Features

Overview

Features

Article Features By Eric Rosoff, Mike Despain, and Brian Hendershot

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the fire service: Seven steps agencies can take

Firefighters are some of the nation’s most trusted professionals, even more than healthcare workers, first responders, and teachers. However, within the fire service ranks, the trust is more fragile when it comes to creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces. The very things that have made fire departments successful — a strong sense of brotherhood, an emphasis on measurable operational results, and a close living-working environment — are often the very things that make attempts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion inside fire stations uniquely challenging.

Man flying drone
Article Local Works Features By Don Redmond

Chula Vista’s high-flying first responder reduces costs and response times, improves de-escalation tactics, and saves lives

In the wake of tragedies throughout the nation involving police officers, communities are asking for police reform and better de-escalation tools and training. The Chula Vista Police Department, serving a population of 270,000 in San Diego County, responded in part by developing an innovative drone program that can respond to emergencies and provide officers with the information needed to de-escalate situations.

Article Features By Elisa Arcidiacono

The state passed major police reform bills in 2021: what the new laws mean for cities

Police reform has been a top legislative priority for progressive lawmakers in California for years, and while there have been some significant criminal justice measures signed into law in the past decade, many more bills never made it to the governor’s desk. This year was different.

Police car
Article Features By Deanne Machado

The perfect storm: policing in the era of decriminalization and unfunded budget pressures

In a decade, how might city leaders recall this period of policing in California? Will it be remembered as a period of great reform or one of great posturing? The evidence appears to support the former, as criminal justice reform in the domains of drug decriminalization and property crime have significantly affected the role and expectations of California law enforcement agencies.

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.

Article Features

Climate change, pension costs, public safety, equity, and more: Upcoming Annual Conference and Expo speakers provide a sneak preview

For the first time in two years, city leaders throughout the state will come together in-person to collaborate on shared issues and celebrate the successes of the past year, at the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo, September 22-24, in Sacramento. The excitement is palpable: More than 750 officials signed up within the first 10 days of opening registration. Western City invited conference speakers to share key insights from their upcoming talks. 

Attendees visit the expo hall.
Article

Meet the Annual Conference and Expo exhibitors

Over 150 exhibitors are scheduled to showcase their products, solutions, and services to the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo attendees. Get to know the exhibitors* by exploring them here before meeting them in person at the conference at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center in Sacramento. The Expo is open on Sept. 22 and 23. 

Article Features By Mark Brown, Sashi McEntee, Dan Schwarz, and Bill Tyler

How Marin County is changing the wildfire prevention paradigm

Marin County, like many of California’s cities, towns, special districts, and counties,  provides fire prevention services. In Marin, nineteen different agencies have this responsibility — plus several regional, state, and federal land managers as well. With nearly 70,000 housing units in Marin’s wildland-urban interface, fire danger is a very real and immediate concern for many residents. The county worked together to create a comprehensive fire prevention plan.

Tiny homes
Article Features By Lisa Yarbrough

Livermore’s award-winning inclusive engagement approach is paying dividends for the community

Since 1949, the National Civic League has celebrated the best in American civic innovation by awarding the prestigious All-America City Award to ten communities nationwide. This year, Livermore was the only city in California to receive this honor. The award celebrates the city’s inclusive engagement efforts to improve equity and resilience.

Folsom Lake bridge
Article Features By Sean Bigley

Beyond the drought
How an integrated approach to water planning is helping the city of Roseville weather the drought with an eye toward the future

Water efficiency is a California way of life, and when the Regional Water Authority in the Sacramento region asked members to start using more groundwater and take other actions to reduce reliance on local lakes and rivers, the city of Roseville responded almost immediately, thanks to its innovative approach to water supply planning called Integrated Regional Water Management, and its partnership with the state.

A session of government in progress.
Article Features By Melissa Kuehne

Focus on good government is critical as cities navigate challenging times

The post-pandemic recovery will require city leaders to address significant challenges and make difficult decisions about the allocation of scarce funding, possible reductions in services, and reprioritizing city initiatives. Elected leaders and staff cannot effectively address such challenges without a strong foundation of good government — trust, accountability, responsiveness, and transparency. Now is the ideal time to ensure that your city’s foundation is solid.

A key path to growing local revenue and sustaining local economies is investing in economic development to ensure that businesses are successful.
Article Features By Gurbax Sahota

The pandemic crushed local economies; recovery depends on how cities navigate emerging economic development opportunities

While communities across California and the country excitedly await the disbursement of badly needed relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and potential assistance from the president’s American Jobs Plan, one question is being asked over and over again — how do we make the most of these precious one-time investments?

Big Bear Lake Director of Planning and Inspections Sue O'Strander, Vista Director of Economic Development Kevin Ham, Corona  Economic Development Director Jessica M. Gonzales, Long Beach Director of Economic Development, John Keisler
Article Features By Jill Oviatt

Local economies were decimated by the pandemic. Now California cities are rolling out their blueprints for recovery

Western City magazine invited California cities of different sizes and different economies to share their top priorities for economic development as they recover from the impacts of the pandemic. As California reopens for business, municipal economic development offices are busy analyzing strategies to best position their communities to not only survive – but thrive – as resilient, inclusive, and vibrant places to live. Regardless of size and geography, these cities had a number of priorities in common.

The city of Santa Rosa’s “Fulton Road Reconstruction” project repaired approximately 3,200 lineal feet of 4-lane principal arterial pavement and associated bike lanes.
Article Features by Jill Oviatt

Despite pandemic-related challenges, California cities pave the way to award-winning infrastructure projects

Upgrading local streets and roads is critical to communities, and many projects were well underway when the pandemic hit in early 2020. Thanks to the innovation, dedication, and creativity of local officials, the projects were not only completed, but received statewide recognition through the 2021 Outstanding Local Streets and Roads Project Awards.

Exterior view of El Centro "tiny home."
Article Features by Lisa Yarbrough

Tiny homes in El Centro provide housing for former foster youth attending the local college

El Centro was one of the first recipients of funding under Homekey, a statewide program designed to house those experiencing homelessness. Through a partnership between the city and a local college, the funding was leveraged to construct 26 tiny homes that will provide two years of permanent housing for college students who are former foster youths and are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Steve Rogers, Yountville City Manager, Eric Figueroa, Martinez City Manager, and Kim Summers, Murrieta City Manager
Article Features by Jill Oviatt

A fiscal year for the books
Managing city budgets as a deadly pandemic ravages livelihoods and revenues

California cities have been on the front lines for nearly a year taking action to protect their residents and businesses and maintain the delivery of essential city services, despite unplanned expenses and revenue shortfalls brought about by the pandemic. Three California city managers reflect on the past year and how on earth one manages a city budget with so much uncertainty, and so little support from the state and federal governments.

Article Features by Lloyd de Llamas

Adding to the challenge – the increasingly volatile sales tax

The coronavirus recession has eroded city budgets in many ways, leaving many tax revenue streams damaged and lasting impacts on cities that will continue to cut deep in the fiscal year ahead. As local governments grapple with the revenue loss and spending increases associated with the pandemic, it’s important to review the trends and forecasts of the revenue streams upon which a city most heavily relies and adjust accordingly. 

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 Erica L. Manuel

Civility as a Tonic for What Ails Local Democracy

Americans’ confidence in government is at an all-time low. Leaders in every level of government will need to do their part to address this trend, but local governments in particular can play a unique and important role to help stem eroding confidence in democratic institutions and principles.

Article Features by Rich Garbarino

South San Francisco Develops Equity Solutions Tailored to the Community

As elected officials, we have the responsibility to work toward the goals of equality and justice for all in the services we provide to our diverse residents. It’s imperative that we commit to addressing systemic racial bias wherever and whenever we encounter it and provide greater access, transparency, and oversight to build strong trust within our communities.