Gun violence is rampant in the news. The Columbine High School massacre in Colorado that left 12 students and one teacher dead, set the scene for school shootings in 1999, and we have seen them continue through the Newtown, Connecticut […]
The State Supreme Court has decided that Proposition 215 does not prohibit cities and counties from banning marijuana storefronts from operating within their boundaries, upholding a zoning issue from the City of Riverside that shutdown the City’s pot shops. The […]
San Bernardino Residents for Responsible Government has notified all the members of the City Council as well as the City’s Mayor and City Attorney that they intend to throw them all out of office. The announcement, via press release, press […]
California, more than any other state in the country, is not fully utilizing the Federally funded Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Only 63 percent of the $1.5 billion allotted to California over the last 15 years has been used. […]
This blog posting and video are part of a series being produced by CSAC to highlight county best practices through our annual Challenge Awards. These awards recognize the innovative and creative spirit of California county governments as they find new and effective ways of providing programs and services to their citizens. The Challenge Awards provide California’s 58 counties an opportunity to share their best practices with counties around the state and nation. The programs being highlighted are recipients of the 2012 awards. The Call for Entries for the 2013 CSAC Challenge Awards has been distributed; the entry deadline is June 28, 2013.
To review a video about how San Joaquin County is meeting the challenge, click here.
Mental illness! For some reason, we are perfectly happy discussing other chronic problems, from diabetes to the heartbreak of psoriasis, but mental illness? Let’s not talk about that right now. And because we don’t want to talk about it many people who suffer from it suffer alone. Mental illness can manifest itself in behavior that is unpleasant at best so many people who have it are estranged from their families and friends. They often rely on county mental health services for help.
In San Joaquin County, they have developed a new model for providing that help, a new way of treating some people with mental illness and supporting them as they get treatment. In the past, the County operated a large locked-down mental health facility. It typically housed people who had been picked up by law enforcement for illegal or potentially dangerous behavior. They stayed in that facility for three days or more—and it was often full. That costs a lot of money, and, it really doesn’t provide any long term help for the mentally ill person either.[...]
The City of San Jose has filed legal action in federal court to eliminate the territorial restrictions that Major League Baseball has used to keep the A’s from moving to San Jose. The move is intended to continue a dialogue that would eventually bring the ballclub to San Jose.
“For more than four years, the City of San Jose has made an exhaustive effort to work with Major League Baseball to resolve any concerns about our city’s capacity to host a major league ballclub,” Mayor Chuck Reed said. “During that time, it has become abundantly clear that Major League Baseball prefers to use territorial restrictions as an excuse to restrict commerce and prevent the Athletics from relocating to San Jose. This restriction is costing San Jose residents millions of dollars in new annual tax revenues that could go towards funding more police officers, firefighters, libraries, gang prevention efforts, road repairs and other critical city services.”
The Oakland Athletics ownership group has expressed a desire to construct a new, privately-financed and privately-operated ballpark in Downtown San Jose. While the City of San Jose has worked with the Athletics to facilitate the construction of a new ballpark, their efforts have been stalled by the San Francisco Giants’ claim of “territorial rights” to Santa Clara County. In 2009, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig appointed a special blue ribbon committee to analyze the Athletics’ options for a new ballpark. But after four years, there still has been no decision on whether the Athletics can relocate to San Jose.[...]
Instead of being a state-reimbursable mandate, many provisions of the California Public Records Act will become “best practices” and therefore not a requirement of the state. By so doing, the state can free itself of its requirement to reimburse for expenses, but open government advocates worry that removing the teeth from the CPRA will leave smaller, weaker local governments prone to restricting transparency.
It is important to note that the Brown Act has essentially been suspended for years, yet local governments have continued to comply with its requirements that public meetings be open. Public records requests are still being fulfilled, and the public’s business remains accessible to the public. In many places, the continued commitment to transparency is a result of a culture of compliance fostered by the decades of the Brown Act. Governments were further spurred to action by the recent failures in Bell.[...]
Since 2006, there hasn’t been a single big-box retail location built in Sacramento. Proponents of the big-box bans, who often are opponents of individual retail chains, would claim this as a victory. However, local government officials in Sacramento say that this ban led to tax-revenue leakage as neighboring cities welcomed various retailers’ expansions.
Most notable among the expansions has been the construction of three WalMarts since the de facto ban was implemented. Walmart built all three stores just outside of City limits, thereby avoiding the requirement to perform complicated and costly economic impact studies. Choosing West Sacramento, for instance, enabled business expansion while encouraging Sacramento residents to leave the City to shop. Quantifying how much revenue the City lost is difficult.[...]
The Los Angeles City Council file on single-use carryout bags dates back to 2004. Nine years later, the Council has tentatively approved a 10-cent per-bag tax on the use of the disposable bags. Final approval will come after a second vote, but the first votes’ 11-1 majority would predict an easy final passage.
Now, the state’s largest city is on the brink of adopting a single-use bag ban as a way to preempt the millions of dollars spent each year to control litter and “plastic-bag blight.” The ban would impact any retail business with more than $2 million in annual sales, a store greater than 10,000 square feet, or any retail establishment that engages in the sale of limited line of goods.
Under the ban, plastic bags would disappear entirely, except for plastic-based reusable bags. Reusable paper bags could be provided to customers, but the stores would charge $.10 per bag. That money would be kept by the stores themselves to offset the cost of compliance.
Each quarter, stores would have to report the total number of bags provided to customers, as well as the total amount of money collected.[...]
By Sarah E. Owsowitz and Stephanie R. Straka
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a Californian in possession of a car must be in want of a parking space. And, of course, this space should be free, just steps from your intended destination and available 24 hours a day. But the harsh reality is that, in just about every densely populated area of California, the hunt for the perfect parking space (or any parking space!) is a frustrating and often highly expensive daily activity. As a result, when cities, counties and other public agencies consider proposals for new development in an urbanized area, they are commonly besieged with panicked cries of “But where will these new residents/customers/workers park? Where will I, my customers, or my employees park? Parking!!!”
Parking is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a new issue in California. But, in 2002, public agencies won a small victory that allowed them, if they choose, to keep parking battles mostly separate from one of the other stickiest widgets in California land use – the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA as it is widely known. In San Franciscans Upholding the Downtown Plan v. City and County of San Francisco, a state appellate court considered a challenge to an environmental impact report’s discussion of the parking impacts of a massive redevelopment project in downtown San Francisco. The project proposed to restore the historic Emporium Building for use as a Bloomingdale’s department store as well as other retail and restaurant uses. There was no question that the project would greatly increase the demand for parking in the area, but the project did not include any new parking. The project’s opponents challenged the city’s decision not to identify the project’s parking deficit as an environmental impact. The First District Court of Appeal sided with the city, finding that its environmental analysis was adequate as the “social inconvenience of having to hunt for scarce parking spaces is not an environmental impact; the secondary effect of scarce parking on traffic and air quality is.” Thus, the court held that the lack of parking does not, on its own, need to be treated as a significant impact to the environment.[...]
If you ask local government advocates and officials to describe a particular piece of legislation, typical answers are hedged. Diplomatic terms like “work in progress” or “good with the bad” are the norm. But SB 7 brings unambiguous responses like arrogant, wantonly irresponsible, and wrong. That’s because SB 7 would decimate the municipal finances of 51 cities and undermine the will of their voters.
SB 7 inflicts heavy punitive damages on cities that use their power as charter cities to alter prevailing wage laws. As part of the concept of home rule, which was included in the California Constitution and later upheld by the state Supreme Court, charter cities are allowed to dictate when, if, and how prevailing wage should be included in purely municipal projects. In other words, if a charter city is paying to build a new civic center and is only using city funds, then they have the right to decide not to pay prevailing wage.
However, SB 7, authored and championed by Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) serves as an end run around not only Home Rule, but the state Constitution as well. If passed and enacted, SB 7 would cut off all state funding to any city where voters approve any restriction on the use of prevailing wage, regardless of the source of a project’s funding.[...]
Originally posted at www.calpensions.com
A key planner of the Stockton bankruptcy, City Manager Bob Deis, plans to retire on Nov. 1, shortly before what could be a crucial public vote on a sales tax increase that has split the city council.
Deis battled with a police union that bought a house next to his home and subpoenaed his wife, oversaw deep staff cuts and structured an orderly bankruptcy that was a sharp contrast to San Bernardino’s emergency bankruptcy.
But the Stockton bankruptcy plan, which cuts bond payments but not pensions, has drawn well-funded opposition from bond insurers, who complain of unfair treatment because the city’s largest creditor, CalPERS, is untouched.
When Dies was hired in July 2010, the city council “knew something was amiss” but not how bad city finances had become, he said in a news release. Dies expects to have accomplished what he was asked to do by Nov. 1.[...]
Across the Northern Border, a mayor has found himself in hot water as he was hauled to jail by an anti-corruption squad of his own police department. Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum was arrested for corruption eight months after he was elected to office on a platform that called for the end of corruption.
The “hammer squad” as the anti-corruption squad is known, picked Applebaum up at his home on Monday after investigators discovered evidence that the mayor allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars in bribes from construction companies between 2006 and 2011. He had been mayor of one of the city’s boroughs at the time.[...]
According to a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, the average survival rate for sudden cardiac arrest outside of a hospital is 8.5 percent. But through various programs, the San Ramon Valley Fire District has maintained a survival rate that’s twice as a good, at 17.1 percent. If an AED is present at the scene, survival rates increase to nearly 50 percent.
The Fire District has been championing a program called HeartSafe, which encourages residents to learn lifesaving techniques. Currently, about 2,000 residents learn hands-only CPR through the program. The Fire District also uses a smartphone application to alert nearby good Samaritans to cardiac events nearby. The technology allows those who have been trained to save lives to respond to nearby incidents. These two approaches have increased bystander intervention – such as administering CPR until first responders arrive – to over 50 percent.[...]