California’s housing crisis stretches from one end of the state
to the other. For many small cities, the odds often feel
insurmountable. Huron — located in the state’s agricultural
heartland — shows that progress is possible. Cities just can’t do
it by themselves.
Approximately 4,000 affordable housing units in Southern
California’s Gateway region have stalled due to funding
shortfalls. A group of cities has formed an affordable housing
trust fund, which they hope can close funding gaps — especially
in small, under-resourced communities.
Victorville is preparing to open a low-barrier shelter with
medical care, interim housing, and other supportive services.
Officials hope the shelter can serve as a model for other cities
looking for ways to offer better services and more shelter to
Palmdale wanted to do something about the growing number of
fentanyl-related deaths. City officials knew they could not
enforce their way out of the crisis. Working with key
stakeholders, they launched an initiative aimed at reducing drug
overdose deaths through education and community engagement.
It’s easy for people to mistrust cities when they are not privy
to the day-to-day happenings within city hall. The wheels of
government turn slow, and delivering information is a
multilayered process. Enter the City of Redding Podcast, where no
topic is too big or mundane.
Until 2022, people had to weave through parked cars and native
dune habitats to visit Pacific Grove’s beautiful, rocky
coastline, known as Point Pinos. Today, visitors can safely
walk or bike along the shore. The new section of the trail is
built to last for years to come.
Alameda was the first Bay Area city to have its 2023-31 housing
element certified by the state. How did a city that had
restrictive and discriminatory land use regulations change its
tune? For starters, it had a two-year conversation with the
community about equity and housing.
Like many cities across the country, Santa Monica was devastated
by the COVID-19 pandemic. The city faced a projected revenue
shortfall of about $225 million due to hotel and business
closures. In response, the city invested more than $5 million in
25 city programs to accelerate local recovery.
Over 16.5% of new electric generation capacity is anticipated to
come from batteries this year. While the sudden surge of battery
adoption may seem like it arrived overnight, it comes after years
of painstaking efforts by clean energy startups, many of them in
Two innovative infrastructure projects in the cities of Berkeley
and Monterey received top honors from the Outstanding Local
Streets and Roads Project Award program. The statewide program
recognized Berkeley for its renovation of the “worst streets in
town” and Monterey for a citywide adaptive traffic control
A lack of buildable terrain, funding, and skilled labor, as well
as the threat of wildfires, makes building affordable,
multifamily housing difficult in California’s rural, mountainous
communities. Until 2023, Nevada City’s last large, multifamily
development was built in 2001. Before that, the 1980s. So, what
California’s unfunded pension woes could become worse in the next
few years. Thanks in part to the painful lessons of the 2008
recession, cities have more tools that can help them prepare.
However, the window to prepare is narrowing.
Many city leaders weathered the nonstop crises of the last few
years by relying on the fundamental tenants of good governance.
With nearly 90 years of experience between them, these six former
mayors have invaluable advice for new council members or those
who want to take their leadership to the next level.
Mountain View created the Spanish and Chinese Language Civic
Leadership Academy programs as part of its commitment to
diversity and inclusion. The eight-week programs
improve participants’ understanding of local government and
city services. Some graduates have even applied for boards and
commissions or ran for city council.
A firefighter’s job is no longer about putting the wet stuff on
the red stuff. The demands of the modern fire service can often
have a negative impact on firefighters’ mental health. Peer
support teams like the one in Oxnard are one way that cities can
provide firefighters with the tools needed to bounce back from
“Residents sending in pictures of their dogs” is not an official
performance metric for the city of Carlsbad’s communication
department. But it’s a perfect example of how the city’s new
communications strategy has transformed the relationship between
the city organization and the community it serves.
Retail development is a critical part of creating communities
where people can grow and prosper. However, rural markets are
often overlooked during initial retail expansion plans. The rural
communities of Blythe, Clearlake, and Fortuna have each invested
in proactive retail attraction strategies that raise their
profile, creating tangible, positive results in the process.
Many cities hoped that the American Rescue Plan Act would both
help address pandemic-related issues and build an inclusive
future for communities. For the city of Norwalk, this hope is
becoming a reality. Staff focused their efforts on one of the
city’s oldest and most underserved neighborhoods: the One-Ways.
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
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
Located in the heart of Santa Ana’s La Artesia Pilar neighborhood
is La Placita Cinco — an innovative and community-oriented urban
hub. The city and developers worked closely with the community to
transform the once-neglected neighborhood center, while keeping
residents’ priorities top of mind.