The Public Safety Policy Committee reviews issues related to law enforcement, fire and life safety policies, including emergency communications, and emergency services, including ambulance and disaster preparedness.

Current Action in the Legislature



Resources for Cities

by Public Safety Issue


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Policy Committee


Committee Members

The committee's membership is comprised of representatives from each of the Cal Cities professional departments and regional divisions.

Committee Officers

2021 Chair - Bob Whalen, Council Member, Clovis
2021 Vice Chair - Pippin Dew, Council Member, Vallejo
Meeting Agendas and Highlights
The 2021 Public Safety  Policy Committee will meet virtually this year on the following dates and times:

  • Thursday, January 14, from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 15, from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 3, from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.


Planning Commissioners Academy

March 16 — 18, 2022

San Ramon, CA

Save the Date!

Designed for new and seasoned planning commissioners alike, this conference provides city officials with information about the roles and responsibilities of a planning commissioner, offers a basic legal and practical framework, and helps foster relationships with fellow planning commissioners. Last year's conference covered topics like CEQA, how to prepare findings and conditions of approval, the planning commission’s role and responsibilities, diversity and inclusion, leadership, relationships between commission, staff, and city council, key legislative issues, and more.  

For questions about registration, please contact registrar, Megan Dunn. For all other questions, please contact Conference Program Manager Caitlin Cole

Please see our event and meeting policies.

Explore Previous Academies

2021 Academy Session Descriptions

Thursday, March 25

You Can't Quarantine Laughter

9-10:15 a.m.

In a hilarious, interactive virtual keynote, Greg Schwem, dubbed “your boss’ favorite comedian” by HuffPost, discusses the role humor can, and should, play as Americans enter a new post-pandemic world. Greg provides real-world examples of companies which have used humor to improve their bottom lines and fend off problems before they became full-blown crises. Greg will also candidly discuss why he feels humor has been disappearing from the corporate world, and why it should return. Prepare to make full use of the chat box. Greg encourages (a little) virtual heckling.

Welcome and Introductions: Joel Rojas, President, Planning and Community Development Department, Development Services Director, San Juan Capistrano

Speaker: Greg Schwem, Business Humorist, Corporate Entertainer, Author


Planning Commission 101: The Nuts and Bolts of Planning

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

Learn the basics about planning laws, typical planning documents, and how they fit together. The nuts and bolts of general plans, housing elements, specific plans, zoning codes, subdivision ordinances, design review and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) will be discussed. Presenters will walk attendees through typical project review and decision-making processes. Learn how plans, codes, and regulations can be written to ensure that principles of sustainability, equity and community-building are incorporated in new development.

Moderator & Speaker: David Early, Senior Advisor, PlaceWorks

Speakers: William Anderson, FAICP | Marc Roberts, City Manager, Livermore


You Got Your RHNA – Now What?

1:30-2:45 p.m.

Cal Cities, the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) will discuss different zoning strategies to accommodate your RHNA. This presentation will include an overview of different strategies for the site identification process, common mistakes HCD is seeing, and debunking myths. The presentation will then be followed by a discussion about specific RHNA scenarios and brainstorming through solutions.

Moderator and Speaker: Jason Rhine, Assistant Legislative Director, League of California Cities

Speakers: Paul McDougall, Housing Policy Manager, CA Department of Housing and Community Development | Sohab Mehmood, Housing Policy Specialist, CA Department of Housing and Community Development


CEQA, From the Beginning

3:15-4:30 p.m.

Hear an introduction to the role of CEQA in the planning process, as we cover the basics in this dynamic session. Join us as we pull back the curtain on parts of the process, including the types of documents you will see, how environmental decisions are made, and the responsibilities of staff and the commission at each stage in the process. The tools and approaches taken by those who prepare the documents for your review will also be discussed, with an opportunity to ask questions throughout the session.

Moderator: Eric Nelson, Director, Planning and Community Development Department, Planning Commissioner, Dana Point

Speakers: Shannon George, Vice President/Principal, David J. Powers & Associates | Mark Teague, Principal, PlaceWorks

Friday, March 26

Speed Sessions

9-10:20 a.m.

Moderator: Ernie Schmidt, Immediate Past President, Planning and Community Development Department, Planning Commissioner, Redwood City


In the Trenches with Your General Plan

9–9:40 a.m.

The general plan is more than the legal underpinning for land use decisions; it is a vision about how a community will grow, reflecting community priorities and values while shaping the future. It is critical for planning commissioners to understand the purpose and role of general plans. This session will provide an overview of general plan history, content and legal requirements, relationship to regional plans and programs, and current policy trends. This session will also discuss the importance of the general plan and how planning commissioners use the document regularly to make land use decisions and environmental determinations.

Speaker: Dan Amsden, AICP, Director of Planning Services, MIG


Value Capture: Zoning and Entitlements as "Currency" Generators for Cities

9:40–10:20 a.m.

In a post COVID-19 digital economy private sector, land use preferences are shifting from retail and hotel to residential and industrial. Many cities have monetized land use by approving projects that emphasized sales tax and TOT. Post-COVID, the private sector will submit projects less accretive to a city’s economic sustainability. How can cities capture sufficient value from future applications? This session focuses on “development currency “tools cities can use to reset local economies including examples of how to maximize community and fiscal benefits through land use, zoning and entitlement policies that capture value and improve quality of life.

Speaker: Larry Kosmont, Chairman & CEO, Kosmont Companies


How to Prepare Findings and Conditions of Approval

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

As a planning commissioner, your decision to approve an application is based on whether you can make the required findings and draft conditions of approval that can be implemented. Learn the reasons why findings are so important in rendering a decision on a project and what conditions of approval are and how to prepare them.

Moderator: Debbie Chamberlain, First Vice President, Planning and Community Development Department, Community Development Director, San Ramon

Speaker: Patricia Curtin, Partner, Wendel Rosen LLP

Wednesday, March 31

City of Dysfunction Junction: How to Conduct an Effective and Respectful Planning Commission Meeting

9-10:15 a.m.

Enjoy a mock planning meeting skit, where you will learn some do’s and don’ts for when you are seated on the dais.

Moderator: Caitlin Cole, Conference Program Manager, League of California Cities

Facilitators: Christi Hogin, Attorney, Best Best & Krieger | Michael Jenkins, Of Counsel, Best Best & Krieger


CEQA, In the Weeds

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

This session assumes some familiarity with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Hear an in-depth discussion on the process of crafting mitigation measures, long and short-term impacts, and how the CEQA landscape changes with legislation, court decisions, and agency preferences. We will delve more into why CEQA documents look the way they do, the role of findings, and what to do with late-hit letters. Presenters will seek to demystify some of the more technical sections of the document.

Moderator: Eric Nelson, Director, Planning and Community Development Department, Planning Commissioner, Dana Point

Speakers: Shannon George, Vice President/Principal, David J. Powers & Associates | Mark Teague, Principal, PlaceWorks


Relationship Between Planning Commission, City Council, and Planning Staff

1:30-2:45 p.m.

As a city official there will be various competing values and priorities that drive you and your colleagues within your city. Your success on the planning commission requires an effective relationship with your planning staff and city council, where everyone’s values are respected and represented. Learn how to work together while cultivating each of your diverse roles.

Moderator: Meghan McKelvey, Manager, Department and Member Services, League of California Cities

Speakers: Debbie Chamberlain, First Vice President, Planning and Community Development Department, Community Development Director, San Ramon | Eric Nelson, Director, Planning and Community Development Department, Planning Commissioner, Dana Point | David Sander, Council Member, Rancho Cordova


The Planning Commission's Role and State Limits on Its Discretion

3:15-4:30 p.m.

The Planning Commission, implementing the City’s General Plan and Zoning Code, decides which projects are built in the city. The Commission’s decision to approve or deny a use permit or variance is often an exercise of discretion. The State Legislature recently limited the Planning Commission’s discretion through both the Housing Accountability Act and Housing Crisis Act as to certain kinds of housing projects. This presentation will explore the bounds of the Planning Commission’s discretion and the limits of State law, with a particular focus on new state legislation.

Moderator: Joel Rojas, President, Planning and Community Development Department, Development Services Director, San Juan Capistrano

Speakers: Aleks Giragosian, Senior Counsel, Colantuono Highsmith & Whatley, PC | Matthew Summers, City Attorney, Ojai and Barstow, Colantuono Highsmith & Whatley, PC

Thursday, April 1

Legislative Update

9-10:15 a.m.

Learn about recent bills that have passed, as well as top issues that are trending in the legislature, and the significance for city planning commissioners.

Moderator and Speaker: Jason Rhine, Assistant Legislative Director, League of California Cities

Speakers: Nicole Enright, Senior Program Manager, Institute for Local Government | Melissa Kuehne, Senior Program Manager, Institute for Local Government


From Dangerous Discourse to Extraordinary Engagement: Changing the Conversation on Inclusion

10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.

Diversity is a fact. Inclusion is a choice. If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that it is important to take a good, hard, long look at how we are doing business and truthfully examine how to do business better. Inclusion has moved beyond a buzzword and is now an expectation of our communities, our organizations, and our teammates. It is incumbent upon us to ask and effectively answer two questions: "Who else needs to be included in our conversations?" and "How can we effectively engage them?" This session will give you a new personal lens into conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion, and it will equip you with specific strategies for changing how you do business to be more inclusive.

Closing Comments: Joel Rojas, Department President, Development Services Director, San Juan Capistrano

Speakers: Eric Bailey, Managing Partner, Extraordinary Balance | Nicole Lance, Managing Partner, Extraordinary Balance


2021 Academy Session Materials


2021 Academy Access for Registered Attendees

In addition to access to all live sessions, session materials, and virtual networking opportunities, registering for the conference grants you access to all session recordings for later viewing for a limited time. View the session recordings.


Previous Academy Session Materials

2020 Session Materials
2019 Session Materials


Call for Proposals

Take advantage of this exciting opportunity to share your ideas, knowledge and expertise at the 2022 Planning Commissioners Academy! Deadline: Monday, November 1, 2021.  Submit a proposal now

General Information

Who Can Submit

Submissions – noncommercial in nature –  from any individual, group, business or organization, are welcome through November 1, 2021.

How It Works

Cal Cities is seeking thorough, thoughtful, and complete proposals that tell how your session can help planning commissioners improve their communities, leadership abilities, and knowledge within their roles. Topics to consider include:

  • Emerging issues and cutting-edge solutions for challenges that California cities face
  • Leadership skills, Relationship Management, and Personal Development
  • CEQA
  • General Plans
  • Planning Meeting Management
  • City Finances
  • Affordable Housing
  • Homelessness
  • Emergency Response and Preparedness
  • Technology
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Workplace Culture
  • COVID-19 related changes
  • And much more!
Sessions may not include sales, commercialism, or product promotion of any kind. Proposals must be submitted online through the session proposal form. 


Target Audience

This educational event is designed for planning commissioners of all tenures. This academy offers a fundamentals track for new commissioners and those wanting a refresher course, as well as an emerging issues track, to include innovative solutions for current issues that California city planners and planning commissioners face.

All About Proposals

Secrets of Great Proposals

Securing a spot on the program is highly competitive, with approximately 25% of proposals being accepted. You can increase your chances by preparing a thorough, thoughtful and complete proposal that tells how your session would help city leaders and those who work within city governments to improve their careers and communities. When preparing your proposal consider the following elements:

  • Is the topic new and/or critical for city government?
  • Will it draw a wide audience?
  • Will this issue stimulate action and further important discussion?
  • Does the panel reflect the diversity of California cities (north/south, large/small, urban/rural)?

Tips for Successful Proposals

  • Think big
  • Vary the viewpoint
  • Pare down the panel
  • Speaker skills matter
  • Plan for a crowd
  • Try something new
  • Interact with the audience
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Quality counts

Types of Proposals

Over 95% of each year's conference programming comes directly from the open call for proposals. Sessions may be scheduled as a general session or concurrent session at Cal Cities' discretion. Select one of the available formats listed below that best fits your topic and desired outcomes or propose an alternative session format.

  • Keynote Speaker Complete details: This format permits approximately 45 - 60 minutes of an engaging presentation by a single speaker. Depending on time restrictions, the presentation may be followed by approximately 15 minutes of questions and answers with the audience or a moderator.
  • Panel Discussion Complete details: Panels consist of a moderator and a maximum of three speakers who participate in a 60-minute engaging presentation and discussion followed by approximately 15 minutes of questions and answers.
  • Speed Sessions Complete details: Fifteen (15) minute bursts of information on one topic by one speaker followed by five (5) minutes of questions & answers. Typically, these engaging presentations are based on focused projects or personal experience.
  • Facilitated Discussion Complete details: An interactive conversation with attendees on the selected topic. A facilitator may offer a maximum of a 10-minute presentation on which the issue/concern is framed for the attendees and then guide the discussion with prepared questions. At the conclusion of the discussion, the facilitator will spend some time summarizing key findings, suggestions, and points. In total, this session is scheduled for 75 minutes.
  • Alternative Format Complete details: Be creative! If your session does not fit one of the above formats, this is your opportunity to propose something different. Please be sure to provide the time, room setup, and other important details. Alternative formats will be accommodated based on interest level and space and set-up availability.
Requirements, Review, and Policies

Submission Requirements and Review

Submissions will be distributed to volunteers from the target audience and session selection will be conducted through an online vote.

Cal Cities reserves the right to modify accepted proposal session titles, descriptions, presenters or other elements as necessary to insure balance, quality and enhance marketability. If an originally accepted speaker cancels, the session may be disqualified. Additional speakers not included in the original proposal are not permitted to be added without review and approval.

Successful Proposal Considerations

The following criteria may be considered during the review of submissions:

  • Relevance: What are the practical applications of your ideas? Have you included reasoning and documentation to support your conclusions, recommendations and outcomes? Conference attendees prefer presentations focused on outcomes or results. Make the definition and background portions of your presentation brief. Highlight problems encountered, options available, choices made, documented pre- and post-change effects and lessons learned.
  • Content expands attendees' knowledge: Will your presentation expand knowledge beyond entry-level basics? Most conference participants are elected officials, appointed officials, and seasoned professionals. In general, direct your presentation to an intermediate or advanced audience.
  • Originality: Does your presentation advance existing ideas or present new ideas? Has this material been presented elsewhere? You might apply proven techniques to new problems. Or identify and apply new approaches, techniques or philosophies. Assess the degree to which an application is a new tool. Avoid highlighting a named product or service…focus instead on the general attributes, benefits and drawbacks of a given application, process or tool.
  • Examples: Do you have an appropriate number of examples? Documenting comparative results convinces participants that your ideas have been tested in the real world.
  • Timeliness: Will your presentation still be up-to-date and cutting-edge in six to nine months when the conference occurs? Will your topic have implications in the future? How relevant is your topic in the context of pending legislation, regulations and technology?
  • Inclusion of good, solid insights: What attendees want to learn is the reality versus the hype, the positive and negative attributes, problems encountered but not often discussed, realistic expectations for the operational use and adaptability to a changing environment. They are searching for guidelines and models to simplify or manage their own application or installation.
  • Logical conclusions: Are your conclusions supported by data? Attendees place a high value on supporting data in assessing the value and applicability of presentations. Include adequate and convincing details.
  • Identification of outside resources: Have you included sources of information, benchmark data or other examples?
  • Avoidance of product/vendor commercial: No commercials / proprietary information for particular products, services or vendors are permitted.
  • Completeness of proposal: The quality, completeness and accuracy of the proposal will be considered during session selection process.
  • Preferred Speaker Qualifications: Panelists should reflect the diversity of California with a north/south, large/small, urban/rural representation when possible. Additionally, speakers should have:
    • Five or more (5+) years of public presentation experience.
    • Two or more (2+) years of experience related to working in or presenting on the topic of the idea.
    • More than two (2) successful speaking engagements to large audiences at a regional or state level in the past two years.
    • Must not pose a conflict of interest with subject/business area or must disclose such information in each speaker bio submitted.
    • No commercialism.

To ensure a variety of perspectives, Cal Cities policy limits the number of times an individual, group, business or organization can speak at a single conference. In addition, each panel should have no more than one panelist per city/county, firm, company or organization (exceptions may apply)

In the end, you must make your case for the importance of this topic and its relevance to participants. Have you made the best case you possibly can?

Registration and Speaker Policy

The League of California Cities is unable to provide complimentary registration or any reimbursement of expenses, travel, or other compensation. We recognize and deeply appreciate your interest and commitment. The success of our program depends on the efforts of practicing professionals willing to volunteer their time to professional education.

Privacy Policy

We value your privacy and will never share any of your personal information nor sell your e-mail address to an outside party.

Take Action

Our advocacy efforts are strongest when joined by the voices of city leaders. Visit the action center for a list of current priority legislative bills and proposals, and sample letters of support or opposition.


Make your voice heard

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Contact Staff

Arcidiacono, Elisa
Elisa Arcidiacono
Legislative Representative: Public Safety
(916) 658-8252

Curious why Cal Cities supports or opposes certain bills or measures? Advocacy efforts are determined by Annual Conference Resolutions or the Existing Policy and Guiding Principles.

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