The Governor met with the League board for more than an hour in an engaging session that touched on a number of priority issues for California cities and the League, including housing, homelessness, disaster preparedness and pensions.
“We appreciate the Governor traveling to Grass Valley to speak to the board on issues that are affecting all of California’s communities,” said League President Jan Arbuckle, council member, Grass Valley. “By meeting with our board — a board that represents the diversity of our state — Governor Newsom showed his belief in the value of strong partnerships with cities.”
During the meeting, President Arbuckle, who chaired the League and California State Association of Counties Joint Homelessness Task Force, thanked the Governor for including additional resources in his budget proposal for cities and counties to address homelessness. He described the enormity of the challenge and his commitment to funding permanent housing and supportive services, which his budget proposal reflected by including $500 million for emergency homeless funding for cities and counties and another $100 million for county “whole person care” programs. He was also receptive to the League’s interest in playing a role in the new Commission on Homelessness and Supportive Housing, which Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg will chair.
The Governor also responded to questions about partnering with cities to find solutions to address the housing crisis and the need to increase housing production. While he continues to support holding cities who are not in compliance with state housing laws accountable, he is also committed to ensuring cities are getting resources for local planning and to the idea of rewarding communities who are doing their part. He also stood by his recent comments about exploring the concept of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) streamlining to accelerate housing production.
In order to strengthen disaster and crisis response, the Governor shared his vision for a standardized approach to how the public is alerted during an emergency and announced a statewide summit with California cities and other stakeholders to share best practices for disaster recovery and emergency planning.
In the area of pensions, with the recent funded status of the CalPERS falling to 65 percent after a 10-year bull market run, board members expressed concerns to the Governor about rising pension costs outstripping revenue growth and reducing cities’ ability to maintain service levels. The Governor acknowledged the concerns and expressed his willingness to convene cities and other stakeholders to focus on solutions that would lead to a sustainable pension system in the state.
The Governor’s meeting with the board followed the League Officers meeting with his chief advisors in January. Throughout last week’s conversation with the League board, the Governor expressed his interest in collaborating and partnering with cities to address key issues that are impacting all of California’s communities. He also expressed interest in furthering the partnership with the League and California cities and hopes that his schedule allows him to attend the League’s Legislative Action Day in April in Sacramento.