In his remarks to the group, League President and South San Francisco Council Member Rich Garbarino said, “Our 120 year history as an organization and effectiveness reflect generations of dedicated California city leaders who have been inspired by public service and come together as this League to advocate for policies that strengthen our cities. Thank you for your advocacy to improve the quality of life in your city and all California cities.”
President Garbarino discussed pressing city issues including affordable housing and the homelessness crisis, rising pension costs and the need for greater investments in infrastructure. He also gave an update on June and November statewide ballot measures, including the announcement about the formation of the Committee to Protect our Communities, a coalition of local governments, working families, labor groups, concerned individuals and business groups.
The coalition formed to oppose “Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act,” a misleading named and dangerous initiative sponsored by the American Beverage Association (ABA) and the California Business Roundtable that would devastate essential city services such as libraries, parks, emergency medical response, garbage and sewer, public safety and roads. Proponents are currently gathering signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2018 ballot.
Senate President pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) spoke with League members about her priorities as leader and the important work of California city officials. She stressed the fact that city officials gain deep expertise in the most pressing issues facing California including housing, homelessness, infrastructure, public safety and energy efficiency. The former San Diego council member reflected on her experience serving her city’s residents directly.
“I love this work and I know you love this work too,” said Atkins.
The passage of SB 1 last spring, which has doubled the amount of revenues cities receive for street and road repair, remains an important priority for the Senate President pro Tem. “Priority number one is to make sure we do not loose funding for infrastructure,” she told the audience.
Assembly Member Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, the former mayor of Winters, shared how her experience as a member of a League policy committee, as well as the League Board, was instrumental in preparing her for serving in the Assembly and as chair of the Assembly Local Government Committee.
“You don’t want to forget where you came from,” said Aguiar-Curry.
Before the city officials headed to the Capitol for meetings with their legislators
, the League’s lobbyists provided the city officials with updates on the League’s strategic goals
and other major issues.
League Officers, City Manager Department Leaders Meet with CalPERS Officials
In a meeting with CalPERS leadership, President Garbarino outlined the challenges cities are facing with increasing retirement contributions and shared the League’s Retirement System Sustainability Study with CalPERS CEO Marcie Frost, Board of Administration President Priya Mathur and Bill Slaton, the Board’s local government representative.
Joining President Garbarino in the meeting were League First Vice President Jan Arbuckle, League Executive Director Carolyn Coleman, Jim Lewis, president of the League’s City Managers Department and Pismo Beach city manager, Tony Dahlerbruch, Board director for the City Managers Department and Palos Verdes Estates city manager, and Sarah Lamnin, chair of the League’s Governance, Transparency and Labor Relations Policy Committee and Hayward council member, and Dane Hutchings, League Legislative Representative.
President Garbarino called on the CalPERS Board and executive leadership to work with the League collaboratively, specifically finding ways to communicate with state and local employee groups to find common ground. "There are no easy choices for CalPERS or California cities," said Garbarino "It's important that the cities and CalPERS leadership are communicating the same message to our employee partners and to the public about the fiscal difficulties cities face — only then can we begin to find collaborative solutions to the challenges ahead."
Legislative Panel Discussion on California’s Housing Challenges and Homelessness Crisis
Following meetings with their legislators, city officials returned to the Sacramento Convention Center for a panel discussion
, moderated by Oakland Council Member Abel Guillén, on California’s housing challenges and homelessness crisis. The League’s five diversity caucuses, the African-American Caucus, Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus, Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender Local Officials Caucus, Latino Caucus and Women’s Caucus sponsored the session.
The panelists who shared their perspectives were:
- Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), chair of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee;
- Assembly Member David Chiu (D-San Francisco), chair of the Assembly Housing Committee;
- Assembly Member Mike Bloom (D-Santa Monica); and
- Sen. Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg).
As the Legislature’s leaders on housing legislation, they have been instrumental in shaping related bills. They all expressed their strong desire to pursue additional housing and land use legislation that address California’s affordable housing crisis. Sens. Bell and McGuire reiterated their commitment to work on legislation to increase density around certain types of transit. The League has pledged to work with them in the next six months to try to draft legislation that strikes the right balance between community-based planning and state goals.
“California cities accomplished a lot of great work during Legislative Action Day. The relationships city officials have and build with their legislators are key to ensuring they understand and consider the effect their decisions have on our communities. The League appreciates that so many of our members took time to travel to Sacramento to contribute to our collective efforts to bring the voices of our cities in the Capitol,” said Executive Director Coleman.