2023 CA Special District January - February

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WHAT'S SO SPECIAL Reclamation District Dives Into Public Outreach Campaign PAGE 22 Legal Brief The Housing Crunch and Surplus Land: What Special Districts Need to Know Page 32 Industry Insights What to Do? The Question of Rogue Electeds Page 41 A Publication of the California Special Districts Association SPECIAL DISTRICTS california Volume 18, Issue 1 • January-February 2023

California Special Districts Alliance

The California Special Districts Alliance is a collaborative partnership between the California Special Districts Association (CSDA), the CSDA Finance Corporation (CSDAFC), and the Special District Risk Management Authority (SDRMA). These three highly respected statewide organizations join forces to help special districts in California better serve their communities.

CSDA Board and Staff


ELAINE MAGNER, PRESIDENT, Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District

PETE KAMPA, VICE PRESIDENT, CSDM, Groveland Community Services District

DON BARTZ, CSDM, SECRETARY, Phelan Pinon Hills Community Service District

LORENZO RIOS, TREASURER, Clovis Veterans Memorial District

RYAN CLAUSNITZER, CSDM, PAST PRESIDENT, Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District

Members of the Board

KIMBERLEE SENEY, Gold Mountain Community Services District

FRED RYNESS, Burney Water District

GREG ORSINI, McKinleyville Community Service District

NOELLE MATTOCK, El Dorado Hills Community Services District

JERRY L. GILMORE, Truckee Sanitary District

STANLEY CALDWELL, Mt. View Sanitary District

CHAD DAVISSON, CSDM, Ironhouse Sanitary District

PATRICK OSTLY, North of River Sanitary District #1

STEVE PEREZ, CSDM, Rosamond Community Services District

DR. HUGH RAFFERTY, Mosquito & Vector Management District of Santa Barbara County

VINCENT FERRANTE, Moss Landing Harbor District

ARLENE SCHAFER, Costa Mesa Sanitary District

JO MACKENZIE, Vista Irrigation District


NEIL MCCORMICK, Chief Executive Officer

MEGAN HEMMING, Professional Development Director

KYLE PACKHAM, Advocacy & Public Affairs Director

CASSANDRA STRAWN, Member Services & Communications Director

RICK WOOD, Finance & Administration Director

AARON AVERY, Senior Legislative Representative

EMILY CHA, Database & Online Communities Specialist

MARCUS DETWILER, Associate Legislative Representative

BRENT FARRAR, Graphic Design/Video Specialist

AUBREY GOHL, Member Services Representative

VANESSA GONZALES, Communications Specialist

MELISSA GREEN, Public Affairs Field Coordinator

COLLEEN HALEY, Public Affairs Field Coordinator

HEIDI HANNAMAN, Legislative Representative

LILIA M. HERNANDEZ, Legislative Assistant

MUSTAFA HESSABI, Deputy General Counsel

CHARLOTTE HOLIFIELD, Public Affairs Field Coordinator

MICHAEL MEYER, Member Services Specialist

CHRIS NORDEN, Public Affairs Field Coordinator

CHRIS PALMER, Senior Public Affairs Field Coordinator

AMBER PHELEN, Executive Assistant

RACHAEL POPPINO, Professional Development Assistant

COLE R. QUERRY, Legislative Analyst

JENNIFER SMITH, Professional Development Coordinator

ERIC SPENCER, Member Services Specialist

SUSAN STAUTS, Member Services Representative

DANE WADLÉ, Senior Public Affairs Field Coordinator

JAMES WILFONG, Design & Websites Manager

KRISTIN WITHROW, Communications Specialist

SDRMA Board and Staff



ROBERT SWAN, VICE PRESIDENT, Groveland Community Services District


Honey Lake Valley Resource Conservation District

Members of the Board

DAVID ARANDA, CSDM, Stallion Springs Community Services District

MIKE SCHEAFER, Costa Mesa Sanitary District

TIM UNRUH, CSDM, Kern County Mosquito & Vector Control District

THOMAS WRIGHT, Clovis Veterans Memorial District


JAMES MARTA, CPA, James Marta & Company, LLP

LAUREN BRANT, Public Financial Management

DEREK BURKHALTER, Bickmore Actuarial


FRANK ONO, iFish Group, Inc.

ANN SIPRELLE, Best Best & Krieger, LLP

KARL SNEARER, Apex Insurance Agency

DOUG WOZNIAK, Alliant Insurance Services, Inc.


VACANT, Chief Executive Officer

ELLEN DOUGHTY, ARM, Chief Member Services Officer

DEBBIE YOKOTA, AIC, ARM, Chief Risk Officer

WENDY TUCKER, AU, Member Services Manager

ALANA LITTLE, Health Benefits Manager

HENRI CASTRO, CSP, Risk Control Manager

DANNY PENA, Senior Claims Examiner

ERIC LUCERO, Senior Risk Control Specialist

TERESA GUILLEN, Member Services Specialist II

HEIDI SINGER, Accountant

MICHELLE BROWN, Health Benefits Specialist II

CANDICE RICHARDSON, Member Services Specialist II

KEITH IKAMI, Claim Examiner I

Special District Risk Management Authority 1112 I Street, Suite 300 Sacramento, CA 95814 tel: 800.537.7790


CSDAFC Board and Staff


JO MACKENZIE, PRESIDENT, Vista Irrigation District

VINCE FERRANTE, VICE PRESIDENT, Moss Landing Harbor District

ARLENE SCHAFER, SECRETARY, Costa Mesa Sanitary District

GLENN LAZOF, TREASURER, Regional Government Services Authority

Members of the Board

PAUL HUGHES, CSDM, South Tahoe Public Utilities District

MATTHEW MCCUE, Coachella Valley Cemetery District

GREG ORSINI, McKinleyville Community Service District


RICK BRANDIS, Brandis Tallman, a Division of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

JEFF LAND Brandis Tallman, a Division of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

WILLIAM MORTON, Municipal Finance Corporation

STEFAN MORTON, Municipal Finance Corporation


NICOLE TALLMAN, Brandis Tallman, a Division of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.


NEIL MCCORMICK, Chief Executive Officer


AMBER PHELEN, Executive Assistant

RICK WOOD, Finance & Administrative Director

CSDA Finance Corporation 1112 I Street, Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814 tel: 877.924.2732


California Special Districts Association

1112 I Street, Suite 200

Sacramento, CA 95814 toll-free: 877.924.2732


CSDA Commercial Card
2 24 Interview Building a Risk Management Culture 4 President's Message 7 Professional Development 9 CSDA News 10 In Memory of Stan Caldwell 12 Movers & Shakers 14 In Review 16 Dates & Deadlines 17 Ask the Experts Bringing New Board Members On-Board 20 Community Connections West Side's STOP Program: Public-Private Partnership Makes the Difference 22 Got Governance? How the Manager's Performance Evaluation Can Improve the Entire District 28 Solutions and Innovations Equal Representation: Midpen Uses GIS Technology to Conduct Transparent Redistricting 30 Tech Tips We Don't Mean to Boast, But... 32 Legal Brief The Housing Crunch and Surplus Land: What Special Districts Need to Know 36 National Special Districts Coalition Special Districts Seek to Close Fire Suppression Infrastructure Gaps 38 Managing Risk Understanding Cal/OSHA’s Confined Space Regulations: Complicated But Lifesaving 41 Take Action With Nearly One-Third of Legislature Brand New, it is Time to Take Action 42 Districts Make the Difference 49 Business Affiliate Highlight Managing a District is Multi-Dimensional: CalCad Helped GCSD on Many Layers 52 Business Directory CONTENTS
3 | CALIFORNIA SPECIAL DISTRICTS January-February 2023 CONTENTS 18 What's So Special Reclamation District Dives into Public Outreach Campaign 44 Money Matters San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District Restructures Fiscal Sustainability and Recession Planning Strategy
Industry Insights What to Do? The Question of Rogue Electeds

Five Top New Year’s Resolutions and How CSDA Can Help

I am humbled to have been selected as the 2023 President of the Board of Directors for CSDA. I serve on theBoard of Directors for the Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District (PVRPD) in Ventura County, and we just celebrated our 60th anniversary. I first was elected to the Board for CSDA in 2015 representing the Coastal Network, but as President will strive to represent all special districts in California.

In 2023, CSDA can help you meet your professional goals. Here are five new year’s resolutions that may be at the top of your list:

1. Learning. Increase your professional development by earning a certificate or a designation. New this year – earn the Essential Leadership Skills Certificate through the Special District Leadership Foundation. Check out the CSDA Professional Development Catalog for the 2023 educational offerings, including webinars (free to members), workshops, and our seven conferences!

2. Saving money. CSDA’s many benefits and programs can help you achieve your financial goals. My home district, PVRPD is a special district with a small budget, so we make every effort to utilize the benefits and companies that partner with CSDA. We use the valueadded benefits of Enterprise to save thousands of dollars on staff and board travel, and have achieved significant savings from Utility Cost Management’s service as well. We have also made sound investing decisions by being one of the early adopters of California CLASS.

3. Make more connections. CSDA Online Communities is a valuable resource to make connections with other CSDA members and to gain insight and solutions from peers.

4. Planning for the future. Even with interest rates on the rise, California’s special districts are finding low-cost, competitive financing solutions through CSDA Finance Corporation. In 2022, CSDAFC assisted nearly $100 million in transactions, large and small.

5. Engage with your community and legislators. Get involved with CSDA’s advocacy efforts, respond to our calls for action, tell your story, and engage with the individuals and institutions that shape how your district operates and how it is perceived in your community.

I am honored to serve as your CSDA President during 2023 and look forward to all we will achieve to better serve your special district and community.

Elaine Magner, CSDA Board President

Sharpen Your Skills

BB&K is pleased to offer a full slate of webinars and trainings on topics that are crucial to special districts, such as voting rights, liabilities, filing officer duties, ethics and more. CLE credits available.

Visit bbk.law/webinar to register today!



2023 Special District Leadership Academy - La Quinta

Comprehensive Governance Leadership Conference for Elected and Appointed Directors/Trustees

February 26 – March 1, 2023*

*no courses for returning attendees on March 1


This conference content is based on CSDA's Special District Leadership Academy (SDLA) groundbreaking, curriculum-based continuing education program, which recognizes the necessity for the board and general manager to work closely toward a common goal. SDLA provides the knowledge base to perform essential governance responsibilities and is designed for both new and experienced special district board members. Tracks are available for first-time and returning attendees!

Legislative Days

Fully one-third of the Legislature turned over this year, making the 2023 Special Districts Legislative Days a MUST-ATTEND EVENT! From ratemaking authority, reserves, and infrastructure to cybersecurity, climate adaptation, and workforce development, lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., are making critical decisions that will impact the budget and operations of your district and your community.


Special Districts Legislative Days is the only opportunity for all types of special districts, large and small, north and south, rural and urban to come together with one united voice. Issues like revenue, governance, labor, and public works matter to all districts whether they provide water, sewer, fire protection, parks, cemeteries, healthcare, mosquito abatement, ports, harbors, airports, libraries, or other essential services.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from California’s top decisionmakers, build partnerships and strengthen the voice of local control. Past speakers have included California’s State Controller, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Insurance Commissioner, Secretary of Natural Resources, Director of the Office of Emergency Services, State Auditor, Legislative Analyst, and Director of Finance.


Special Districts Have Special Needs


Get a Hold of Us

Educational articles and topic ideas from members are accepted all year long. Send to membership@csda.net for consideration in the California Special Districts magazine, CSDA eNews, the CSDA website, and on social media channels.

For editorial inquiries, contact CSDA Communications Specialist Vanessa Gonzales, at 877.924.2732 or vanessag@csda.net

For advertising inquiries, contact CSDA at 877.924.2732 or advertising@csda.net

California Special Districts Association 1112 I Street, Suite 200 Sacramento, CA 95814 toll-free: 877.924.2732


8 Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated | Member SIPC & NYSE | www.stifel.com Sandra Hedstrom Wheeler Vice President/Investments (805) 903-1065 (877) 816-1231 Toll-free sandra.wheeler@stifel.com www.sandrahedstromwheeler.com 4460 Broad Street, Suite 210 San Luis Obispo, California 93401
Call me today for a complimentary consultation. Representing California public agencies for over sixty years. Construction Eminent Domain Energy Environmental General Counsel L abor & Employment Litigation Public Agency Law Public Finance Real Estate Special Districts Telecommunications Transportation Waste Management LOS ANGELES SAN FRANCISCO ORANGE COUNTY TEMECULA CENTRAL COAST SACRAMENTO Water Law Jim Markman Roxanne Diaz
the past 26 years, I have developed a niche market, providing advisory services and customizing investment management strategies for over 36 special districts in California.

Available Now! New Laws of 2023

Every year, CSDA helps members get a step ahead by convening leading legal and public policy experts to overview the most significant new laws signed into law that will impact the work of special districts and the communities they serve. In November and December 2022, members benefitted from a seven-week series distributed in CSDA eNews that focused on new laws on topics ranging from the Brown Act to LAFCO to employment, to rates and fees.

The full range of topics covered in CSDA’s New Laws of 2023 includes:

• LAFCO Protest Proceedings and Dissolution of Special Districts

• Ratepayer Assistance Funding and Water Shut-Offs

• Connection Fees and Capacity Charges

• Brown Act Open and Public Meetings


• Employee and Contractor Confidentiality

• Marijuana Use by Employees

CSDA produced New Laws of 2023 to compile the articles of the New Laws Series and other key legislative and legal resources, such as the 2022 Year-End Legislative Report as a one-stop resource for members. Download the New Laws of 2023


2023 CSDA Awards

The CSDA Annual Awards showcase our members’ most valuable contributions to the communities they serve. The winners will be celebrated at the CSDA Annual Conference & Exhibitor Showcase, August 28-31, 2023, in Monterey.

The award categories are: Board Member of the Year

• General Manager of the Year

• Staff Member of the Year

• Ralph Heim Exceptional Outreach & Advocacy

• William Hollingsworth Award of Excellence Chapter of the Year

• Innovative Program/Project of the Year (Large and Small District categories)

• Exceptional Public Outreach & Advocacy (Large and Small District categories)

Excellence in Technology


Learn more and submit nominations at csda.net/awards by May 1, 2023. For questions, email awards@csda.net.


In Memory of Stan Caldwell

CSDA Board Member and Past President

With heavy hearts, the California Special Districts Association (CSDA) shares the difficult news of the passing of our beloved CSDA Board Member and Past President Stan Caldwell. Simple words cannot describe the impact Stan’s dedication and leadership has had on CSDA as well as special districts in Contra Costa County and throughout the State. Stanley “Stan” Caldwell began serving on CSDA committees in 2006 and on the CSDA Board of Directors representing the Bay Area Network from 2009 until his passing. He was elected Treasurer in 2011 and President of CSDA in 2012. Sadly, Stan passed away on January 15, 2023.

“So many of Stan’s peers and colleagues appreciated and admired his dedication to both CSDA and special districts statewide. He truly loved being part of our association, leading his local chapter, and serving the public,” said CSDA CEO Neil McCormick. “Stan played a significant role in CSDA’s growth over many years and it was an honor to work with him. His passion for districts and public service will carry-on in the work we do on behalf of our members.”

When Stan Caldwell moved to Contra Costa County in the summer of 1978, the area would have had no way to predict the many ways this one man would contribute to their community. The county population at the time was under 600,000 people. It has since swelled to nearly double the

size according to the 2020 census. Stan took up residency at a time when the community was growing quickly and needed community involvement to organize and manage the planning and growth. One of his first indelible acts of community organization was to help establish alternate access to the local landfill which would decrease the heavy truck traffic through narrow neighborhood streets. Stan had the pleasure of serving on the committee which was to determine where Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) should be used. The funds were ultimately used for Safety Paths for two local schools and reconstruction of Arthur Road (which included widening the roadway, installing storm drains, and sidewalks). Shortly after this time the landfill trucks were re-routed, resulting in a much safer neighborhood.

It was Stan’s comprehensive perspective and enthusiastic support of the structure of government known as special districts that earned him the prestigious 2021 William Hollingsworth Award for Excellence, the highest honor award given from CSDA. Stan didn’t stop with the road planning in his own neighborhood: He went on to make an impact on special districts everywhere through his commitment and leadership in CSDA. Stan is also the recipient of the 2019 CSDA Board Member of the Year Award. “It was a privilege and an honor to work with Stan. Throughout my 35-year career in public service, I have never met anyone more committed to serving the public than Stan Caldwell. He was a mentor and friend,” said fellow CSDA Bay Area Network Board Director Chad Davisson, CSDM, and Ironhouse Sanitary District General Manager. “Stan’s significant contribution to CSDA, the Contra Costa County Special District’s Association Chapter, and the water/wastewater industry will continue to benefit special districts throughout California for many years to come. I will miss Stan’s welcoming character and genuine friendliness. Thank you for everything, Stan Caldwell! You will be missed!”

One of the key aspects of CSDA’s work is a constant effort to inform the public of the function and necessity of special districts in California. Stan was a champion of districts throughout his career and recognized there are significant opportunities for the special district community to better educate all stakeholders within the communities they serve


to both communicate the value and the needs of special districts and why their function is so critically important. Stan completed the Special District Leadership Academy and received his Certificate in Special District Governance. He was elected to the Mt. View Sanitary District (MVSD) Board of Directors in 1993 and continued to serve in this capacity until his passing. At the district, Stan has held the seats of Vice-President and President of the Board, has served on the District’s Finance and Public Information/ Public Outreach Committees, and served as liaison to the Contra Costa Special District Association (CCSDA) and the Contra Costa County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) as a special district alternate member. Continuing to demonstrate his commitment to service, he served on the Institute for Local Government Board of Directors and was also a Board Member on the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF).

“Stan and I got to know each other on our commute between the Bay Area and CSDA Board meetings in Sacramento where our family members sometimes joined us along for the ride. During these trips, I saw Stan as a good father and husband who was in public service for the right reasons:

to improve the community through listening and making informed decisions,” said fellow CSDA Bay Area Network Board Director Ryan Clausnitzer, CSDM, and Alameda County Mosquito Abatement District General Manager. “He inspired me, and I know others, because of his commitment and pride as an elected official of a special district, his involvement with LAFCo, and as a CSDA Past-President and long-time Director. I’ll miss the big guy.”

We will miss Stan Caldwell, but we cherish, remember, and benefit from his contributions to CSDA, special districts, and all others listed above because he simply made them and us better.

11 | CALIFORNIA SPECIAL DISTRICTS January-February 2023 Litigation Negotiations Labor Relations Preventative Training Business & Construction Personnel Evaluation Employment Law Wage & Hour Retirement Supporting California Special Districts Since 1980. www.lcwlegal.com IN MEMORIAM
Above: CSDA Past President Ryan Clausnitzer, CSDM; CSDA CEO Neil McCormick; and Stan Caldwell receiving the 2021 William Hollingsworth Award of Excellence.

Rancho Adobe Fire Protection District named its first full-time chief in more than 20 years.

Congratulations to Chief Jeff Veliquette who comes to the district after serving more than 30 years with the Novato Fire Protection District. The new chief will maintain the working relationships with surrounding agencies in Sonoma County and will focus on incorporating paramedics on the district’s engines.

Congratulations to Andrew Mooney, Conejo Recreation and Park District's current Senior Park Planner, who has been selected to be CRPD's next Parks and Planning Administrator. After years of success as a landscape designer, architect, and project manager, he came to CRPD as a Park Planner to extend his skill to public spaces. He was soon promoted to Senior Park Planner and has since worked on tens of millions of dollars of park projects; including, Sapwi Trails, Banyan expansion, the Healing Garden, Paige Lane Neighborhood Park, Teen/GACC remodel and more.

Fallbrook Regional Health District has announced the addition of two new board members, Terry Brown and Mike Stanicek, who began their service on December 14, 2022. They have taken the seats of departing board members Howard Salmon and Stephanie Ortiz. Fallbrook would like to thank them all for their service.

The West Valley Water District (WVWD) Board of Directors has elected Greg Young as the new President of the board and Dan Jenkins as its Vice President.

“I am honored and humbled that the board has put their trust in me to lead the district as its president,” said Young. “I am excited to help shape the future of the district and look forward to working alongside my board colleagues and staff to promote outstanding management of the district and ensure that our customers both now and in the future have access to safe and reliable water.”

Mission Springs Water District swore in two new directors, Amber Duff and Ted Mayrhofen in December.

“With the elections behind us, it’s now time we roll up our sleeves and get to work serving our constituents,” said Board President Russ Martin. “Politics aside, both Amber and Ted bring unique backgrounds and experience to the board, and I am hopeful that we will be able to come together and continue MSWD’s long tradition of proudly serving this community.”

“I am thankful to the Board for allowing me this privilege to serve our communities in a position of leadership,” said Jenkins. “As Vice President, I look forward to expanding our current initiatives and supporting President Young and the rest of the Board as we serve the community.”

In addition, the Board swore in three new board members: Angela Garcia, Dan Jenkins, and Kelvin Moore.

Jeff Veliquette Andrew Mooney Terry Brown Mike Stanicek Dan Jenkins Ted Mayrhofen and Amber Duff Greg Young

At the December 14 Sweetwater Authority (Authority) Governing Board meeting, Steve Castaneda and Hector Martinez were sworn into their four-year terms as directors. At the same meeting, the Authority’s Governing Board appointed Director Hector Martinez as Board Chair and Director Paulina Martinez-Perez as Vice Chair for the 2023 term. Director Castaneda was reelected to represent Division 1 and has served on the Authority’s Board since 2014. Director Martinez was reelected to represent Division 4 and has served on the Board since 2018.

City of National City Mayor Ron Morrison and Councilmember Ditas Yamane were appointed to the Authority’s Governing Board. The appointments were confirmed at the City of National City Council meeting on December 13.

The National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC), of which CSDA is a founding member, has announced its selection to oversee Coalition advancement, grassroots engagement, and federal advocacy actions in a full-time capacity.

Cole Arreola-Karr, NSDC’s former parttime Federal Advocacy Coordinator, filled in the newly established Federal Advocacy Director role on October 1, 2022, to administer Coalition activities and ensure NSDC’s federal priorities are executed. He has coordinated the Coalition’s federal advocacy program since its formal establishment in January 2021 and will now play an even greater role in providing services and oversight of the advocacy program on a 27-month contract doing business as Karr Advocacy Strategies

Orange County Water District has announced the election of Board President Cathy Green, First Vice President Denis R. Bilodeau, P.E., and Second Vice President Van Tran, Esq. “It’s a tremendous honor to serve as board president of a global leader in the water industry,” said President Cathy Green. “We have an exciting year ahead as we celebrate 15 years of operating the world’s largest water recycling project, dedicating its final completion, and celebrating our 90th anniversary. I am excited to work with my colleagues and the staff to celebrate these milestones and

continue to execute our mission to provide a reliable, safe water supply to the region.”

CSDA is pleased to announce the addition of Heidi Hannaman as CSDA Legislative Representative and the promotion of Aaron Avery to CSDA Senior Legislative Representative.

The More You Know

Across California, many Movers & Shakers have recently been sworn into new positions. Whether it is to a Board of Directors / Trustees for a special district or a position in the state Legislature, CSDA looks forward to getting to know you! Now is an excellent time to visit our Board Resources page on our website! Find us on social media @CSDAdistricts.

Cathy Green
Cole Karr

In Review

2022 CSDA Board Secretary/Clerk Conference – Monterey

Attendees had fun at the Camp CSDA receptions - and even got visited by a bear! They made valuable connections with peers in their same roles at other districts.

Attendees earned their Board Secretary/Clerk Certificate at the conclusion of the conference.

Above: Keynote Speaker Ayanna Castro inspired the audience with her keynote address, “Being Extraordinary: It’s an Inside Job.” Attendees ham it up with props.
CSDA staff work hard and play hard at CSDA conferences!
Thanks again to our 2022 Board Secretary/Clerk Conference exhibitors and sponsors for supporting this conference, and for the valuable products and services you provide special districts! csda.net/communities-home



CSDA Annual Awards Nomination Deadline

May 1, 2023

Institute for Local Government (ILG) Beacon Awards Nomination Deadline

May 1, 2023

More details: csda.net/awards

Meetings & Events

CSDA Conferences

Special District Leadership Academy

La Quinta (Palm Springs area), February 26 - March 1

SDRMA Spring Education Day

Sacramento, March 22

Special Districts Legislative Days

Sacramento, May 16 - 17

General Manager Leadership Summit

Olympic Valley (Lake Tahoe area), June 25 - 27

CSDA Annual Conference & Exhibitor Showcase

Monterey, August 28 - 31

Special District Leadership Academy

Santa Rosa, October 22 – 25

Board Secretary / Clerk Conference

Monterey, November 6 - 8

Upcoming Workshops

Budget Preparations for Special Districts

February 15-16

Emergency Preparedness Summit 2023

Virtual, February 24

Policy and Procedure Writing

March 1 – 2

SDLA Module 1: Governance Foundations

Sacramento, March 22

Rate Setting Under Propositions 218 and 26

Martinez, March 29

Crisis Communications

April 4 – 5

Prevailing Wage: Basics and Beyond

April 12 – 13

Upcoming Webinars

Grassroots Advocacy and Public Outreach

February 14

Customer Service in the Public Sector

February 21

Learn ADA Compliance and Transparency Requirements

February 28

Significant & Lifespan of Municipal Service Reviews

March 7

Understanding Implicit Bias Through the Lens of Cultural Intelligence

March 14

Intro to Special District Finances for Board Members

March 21

Grant Writing 101 for Special Districts

March 28

Go to the CSDA Events Page https://qrco.de/bddc8t


Ask the Experts

Bringing New Board Members On-Board

The role of Board Secretary / Clerk is both specific and variable. The position requires an organized, efficient, forthcoming, and effective person who can juggle many tasks and wear multiple hats. Meeting planner, documentarian, travel coordinator, assistant and liaison are some of the many facets of this important position.

At the 2022 Board Secretary / Clerk Conference in Monterey, CSDA was pleased to gather attendees for a learning session geared toward the orientation of new board members. Our presenters were Tawnia Pett from Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control, Ashley Flores from Special District Risk Management Authority, and April Sousa from McKinleyville Community Services District. While there are vast differences between the operations of their agencies, the presenters provided excellent information on ways to ensure a smooth onboarding process for new board members.

First Impressions

The Board Secretary / Clerk may be the first person who reaches out to new board members. It is important to make a good first impression by having a planned set of information points they will need to get started. Gather their contact details, travel and dietary preferences, find out their technology comfort level, and learn about their schedules and availability. Schedule a meeting between the

new board member and the general manager to allow them to get acquainted.

Roles & Responsibilities –Who Does What?

The new board member will need to be provided with an orientation to help them understand their role, their authority, and how their role is different from that of the staff. They will also need to be informed of the required ethics compliance training, education and filing requirements for being a board member.

Down to the Nuts & Bolts

Provide a comprehensive overview of the agency’s mission, goals, organizational structure, budget and policy documents. Set expectations for board meeting norms and rules and update their schedules with calendar items they are expected to attend.

Ongoing Onboarding

Remember your board members won’t work with the same synergy shared by your staff that interacts daily. Board members come together relatively infrequently so refreshing their knowledge is helpful. Working a regular refresh segment into your meetings can help everyone work together and stay current on required forms, processes or expectations.

Consider the Extras

If your staff or current board has unique needs that haven’t surfaced in the past, don’t hesitate to incorporate

new items into your process. Thinking outside the meeting room can be helpful as well – if applicable, schedule interested board members to spend some time out in the field with staff to help them understand the daily interactions and challenges your agency faces.

By providing a welcoming orientation and setting the groundwork for positive interaction through expectation management, then remaining attentive to the cohesion of the group, your board can focus on providing the guidance required of them. As a whole, the staff and board will be thankful for your proactive assistance and ongoing support.

Attention Board Secretaries/Clerks!

CSDA has gathered key resources in one handy reference page just for you! You’ll find quick links to required training, events and best practices in our Board Secretary / Clerk bundle, and links to valuable publications such as our popular California Public Records Act Compliance manual, the Brown Act Compliance manual, and more. https://qrco.de/bdeWE6


Reclamation District Dives into Public Outreach Campaign

Reclamation District No. 1000 (RD1000) in Natomas has the enormous task of maintaining an aging yet critical flood prevention system. They have embraced the challenge and dived into community outreach with energetic determination to build public support for upcoming infrastructure improvements.

The Natomas Basin sits in the confluence of several waterways. It is the low-lying region between the American River, Cross Canal, Natomas East Main Drainage Canal and the Sacramento River. Before the area was urbanized, the farmland was submerged along with the city of Sacramento during the “pineapple express” weather pattern that settled over the area in 1862. With nearly 30 feet of water covering most of Sacramento county, the high-water mark was impressive and devastating. It can be tempting to seek comfort in the hope that today’s modern infrastructure makes widespread flooding an impossibility today.

Severe storms in more modern times warn of the ongoing reality. In 1986, 1997, 2006 and 2017 the rivers rose dramatically from storms hovering overhead for days. News footage shows the powerful sweeping rivers bursting their banks, breaching levees, wiping out roads and drowning homes and businesses. After New Orleans, the RD1000 service area is considered the second most vulnerable region to flooding in the nation. In Natomas, the levees, canals and drainage systems are under the vigilant supervision of Reclamation District 1000. Since its inception in 1911, the district has provided flood protection and public safety to Natomas in several ways that require their ongoing dedication.

The region has continued to add neighborhoods and commercial centers over the years. A levee breach in this area would not only be devastating to the many businesses, homes and roads that now occupy the area – but it could also result in the loss of life. In 2014, Congress approved the Natomas Levee Improvement Project to provide 200 year flood protection to the 65,000 acres within the Natomas Basin and the 130,000 residents.

Aside from the vast tasks undertaken by the project to reinforce and renew the various mechanisms utilized for flood control, Reclamation District 1000 has recognized one of the primary lines of public protection is the lines of communication they’ve developed to inform the public of their efforts.

“This new effort provides valuable information about our intricate system of levees and lift -pumps that protect lives and ensures a flood-safe future for the Natomas Basin,” said Kevin King, the General Manager of RD1000. “Despite the current drought, this topic is extremely relevant, especially because long-range weather forecasts predict mega floods to ravish California in the future due to climate change.”

The awareness program has included a host of activities to reach those living and working in the Basin, including:

• Community meetings (homeowner associations, businesses, neighborhood groups)

• Billboards

• Streaming radio and video content

• Social media & Dedicated Website (4Natomas.org)

• News releases & media coverage

• Direct mailing

“Our goal is to provide Natomas residents and businesses with resources regarding flood protection,” King said. “We’re trying to reach as many people as possible in our service area to ensure they can better appreciate the threat of flooding, understand the infrastructure needs and the necessary funding for improvements.”

Communications and events focus on flood preparedness, including knowing the risks to the immediate area and having pre-planned responses for evacuation and notification. The district’s educational efforts include: Regular articles to N Magazine to keep the public informed of critical infrastructure improvements; an informative flood preparedness coloring book for children; a separate dedicated website (www.4Natomas.org) with significant resources that blends historical context and the status of the district’s current flood control system to provide the public with first-hand knowledge to gain support for the needed upgrades in the system. The educational program is intended to raise awareness about the dangers of flooding and the need to invest in upgrading the district’s flood control infrastructure.

The creative public outreach efforts employed by the district serve as an inspirational model for any special district undertaking the challenge of change in their operational area. With a public that is often blissfully unaware of the essential services provided, it is important for special districts to reach out through many channels to help the community gain critical knowledge of the inner workings and “behind-the-scenes” function of the



• 40+ miles of exterior levees protect from the Sacramento and American Rivers

• 350+ miles of canals, including the East Main Drain Canal, Pleasant Grove Creek Canal and

• Natomas Cross Canal

• 7 pump stations control runoff and pump water into the surrounding river systems.

Ensuring a Flood - Safe future for Natomas

utilities and structures the public unknowingly relies on. For more information on Reclamation District 1000, visit their websites at www.rd1000.org and www.4Natomas.org or follow them on Facebook @reclamationdistrict1000 or Twitter @Sac_RD1000. 4Natomas.org

Reclamation District No. 1000 Sacramento, CA

West Side’s STOP Program: Public-Private Partnership Makes the Difference

It started out to be a regular day. Wake up, send the family off with a hug and a go get ‘em! As I was driving to work a purple coat in a trash can caught my eye. Out of curiosity, I drove to the trash can and saw a little girl in the can. “What are you doing in a trash can?” I asked. She explained that she was recycling cans to raise money so she could run track for West Side Recreation & Park District (WSRPD). This touched me as it would anyone, and I felt it was important to help with this young girl’s registration fees. As the economy was taking a hit and jobs were not at a premium, I wondered how many more young people were in need. On one hand, it was great and reassuring that this young person was taking a stand and being proactive by earning the money necessary for her registration fees. But, on the other hand, if she and others weren’t able to “earn” their way, we as a community are losing out on an opportunity to teach many more lessons through our programs. Sports, science camp, youth activities, dance, the local recreation center, and countless other engaging opportunities cultivate and educate in ways that are needed for our youth today.

As the morning went on, the thought of the purple coat and the young girl remained constant in my thoughts. At noon that day, it just so happened

that I was meeting with a representative from Chevron corporation. They’d been a tremendous partner on the west side of Kern County and abroad for many years. During our meeting, I told the story to the representative, Roger, and told him that it would be nice if we could stop relying on parents and outside influences (money, etc.) for youth participating in programs at WSRPD. Roger replied, “let’s form a partnership.”

An idea was born. We simply wrote STOP on a napkin and created an acronym that has been a staple of WSRPD’s engagement of youth for 14 years. STOP= Striving To Optimize Participation. The S.T.O.P. scholarship program has allowed us to offer sports and classes free of charge to many children on the West Side. Over the years, thousands of children have participated in this program. In the 14 years since the STOP program began, Chevron and other partners have sponsored over $400,00 toward the development, engagement, and growth for these young people. This has increased the number of participants by over 400% in some cases. In 2008, the 400% increase in participation came from track. Altogether, STOP has increased program

participation 50%. What has been gained is immeasurable, other than to say many youth have gone on to work for WSRPD; mentor in the same organization which had given them the chance; been successful in athletics and school, and have even given back to the program, both in volunteering and donations, as some have earned Associates degrees, Bachelors degrees and Masters degrees, and have gone on to find success in a trade or other avenues. Chevron continues to contribute to the S.T.O.P. scholarship program annually. In 2022, Chevron donated $65,000 to allow every child in town to play youth baseball and softball for free. We don’t like to look at it like it is free - because these young people pay with sweat, a little blood at times, and tears of joy and defeat, all lessons vital for successful growth and development. Programs matter. Parks and special districts make life better. Partnering through sponsorships is vital for optimal success for youth and program development.

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Got Governance?

How the Manager’s Performance Evaluation Can Improve the Entire District

All too often, the general manager (GM) performance evaluation is little more than an annual report card that doesn’t really help with performance. At its best, it should be one element in an overall performance management plan that helps the board and manager be a better team to better serve the district.

Key Elements of the Broader Performance Management Process

1. Good communication and relationship building. It is critical for both the Board and manager to work year-round to maintain clear and open communication. The Board should also clarify what reporting it needs for effective deliberation and its oversight responsibilities. Board workshops provide opportunities for more in-depth learning and discussion for the Board and manager. Time attending conferences together can enhance relationships and depth of interpersonal understanding. Of course, there are near-infinite other ways to maintain clear, open communication.

2. Board self-discipline in governance. Boards that fail to follow through on decisions, change direction unexpectedly, or allow minority voices to pressure or direct staff make it difficult or impossible for the GM to perform well.

Understanding Each Party’s Roles in the District and the Process

Whole books have been written detailing the proper role of a Board. The bottom line is that the Board’s core interest is in what gets done, and it should focus on providing clear direction to its sole employee - the manager. It is the manager’s responsibility to determine how to get the work done, along with maintaining full day-to-day control of the district, including overseeing personnel, operations, and administration.

Tips for an Effective and Useful Performance Evaluation Process

The evaluation should be held at least annually, at a certain time with an agreed upon format and evaluation standards. While there are nearly infinite ways to evaluate a manager, here are a few key elements:

1. Identify who will lead the process. Usually, the evaluation is led by the Board President or a committee. It may be helpful to utilize a facilitator — such as a consultant or legal counsel — especially if there are challenges, lack of Board unity, strong differences, dissatisfaction with the GM, or animosity.


2. The entire board should participate. The manager has one collective boss — the Board. As such, the GM deserves to hear from all its members.

3. The process should have both nuance and completeness due to the complexity of the GM position. Simple rankings and numerical scores without meaningful or useful feedback are inadequate.

4. Include legal oversight. Don’t guess what’s right; this is an activity that has legal and contractual elements and requires confidentiality.

5. There should be a basis for the evaluation. The evaluation should be based on both subjective and objectives elements such as from a work plan, strategic plan, stated goals and objectives, personal goals for the year, etc.

6. Use a form but don’t rely solely on it. The form is best used to help participants think broadly about performance and to organize thinking. However, the heart of the review is NOT the form, rather the inperson discussion with the GM during the facilitated performance review session is the focus.

Hold an In-Person, Confidential Review with the Entire Board and Manager.

The money step is the in-person review. It should include a brief report from the manager with highlights of the past year as a reminder of what happened. This report might include the manager’s work plan and goals for the coming year, how the GM met the goals from the past year, etc. There should be a review of the summarized results of the forms, and an opportunity for each director to provide candid input to the GM. The manager should respond, with opportunity for all to discuss as appropriate.

The actual, formal review involves the Board, after having excused the manager from the in-person review, developing consensus around a written summary. The written summary is presented to the manager and filed for use during the next year. The plan, time, and place for future annual reviews should also be confirmed.

Any compensation decisions must be held in open session, but a Board committee may explore compensation factors and policies in advance to assist with the Board discussion.

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Building a Risk Management Culture

The Special District Risk Management Authority is hosting its annual SDRMA Spring Education Day on March 22 at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West. The event provides risk management training focused on property coverage, general liability and workers’ compensation. The keynote address will be “Building a Culture of Risk Management” by Dean Coughenour.

Coughenour brings 30 years of experience in proactive risk management, with emphasis on reducing risk factors, grassroot integration of the risk management decision matrix, safety, insurance and litigation management. He recently retired from his position of Risk Manager with the city of Flagstaff and has served on industry boards and associations including the Arizona Municipal Risk Retention Board, and the national board of Public Entity Risk and Insurance.

“Building a Culture of Risk Management” strives to motivate attendees to build an environment where employees feel empowered to protect not only themselves, but each other.

Risk management’s overarching goal is to “eliminate the potential for claims and losses associated with employee injury, vehicle accidents, property losses and lawsuits,” said Coughenour, “it includes a view of historical elements inside an organization and what’s changing external to the organization.”

Historically, risk management compelled us to ask: What can we do to protect the organization - policies, procedures, and compliance with laws. Coughenour takes that question one step further, asking who is the risk manager in your organization? His answer expands the limited focus on risk management as belonging to “the” risk management officer.

Coughenour asserts the need to look to our employee base, the frontline decision-makers where the exposure occurs, and employ ways to have them realize they are all risk managers.

“The key is to connect with them on an emotional level,” said Coughenour. “When the culture shifts so they realize they are all risk managers, and they begin to understand they can protect each other, we begin to build the culture we need.”

Creating a training program designed to allow employees to connect the dots between a risk management mindset and returning home safely is the key to cultural adoption of the risk management mindset in the organization. “The biggest incentive for individuals to accept the responsibility for risk management is the desire to return home at the end of each day in the same way physically as they came in that morning,” he said.

The presentation provides a solution to allow people to generate ideas and take pieces of the presentation back to their own organization to begin building a culture to protect the employees and the organization’s assets.

The individual acceptance of the concept is critical to allow the employee to understand they are the one in the moment that can help make a difference. Shifting the culture such that the individual ownership of risk management coincides with the team’s acceptance of risk management provides for a framework of trust and cooperation that results in a safer workplace. Coughenour asked, “who’s always at the scene of the accident or incident? And who’s always at the scene two minutes before the accident or incident?” The answer: The person who is involved in the accident or incident. His point is that there are often coworkers or others on the scene before an accident occurs who could help see the situation developing and step in to change the situation to avoid an accident. This is more likely to occur if a culture of risk management is in place.

Depending on the starting place of the organization, it takes 3-6 years to build a culture where everyone is watchful and willing to step in to help avoid accidents and

continued on page 26...

When the culture shifts so they realize they are all risk managers, and they begin to understand they can protect each other, we begin to build the culture we need.
Dean Coughenour Retired Risk Manager

look out for each other. The cultural shift and cultural support takes time to develop and allow employees to trust it.

Take an example of a work crew heading to a job site. If they take the time to pause and briefly review the areas of risk exposure they are likely to encounter before they even begin work, they remind each other of the safety mechanisms in place and the intention for all to adhere to those mechanisms, and the risk exposure lessens. Such prep and team focus can be the reason someone chooses the safer method of climbing a ladder versus succumbing to temptation to carry too much in one trip and risk a fall. Or it may be the mindset shift that reminds someone to wear the protective gear despite it being a warm day where the gear is less comfortable.

The bottom line is that while companies must have policies and procedures in place, people don’t adhere to rules just because they exist. When it comes to personal safety, in an organization with a culture of risk management where everyone internalizes their role in working safely and watching out for each other, it is the personal safety mindset that will inform their actions more that the rote acknowledgement that they must follow a rule.

The culture shift is the underlying trust in each other motivated by the desire to remain uninjured that allows a team member to call a “time out” when they see a risky situation developing. The person who was working in a way that created risk must be able to receive the note of caution with a mindset of gratitude for an accident averted rather than a mindset of defensiveness.

It’s easy to write a policy that says you must have three connection points on a ladder at all times when climbing, but it is memorable to understand how much easier it is to fall when your arms are full, and that the risk is not worth the time savings of trying to carry too much at once. When one team member sees a coworker attempt to take the short cut, they feel empowered to pause the work and stop the situation from causing an accident.

“Building a Culture of Risk Management” promises to be entertaining, motivating and inspiring. Attendees will learn how to build effective working relationships with other departments and establish effective and self-sustaining risk management results from a strong risk and safety culture.

Register for Spring
Day! https://qrco.de/bdcaMC
2023 SDRMA Spring Education Day Keynote Speaker Dean Coughenour, Retired Risk Manager

Maintain budget neutrality while implementing needed upgrades

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Email: dan.mitchell@centrica.com



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Equal Representation: Midpen Uses GIS Technology to Conduct Transparent Redistricting

The Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (“Midpen”) received the 2022 CSDA Excellence in Technology Award for its Ward Boundary Redistricting Project. The criteria for this award includes demonstrating how technology improved operational efficiency, service to constituents, and transparency.

Like most government agencies, Midpen is required by law to redistrict the ward boundaries of its constituent-elected Board of Directors after each decennial census to reflect shifts in population and racial diversity. Between 2010 and 2020, the total population within Midpen’s jurisdictional boundary grew by 8.5% unevenly throughout the region, prompting the need to re-draw the lines.

Midpen believes government agencies have a responsibility to ensure fair and equitable representation. While California election code requires special districts to review census data and hold public hearings on redistricting, Midpen sought to bolster community participation with GIS technology and outreach.

In 2020, Midpen contracted with Citygate GIS, Inc., a redistricting technology solutions company, and NielsenMerksamer LLC, an experienced law firm specializing in voting rights and redistricting. Forming a diverse project team of staff and consultants early in the redistricting cycle allowed Midpen to develop a public outreach plan and


identify technology opportunities before Census data were made available.

Redistricting is an inherently spatial task and requires specialty GIS software. Midpen used Citygate’s AutoBound EDGE professional redistricting software to conduct data analytics and construct redistricting plans. The software includes a database of Public Law (P.L.) 94-171 redistricting data comprising the Census 2020 geometries (tracts, block groups, and blocks) and statistics on race and ethnicity.

AutoBound makes it easy to re-construct wards from the ground up. Users simply choose a ward number from a pick-list and use the GIS map to auto-assign large swaths of census tracts to the desired ward number. Population statistics get recalculated on-the-fly so analysts can keep tabs on diversity and deviation with each adjustment.

Another benefit to using redistricting software is ensuring plan integrity. Automated parameters can be set for plan acceptance criteria. For example, population deviation must be less than 10% and ward polygons must be continuous before a plan can be submitted. AutoBound also calculates compactness scores and supports adding custom GIS layers that are contextually important, like communities of interest and transportation corridors. When the redistricting plans were ready to share, each was published as a RESTful web service to Citygate’s MyDistricting enterprise portal as well as the organization’s ArcGIS Online site. Midpen then created a suite of interactive web mapping applications to make its redistricting process more transparent and engaging to residents. Here is how they worked.

• Citygate’s iOpenEngage public comment tool was used over a six-week period to solicit feedback from residents. Constituents were able to review each proposed scenario in an interactive map and drop a pin with a written statement categorized as a positive, negative, or neutral opinion. Names and comments were visible to other commenters to encourage public discourse.

• The Ward Comparison app was created to communicate proposed boundary changes to the public after a preferred alternative was selected. Built with Esri’s ArcGIS Online Instant Apps, users could easily compare new and previous boundaries with the swipe tool, a powerful and intuitive off-the-shelf widget.


• The Ward Lookup app, another Esri ArcGIS Online Instant Apps product, was developed to streamline several workflows after redistricting was finalized. Residents can quickly determine their board member using an address search bar. A stylized pop-up provides the director’s name, photo, and contact form. Incumbents and potential candidates can use the Find My Location tool while canvassing to avoid wasted effort. Lastly, the district clerk can conduct candidate residency validations with this app during campaign season.

• The Ward Boundary layer is a hosted feature service shared through the ArcGIS Hub open data catalog to ensure anyone can discover and download the data anytime. This service includes an authoritative badge, rich attributes and detailed metadata.

When new apps or services are made available, it’s important to focus energy on a strong public outreach plan that can educate and generate engagement. Midpen completed an extensive public outreach process that was broadly praised at each step of the way. The redistricting project webpage served as the information hub and provided a signup form for interested parties. Mapping applications were embedded within, or linked from, the webpage over the course of the project. Deadline reminders and milestone updates were posted across Midpen’s quarterly print newsletter, monthly e-News, and social media platforms. Staff emailed local community groups, non-profits, and neighborhood associations to notify their members and residents about the project. Full color ads were placed in several newspapers preceding public hearings, including the San Jose Mercury News and Half Moon Bay Review

These public outreach efforts far exceeded legal requirements for special districts and raise the bar for future redistricting cycles. The number of public comments increased exponentially when compared to the 2010 redistricting cycle and the Ward Comparison app received over 1,000 views before the final public hearing. These metrics indicate Midpen’s outreach efforts were effective and that there is a growing appetite this technology.

Redistricting awareness is on the rise and special districts may be expected to provide creative opportunities for public engagement in the next decennial process. When 2030 comes knocking on your office door, how will you reply?


We Don’t Mean to Boast, But...

When CSDA needed a way to collect short videos for event promotions and social media use, we turned to a new platform called Boast.io. The system, originally designed and marketed as a way to encourage customer testimonials, was perfect for our event participants to create short promotional videos highlighting upcoming events. We also used it to receive videos for a social media campaign during Women’s History Month. And the public awareness campaign Districts Make The Difference uses it as a submission tool during their national high school student video scholarship contest. The platform allows you to create a form for the video to collect the participant’s information, then edit the video (including adding your logo or event name).

If your district or agency is looking to increase your use of video in 2023, this platform should be on your list of consideration.

Manage the emails you receive from CSDA through the CSDA Subscription Center

Log into www.csda.net and navigate to your profile

Click on My Account > Email Preferences

Here you can opt out of any emails you would prefer not to receive and update your CSDA Communities notifications.

Learn more at www.csda.net/support

31 | CALIFORNIA SPECIAL DISTRICTS January-February 2023 The Certificate in Special District Governance was designed to acknowledge special district Board Members and Trustees who have taken extra steps to become better educated in core areas of governance. Complete the Special District Leadership Academy +10 additional professional development hours to receive this recognition. 1112 I Street, Suite 200, Sacramento, CA 95814 * t: 916.231.2909 • www.sdlf.org Show Your Commitment and Dedication to Serving Your Community. BOARD MEMBERS AND TRUSTEES CERTIFICATE IN SPECIAL DISTRICT GOVERNANCE

The Housing Crunch and Surplus Land: What Special Districts Need to Know

As California struggles through a yearslong crisis in the affordability and availability of housing for its residents, legislators have continued to search for ways to urgently enhance the supply of land for housing development. In fact, the Legislature has declared that “…a shortage of sites available for housing for persons and families of low and moderate income is a barrier to addressing urgent statewide housing needs and that surplus government land, prior to disposition, should be made available for that purpose.”

To address this scarcity of sites available for housing development, various bills have been introduced by the California State Legislature in recent years to expand the Surplus Land Act (hereinafter referred to as the “SLA”; California Government Code §§ 54220 – 54234), which was enacted to increase the supply of property in the state that is available for affordable housing development by

requiring local governments, including special districts, to prioritize affordable housing any time surplus land is disposed of.

Accordingly, any time a special district has determined that a property is no longer necessary for the agency’s use and the district wishes to dispose of the property, it should consult with legal counsel and closely review the impact of the SLA on the proposed disposal of the property.

Recent Changes Enacted by AB 1486

Though the SLA was enacted as law decades ago, the applicability and complexity of the Act has been expanded in recent years through legislative changes. The most significant changes came in 2019 with the passage of AB 1486 (Ting).

AB 1486 rewrote and recast the SLA to dramatically expand the mandatory process and procedures an agency must


follow before disposing of surplus land; significantly enhance the role of the California Department of Housing and Community Development (hereinafter referred to as “HCD”) in providing oversight over the disposal of local government land; and create new financial risks for local agencies for any potential violation of the SLA.

What Special Districts Need to Know About the SLA

The SLA applies to every local agency, including special districts – regardless of service type, the size of the district’s budget, or the number of residents that the district serves. The SLA identifies what activities are permitted on agency property for “agency use” (e.g., work or operations), and provides special districts (except transit districts) with broad authority for what “agency’s use” may also include, such as commercial or industrial uses or activities. These types of “agency’s use” must be supported by written findings and are subject to approval by the governing body of the district in an open meeting declaring the use of the site.

When a special district determines that a property is no longer necessary for the agency’s use, it may choose to

dispose of the property. Generally, “dispose” is understood to mean sale of the property, relinquishing all ownership rights. Though an early version of AB 1486 proposed to establish a definition for “dispose” within the SLA to include sale or lease of the property, that version of the bill failed to advance. Nonetheless, guidelines created by HCD in response to AB 1486 provide a definition for “disposition of surplus land” as: “the sale or lease of local agency-owned land formally declared surplus. ‘Lease’ shall not include a lease of land on which no development or demolition will occur, or which has a term that is less than five (5) years.”

Before a local agency can take any action to dispose of land, the governing body of a local agency must first take formal action at a regular board meeting which declares the land is either “surplus land” subject to the SLA procedures, or “exempt surplus land.” “Surplus land” is land for which the governing body takes formal action declaring that the land is surplus and is no longer necessary for the agency’s use. “Exempt surplus land” applies to defined categories of land types that are set forth in Government Code Section 54221(f). Although reporting to HCD may be required, a local agency is not required to follow the procedures of

continued on page 34...

...a shortage of sites available for housing for persons and families of low and moderate income is a barrier to addressing urgent statewide housing needs and that surplus government land, prior to disposition, should be made available for that purpose.

the SLA for land that is declared “exempt surplus land,” with limited exceptions for covenants that attach to the property.

A helpful change by AB 1486 was to add a new definition for “exempt surplus land” to the SLA for special districts, defined as, “real property that is used by a district for agency’s use expressly authorized in [subdivision (c) of 54221].” (Government Code § 54221(f)(1)(K)). Therefore, special districts should work closely with counsel to consider the appropriate course when determining whether to declare land “surplus” or “exempt surplus.” After formal action is taken by the governing board, the district must send a “Notice of Availability” of surplus land with the location and description of the property to various interested parties including: entities engaged in housing development, housing sponsors, school districts, the city, and county.

Any interested entity desiring to purchase or lease the surplus land must notify the disposing local agency in writing of its interest in purchasing or leasing the land within 60 days after the Notice of Availability is sent via certified mail or provided via electronic mail. The parties must then enter “good faith negotiations” to determine a mutually agreeable sales price and terms for the transaction. If the price or terms cannot be agreed upon after a good faith negotiation period of no less than 90 days, the land may be disposed of without further regard to SLA requirements, although reporting must still be provided to HCD.

Finally, after the local agency has sent Notices of Availability and concluded attempts to negotiate in good faith with any interested party, prior to agreeing to terms for the sale of surplus land, the local agency must provide a report to HCD with the following information: (a) a copy of the Notice Of Availability which was distributed; (b) a description of the negotiations conducted with any interested party; and (c) a copy of any restrictions to be recorded against the land regarding any residential units. HCD has 30 days from the receipt of the above-mentioned report to notify the local agency if the agency has violated the SLA provisions (i.e., the “safe harbor” provision for local agencies). A violation of the SLA can be raised by HCD or by: (a) an entity qualified to make offers (housing, parks,

school district); (b) a person who would have been eligible to apply for affordable housing that would have been built on the surplus land; (c) certain housing organizations; or (d) any “beneficially interested person or entity.”

The local agency will then have 60 days to cure any violation or to submit findings as to why it has not violated the law. Any local agency that disposes of land in violation of the SLA may be liable for a penalty of 30 percent of the final sale price of the land for a first violation and 50 percent for any subsequent violation. In the past two years alone, multiple local agencies have been compelled to engage in settlement negotiations with HCD due to their alleged failure to comply with the SLA, with some proposed penalties reaching tens of millions of dollars.

Resources Available for Special Districts

While the SLA presents complex challenges and the potential for financial penalties for any special district that seeks to dispose public land, various resources are available to help districts navigate the path to a successful disposal of property.

HCD has established a website titled “Public Lands for Affordable Housing Development” that can be found at: www.hcd.ca.gov. Included among the resources on the HCD website are:

• Surplus Land Act Guidelines – providing additional information regarding the SLA process and HCD oversight.

• Technical Assistance Materials, including a PowerPoint presentation to inform local agencies of HCD’s implementation of the SLA, a guide to surplus land exemptions, and a list of frequently asked questions.

• Sample Documents, including a sample notice of availability cover letter and property description template, a description of disposition template, and a sample covenant/restriction that can be recorded for the property.

The CSDA website also offers an on-demand webinar titled “Navigating the Surplus Land Act,” which is free for CSDA members, as well as informative articles regarding AB 1486 and SLA.

You can reach Mustafa at: mustafah@csda.net


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The National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC), of which CSDA is a founding member, is the only national organization representing and advocating for all special districts at a national level. Organized in 2018, NSDC consists of associations, organizations, and businesses each representing and supporting special districts across the country. Uniting special districts and stakeholders as one voice, NSDC fosters strong national collaboration to strengthen and advance essential community service enhancing American communities’ quality of life.

Special Districts Seek to Close Fire Suppression Infrastructure Gaps

After nearly two years of building capacity for federal advocacy, coalition development, and elevating awareness of special districts in Washington, D.C., the National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC) held its first “fly-in” and began setting the stage to identify inadequacies and address shortfalls in program funding for water infrastructure for firefighting. Meanwhile, special districts in the Lake Tahoe region are taking joint measures to address this policy issue in their community.

Through stakeholder engagement in early 2022, NSDC identified an issue among water and fire protection agencies: Federal resources for infrastructure projects to provide adequate water for firefighting is lacking. From there, NSDC convened a working group of fire protection and water district leaders from the nine states represented in NSDC’s current membership. Participating districts provide services in geographically diverse communities including urban, suburban, rural, and wildland-urban interfaces. Leveraging the experience and perspective of

these leaders, NSDC identified core elements behind the issue. The Coalition followed the working group’s initial conclusions with a national survey of local fire and water agencies.

Among the most primary concerns are costs associated with developing fire suppression infrastructure without a reliable source of dedicated funding. Of further concern is the hardship special districts experience, often with lean budgets, with low capacity to successfully peruse and administer grant or financing programs. Further, restrictions on use of popular federal funding tools such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s State Revolving Funds and Assistant for Firefighters Grant (AFG) program limit the use of water development projects for firefighting capacity. Additionally, funding for AFG had remained stagnant for nearly a decade until COVID-19 demanded emergency response, and additional hurdles exist for special districts – especially

in rural communities – to access FEMA hazard mitigation programs. NSDC Members and staff pose for a photo on the East Side of the U.S. Capitol. Left to right: Michael Valdez, Special Districts Association (SDA) of Colorado Policy Director; Frank Stratton, Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO) Executive Director; Kyle Packham, California Special Districts Association (CSDA) Advocacy and Public Affairs Director; Ann Terry, SDA of Colorado Executive Director; Neil McCormick, CSDA Chief Executive Officer; Chief Michael Choate, Florida Association of Special Districts (FASD) Legislative Committee Member; Heather Anderson, Utah Association of Special Districts (UASD) Director of Government Affairs; David Ulbricht, SDAO Director of Advisory Services; Chief David Cambareri, FASD Legislative Committee Chair; Cole Arreola-Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Director.


In July 2022, NSDC published a report which included a set of legislative recommendations to improve the adequacy of fire suppression infrastructure in communities:

• Pilot a stand-alone cost share grant program to directly aid all types of local government to address infrastructure gaps for fire suppression needs, ideally under Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a function of mitigation.

• In general, seek enhanced technical assistance for local agencies seeking funding opportunities for water and fire infrastructure.

• Provide additional funding and flexibility for FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.

• Directing a FEMA administrative review of multijurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan development to examine the participation of agencies with potentially eligible projects, and whether local agencies understand how to participate in the process.

Advocacy has already begun to address these legislative recommendations. In September 2022, Members of NSDC’s Legislative Committee traveled for the Coalition’s first flyin to Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress. Aside from NSDC’s top priority of defining “special district” in federal law, Coalition members elevated awareness of community gaps in water infrastructure for firefighting and sharing the special district perspective on the issue. NSDC is developing legislative language for consideration and is continuing its engagement with members of Congress and national fire and water service partners. Among the Coalition delegation advocating on Capitol Hill were Neil McCormick, CSDA Chief Executive Officer and NSDC Chairman, and Kyle Packham, CSDA Advocacy and Public Affairs Director, and Cole Arreola-Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Director.

“NSDC achieved significant milestones in 2022, including expanding the Coalition membership and making our first in-person connections with key legislators and their staff,” said Neil McCormick, NSDC Chairman and CEO of the California Special Districts Association. “CSDA is proud to be a founding member of the Coalition and we look forward to continued success and advancements for special districts in 2023.”

On December 8, 2022, the NSDC Legislative and Executive Committees formally adopted the NSDC Federal Policy

Platform for the 118th Congress, which incorporates the recommendations outlined above. With this action, NSDC’s member associations and special districts should expect legislative advocacy action and engagement on the matters in the first half of 2023.

While NSDC presses forward with legislative solutions to close community gaps in adequate fire suppression infrastructure, special districts in California are already advancing efforts to address the issue locally with advocacy and interagency collaboration.

Citing an estimated $61.3 million price tag to upgrade the western Tahoe basin’s infrastructure for adequate fire suppression, the North Tahoe Fire Protection District, North Tahoe Public Utility District, the Tahoe City Public Utility District and the South Tahoe Public Utility District have been outspoken on the risks associated with inaction in their area. The immense cost is the common barrier to ensuring community protection and safety, but special districts and other public, as well as private, agencies providing fire and water services in the region are exemplary of how interagency collaboration to resolve infrastructure issues and implement coordinated mitigation efforts can prove successful.

An October 2022 CSDA news article highlights years of coordination by the Tahoe agencies and its payoff during the 2021 Caldor Fire, which dangerously defied understanding of fire behavior by crossing the Sierra Crest and ravaged more than 220,000 acres. The fire threatened the unincorporated community of Christmas Valley, south of Lake Tahoe. Firefighters battling the blaze saved the hundreds of structures thanks in part to years of coordinated efforts focused on fuels reduction and water infrastructure enhancements to modern firefighting standards, including hydrants, storage, and capacity. As a result, the community was saved without a home lost.

California’s special districts providing water and fire protection services in communities with insufficient access to reliable water resources for firefighting are encouraged to stay tuned to CSDA and NSDC communications in the months ahead. Those interested in engaging on this federal advocacy effort are encouraged to do so, and may contact Cole Arreola-Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Coordinator at colek@nationalspecialdistricts.org.


Managing Risk

Understanding Cal/OSHA’s Confined Space Regulations: Complicated But Lifesaving

Confined spaces are some of the most dangerous areas for employees to work in, but there is another group who are also exposed to the dangers of confined spaces…the rescuers. Two-thirds of all confined space fatalities occur among would-be rescuers. This is why Cal/OSHA’s confined space regulations are designed to protect both those who work in confined spaces and those who attempt to conduct rescue operations.

The primary source for this article is the Cal/OSHA Confined Space Guide for General Industry. This publication is an important tool to help districts navigate the complexities of the confined space regulations. It contains vital information on confined space hazards, assessment and control measures, and rescue operations. It also includes sample permit forms, FAQs about confined space issues, and other resources. This article aims to provide a general overview


of the guide to assist districts in determining if confined spaces are present in the workplace and to identify the next steps toward compliance.

Definitions & Basics


Confined spaces may be encountered in any industry. A confined space must be (1) large enough and configured in a way that allows an employee to enter and perform work; and (2) has limited openings for entry and exit; and (3) is not designed for continuous employee occupancy. There are two types of confined spaces.

• Permit-Required Confined Spaces (PRCS) fit the definition of a confined space, and also has one or more of the following characteristics:

» Contains or has a potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere

» Contains a material that has a potential for engulfing the entrant

» Contains inwardly converging walls or a floor that slopes downward and tapers to a smaller crosssection where an entrant could be trapped or asphyxiated

» Contains any other recognized serious safety or health hazard

• Non-Permit Confined Spaces (NPCS) also fit the definition of a confined space but do not contain, or have the potential to contain, any atmospheric hazard capable of causing death or serious physical harm.

Examples of confined spaces include, but are not limited to: Water and sewer pipes, pumping stations, manholes, boilers, vats, kilns, vaults, silos, storage bins, meter vaults, tunnels, tanks, wastewater wet wells, grit chambers, utility tunnels, crawl spaces under floors, water reservoirs, holding tanks, pits, and sumps.


Occupational exposure standards that refer to the maximum concentration of airborne chemicals to which healthy persons can be exposed without adverse health effects.


The lowest atmospheric concentration of fuel in the fuelair mixture at which a gas or vapor can explode. The UFL is the maximum fuel concentration above which the mixture will not burn.


An entry is considered to have occurred when any part of a person’s body crosses the plane of an opening into the space. If possible, avoid entering a confined space. Every consideration should be given to completing the task from the outside.


In the event the district has permit-required confined spaces, this section of the guide outlines the written permit-required confined space program requirements, how to complete an entry permit, communication requirements, signage requirements, and what to do in the event employees are not allowed to enter confined spaces. This section also provides direction on the district’s responsibilities if hiring a contractor to do work in a confined space.

continued on page 40...


Confined Space Hazards

Many confined space accidents occur because the workers did not realize the dangers or potential dangers within or nearby the confined space. It is crucial to identify all confined space hazards before entering a space. There are two primary categories of hazards, atmospheric and physical.


A hazardous atmosphere is any atmosphere that may incapacitate, injure, or impair an employee’s self-rescue or lead to acute illness or death to workers and rescuers who enter confined spaces. Examples include flammable or explosive gases, vapors, or mists, combustible dust, and oxygen concentration levels.


Physical hazards include, but are not limited to, mechanical hazards such as moving and/or energized equipment. Entrapment hazards include inwardly converging walls/floors that slope downward and taper to a smaller cross-section, like a silo or hopper. Engulfment hazards surround or bury the worker in a liquid or finely divided solid material, such as sand. Thermal hazards are caused by excessive heat or cold. Employees engaged in continuous heavy work while wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) are particularly susceptible to thermal hazards.

Hazard Controls

Once the confined space hazards are identified, the next step is to develop effective control measures to safeguard entrants while they are working in the space. This is the time to consider if work can be done from the outside of the confined space by using procedures, devices, or equipment. This is also the time to consider the feasibility of contracting out confined space entry operations.


Once it has been determined that the confined space contains a harmful atmosphere, the next step is to

clear it. This section of the guide provides guidance on ventilation, respiratory protection, and what to do when the atmosphere cannot be controlled by ventilation.


Detailed guidance is provided on controls for physical hazards, including isolation, mechanical safeguards, electrical safeguards, procedures to avoid engulfment hazards, and slip, trip and fall prevention.


Since two thirds of all confined space fatalities occur among would-be rescuers, Cal/OSHA has placed the rescue section at the beginning of the guide. It is critical to use effective confined space entry practices so that there is no need for rescue operations. This section of the guide outlines the different type of rescue operations, why self-rescue is so important, development of a rescue plan, rescue equipment, and more critical information.

Written Confined Space Plan

The specific confined space regulatory requirements for General Industry are in T8 CCR, Article 108, Sections 5156 through 5158. Because confined space work may involve many different hazards, other regulatory requirements may also apply.

While the confined space regulations are complicated, if the district follows these guidelines, lives can be saved:

• Identify confined spaces in the workplace.

• Develop effective controls of all existing and potential hazards inside the confined space.

• Initiate procedures to determine when it is safe to enter and remain within the confined space.

• Develop protocols to prevent unauthorized entries and to have an attendant outside the space.

• Conduct employee and supervisor training on safe work procedures and hazard controls.

• Ensure effective rescue procedures and training are in place.


With Nearly One-Third of Legislature Brand New, it is Time to Take Action

On Monday, December 5, the California State Legislature met for its biennial swearing-in ceremony in the wake of a General Election that saw 30 percent of all legislative seats turn over. Notably, the newly sworn-in Assemblymembers formally voted The Honorable Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) to the position of Speaker-Elect. Given the significant number of newly elected legislators, it is critical for special districts to build relationships with their local delegation of lawmakers.

In total, voters elected 10 new State Senators to the Upper House and 23 new Assemblymembers to the “People’s House.” Speaker-Elect Rivas is now slated to become the 71st Speaker of the California State Assembly on June 30, 2023. Speaker-Elect Rivas spoke at the 2022 Special District Legislative Days in Sacramento, where he was honored as CSDA's Legislator of the Year.

CSDA has enjoyed a strong working relationship with the Office of Assemblymember Robert Rivas. He authored CSDAsponsored Assembly Bill 361, which was signed into law last year as urgency legislation to allow local agencies to conduct remote board meetings during declared emergencies in a safe and accessible manner. He was also part of a 46-member bipartisan legislative coalition that helped CSDA secure $100 million in COVID-relief funding for independent special districts in the 2021-22 State Budget.

Speaker-Elect Rivas has met one-on-one with special district officials during multiple recent CSDA-organized virtual roundtables and participated as a keynote speaker at the Special Districts Association of Monterey County.

Use These Resources at csda.net/take-action

Take Action: Engaging with Your Community and Legislators - Guidance on building relationships with the new legislators serving your area.

CSDA’s Map of Special Districts: Learn which legislative districts overlap with your special district.

Grassroots Mobilization Survey: Let us know about your connections with legislators.

Mark Your Calendars!

February is Take Action Month!

Special districts provide essential services to millions of Californians every day. It’s time for you to tell your story. The Capitol, the media, and, most importantly, the community you serve should understand the difference your special district makes.

A life-long resident and former County Supervisor in San Benito County, Speaker-Elect Rivas will become the first Speaker of the State Assembly from an Assembly district outside of Southern California since Cruz Bustamante who served as Speaker from December 1996 through February 1998. Seven of the last eight previous Assembly Speakers represented Los Angeles, with now-Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins having represented San Diego.

Speaker-Elect Rivas will succeed Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) who was elected to the State Assembly in 2012, chosen Speaker in 2016, and will be termed out of office in 2024. Speaker-Elect Rivas was first elected to the Assembly in 2018 and terms out in 2030.

Throughout the month we’ll be touching on topics such as meeting with elected officials, taking positions on legislation, writing a letter to the editor, and grassroots mobilization. Check your inbox every Tuesday in February for our eNews Take Action items!

Seasons of Advocacy: Winter

• Request a “meet and greet” with newly elected legislators from recent special elections and legislators redistricted into your service territory for the upcoming election.

• Sign-up for your local legislators’ eNewsletters and social media— and add them and their staff to yours.

• Set up a meeting or tour for your local news reporter or editor.

Asm. Robert Rivas, center, is flanked by special district officials and local leaders honoring his selection as CSDA's Legislator of the Year.

DMTD’s Nationwide Expansion Continued in 2022

Districts Make the Difference (DMTD) is a public outreach campaign to increase awareness of the vital services provided by special districts across the country. We encourage all special districts to follow the campaign on their district social media pages, and tag @LocalDistricts on posts to capitalize on the national audience that is developing.

Building on the momentum of DMTD’s nationwide expansion the prior year, 2022 saw consistent growth in both the number of followers as well as interaction with the public. Through both organic social media and paid advertisements, DMTD nearly doubled its followers in 2022. Districts Make the Difference’s Facebook page was seen by over 3.5 million people, with over 200,000 responses to the content being posted. With each item being a positive special district story, that amounts to strong, steady growth of positive influence being made by the campaign.

DMTD’s annual Student Video Contest elicited video submissions from high school students in eleven different states — as the contest was offered nationwide for the first time in 2022. (This year’s student video contest will run from January 1 to March 31, 2023 and will again be open to high school students from every state).

As we celebrate DMTD’s success in 2022, we also look forward to opportunities for growth in 2023, including bringing more people to the DMTD website to learn about special districts, and using LinkedIn to promote awareness of career paths in special districts.

If you would like DMTD to feature special events, essential workers, projects, or interesting stories that communicate how your special district is making a difference in your community, please email us at info@ districtsmakethedifference.org.


Municipal Advisors Serving

California Public Agencies

NHA Advisors provides strategic financial advice to California public agencies. With 160+ years of combined public finance experience, NHA Advisors consistently ranks as one of the most active municipal advisors in California.

financial advice to California public agencies. With 160+ years of combined public finance experience, NHA Advisors consistently ranks as one of the most active municipal advisors in California.

Over 175 public agencies have relied on NHA Advisors to guide them over the last decade

Over 175 public agencies have relied on NHA Advisors to guide them over the last decade


Bonds, Grants, Subsidies, Loans, Cash


Pension Cost Management, Capital Planning, Long-Term Forecasting, Fiscal Policy Development, Continuing Disclosure


Renewable & Energy Efficiency

Financing, Climate Resiliency & Risk Mitigation


Craig Hill, Managing Principal - Craig@NHAadvisors.com

Mark Northcross, Principal - Mark@NHAadvisors.com

Eric Scriven, Principal - Eric@NHAadvisors.com

Mike Meyer, Vice President - Mike@NHAadvisors.com

Rob Schmidt, Vice President - Rob@NHAadvisors.com

Leslie Bloom, Vice President - Leslie@NHAadvisors.com

43 | CALIFORNIA SPECIAL DISTRICTS January-February 2023 NHAADVISORS.COM NHAadvisors.com Pursuant to Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board Rule G-42, on Duties of Non-Solicitor Municipal Advisors, Municipal Advisors are required to make certain written disclosures to clients which include, amongst other things, "Conflicts of Interest" and any "Legal or Disciplinary Events" of the Firm and its associated persons. Please refer to NHA Advisors LLC‘s website; nhaadvisors.com for certain disclosures relating to "Conflicts of Interest" and "Legal or Disciplinary Events." 10 NHA Municipal Advisors Serving California Public Agencies Craig Hill, Managing Principal - Craig@NHAadvisors.com Mark Northcross, Principal - Mark@NHAadvisors.com Eric Scriven, Principal - Eric@NHAadvisors.com CONTACT US Mike Meyer, Vice President - Mike@NHAadvisors.com Rob Schmidt, Vice President - Rob@NHAadvisors.com Leslie Bloom, Vice President - Leslie@NHAadvisors.com HOLISTIC FUNDING SOLUTIONS FOR CAPITAL PROJECTS Bonds, Grants, Subsidies, Loans, Cash FISCAL SUSTAINABILITY Pension Cost Management, Capital Planning, Long-Term Forecasting, Fiscal Policy Development, Continuing Disclosure ENERGY & CLIMATE CHANGE Renewable & Energy Efficiency Financing, Climate Resiliency & Risk Mitigation NHA Advisors provides strategic
NHAADVISORS.COM NHAadvisors.com Pursuant to Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board Rule G-42, on Duties of Non-Solicitor Municipal Advisors, Municipal Advisors are required to make certain written disclosures to clients which include, amongst other things, "Conflicts of Interest" and any "Legal or Disciplinary Events" of the Firm and its associated persons. Please refer to NHA Advisors LLC‘s website; nhaadvisors.com for certain disclosures relating to "Conflicts of Interest" and "Legal or Disciplinary Events." 10 NHA

Money Matters

San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District Restructures Fiscal Sustainability and Recession Planning Strategy

In June 2022, the San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District closed a $25.9 million lease financing with First Foundation Bank at an interest rate of 3.99%. The proceeds of the loan were used to pay off roughly 60% of the District’s Unfunded Accrued Liability (UAL) with CalPERS and established a new debt repayment shape that was more predictable and smooth, and at a lower level than the previous CalPERS schedule. While the refinancing is expected to generate savings to the district’s budget and enhance long-term resiliency and sustainability, it was just one part of a multipronged recession planning strategy for the district.

Fire Chief Criss Brainard and Administrative Officer/Finance Officer (AO/FO) Leah Harris began discussions with the board in 2018 so the district could make decisions related to budget, labor, and capital planning with eyes wide open.

“Part of this process included development of a more dynamic long-term forecasting model so that I could better demonstrate to our board members the impact of various decisions under different types of economic environments,” said Ms. Harris. “In late 2021, we also invited NHA advisors to help manage part of a day-long financial planning workshop that we hosted with staff and board members, which was also open to the public.”

According to Mike Meyer, a VP in NHA’s San Diego office and manager of the firm’s pension group, they spent a few hours talking about the

CalPERS pension situation and various tools the district could use to address the rising pension costs. They also discussed the key components of fiscal sustainability and resiliency, especially as it relates to maintenance of a strong credit rating, reserve levels, financial policies and practices, and risk mitigation techniques.

Given the complexity and risks involved for a UAL restructuring, AO/ FO Harris and NHA continued to educate the Board over the course of six months to ensure the final strategy was based on stakeholder input and all risks were quantified through comprehensive analysis.

Fire Chief Brainard and AO/FO Harris rounded out the financing team by hiring Oppenheimer & Co. to serve as underwriter for the transaction given their track record of serving CSDA members (including the district’s prior lease in 2016), as well as their extensive experience with pension restructurings. While AO/FO Harris and the team were preparing to issue a pension obligation bond and obtain a public credit rating,

continued on page 46...


the bond market began to rapidly deteriorate, with interest rates spiking to more than 5%. Oppenheimer quickly recommended pivoting to a direct placement and securing the transaction via a lease structure using CSDA Finance Corporation as the Counterparty. Oppenheimer rapidly canvassed interest from more than 25 banks and the district expeditiously locked an interest rate in April from First Foundation Bank for 3.99%, complete with prepayment flexibility. The district also negotiated a greater than 60-day closing to the end of June to minimize the impact of the CalPERS -6.1% returns by delaying when they sent the money to CalPERS. According to Oppenheimer Managing Director Nicki Tallman, this was the last UAL restructuring in California that they know of to secure a sub-4% interest rate. The work the district and the Administrative/Finance Division had done to prepare for the credit rating was instrumental in garnering strong interest from banks.

“By smoothing out the peak in payments, we expect the refinancing will generate more than $10 million in lower expenses through 2036. While that number is large, it is important to remember we are not out of the woods, and are still exposed to future CalPERS investment underperformance and economic downturns,” stated AO/ FO Harris. For this reason, the district adopted a new pension funding policy, which will earmark the savings from the UAL restructuring to be put into an internally

held pension reserve. Over time, the district will use these funds to make strategic Additional Discretionary Payments (ADPs) to CalPERS to continue paying down any new UAL and optimizing the payment shape.

“We were extremely impressed by the district’s robust reserve policies, having six distinct reserves with their own minimum thresholds,” said Meyer. “Adding the new pension reserve serves as another shock absorber to further mitigate any future CalPERS volatility. Strong board engagement and the district’s long-term planning strategies, along with continued analysis completed by AO/FO Harris and Administrative Ananlyst Diana Herron, should serve as a good roadmap to follow for other agencies across the state.”

Over $87MM in Special District Financing

The consultants for CSDA Finance Corporation are poised to serve your district. With the combined expertise of these consultants, we have facilitated in nearly $270 million in transactions over the past five years alone.


Let us help you with your next financing need, large or small. Visit www.csdafinance.net to submit a quote request online or call 877.924.2732 for more information.

$0.0 $0.5 $1.0 $1.5 $2.0 $2.5 $3.0 $3.5 $4.0 $4.5 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030 2031 2032 2033 2034 2035 2036 2037 2038 2039 2040 2041 2042 Millions 2022 Lease Payments Unrefunded UAL Payments UAL Payments Before Restructuring MONEY MATTERS
San Miguel Consolidated Fire Protection District UAL prepayment $25,925,000 Cambria Community Services District Wastewater system improvements $12,000,000 Big Bear Airport Terminal building construction $7,920,000 Kensington Fire Protection District Building renovation $2,160,000 Visalia Public Cemetery District Admin building $945,000 Nevada Co Consolidated Fire Distric Water tender $205,211
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47 | CALIFORNIA SPECIAL DISTRICTS January-February 2023 collaborative partnership between the California Special Districts Association (CSDA), CSDA Finance Corporation, and Special District Risk Management Authority (SDRMA). Contact us at (916) 442-7887 THE TIME IS NOW... GET A QUOTE FOR YOUR NEXT FINANCING NEED. The CSDA Finance Corporation is part of the California Special Districts Alliance which is a collaborative partnership between the California Special Districts Association, the CSDA Finance Corporation, and the Special District Risk Management Authority. Contact us at (916) 442-7887 www.csdafinance.net



Actuarial Retirement Consulting, LLC www.awenarc.com

AllPaid www.AllPaid.com

California CAD Solutions (CALCAD) www.calcad.com

California CLASS www.californiaclass.com

CPS HR Consulting www.cpshr.us

CSDA Finance Corporation www.csdafinance.net


Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo www.aalrr.com

Best Best & Krieger www.bbklaw.com

Five Star Bank wwww.fivestarbank.com

Enterprise Holdings www.enterpriseholdings.com

GovDeals www.govdeals.com

Special Districts Risk Management Authority www.sdrma.org

Streamline www.getstreamline.com

Umpqua Bank www.umpquabank.com

Utility Cost Management, LLC www.utilitycostmanagement.com

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore www.lcwlegal.com

Richards Watson Gershon www.rwglaw.com


Managing a District is Multi-Dimensional: CalCad Helped GCSD on Many Layers

When Groveland Community Services District (GCSD) first began using California CAD Solutions (CalCad) to map utility lines and parcels, they had no idea how flexible and integral the system would be to their continued operation. Since beginning in 2019 with a program that allowed field crews to stop lugging around paper maps, they’ve discovered numerous added benefits to the tool.

Adding a layer to show emergency response calls to explore where their crews were deployed helped the county realize GCSD fire personnel were called into county jurisdiction 35% of the time. This led to the county placing resources within the footprint to cover their own calls and alleviated the added burden on the district. Another mapping layer allowed GCSD to accurately represent housing data in the area that resulted in FEMA hazard mitigation grant funding and future fuels reduction programs for wildfire preparedness in the area.


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Centrica Business Solutions www.centricabusinesssolutions.com

Chase Bank www.chase.com

Cole Huber LLP www.colehuber.com

Complete Paperless Solutions www.cps247.com

Cooperative Strategies www.coopstrategies.com

Davis Demographics davisdemographics.com

Eide Bailly CPAs www.eidebailly.com

Enterprise Automation www.eaintegrator.com

Granicus www.granicus.com

Kosmont Financial Services www.KosmontFinancial.com

Kutak Rock, LLP www.kutakrock.com

Laserfiche www.laserfiche.com

National Demographics Corporation (NDC) www.ndcresearch.com

NBS www.nbsgov.com

Nextdoor, Inc. www.nextdoor.com/

Nossaman, LLP www.nossaman.com

SitelogiQ www.sitelogiq.com

Slovak Baron Empey Murphy & Pinkney LLP www.sbemp.com

Tyler Technologies, Inc. www.tylertech.com

Vasquez & Company LLP www.vasquez.cpa

VC3 www.vc3.com

Witt O'Brien's www.wittobriens.com

“Our Admin and field staff use the platform every day for infrastructure planning, maintenance and projects, customer service and emergency response. Management uses the tool to communicate with the county and other agencies, to secure grants and to graphically represent areas of conflict and high service demand for planning purposes,” said Groveland Community Services District General Manager Pete Kampa.

CalCad is a CSDA Value Added Benefit provider of DashGIS technology that allows special districts to leverage important data to meet the needs of the district without the expense of special software and employees. CSDA members receive one month FREE with their initial 12-month term. Learn more about CalCad and all our Value Added Benefits today at csda.net/value-benefits!


Special programs or discounts offered by CSDA’s Endorsed Affiliates – tailored just for CSDA members!

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Industry nsights


One of the most difficult and trying responsibilities of a general counsel and staff is the taming of a rogue elected official. Why is it even an issue for the counsel when a board member refuses to follow the law or acts out in a manner which is offensive to others within the district government or to citizens? Liability is the answer. It is the attorney’s function to safeguard the agency from liability and all eyes will therefore turn to you, as general counsel, when an elected behaves badly. The first instinct is to apply public employment rules. However, such rules only apply to an elected if they are truly employees, and elected officials are only considered employees for limited purposes. For instance, they are employees for tax withholding purposes (IRC Regulation Section 1.1402(c)-2(b)) and for worker’s compensation benefits (Labor Code section 3351 (b)). But elected officials are not employees where it matters for this discussion (i.e., under the Brown Act, Civil Service Rules, other employee benefits and the Fair Labor Standards Act). Thus, employment or civil service rules will not provide a method for ending bad behavior by an elected. No notice of intent to discipline or Skelly hearing will occur. However, elected officials are charged to follow employment rules forbidding bullying and harassment. They have ethics rules and Brown Act rules. But these come into play too late, when the damage is done and someone is ready to sue. So, what will the counsel do?

First and foremost, be proactive and propose rules of conduct for officials to follow. If the elected officials can agree, up front, to behave ethically and with courtesy,

then perhaps you can head off liability producing behavior before it happens and particularly if the policy document contains some enforcement. Enforcement may limit staff contact and committee assignments. With that in mind, there are other actions to take should the elected official ignore local rules or the law in general. But these should be employed after speaking with the official, laying out the improprieties and possible effects of continued misconduct, both to the agency and to their office. As hard as that conversation will be, it is required and should occur with full knowledge of the Board. The other actions include tools which may be pursued with outside help. Quo Warranto is used to challenge a person’s authority to hold public office. This action is pursued by the Attorney General. Some agency rules call for a recall as an enforcement mechanism, the legislature has also provided for recall. Depending on the offense, the Fair Political Practices Commission may be brought in for ethical violations of the Political Reform Act. In addition, for general wrongdoing, the Grand Jury has the power to remove for civil and criminal violations under the authority of Penal Code section 922.

It should be clear that when an elected official acts outside the law or the bounds of good governance it will not be an easy task to reign the behavior in. That is why the best advice to any city attorney is to pursue the policy document discussed above, provide ongoing training, and discuss poor conduct with the official without delay.


Steady as you go.

When your team and ours all pull together, you get the sure-footed stability you need to proceed with confidence. As an extension of your staff, we are always at the sidelines delivering service and expertise. For everything from Workers’ Compensation and Property/Liability coverages to Health Benefits options available throughout California, we are here to keep you going strong. For more information, visit sdrma.org.

51 | CALIFORNIA SPECIAL DISTRICTS January-February 2023 SPECIAL DISTRICT RISK MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY ✷ Trusted Risk Management ✷ 800.537.7790 ✷ www.sdrma.org
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