Features

Overview

Features

Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Hate campaigns are creating a ‘real legitimacy crisis’ says former Berkeley Council Member Rigel Robinson

At 27, Rigel Robinson’s political future was bright. His election to the Berkeley city council had broken barriers and his campaign for mayor won the endorsement of California Attorney General Rob Bonta. But earlier this year, he resigned, citing burnout and a long-running harassment campaign.

Article Features By Peggy Flynn and Alex Renirie

How fair is a fair? People-powered decision-making at the Petaluma Fairgrounds

There is no magic bullet for disengagement and polarization. But there are ways to tackle these issues that don’t require dramatic new investments. Petaluma used one such method to resolve a decades-old conflict over an iconic property.

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 By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Anti-Asian hate crimes are down, but people are still worried. And for good reason

It’s easy to think of anti-Asian hate as a red or purple state problem. But most incidents occur here in California. Even though anti-Asian hate decreased in 2022, experts are warning this could be an aberration. Here’s what cities can do to mitigate the next wave of hate.

Article Features By Jackie Krentzman

Gaining purchase: How three cities overcame the pandemic-fueled retail blues

Retail in California has struggled in recent years, especially businesses with smaller footprints. For some cities, this is just another potentially disastrous change they’ve turned into an opportunity. Here are some of the steps three cities have taken to support and grow their retail sector.

A group of residents watching a Lakewood city council meeting in person..
Article Features By Jan Perkins and Dan Keen

Essential tips for effective city council meetings

Effective governance doesn’t happen by chance. There is a cadence to a successful meeting, with a long chain of steps that start well before the meeting starts. Here are some best practices for smoother, more effective council meetings that staff and elected officials alike can use.

A child biking alone on a protected bike bridge.
Article Features By Melissa Lee, CNU-A

Transportation networks are at a critical crossroads

Access to transportation in under-resourced communities — both in rural areas and large central cities — has reached a critical juncture. In these neighborhoods, transportation isn’t just a convenience, it’s a lifeline.

A group of commission members sitting at a long dais.
Article Features By Brian Lee-Mounger Hendershot

Oakland and Sacramento city attorneys: Civilian oversight is crucial to policing

More cities are using civilian oversight organizations to reform and oversee their police departments. But what these organizations can do varies from city to city. Western City sat down with city attorneys from Oakland and Sacramento to discuss their cities’ approaches to civilian oversight.

Fire departments,  like the Newport Beach Fire Department, can do much more than put out fires. A well-funded and well-trusted fire department can provide a wide range of social and public safety services.
Article Features By Jeff Boyles

Firefighters can do much more than just put out fires

The combined cost of funding public safety agencies can occupy over half of a city’s budget. Yet many fire departments’ emergency response systems are underutilized. As cities struggle to meet greater social needs, the fire service can lean into some of its strengths and fill some of those gaps.

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 Features By Jason Roberts

Community preparedness helps mitigate the worst disasters

Even many well-funded cities are unprepared for large-scale emergencies. This lack of preparedness can cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars. These crises will only grow worse and more frequent. The best way to mitigate this is to put time and effort into community preparedness.

Article Features By Teri Black, Maxine Gullo, Reina Schwartz, and Tony Winney

Investing in diversity may make you a better employer

Retirements, generational shifts, and changing attitudes about work-life balance have shifted employee loyalties and tenures. Many of us are wondering how to stop the churn and make our organizations places where people want to work for long stretches of their careers. One solution is to invest in diversity recruitment and retention.

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 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 Features By Doug Linkhart

Cities in California are making systemic changes to advance racial equity

In the U.S., public trust is tied not just to good governance and public outreach, but also historical issues of racism. To create change and increase trust, we need to change the structure of our systems.

Article Features By Jessica Sankus

Everything (well, almost) you need to know about sales tax but were afraid to ask

Have you ever wondered what happens with the sales tax you pay at a retail counter or online? What can cities do with that money? Here are 10 things you should know — but may have been afraid to ask — about California’s sales and use tax.

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 Features By Marina Wiant

Cities across California have adopted big new affordable housing plans. Now comes the hard part

Statewide affordable housing production is not growing fast enough to close the state’s housing gap. However, it is not impossible to reverse the trends that got us here — so long as we can learn from our mistakes.

Article Features By Shayne Kavanagh

Rethinking budgeting: An idea whose time has come

Local governments have developed their budgets in essentially the same way for decades — and for good reason. It is simple, predictable, and provides a sense of control. However, there are new forces that both make the traditional budget less tenable and offer new ways to achieve more optimal, fairer results.

Article Features By Melanie Perron

Legislative year in review: What city leaders need to know about 2022

California’s massive state budget surplus dominated every legislative conversation this year and lawmakers competed fiercely to ensure their priorities were passed. Through it all, Cal Cities fought for the best interests of cities: Cal Cities tracked or engaged with 1,430 bills and protected cities’ interests in the courts, at the federal level, and in the regulatory arena.