Environment, Energy & Climate Change

The cogeneration facility at the San José-Santa Clara Regional Wastewater Facility features artwork by Buster Simpson.
Article Local Works by Lisa Yarbrough

Cities of San José and Ukiah lead the way on critical water infrastructure projects

Looking ahead at growing population demands, many cities are embarking on infrastructure modernization projects to ensure water reliability. They are also taking a long view and designing these projects with climate change in mind. As droughts and warmer temperatures become more common, cities are on the front lines working to ensure their constituents have a sustainable source of water now and into the future. 

City of Alameda works to build climate resiliency and advance sustainability

The city of Alameda is an island community in the San Francisco Bay Area that faces an existential threat from sea level rise. The city responded to this challenge by developing a cutting-edge Climate Action and Resiliency Plan, including a roadmap for a “Climate Safe Path,” in which Alameda aggressively reduces its own greenhouse gas emissions as well as raise climate awareness.

Exterior view of St. Paul’s Commons in Walnut Creek, CA.
Article Local Works by Jill Oviatt

A community partnership brings a transformative affordable housing development to Walnut Creek

A dynamic group of committed religious, community, housing, and local government leaders in Walnut Creek came together to solve one of our state’s most pressing problems: the need for more affordable housing. Working together they created St. Paul’s Commons, a mixed-use, transit-oriented affordable housing development that opened its doors to residents in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit.

Water supply cover
Article Legal Notes by Michael G. Colantuono

A legal win for city finance – Supreme Court holds utility rates not subject to referendum

Referendum is a power granted to voters, essentially allowing the electorate to put statutes adopted by legislative bodies to a vote of the people. However, the recent California Supreme Court decision in Wilde v. City of Dunsmuir held that water rates are not subject to referendum, making this an important win for public utilities and local governments, and boosting stability in local finance.

Article President's Message by Cheryl Viegas Walker

Cal Cities strategic priorities set a course for 2021

In December 2020, city leaders who serve in leadership positions for the League of California Cities divisions, departments, policy committees, and diversity caucuses convened virtually for the annual League Leaders program, to chart the organization’s priorities for 2021. Developing member-driven and -informed strategic advocacy priorities is key to the effectiveness of Cal Cities’ advocacy efforts on behalf of cities.

Article Features by Melanie M. Perron

2020 Legislative year in review

Many have called this year “unprecedented,” but even that does not seem to capture the unequaled disruption that 2020 wrought upon us all, the California State Legislature included. The the normal legislative calendar was constricted and fierce debates took place over how to legislate during a pandemic. In the end, the number of bills sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature was a mere fraction of what the Legislature typically passes in a year. 

Article Features by Stephanie Hunting and Liz Moody

From Vision to Reality: Lessons Learned in Complete Street Implementation

These projects can be challenging, but they improve traffic and support healthy lifestyles.

Article Features by Wendy Sommer

How Cities Can Build Resiliency and Fight Climate Change With Healthy Soil

Seventeen cities in Alameda County are employing carbon farming, which increases the ability of soil and plants to pull carbon from the atmosphere and store it deep in the soil. Carbon farming also increases water-holding capacity, reduces erosion, creates healthier plants, and increases forage production; it’s an essential part of a resiliency strategy.

Greening the Concrete Jungle: Daly City Partners With Residents

Project Green Space is a robust urban forestry and green infrastructure program convened by the city and driven by residents. The program empowers community members to actively reshape the future of their neighborhoods by adopting new trees and planting and maintaining rain gardens.

Article Features by Karalee Browne

The Environment, Energy, and Equity: How Cities Are Moving Forward in Today’s Economy

Cities are grappling with tough decisions about how to balance the essential needs of their communities with projects that were planned to address energy, equity, and the environment. Despite immediate and looming budget shortfalls, many cities are moving forward with Climate Action Plans.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government by Nicole Enright

New Clean Mobility Options Roll Out in Arvin

With just a few taps on a smartphone app, residents can check out an electric vehicle, get in, and go.

West Sacramento’s On-Demand Ride-share Service Addresses Transit Needs

The ride-share service improves access to critical daily amenities and is helping to change the lives of transit-dependent residents. The program has improved mobility for all, especially seniors and youths.

Article Features by Maria West

What Cities Need to Know About SB 1383 and Funding Organic Waste Management

Cities should immediately begin planning for and implementing the required organic waste collection and edible food recovery services. This work includes assessing and securing adequate capacity for organics processing and edible food recovery, which can be done individually or in conjunction with counties, other cities and regional agencies.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government by Nicole Enright

Scrap Your Fears About Food Waste Regulations: Preparing for SB 1383

California cities are preparing to comply with new targets to reduce statewide emissions of short-lived climate pollutants and reduce organic waste in landfills. To help cities with this, the Institute for Local Government is partnering with CalRecycle to raise awareness and connect local governments with resources and expertise.

Article City Forum by Jill Oviatt

Lessons Learned From Utility-Initiated Power Shutoffs

Since October 2019, the Pacific Gas and Electric Company has cut power to Californians more than half a dozen times, with the smallest power shutoff affecting about 30,000 people and the largest affecting nearly 2.5 million. But cities have made it clear that this cannot be the new normal, and power shutoffs are in fact putting residents at real risk.

Article Features by Dan Carrigg

2019 Legislative Year in Review

When the 2019 legislative session began, Democrats had gained historic supermajorities in the Legislature. Yet progress for the progressive Democratic agenda was muted. And in the face of multiple attacks on local zoning authority and other challenges, the League and cities emerged surprisingly well.

Article Features by Michael McLaughlin

Connecting the Dots on Emergency Preparedness, Recovery and Resilience

The challenges associated with disasters include tech-related issues, risk management and the need to create incentives for updating and retrofitting homes to improve wildfire and earthquake resilience.

Article Features by Brian Haddix

Small Cities Fund Public Works Infrastructure Projects With Clean Energy Savings

How can a city shift its power supply to clean energy, create jobs, complete projects on its deferred maintenance list and improve its bond rating — without raising taxes or local water and sewer utility rates? Two small cities offer a model.

Article Web Exclusive by Chris Callard

Environmental Tag Team: The Unique Partnership of Paramount and the Air Quality Management District

When a reporter called asking about an abnormal level of a carcinogenic toxin in the air, city leaders were surprised to learn of it.

Article Features

Exceptional Efforts: Local Streets and Roads Awards Recognize Innovation

The awards program honors counties and cities throughout California for creative and cost-effective projects that improve local streets, roads and bridges. It also showcases projects that promote fiscal and environmental sustainability in the local transportation system.