On Tuesday, the California Contract Cities Association concluded its 45th Annual Legislative Days with a marathon meeting at the State Capitol. The meeting, which was open to any legislator or statewide constitutional officer, was an opportunity to continue a dialogue that had started on Monday when representatives of the CCCA visited numerous legislative offices in Sacramento. Those meetings represented a major, concerted effort to strengthen the relationship between local governments and Sacramento.

“It was a great opportunity for one-on-one dialogue between state representatives and local officials,” said James R. Bozajian, who serves as president of the CCCA and as Mayor of Calabasas. “It was great to hear from them directly.”

Many of the CCCA members who attended the Legislative Days had worked with legislators previously, before they’d been elected to Sacramento.

“We have a lot of former local officials (in Sacramento),” said Sam Pedroza, the CCCA’s Legislative Committee Chair and Mayor of Claremont. “It’s one of our favorite audiences, because they know where we’re coming from.”

The Legislative Days had been planned since long before the Supreme Court handed down its Redevelopment decision at the end of last month, but that certainly became one of the driving themes of the meetings. Other topics that the CCCA identified as key issues included realignment, water issues – both quality and availability – and the state’s budget and revenues.

But it was redevelopment that was at the front of everyone’s minds.

“(Redevelopment) was on our list of talking points before (the decision),” said Pedroza, “but the State Supreme Court Decision made it the issue.”

At a reception on Monday night, League of California Cities Executive Director Chris McKenize spoke to the group and commended their efforts. He noted that together, the CCCA and the League of Cities hope to revive redevelopment before its February 1st execution date. He specifically highlighted Senators Bill Emerson and Alex Padilla as proponents of local government. The CCCA met with both Senators during the Legislative Days.

“We are especially grateful that they have brought the (redevelopment) legislation forward,” said Bozajian. “We hope we can help build enough bi-partisan support to get it passed and compel the Governor to sign it.”

At the reception many people were discussing the positive impacts that redevelopment had in their communities, and fretted its loss. However, legislators and officials from the CCCA remained optimistic that efforts such as the Legislative Days could prove helpful in saving the program.

“This was a great chance to turn a new leaf with relationships with legislators,” said Pedroza, “and I think we’re off to a grand start.”

The CCCA was founded in 1957 and represents the interests of cities that depend on contracts and collaboration between governments to deliver services to residents. For more information on the CCCA, contact Executive Director Sam Olivito.

(Editor’s note: I was honored that the CCCA executive staff asked me to make a brief presentation regarding statewide local government issues on Monday morning. The presentation, their questions, and the conversation that subsequently ensued made it that the group of local officials came to Sacramento with a purpose, an understanding of what is at stake, and the determination to begin an ongoing, positive dialogue.)