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Message from Cal Cities Executive Director Carolyn Coleman

February 3, 2021
Dear California City Leaders,

There’s no question that the past year has been a challenging time for our cities, local officials, and the tens of millions of Californians who rely on city services each and every day for their safety, health, and quality of life.

2021 has already brought its own challenges, but as the light at the end of the tunnel begins to brighten, I want to thank you all for the amazing work you do on behalf of your residents, and recognize the collective work we do together to protect and enhance our cities.

Together, as the League of California Cities, we’ve accomplished some pretty remarkable things in the past few years, especially when you consider the desire by many state elected officials to push a top-down system of governance.

Like all of you, we often get so busy doing the work that we don’t step back often enough and remind those we serve of the significant victories we have delivered for them. So, I would like to take the time now to highlight a few of Cal Cities' recent successes: 
  • Delivered $13 billion to cities to fund transportation improvements; house residents at risk of or experiencing homelessness; build affordable housing; and prepare for and respond to natural disasters like wildfires. 
  • Won major victories at the ballot like Prop. 1A and Prop. 22 that prevent the state from raiding local government funds and to prevent unfunded mandates from the legislature. 
  • Monitored, tracked, and engaged with the state legislature on thousands of bills each and every year to protect and enhance local control. In fact, on average, Cal Cities engages on 70 percent of the thousands of bills introduced each year and our track record of success is strong. 
  • For instance, we’ve engaged on more than 300 bills the last few years related to housing and land use, including defeating draconian measures that would have eroded local control and unfairly penalized cities around the housing element law.
  • Upheld pension reform legislation intended to address rising city pension costs in the courts.
  • Protected local control through the courts by engaging in hundreds of lawsuits by filing briefs that the courts agreed with.
We’ve also held hundreds of conferences, educational trainings, and networking opportunities that have brought value to our city members.

Simply put, thanks to our amazing staff and all of you, Cal Cities delivers.

Of course, as a membership organization we recognize we must constantly listen and learn and ensure we’re representing the diverse interests of our membership. I want to acknowledge that there have been concerns raised about our advocacy on housing and land use related legislation.   

To be clear, we’ve defeated the very worst of these proposals – literally hundreds of bills that would undercut local land use authority or unfairly penalize cities. And, we’ve worked with legislators and the Governor to take very bad bills that were on a fast track to the Governor’s desk for signature and negotiated them to reasonable compromises.

It’s important to remember that our policy positions are entirely driven by our members – city officials. Through our multiple policy committees and our board, city officials drive the positions Cal Cities takes on legislation.   

No matter the number of bills that are considered by the state Legislature and Congress, one thing you should know is that you have this commitment from Cal Cities: We will remain steadfast to ensure state policy approaches to housing and all other matters incorporate the local perspective and protect local control. 

This year, like all the others, we are focused on delivering for cities by advancing our member-driven and board-approved 2021 strategic advocacy priorities, expanding our educational programs, and strengthening the organization so we can better serve you.

We have many challenges ahead, but many opportunities for cities, and I look forward to all that we accomplish this year.  

Together, we can ensure that Cal Cities continues to deliver.
Carolyn M. Coleman
Executive Director and CEO
League of California Cities

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