This annual event provides an opportunity for city leaders to reflect on the prior year’s work, discuss current challenges, and establish League priorities as the organization continues to serve as the leading voice of California cities.
During the two-day format, attendees received presentations on progress on the League’s 2018 priorities, results of recent state ballot measures, insight on voter trends, priorities of Governor-elect Gavin Newsom and legislative leadership.
Disaster Preparedness, Increased Housing and Homelessness Resources, Public Pension Stability and Public Safety take Center Stage
League President Jan Arbuckle, council member, Grass Valley, led the approximately 100 League leaders in attendance through the goal-setting process, where many pressing issues affecting all California cities were discussed.
In response to the recent wildfires that have devastated communities throughout the state, the city officials discussed the importance of expanding resources and partnerships for not just disaster recovery, but to improve community preparedness and resiliency to respond to climate-related, natural and man-made disasters
League leaders also discussed the challenges facing the state on housing, including the lack of affordable housing funding since the loss of redevelopment. Also mentioned was the recent report by the state Legislative Analyst predicting a slowdown in production due to market forces which include increasing supply, higher interest rates, and decreasing prices which cause private builders to slow production. As the Legislature grapples with this problem it will remain critical to ensure that funding and tools are made available to build affordable units and address the homelessness crisis in California. Moreover, the Legislature can lead on the issue by providing CEQA streamlining to expedite housing construction, dedicating a portion of the state’s budget surplus to construct affordable housing and expand skilled workforce training.
Participants agreed to continue to collaborate with partners to raise awareness of the state’s significant unfunded pension liability and the growing fiscal challenge this poses for California cities, and to also address public safety concerns of California cities and support additional resources needed to address critical community challenges.
Strategic Goals Adopted for 2019
The League Board of Directors approved four strategic goals for 2019:
- Provide Cities Additional Funding and Tools and Preserve Local Authority to Address Housing Production, Affordability and Homelessness Challenges.
- Provide additional funding and preserve local mitigation fee authority to ensure cities have sufficient resources to update local plans that reflect community input, improve and expand local infrastructure, address environmental impacts and deliver services to support new housing development.
- Restore a robust form of tax increment financing to advance transit-oriented development, build affordable and workforce housing, improve jobs/housing balances, and revitalize local neighborhoods and communities.
- Increase resources to provide emergency shelter, alcohol and drug treatment, housing, mental health and other wrap-around services and facilities to assist people of all ages, including seniors, experiencing homelessness.
- Provide CEQA streamlining to expedite housing construction.
- Ensure the availability of adequate water supplies to support new growth.
- Preserve local authority to ensure housing development is consistent with local housing elements, design requirements and other applicable criteria adopted with community input.
- Given California’s massive identified deficit in affordable housing, the Legislature and Governor should set aside a substantial amount of the state’s budget surplus to support additional affordable and workforce housing construction and expand skilled workforce training.
- Improve Disaster Preparedness, Recovery and Climate Resiliency.
- Provide resources to cities and expand partnerships to better prepare for and recover from wildfires, seismic events, erosion, mudslides and other disasters.
- Improve community preparedness and resiliency to respond to climate-related, natural and man-made disasters.
- Promote Sustainability of Public Pension and Retirement Health Benefits.
- Continue to work with employee organizations, CalPERS, the Administration and the Legislature to drive public awareness of the fiscal challenges cities face as a direct result of growing unfunded pension liabilities and retirement health benefits.
- Work collaboratively to achieve meaningful options and flexibility for cities to address these challenges in order to stabilize local budgets and ensure sufficient funding remains available to provide services to communities.
- Address Public Safety Concerns of California Cities.
- Reform recently enacted criminal justice laws — enacted by both statute and initiative — that have eroded public safety protections of California residents through the passage of the Police Chiefs/Grocer’s-sponsored criminal justice reform measure eligible for the November 2020 state ballot, or by equivalent reforms achieved through legislative action.
- Protect public safety by reducing access to firearms for the mentally ill.
- Protect existing city authority to deliver local emergency services.
- Support additional tools and resources to address critical community challenges such as homelessness, mental health, domestic violence, drug rehabilitation, human trafficking and workforce development for ex-offender reentry.
More information on the 2019 goals and goals from prior years are available on the League’s website.