Message from League of California Cities Executive Director

Jul 21, 2021

Dear California City Leaders, 

What a wonderful experience it was to see our League of California Cities board members in person in San Diego last week at our first in-person board meeting in nearly 18 months. I would like to acknowledge the warm welcome we received from our host city mayor and fellow board member Mayor Todd Gloria to his beautiful city.

It felt great to be back together again, in 3D, standing side by side, as we worked to advance our cities’ interests. We certainly accomplished a lot Thursday and Friday, and in addition to briefing the board on our strong finances, I want to share with you some of the highlights from the meeting.

Cal Cities Action Agenda

Cal Cities staff provided updates on our progress towards Cal Cities strategic priorities, starting with the work being done to secure direct and flexible funding and resources for cities of all sizes to respond to and recover from the pandemic. Apart from the landmark $8 billion for cities included in the hard-fought funding in the American Rescue Plan, Cal Cities has been fiercely advocating for funding from the state. While the state has not yet committed to the $2 billion request for direct funding to cities through the budget to ensure an equitable recovery for all cities, the state is moving forward with a number of bills and programs that will help support cities and their residents. These include $1 billion annually for cities and counties in the state budget to address homelessness; a half a billion dollars for infill infrastructure, a historic $6 billion investment in improved broadband access; and more than $10 billion dollars toward wildfire, drought, and climate resiliency. 

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to sign up for our Summer Recess Briefing on Priority Bills, July 22, for an overview on major bills cities should consider advocating for or against in preparation for the Legislature’s return from summer recess on August 16.

Policy Committee Legislative Agenda

The Board took positions on several bills and policies at the recommendation of Cal Cities’ policy committees, including areas such as youth and child care (AB 46, SB 50); environmental quality (microgrids); alcohol sales and licenses (SB 314, AB 61, and SB 389), census-based funding and count issues, public employment practices (AB 237), and fireworks management. The Board also voted to create a working group to further study ACA 7, a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the State, as it relates to local government police power, municipal affairs, and land use and zoning.

Legal Advocacy

Our Cal Cities legal advocacy team reported to the Board notable rulings and legal victories in which Cal Cities filed amicus briefs or letters since last April’s board meeting. These included Bezis v. Livermore, where the court sided with the city council allowing council members to interrupt speakers who are not sticking to the topic at hand; Newsom v. Gallagher, where the court affirmed the Governor’s executive orders were constitutional and therefore cities who followed the orders were acting constitutionally; and Oakland Police Officers Association v. City of Oakland, where the court also sided with the city in a case about obligatory disclosure of reports during internal investigations.

Ballot Measures

In anticipation that there will be a number of statewide measures on the ballot in 2022 that could impact cities, the Board was briefed on Cal Cities’ strong track record in ballot measure advocacy and the ingredients for a successful ballot measure campaign.       

Cal Cities Board of Directors – Nominating Committee Report

Upon receiving the report of the Nominating Committee, the Board approved the Committee’s recommendations of the 2021-2022 at-large board nominees and officers. The election of the board officers and at-large directors will take place at the September board meeting during the Cal Cities Annual Conference and Expo. The Nominating Committee emphasized that all of this years’ applicants were exceptional, and I would like to thank all of those who applied for their time and interest in serving our organization. Special thanks as well, to the members of the Nominating Committee for their time and commitment. 

Cal Cities Equity Roadmap

Just a year after the Board committed to the creation of a Cal Cities Advancing Equity initiative, Cal Cities staff presented to the board an Equity Roadmap, outlining the organization’s planned actions and strategies over the next 24 months to support city leaders in advancing equity in their communities. The areas of focus include providing education, training, tools, and peer learning, and increasing organizational capacity. Cal Cities is excited to continue to provide our cities with the resources they need to make strides in this space and will be sharing the roadmap with our members in the coming weeks.

Governance Recommendations

As part of the Cal Cities 2018-2021 Strategic Growth Plan, the board has been reviewing its governance system with the goal of enhancing membership engagement in leadership opportunities, increasing overall effectiveness in fulfilling our mission and vision as an organization, and ensuring the pathway to leadership is transparent and inclusive. Informed by key stakeholders through focus groups, surveys, external case studies and interviews, governance association expert Jim DeLizia presented his findings and key recommendations to the Board. Following a robust exchange of ideas and input, the Board moved forward with several recommendations and directed staff to carry out additional work that will be considered at a special meeting of the board in August. 

Cal Cities gets a new look!

Finally, Cal Cities launched its new brand identity after the first day of the board meeting. President Viegas Walker introduced the brand with a celebratory video. Just as our cities have evolved, Cal Cities has evolved right alongside them. This transformation of our brand was also one of the 2018-2021 Strategic Growth Plan goals – to raise the visibility of Cal Cities as the preeminent voice for cities in California. The new branding infuses a rejuvenated pride, energy, diversity, and vitality into the mission of strengthening California cities through advocacy and education. I encourage you to learn more about the new brand and check out the video yourself if you haven’t already seen it, and share it on your own communications platforms. Our new brand really exemplifies how we truly are stronger together.

And remember, Cal Cities may have a new look, but our commitment to cities goes back more than 120 years. Thank you all for everything you do for your communities and I am so excited to see you all at the Cal Cities Annual Conference and Expo September 22-24. Be sure to register. You won’t want to miss it.