They approve projects to increase affordable housing, address homelessness, improve streets and roads, spur economic growth, and deliver essential services to protect citizens.
Now these stories of local projects and initiatives will be celebrated on a variety of platforms, including the League’s social media platforms (Facebook
, and the newly launched League Instagram
account) and a dedicated page
on the League’s website.
Stories will also be shared in a new section of Western City magazine, previously named City Forum. The section will be renamed #LocalWorks starting in the April issue and will be dedicated to telling stories of city-initiated or partner projects of which local leaders are most proud and bring value and a higher quality of life to their residents.
League of California Cities President John F. Dunbar kicked off #LocalWorks at the February board meeting in Yountville with an example of a regional partnership in Napa County to address a serious workforce housing issue in the area. Five cities and the county came together to come up with a solution and each put a measure on the November 2018 ballot to raise the Transient Occupancy Tax on hotels to raise money for affordable housing projects.
The story was told through an animated video, shared on the League’s YouTube
, and website
“We have 482 avenues to tell California city success stories – to show that local government works,” Dunbar explained to board members during the meeting. “Tell your local works stories showing how well local government works and let’s share our stories far and wide.”
While many of city stories are told in council meetings, press releases, sometimes by a shrinking local media, these stories are often never shared at all. That is why the League is launching #LocalWorks to shine the spotlight on examples of local actions that are making a difference to their communities.
Collectively, California cities are creating hundreds, if not thousands, of projects each year that directly or indirectly improve the lives of our citizens. While there is a common lament that other levels of government do not always seem to work, California cities can show powerfully that local works – local government works.
While the League intends to share a wide variety of city projects and initiatives, the priority will be on telling stories related to the League’s 2020 Strategic Priorities
, as voted on by the board in December 2019. The priorities include affordable housing; homelessness; fiscal sustainability and pension obligations; community and disaster preparedness and resiliency; and public safety.
Another #LocalWorks story featured at the February board meeting was a new year-round turf field in Grass Valley. This was a perfect example of a #LocalWorks success story that shows an innovative way to provide high-quality recreation resources, while also managing costs. California droughts heavily impacted Grass Valley’s fields and parks, resulting in uneven dirt spaces, and high costs to water and maintain. The city proposed a one-cent sales tax for police, fire, road improvements, and parks, to raise money for a new field. After voter approval, the city partnered with the Grass Valley School District to create a $1.5 million all-season 84,000-square-foot all-weather sports field for school and public use. This story was shared on the League’s newly created Instagram
, the League’s website
, and will also be shared on the League’s Facebook page.
As these stories are gathered and catalogued, one story a month will be chosen for publication in Western City magazine. In the May issue, “Affordable Housing: More than a Mandate in San Marcos,” a story on a housing project in one of San Diego’s fastest growing cities, will appear as the first #LocalWorks story in the magazine.
How can cities participate in #LocalWorks?
Many cities have already produced stories that are just waiting to be shared. They may be in the form of press releases, videos, newsletter stories, or featured on a city’s website. They may have been covered by local media or simply exist in a department staff report to city council.
Cities are encouraged to submit their stories or story ideas directly to the magazine
, to their League Regional Public Affairs Manager
, or contact the League’s communications department
. Once the story is received, it will be catalogued and assessed to determine the best medium and platform to tell that story.
And remember, #LocalWorks is not a campaign. It is a new way to spotlight the great work being done by cities, not only to show that local government works, but to provide best practices to other cities on what they can do to offer improved services and resources to their own communities.
It’s time to get the word out to the public and state and federal governments that cities are doing the work every day and they have phenomenal examples to show for it. Because local works.