Preserving local control in CA by action of the League of California Cities
After my first post on loss of local control focusing on SB 827, a number of Democratic and Republican city council members in Assembly District 24 spoke to me about their concern of the CA legislature ruining their cities by taking control from their local governments. See the previous post Preserve local control part 2 Some of these city council members, drafted an open letter which I support. It appears below:
League of California Cities should assess the increasing vulnerabilities to local authority, control and revenue and explore the preparation of a ballot measure and/or constitutional amendment that would give the state’s voters an opportunity to further strengthen local authority and preserve the role of local democracy to best preserve their local quality of life.
- Cities and Towns in the State of California are comprised of diverse communities that are home to persons of differing backgrounds, needs, and aspirations, yet united by the vision that the most accessible, responsive, effective, and transparent form of democratic government is found at the local level and in their own communities.
- The California Constitution recognizes that local self-government is the cornerstone of democracy by empowering cities to enact local laws and policies designed to protect the local public health, safety and welfare of their residents and govern the municipal affairs of charter cities.
- Over recent years there have been an increasing number of measures introduced within the CA Legislature or proposed for the state ballot, often sponsored by powerful interest groups and corporations, aimed at undermining the authority, control and revenue options for local governments and their residents.
- Powerful interest groups and corporations are willing to spend millions in political contributions to legislators to advance legislation, or to hire paid signature gatherers to qualify deceptive ballot proposals attempting to overrule or silence the voices of local residents and their democratically-elected local governments affected by their proposed policies.
- Powerful interest groups and corporations propose and advance such measures because they view local democracy as an obstacle that disrupts the efficiency of implementing corporate plans and increasing profits and therefore object when local residents— either through their elected city councils, boards of supervisors, special district boards, or by action of local voters—enact local ordinances and policies tailored to fit the needs of their individual communities.
- Local residents and voters have the highest levels of confidence in levels of government that are closest to the people, and thus would be likely to strongly support a ballot measure that would further strengthen the ability of communities to govern themselves without micromanagement from the state or having their authority undermined by deep-pocketed and powerful interests and corporations.
- Subsidiarity is the principle that democratic decisions are best made at the most local level best suited to address the needs of the People, and suggests that local governments should be allowed to find solutions at the local level before the California Legislature imposes uniform and overreaching measures throughout the State; and
- The relationship between the state and cities functions best as a partnership where major policy issues are approached by the state with careful consideration of the varied conditions among the California’s 482 cities and 58 counties. There should be an appreciation of the importance of retaining local flexibility to tailor policies to reflect the needs and circumstances of the local community. Still, cities have had to respond to state legislation that undermines the principle of “local control” over important issues such as land use, housing, finance, infrastructure, elections, labor relations and other issues directly affecting cities. Therefore, the League of California Cities should assess the increasing vulnerabilities to local authority, control and revenue and explore the preparation of a ballot measure and/or constitutional amendment that would give the state’s voters an opportunity to further strengthen local authority and preserve the role of local democracy to best preserve their local quality of life.