’s how three budget-conscious cities are funding and developing local climate action plans — and a free, flexible framework for your own city. 

Article Features By Casey J. Day

How police can better plan for sea level rise

How public agencies collaborate and plan will be vital to how they weather climate change crises. This may mean forgoing traditional top-down emergency planning in favor of participative scenario planning, which can include a wider range of stakeholders. 

Article Solutions for Cities By Robert Mungerro Sanchez

Fire sprinkler systems can harm the environment and people. EcoSmart Filters can fix that

Enough polluted water is discharged every year to fill 21 million Olympic-sized swimming pools. EcoSmart Filters are an affordable, easy way to remove those harmful containments.

Article Features By Jackie Krentzman

This is ‘on the level of the Flint water crisis,’ warn advocates at California’s southern border

Toxic waste from the Tijuana River has created a public health, economic, and environmental nightmare for cities in San Diego County. The ongoing crisis is a classic example of a local issue that requires a bipartisan regional, state, and federal response.

Article Local Works By Catherine Way and Rachel Kertz

How to become a fire-adapted community

In 2020, Marin County voters approved the state’s first JPA dedicated solely to local wildfire protection. The agency has a clear mission: Help Marin County co-exist with wildfire by adopting fire-adapted strategies. This starts with a “House Out” strategy that all cities can follow.

Article Features By Amanda Cabral and Gail Carlson

California’s youth are anxious about climate change and need to see concrete action

California’s youth are worried about the climate crisis. They face a long future of climate extremes, with consequences for their health, well-being, education, and livelihood. Many are experiencing a great deal of eco-anxiety and are looking for help or ways to take action.

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 Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director

Cities can be powerful leaders for climate action

Reducing emissions from heavy trucks and other large vehicles is key to California’s efforts to slow the impacts of climate change and improve the quality of the air we all breathe. However, reducing greenhouse gas emissions — particularly through the transition to zero-emission vehicles — does not come without significant challenges.

Article Features By Heidi Sanborn, Tim Goncharoff, and Jordan Wells

California’s packaging producer responsibility law is a game-changer for cities

Reducing waste and pollution at the source is key to achieving an equitable, circular economy. A new law passed last year will phase out single-use packaging and food ware. It is the most stringent plastic reduction rule in the U.S. and the only comprehensive circular economy policy in the nation. 

Article Features By Adam Link

Efforts to limit ‘forever chemicals’ are underway. What does this mean for cities?

PFAS are ubiquitous, virtually indestructible, and linked to significant health risks. We are only beginning to determine how to best manage, communicate, and ultimately assess liability for the cleanup.  

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Nikita Sinha

Smaller cities charting a path to carbon neutrality

The California Air Resource Board released a plan mapping out a path toward carbon neutrality by 2045. But with little over a decade remaining in the state’s timeline, there is still a lot of work ahead. Fortunately, many cities are ahead of the game. Some are even aiming for carbon neutrality earlier than 2045.

Article Features By Greg Kester and Adam Link

Wastewater treatment facilities could be a solution for cities’ organic waste challenges

Reducing methane emissions through SB 1383 is one of California’s primary climate change mitigation strategies. Municipal water resource recovery facilities could partner with the state for this, but some significant challenges need to be addressed first.

Article Solutions for Cities By Carolina Alban-Stoughton

Vista’s 360-degree green strategy keeps trees green without wasting water

Green spaces are a core part of Vista’s identity. So, when large, mature trees started dying, the city sprang into action. Today, the trees are thriving, thanks to a holistic approach to urban forestry and smart irrigation controllers from Calsense.

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.

Article Features By Maria West

Here’s how cities are responding to organic waste recycling regulations — and the resources available to help them

California’s new organics waste law is the most ambitious change to trash in 30 years. The law seeks to dramatically reduce methane pollution, a key contributor to the climate change crisis, by reducing organic waste. Although the road to full implementation is ongoing, the state has seen remarkable progress since the requirements took effect earlier this year.

Article California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence By Joshua Richardson

South San Francisco staff and residents team up to restore rare grassland and endangered butterfly habitat

Sign Hill Park is South San Francisco’s last undeveloped refuge and the home of two endangered butterflies, the mission blue butterfly and the callippe silverspot butterfly, as well as a variety of rare wildflowers. For many years, the park suffered from habitat degradation, reduced funding, and a lack of public interest. 

Efforts to reverse this decades-long trend took off in 2018 when the city’s Parks and Recreation Department staff applied for and received a Measure K grant from San Mateo County, which awarded $75,600 to the city. This critical ecosystem is now thriving, and public engagement is strong thanks to an ongoing restoration program.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government By Hanna Stelmakhovych, Nikita Sinha, and Allison Shea

Reach for the switch: Engagement strategies for California’s energy future

Passing energy efficiency policies can be a cost-effective and impactful way to meet the state’s climate goals. Making this change effectively and equitably requires intentional public engagement strategies — especially since these policies are highly technical and can negatively impact low-income residents.

Article Local Works By Karina Gonzalez

Oceanside’s crystal-clear vision for achieving greater water independency propels city to open first water purification facility in San Diego County

Following the drought in 2008, Oceanside knew it was time to act to ensure the community had a reliable water source. After nearly a decade of research, planning, and construction, the coastal city opened the first high-tech water purification facility in San Diego County, which will provide 30% of the city’s water supply. 

Using state-of-the-art technology to purify recycled water, Pure Water Oceanside produces clean, locally sourced drinking water that will help serve the community for generations to come. 

Article Executive Director's Message By League of California Cities Executive Director and CEO Carolyn Coleman

While global climate change is daunting, local actions provide hope

California is racing to prevent the irreversible effects of climate change, and the stakes have never been higher. Concrete actions at the local level to protect our world for future generations are tangible and provide hope that we may still be able to prevent irreversible damage.