By Neil McCormick, Executive Director of CSDA.

Sunshine week was created in 2002 by the American Society of News Editors to educate the public about the importance of local government and to increase the amount of civic engagement across the nation.

California’s communities are served by just over 2,000 independent special districts–local governments–that provide our Golden State’s core local services, such as fire protection, water, sanitation, parks and recreation, healthcare and libraries which are among the many services provided by special districts.

The California Special Districts Association (CSDA) takes pride in promoting the highest levels of accountability and transparency in local government and we encourage public participation. In honor of Sunshine Week, we invite you to get to know the special district leaders who provide essential services to your neighborhood.

To help, we created several tools to encourage the public to get to know their neighborhood’s special districts and grow public participation in the local decision-making process.

CSDA’s GIS Map tool provides an interactive database that maps special districts’ service areas and headquarter locations.

CSDA partners with the Special District Leadership Foundation to recognize excellence in transparency and governance when special districts go above and beyond to provide exceptional public outreach and accessible services.

We’ve also partnered with California Forward to create the Special District Transparency Portal to visualize public information in a user-friendly site that allows Californians to better understand how their community’s core local services are funded.

As the proud representative of special districts throughout California, we encourage the public to use these tools to join in the conversation and decisions being made in your community.

We like to treat every week like it’s “Sunshine Week.” It’s our hope that these tools help you better understand your government and make it easier for you to get involved.