Governance, Legislation & Law

Overview

Governance, Legislation & Law

Storm water flows through drain.
Article Legal Notes by John J. Harris

California municipal stormwater permits: recent court cases cities should consider

One of the primary points of contention between cities and water boards has been the cost of achieving water quality goals – the water boards have steadily imposed more restrictive requirements in municipal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, while expecting cities and counties alone to bear the costs. This article covers two court decisions affecting cities and the key takeaways for local government officials.

Article President’s Message By League of California Cities President and El Centro Mayor Cheryl Viegas Walker

Cal Cities delivers on local control, funding, and resources for cities

The decisions that we make every day as city leaders, especially housing and land use decisions, cannot be made in a vacuum. All city services and programs must be viewed through a lens of equity, and this new Advancing Equity Advisory Committee will play an integral role in identifying how cities can recognize and eliminate disparities in our systems.

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 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 Local Works by Jill Oviatt and Lisa Yarbrough

Lessons in Leadership: Outgoing mayors and city council members share advice on what it takes to be an effective leader

Through their many years of service in local government these outgoing mayors and council members have sage advice about how to be an effective city leader and wise words for new mayors and council members as they embark on their journey to lead their city forward.

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 Legal Notes by Thomas D. Jex and Denise S. Bazzano

A Refresher on General Conflict-of-Interest Rules

This article provides newly elected officials an overview of some of the key conflict-of-interest rules under the Political Reform Act — and a refresher for more seasoned council members.

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.

Alisal Vibrancy Plan Addresses Equity Issues in Salinas

This plan is the result of advocacy and a collaborative process with city staff, community-based organizations, and residents that increased public engagement, public dialogue, and trust and brought new leadership into planning processes.

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.

Article Local Works by Adam M. Lara

Long Beach Launches Office of Equity to Engage, Educate, and Serve

Long Beach established its Office of Equity in January 2017 to address and improve equity, community health, and safety for those most underserved in its communities.

Article Features by Rita Soler Ossolinski

Advancing Racial Equity in Local Government

The National League of Cities created the Race, Equity, And Leadership (REAL) initiative to strengthen local leaders’ knowledge and capacity to eliminate racial disparities, heal racial divisions, and build more equitable communities. REAL offers tools and resources designed to help local elected leaders create cities where people from all racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds thrive.

Article President’s Message by Cheryl Viegas Walker

Hope Is Not a Strategy, but It Is a Requirement for Leadership

It’s helpful to remember that leadership isn’t always about remaining stoic and displaying optimism. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is both human and acceptable, especially in relentlessly difficult circumstances.

Article Executive Director's Message by Carolyn Coleman

Bold Approaches and New Ideas to Solve Old Problems

We are committed to supporting city leaders to secure the resources necessary to create an environment where all residents are protected and treated equitably by the institutions created to serve them.

Article Features by Michael G. Colantuono

What You Need to Know About Municipal Finance
Recent Major Developments in the Law

California’s appellate courts have delivered three very significant decisions involving municipal revenues.

Article News from the Institute for the Local Government by Erica Manuel

Coronavirus Lockdowns Spark a Boom in Online Learning

Don’t miss ILG’s upcoming sessions on virtual community engagement, SB 1383 organic waste requirements, essential ethics training, and more.

Article President’s Message by John F. Dunbar

An Unconventional Year

In circumstances as transformative as a global pandemic and a groundswell of civil unrest, effective leadership requires the ability to adapt.

Article Features by Brian P. Walter and Alexander Volberding

Best Practices to Avoid Employment Litigation Related to COVID-19

Brian P. Walter is a partner with the law firm of Liebert Cassidy Whitmore and can be reached at bwalter@lcwlegal.com. Alexander Volberding is an associate with Liebert Cassidy Whitmore and can be reached at avolberding@lcwlegal.com.

Article Legal Notes by Valerie Escalante Troesh and Matthew R. Silver

SB 450: A Path Toward Improving Communities

By waiving environmental review for qualifying projects and incentivizing investments, SB 450 may aid cities’ efforts to combat homelessness.