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League of California Cities’ Annual Conference Brings Together Over 1,800 City Officials for Education, Recognition, Networking and Resources

October 10, 2016
Over the course of three days last week, more than 1,800 California city officials joined together at the League’s 118th Annual Conference & Expo in Long Beach.
The event featured approximately 55 educational sessions, 250 exhibitors, engaging keynote speakers, recognition of excellent work by cities, along with individual recognitions, the adoption of one resolution and the swearing in of the League’s new executive officers and board of directors.

League President and Rancho Cucamonga Mayor Dennis Michael welcomed attendees on Wednesday afternoon at the start of the first general session.
“I am honored to be here with so many of our colleagues from cities throughout California. This is our largest gathering of city officials each year and the Annual Conference is always an amazing three days full of education and networking. Attending this conference is an investment in your city,” said Michael. “Thank you for being part of an organization dedicated to making our cities stronger! The Annual Conference is an opportunity to gather new information and resources that we can all put to use in our cities and celebrate the accomplishments of an organization that formed 118 years ago to protect local control and provide an educational forum for city officials. That mission is as strong today as it was in 1898 when a group of California city officials originally came together to work on common issues.”
Attendees were also welcomed on Wednesday by city of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.
Thursday National League of Cities President and Joplin, Mo. Council Member Melodee Colbert-Kean provided an update on NLC’s efforts.
The lucky city of Loomis won the Grand Prize Drawing on Friday afternoon taking home a $3,000 U.S. Communities voucher to use at any of the program’s 40 vendors for the products and services they provide to help cities meet their residents’ needs.  
Helen Putnam Award for Excellence
The first general session included the prestigious Helen Putnam Award for Excellence, given to cities for their outstanding efforts to deliver services and engage residents. This year’s winners are the cities of:
  • CCS Partnership Intergovernmental Collaboration Award: Concord for its Central Valley Family Justice Center;
  • Community Services & Economic Development: Manhattan Beach for its Connected! program.
  • Economic Development through the Arts: Palm Desert for its First Weekend Palm Desert.
  • Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics & Community Involvement Rancho Cucamonga for its Kitten Nursery.
  • Health & Wellness Programs: Woodland for its Commit2Fit.
  • Housing Programs & Innovations: Fairfield for its Neighborhood Revitalization at Parkway Gardens.
  • Internal Administration: San Diego for its Performance & Analytics Department.
  • League Partners Award for Excellence in City Business Relations: Bakersfield for the Bakersfield Homeless Center Workforce Partnership.
  • Planning & Environmental Quality: Claremont for the Claremont Tree Crisis Intervention & Outreach.
  • Public Safety: Santa Clarita for its Special Needs Registry.
  • Public Works, Infrastructure & Transportation: Oxnard for its Public Works/City Corps Partnership.
  • Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government: Lodi for its Storm Drain Detective Student Volunteer Program.  
The League produced a short video, which was played during the session, highlighting each of these outstanding cities.
Chris McKenzie Delivers Final Annual Report before Retirement
League members had an opportunity to hear from their executive director for the last time in his 17 year tenure with the organization. Chris McKenzie, who retires later this month, reported on the League’s accomplishments in the past 12 months, focusing on both legislative advocacy and the new Health Benefits Marketplace, which the League launched in August to provide cities with a cost-saving option to provide health care and other benefits to their current and retired employees.
On the advocacy front, McKenzie discussed how the news for cities was largely positive in 2016, with Gov. Jerry Brown agreeing with the League 76 percent of the time. He highlighted several bills, such as AB 2220 (Cooper) and AB 350 (Alejo), which will help improve implementation and reduce legal costs associated with the California Voting Rights Act. The Governor, McKenzie reported, signed two helpful economic development bills — AB 2492 (Alejo and E. Garcia) and AB 806 (Dodd and Frazier). In addition, McKenzie reported that the Governor vetoed numerous bills that would have undermined local authority.
Attendees also heard McKenzie reflect on his career in public service, most specifically his service to the cities of California.
“Public service is a joy when you serve with people of integrity who believe passionately in democracy and their duty to nurture and protect it. I am so grateful for the experience I have had the last 17 years as the League’s executive director because I have been graced with colleagues, officers and directors, committee chairs and members, division officers and members, department officers and members, and caucus officers and members who believe having strong local government institutions is the bedrock of democracy and the foundation of our relationship with those we are privileged to serve,” said McKenzie. “It has been a joy to work day in and day out with you and our many, many colleagues over the years. Our 17 years together have included four successful ballot measure campaigns to protect city authority and revenues and more legislative campaigns than I can ever hope to count.”
Special Recognition
Charlotte Dickson, who founded the HEAL Cities Campaign was honored on Thursday for founding this important effort that has led 185 cities throughout California to adopted policies and practices that will ensure healthy outcomes for California children and families.
To date, cities representing a combined 14 million residents have joined the campaign, pledging to build more bike lanes and sidewalks, create complete streets, bring farmers markets into underserved areas of town, start worksite wellness programs and include health policies and goals into General Plan updates.
Institute for Local Government Beacon Award
Thursday’s general session also included the recognition of the four recipients of the Institute for Local Government’s prestigious 2016 Beacon Award, which honors local governments that lead the way on climate, energy and sustainability through voluntary action. Seven received silver level recognition, the city of Colma received gold.
The eight winning cities are:
  • Davis;
  • American Canyon;
  • Benicia;
  • Emeryville;
  • Hermosa Beach;
  • Santa Monica;
  • Manhattan Beach; and
  • Colma.
The Institute for Local Government, the nonprofit research affiliate of the League of California Cities, launched the Beacon Program in 2009 with support from the California Public Utilities Commission to mobilize voluntary local action to achieve energy savings and reduce GHG emissions.
Keynote Speakers
Annual conference featured two engaging keynote speakers whose presentations inspired and educated the assembled city officials.
Jason Roberts, an arts activist and co-creator of the Better Block Project engaged League members on Wednesday with his philosophy on how to build a better block and make real change in communities today.
Thursday, League members heard from Dr. Christopher Thornberg, founding partner of Beacon Economics, who dived into the California economy and the forces at play in this state.
League Honors Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León as Legislator of the Year
The League’s Legislator of the Year Award is designed to recognize legislators who, over the course of the past legislative session, have done extraordinary work that will help California cities. President Dennis Michael announced that this year, the League officers selected Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) for his herculean efforts on homelessness.
Sen. De León was unable to attend the Closing General Session on Friday, and the award will be given him at a later date. The League selected him because he championed the passage of the No Place Like Home proposal that will fund housing and supportive services for California’s mentally ill homeless men, women and children.
New League Officers and Board of Directors 
Lodi Council Member JoAnne Mounce advanced into the role of League president, replacing Rancho Cucamonga Mayor L. Dennis Michael, who has held the position for the past year.
Palos Verdes Estates Council Member James Goodhart was elected first vice president.
South San Francisco Council Member Rich Garbarino joins the executive officers as second vice president.
Under the League’s bylaws officers serve a one-year term with the outgoing president, Michael, becoming immediate past president and continuing as an active member of the League’s executive committee. Mounce fills the role of her current position after serving the past year as the first vice president and Council Member Goodhart becomes first vice president after serving his past term of second vice president.
The General Assembly approved one resolution on Vision Zero and Towards Zero, which addresses traffic safety. The final resolution is available on the League’s website.
More information is available at www.cacities.org/resolutions.


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