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The League of California Cities is the unifying voice of California’s cities. Together, with our members, Cal Cities delivers major victories for cities year after year – protecting local control, securing billions of dollars in the new funding, and preserving existing city resources. In just the past few years Cal Cities has scored major wins for our members:

 


Cal Cities Delivers

Together, with our members, Cal Cities delivers major victories for cities year after year – protecting local control, securing billions of dollars in new funding, and preserving existing city resources.

 

100 +

bills/ballot measures passed or defeated to retain local control

$13 Billion

in new funding for cities in the past five years

$8+ Billion

in federal recovery funding in 2021

Dozens

of lawsuits won protecting local control and city interests

2021 Advocacy in Action


This year, we are focused on delivering for cities by advancing our member-driven and board-approved 2021 Action Agenda.

Summer 2021 Highlights

Austin v. Burbank Police DepartmentIn a case that Cal Cities had previously filed a friend-of-the-court brief in, the Second District Court of Appeal granted Cal Cities’ publication request and certified its dismissal order. The plaintiff attempted to appeal a ruling denying him access to records sought from the city via a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request. The plaintiff failed to follow the appropriate appellate procedure and the city sought to dismiss the appeal. While the court had discretion to hear the matter, it declined to do so, noting the plaintiff’s numerous CPRA lawsuits against California cities. Cities can now rely on the published order as precedent for requiring repeat CPRA plaintiffs to follow the CPRA’s appellate procedure.

Daly v. San Bernardino -  In a case on a trial court order that required the removal and replacement of a county supervisor, the California Supreme Court found that the order should have been stayed pending appeal. The court reasoned that the order required the county to take an affirmative action to remove and replace the supervisor. This holding is consistent with the amicus brief filed by Cal Cities, which argued, in part, that an automatic stay should be issued pending the appeal in order to maintain the status quo and allow the regular functioning and efficiency of government during litigation.

Busker v. Wabtech - The California Supreme Court issued a favorable ruling on a case involving prevailing wages. In the case, the plaintiff argued that work they performed on a rail car was a “public work” subject to prevailing wage. The Supreme Court disagreed and held that “public works” are limited to construction or installation of structures fixed to real property and that work does not become a “public work” just because it is integral to another activity that itself is a public work. The court’s holding is consistent with arguments made by Cal Cities — along with other entities — in a local government coalition amicus brief. The California Supreme Court’s ruling narrows the kinds of work for which prevailing wages must be paid and provides local government more certainty when budgeting and planning for publicly funded projects.

Alameda County Waste Management Association (ACWMA) v. Waste Connections - In a favorable ruling for cities, the First District Court of Appeal held that Public Resources Code section 41821.5(g) authorizes a city to inspect and copy weight tags of waste haulers who dispose of waste generated within the city outside the city’s jurisdiction. Cal Cities had filed an amicus brief in support of ACWMA. Cities will be able to rely on the opinion as precedent to obtain waste hauling information that ensures the tracking of solid waste and enforcement of fees. 

Jacks v. City of Santa Barbara - On remand from the California Supreme Court, the Second District Court of Appeal held that the franchise fees at issue in the case bore a reasonable relationship to the value of the property granted. The Court of Appeal agreed, as argued in Cal Cities’ amicus brief, that the plaintiffs made no effort to challenge the trial court’s findings of a reasonable relationship between the fee and the value of the franchise rights transferred to the city. The court found that because the parties negotiated in good faith, the outcome of the negotiations between the parties was the best indicator of the value of the property interests. 

Increased Access to SB 1 Transportation Funding - The League of California Cities vigorously advocated for SB 640 (Becker), which Governor Newsom signed. The bill creates a more equitable, competitive SB 1 (Beall, 2017) application process by allowing two or more eligible cities, or one or more cities and a county, to combine resources on projects that affect multiple jurisdictions. Until recently, smaller cities and counties were effectively shut out of the application process, as they were unable to provide the required matching funds. The bill also consolidates reporting requirements into a single report. 

Statewide Infrastructure Investment Impact Report - Cal Cities and a coalition of partners produced a first-of-its-kind report on the state’s transportation infrastructure and a related, customizable database that demonstrates its local economic benefits. The report found that upcoming spending on federal, state, and local infrastructure will generate nearly $200 billion in economic activity in California annually and will support 700,000 jobs per year. That is a return of $4.30 in economic activity for every $1 spent on infrastructure for the next ten years. The findings make it clear that the construction, maintenance, and operation of the state’s infrastructure network is a major economic driver that benefits all Californians. 

SB 1 Local Streets and Roads Maintenance of Effort - Cal Cities helped advance major relief for cities from SB 1 Local Streets and Roads Maintenance of Effort (MOE) spending requirements. Specifically, AB 149 (Assembly Comm. On Budget), which Governor Newsom signed, suspends the annual minimum MOE expenditure requirement for 2019-2020. Additionally, for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, these expenditure requirements will be adjusted in proportion to decreases in taxable sales in a city. A city can also request to use transient occupancy tax revenues instead of taxable sales to make these adjustments.  

Broadband Funding - After intense negotiations, Cal Cities successfully secured $3.75 billion for a statewide, open-access, middle-mile broadband network in the final budget agreement. This is part of an overall $6 billion multi-year broadband infrastructure and improved broadband access package. Details have yet to be finalized, and Cal Cities will continue to promote local governments' interests as negotiations advance. 

Housing and Homelessness Funding - Cal Cities helped secure $1 billion in the state budget to support local efforts to address homelessness and is advocating for city interests in the budget trailer bill that will incorporate new oversight and accountability provisions.  

Statewide Primary Election: Terms of Office - Cal Cities supported SB 590 (Allen), which resolved an issue caused by SB 970 (Umberg, 2020). Previously, cities had councilmembers whose terms would expire pursuant to existing law prior to the next election for their council seat, and at least one city would have lost quorum. SB 590 provided a quick remedy to the situation and restored what would have been a concerning loss of representation and decision-making. Governor Newsom signed the bill. 

City of Portland, et al. v. United States - The United States Supreme Court declined to review the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in a case that was initiated by a coalition of local governments and local government associations — including Cal Cities — against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The case challenged orders adopted by the FCC in 2018 to accelerate the deployment of 5G wireless technology by limiting local governments’ authority to regulate the installation of small cell wireless facilities. The Ninth Circuit’s decision was largely positive for local governments because it struck down aspects of the orders that limited cities’ ability to regulate the location and design of such facilities. 

 

More Cal Cities Delivers Highlights

 

Spring 2021

The Guide to Local Recovery - Cal Cities created a one-stop-shop repository of information and resources for city officials looking to guide their communities through recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to a webpage, Cal Cities has been updating city officials through email alerts, webinars with federal and state agencies, and a weekly column in the Cal Cities newsletter. A collection of the entire list of updates can be found on the Cal Cities website.  

Revenue Loss Calculator - To help city officials comply with the American Rescue Plan Act funding rules, Cal Cities created an innovative revenue loss calculation tool that determines best estimates of a city's funding allocation spends. Cal Cities developed the tool with input from city finance professionals and the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers. The calculator will be updated online regularly as any new information comes in.

Speaker Series - The Cal Cities Speakers Series is a new initiative featuring high-profile state leaders and policy experts sharing insights on timely issues, leadership, and their priorities. The series kicked off June 2 with California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot talking about drought and wildfire threats in California and what communities can do to prepare. The series is free to member cities and League Partners.

Executive Order Relaxing Brown Act Requirements Extended - Gov. Gavin Newsom granted Cal Cities' request to extend Executive Order N-29-20 past June 15, when the order was set to expire. Cal Cities and partner organizations argued that local governments needed more time to prepare for in-person public meetings while remaining in compliance with the Brown Act. The executive order provided government agencies with the necessary flexibility to conduct business meetings in a virtual format and will remain in effect through September 30, 2021.

Newsom v. Sutter County Superior Court - The Third District Court of Appeal issued a favorable decision in May, overturning a trial court ruling that questioned the validity of the executive orders cities have relied on to conduct business throughout the pandemic. Cal Cities and the California State Association of Counties filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief, urging the court to overturn the trial court ruling due to its lack of clarity and potential to subject cities and counties to legal challenges.

Bezis v. City of Livermore - The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a favorable ruling in Bezis v. City of Livermore, in which Cal Cities filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of the City. The ruling affirmed that the city council meeting at issue in the case was a limited public forum, and therefore the Livermore city council members were empowered to interrupt a speaker to remind them to limit remarks to the agenda topic at hand without violating the First Amendment. 

Winter 2021

Landwatch Monterey County v. County of MontereyIn an unpublished decision, the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District agreed with Cal Cities’ argument that revisions made in the county’s final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) pursuant to certain comments on the draft EIR did not constitute significant new information requiring recirculation of the final EIR. 

Local Streets and Roads Revenue Estimates - Cal Cities released local streets and roads (LSR) revenue allocation estimates for the current fiscal year and upcoming budget year. The figures included Highway Users Tax Account (HUTA), as well as Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Account (RMRA) distributions, and were based on updated estimates of state collections of fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees released by the California Department of Finance (DOF) in coordination with Gov. Gavin Newsom's revised May budget proposal.  

American Rescue Plan Act - The Cal Cities-initiated grassroots alliance of local government, labor, and business formed pressured state and federal governments to provide direct and flexible funding to cities to support essential services, including police, fire, public works, permitting, and planning. Endorsed H.R. 1319 (2021), the federal Coronavirus State Local Fiscal Relief Fund with $65 billion going directly to cities and $7 billion+ for California cities. Passed by Congress; signed by President Biden on 3/11/21. 

Public Employees’ Retirement System - Cal Cities, along with a coalition of public agency associations, opposed SB 278 (Leyva) that would require all public agencies to make unconstitutional payments to retirees who have a portion of their retirement allowance determined to be illegal by CalPERS. 

Flexible COVID-19 Relief - In response to growing budget shortfalls, Cal Cities issued support for the $9.6 billion COVID-19 relief package to provide urgent relief to Californians experiencing pandemic hardship, but with a call for direct and flexible funding to cities that have not received any state aid to address revenue loss. 

Housing Development Approvals - Cal Cities opposed unless amended SB 9 (Atkins) that would require a local government to ministerially approve a housing development containing two residential units in single-family residential zones and urban lot splits, eroding local control.   

Digital Divide - Took support positions on broadband measures AB 14 (Aguiar-Curry) and SB 4 (Gonzalez) that seek to close the digital divide and advance broadband deployment. The bills complement Cal Cities 2021 Strategic Priorities, which seek to increase state and federal funding for broadband deployment to enhance workforce and economic development and improve quality of life.  

Solid Waste and Recycling - Cities anticipate rates will increase in the next three years due  to new organic waste regulations and the overall cost of recycling. Cal Cities surveyed cities on solid waste and recycling rates, demonstrating the range of rate increases anticipated and which factors are contributing to the expected rate hikes.  

Open and Public Meetings - A Cal Cities-led coalition secured a strong concession for cities when the Assembly Local Government committee scaled back the scope and impact of AB 339 (Lee), a bill that would mandate telephonic or internet-based call-in options for city councils in jurisdictions with a population above 250,000 people. Cal Cities remains opposed to the bill.   

Peace Officers Certification - Cal Cities secured substantial amendments to SB 2 (Bradford), a public safety officer decertification bill, that addresses our concerns related to liability under the Bane Act. However, we remain concerned with the bill’s elimination of qualified immunity and the proposed officer decertification process. 

Davis v. Fresno Unified School DistrictThe California Supreme Court is poised to determine whether bond-funded lease-leaseback agreements are subject to validation statutes. Cal Cities filed an amicus letter supporting the petition for review, arguing that is important for local agencies to have the right to use the validation statutes to judicially validate bond-funded lease-leaseback agreements. Amicus brief filed January 29, 2021.  

Wyatt v. City of Sacramento - The California Court of Appeal for the Third District agreed with the argument Cal Cities made in its amicus brief: Cities are not prohibited from collecting general taxes on the use of water, sewer, garbage, and other property-related services, if those taxes are approved by a majority vote. 

 

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Our policy positions are entirely driven by our members – city officials like you. Through our multiple policy committees, divisions, departments, and our board, city officials drive the positions Cal Cities takes on legislation. If you aren’t already engaged, we’d love to have your voice join our efforts.

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