Issue 106 - December 2020
During this October’s Municipal Management Association of Southern California Virtual Annual Conference, I was honored to introduce keynote speaker Lawrence Greenspun, director of public sector engagement at Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker Institute. Greenspun discussed planned abandonment—the practice of identifying and abandoning old and unrewarding practices, programs, and services—as a path to innovation.
Innovation is one of the Authority’s core values. Innovation has been at the forefront of the Authority’s activities this year as staff and members adapted together in real time with a resilient spirit to changes wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Authority’s commitment to serving members has grown even stronger as our regional Risk Managers have assisted members as they have shifted gears in managing their municipal operations, navigating executive orders, reimagining parks and recreation activities, and—above all—ensuring the health and safety of their staff and communities. In response to the ever-changing environment caused by the pandemic, Authority staff worked to monitor COVID-19 developments across a spectrum of issues related to members, including legal aspects, worker health and safety, employment concerns, coverage matters, emergency preparation and recovery, and legislative developments at the state and federal level.
Members also faced unprecedented revenue shortfalls due to the downturn in economic activity caused by stay-at-home orders and increases in unbudgeted expenses incurred responding to the pandemic while still trying to provide essential services. In response, the Executive Committee provided relief to members by approving a partial deferment of the annual contributions for the Liability and Workers’ Compensation programs.
I am deeply proud of the Authority’s “here to help” support to members and their communities in the wake of these emerging risk management issues.
This summer, Rossmoor Community Services District and the cities of Hemet, Lemon Grove, Pacific Grove, Stanton, Vista, and West Covina became the newest members of the California JPIA. They join a diverse membership of 123 municipal agencies including 98 cities, 18 joint powers authorities, and seven special districts who partnered with a team that proactively seeks to mitigate risk through training and implementation of best practices.
With the growth of the Authority’s membership, we expanded the regional risk manager regions from five to seven. In July, three outstanding professionals were added to the risk management team: Toni Consolo, Lucy Gonzalez, and Tony Leite. Joining the Authority in the height of the pandemic, Toni, Lucy, and Tony have been working with their respective members to address a magnitude of risk management issues.
The Authority also welcomed Sylvia Munoz Schnopp, mayor pro tem of the City of Port Hueneme, and Steve Tye, mayor of the City of Diamond Bar, who were appointed to the Executive Committee to fill the vacant seats of President Curtis Morris and Committee Member Daryl Hofmeyer, who retired this spring.
These new employees’ and Executive Committee members’ expertise will complement the institutional knowledge and industry experience of the Authority’s longtime staff, whose professional acumen has established the Authority as a leader in the pooling industry.
During my own 25th anniversary year, I would like to recognize other staff members celebrating milestone anniversaries: Training Manager Joe Eynon, 15 years; Management Analyst Abe Han, five years; and Administrative Assistant Lyndsie Buskirk, five years.
Signifying our continued standing as a pool operating at a high level of efficiency and effectiveness, with adherence to professional standards and industry best practices, the Authority achieved its second consecutive Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRiP) Advisory Standards Recognition this year.
Educating our members has always been the primary goal of the Authority’s Risk Management Educational Forum. This year, the 25th Risk Management Educational Forum, Resilient Together, transitioned from an in-person gathering to a fully virtual experience that connected attendees throughout California with knowledgeable experts on risk management and contemporary issues facing local government. This significant and progressive undertaking, which would not have been successful without support of our members and business partners, saw a 28 percent increase in total attendance and a 19 percent increase in first-time registrants.
The Forum was one of many events for local government professionals that shifted from in-person to virtual formats this fall. Authority staff, partners, and members presented programs detailing risk management best practices to elected officials and municipal staff at the California Contract Cities Association’s Virtual Fall Educational Summit, the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference & Expo, and the Municipal Management Association of Southern California’s Virtual Annual Conference. The Authority values all opportunities to provide educational resources for municipal managers and elected officials at all levels and to invest in the professional enrichment of decision-makers throughout the state.
The Authority, a Platinum Partner of the League of California Cities, also has maintained its longstanding tradition of supporting local government by affiliating with the League’s “Support Local Recovery: Vibrant Cities. Strong Economies” campaign coalition, joining forces with other representatives from local government, labor, and business to advocate for funding for cities to address COVID-19 impacts.
As always, the Authority is proud to support our member agencies. We look forward to gathering again in person. Warm thanks for your continued engagement with and support of the California JPIA, and best wishes for a very happy holiday season and New Year.Print Article
After 18 years of service, Administrative Programs Manager Tammie Haller announced her retirement in December.
“It has been a privilege to work at an organization that puts its people first,” said Haller. “From the Executive Committee to Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull, the Authority supports the growth and well-being of its employees—both in the workplace and at home. I am grateful to have worked with dedicated and caring people whose commitment makes the Authority’s member communities healthier and safer places to live.”
During her tenure with the Authority, she has overseen administrative and support operations, including human resources, benefits, personnel policies, and recruitments, as well as directed the Authority’s facilities and maintenance operations and safety programs.
“Tammie brought with her a wide range of experience providing excellent customer service,” said Shull. “That skillset has truly benefited the Authority as she has been promoted within the organization.”
Haller also engaged with prospective member agencies interested in joining the Authority. “Tammie’s knowledge of the Authority’s operations has allowed her to develop strong relationships with prospective members,” said Shull.
“Tammie graciously guided our staff through the transfer over to the California JPIA,” said Hemet City Manager Chris Lopez. “During the months-long process, Tammie maintained patience, answered all of our questions, and stuck with the team through our membership approval. We are grateful for her unending patience and wish her the best as she transitions into retirement.”
Throughout her tenure, Haller’s practical professional acumen has been complemented by a passionate focus on the Authority’s single most valuable asset: its members.
“The Authority was formed as a member-driven organization,” said Haller. “To this day, we have not lost sight of our commitment to members. The growth of the Authority’s risk management and training programs are significant factors in our evolution as a risk management organization. The commitment to risk management and focus on building relationships with our members has reinforced the Authority’s reputation as a trusted partner to not only our current members, but also to prospective members.”
“Tammie is passionate about what she does,” said Shull, “and she demonstrates her commitment to our employees and to our members every day.”
Thank you for your service to the Authority and its members, Tammie, and warm wishes on your retirement!Print Article
Reprinted with Permission, November 25, 2020
On November 19, 2020, pursuant to emergency rulemaking authority, the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (“OSHSB”) adopted temporary regulations regarding measures that employers must undertake in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace (“emergency regulations”).
The emergency regulations, which will likely take effect on November 30, 2020, apply to public agencies. Therefore, public agencies must take immediate action to ensure that their policies and practices conform to and comply with the new regulations. Most significantly, public agencies must prepare and implement a written COVID-19 Prevention Program (“CPP”), as described below.
The emergency regulations supplement general and industry-specific guidance that the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) has provided since the beginning of the present public health emergency.
COVID-19 Prevention Program
As provided above, the most significant requirement under the newly adopted emergency regulations is that public agencies must prepare, implement, and maintain a written COVID-19 Prevention Program (“CPP”). This will be a burdensome and time-consuming undertaking given the voluminous regulatory requirements concerning subjects that the CPP must address.
In summary, the CPP must address each of the following eleven (11) subjects:
- System for communicating to employees about the following subjects related to COVID-19: (1) the symptoms associated with COVID-19; (2) possible exposures; (3) potential hazards related to COVID-19: (4) the policies and procedures for providing COVID-19 related accommodations; and (5) information about COVID-19 testing.
- Identification and evaluation of COVID-19 related hazards, including developing and implementing a system that provides for the following: (1) screening employees for symptoms associated with COVID-19; (2) responding to employees who present symptoms associated with COVID-19; (3) responding to individuals and employees who are present at agency worksites and facilities who are positive for COVID-19; and (4) conducting an assessment of potential workplace hazards, such as areas where people congregate. Furthermore, the regulations require that public agencies allow employee organizations to participate in the process of identifying and evaluating COVID-19 related hazards.
- Investigating and responding to COVID-19 cases in the workplace, including developing a procedure that provides for the following: (1) the investigation of COVID-19 cases; (2) the determination of important information about possible workplace exposures related to the COVID-19 case; (3) the provision within one (1) business day of notice to employees who may have been exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 (as required by Assembly Bill 685); (4) offer free COVID-19 testing to all employees who had potential exposure to the virus; and (5) the preservation and protection of confidential medical information pursuant to the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (“CMIA”).
- Correcting COVID-19 related hazards, including implementing policies and procedures to timely address unsafe or unhealthy workplace conditions.
- Training of and instruction for employees, including on the following subjects: (1) the symptoms associated with COVID-19; (2) the agency’s COVID-19 prevention policies and procedures; (3) COVID-19 related benefits, including leaves rights, that may be available to agency employees; (4) information about the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19; (5) information about physical distancing and the benefits of physical distancing; (6) information about face coverings and the benefits of face coverings; and (7) information about hand washing and hand hygiene and the benefits of hand washing and hand hygiene.
- Physical distancing requirements and procedures to ensure that employees remain at least six (6) feet apart from one another, if possible.
- Face covering requirements and the availability of face coverings for employees.
- Site-specific engineering and administrative controls and procedures for the provision of personal protective equipment (“PPE”), including, but not limited to, the following: (1) installing partitions between work stations where it is not possible to maintain the physical distancing requirement; (2) increasing the supply of fresh air where possible; (3) implementing cleaning and disinfecting procedures; (4) evaluating the availability and adequacy of handwashing locations; and (5) evaluating the need for additional PPE.
- Reporting, recordkeeping, and providing access to such reports and records, including the following: (1) reporting cases of COVID-19 to the local health department; (2) reporting disabling work-related COVID-19 illnesses to Cal/OSHA; (3) maintaining records of the steps that the public agency undertook to implement the CPP; (4) providing employees and employee organizations access to the CPP; (5) recording and tracking all COVID-19 cases with identifying information about the employee; and (6) providing employees and employee organizations access to the records of COVID-19 cases with identifying information removed.
- Removal from agency worksites and facilities individuals who have COVID-19 or were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Minimum criteria to return to work for employees who have COVID-19.
The descriptions provided above summarize the information that public agencies must provide for in their CCPs, but are not a comprehensive summation of the regulatory requirements.
Public agencies that previously adopted and implemented a COVID-19 response plan, should review such plan to ensure that it complies with the expanded obligations to which public agencies are subject under the emergency regulations.
Significant Changes in the Law
Public agencies should take note the following regulatory requirements, which are likely to be new for most agencies:
- Public agencies must offer COVID-19 testing at no cost to employees, during their working hours, to all employees who had a potential COVID-19 exposure in the workplace.
- Public agencies must continue to provide compensation to employees who may not report to work because they have COVID-19 or are under an isolation order issued by a local or state health official. While this requirement effectively constitutes a new leave benefit, the regulations expressly provide that public agencies may use employee sick leave for this purpose.
- Public agencies may not require a negative COVID-19 test for an employee to return to work.
Protocol Where There are COVID-19 Outbreaks and Major Outbreaks
While not required to be incorporated as part of the CPP, the emergency regulations also require that public agencies implement the following protocols in the event the there is a COVID-19 “outbreak” in the workplace, consisting of three (3) or more positive cases in a 14-day period:
- Provide testing (immediately and one (1) week later) at no-cost to all employees who were present at the workplace during the outbreak period;
- Require that all employees with COVID-19 and who were exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 do not report to work for the requisite period of time;
- Investigate the exposure, review the agency’s prevention and outbreak control policies and take corrective action as needed;
- Document the agency’s investigation of the exposure, policy review, and any corrective actions taken; and
- Notify the local health department within 48 hours after knowledge of the outbreak.
The regulations also require public agencies implement additional protocols if there is an outbreak of 20 or more COVID-19 cases within a 30-day period until there are no new cases for a 14-day period, including conducting twice-weekly testing and evaluating whether respiratory protection should be required and whether the employer’s operations should cease.
Given that the emergency regulations will likely take effect on November 30, public agencies must immediately adopt and implement a CPP that complies with the regulations. On November 30, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore created a template CPP available for purchase. Agencies that purchase this template CPP will be able to modify and customize the template to address specific agency policies and practices.Print Article
Over the past few years, the Authority has made available programs aimed at helping members getting closer to achieving compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This effort began with the launch of the ADA Assistance Program in 2015, and it was further augmented by the launch of the ADA Financing Program in 2018. Both programs are available to all members, and they are briefly described below.
ADA Assistance Program
The Authority offers the ADA Assistance Program to members looking for a tangible first step towards compliance with the ADA. In order to incentivize members in this effort, the Authority provides an allowance to each participating member to help offset the cost of developing a current and complete ADA transition plan. Disability Access Consultants, an Authority business partner, works with members to conduct the assessments, inspections, and data collection needed to help develop the transition plan and evaluations.
If you are interested in participating in the ADA Assistance Program or have questions about the program, please contact your assigned regional Risk Manager.
ADA Financing Program
The Authority continues to accept applications for the third year of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Financing Program. Applications will be accepted until January 13, 2021. After this date, members will need to reapply during the next application cycle beginning in Fall 2021.
This program provides members with an opportunity to obtain funding that might otherwise be difficult to procure for either ADA transition plan development or the removal of ADA-related barriers.
Members selected to receive funds through the ADA Financing Program must repay the amount, plus interest, with level annual payments of principal and interest over a five-year term. Additional details regarding the requirements and terms of the program are outlined in the ADA Financing Program application.
The application (fillable PDF format) can be found here. It is recommended to download a copy of the application so that partial progress can be saved while completing the application. Members will be notified of their application status by March 10, 2021.
Members who are interested in the ADA Assistance Program but might not have the budgetary means to pursue the program may consider utilizing the low-interest financing of the ADA Financing Program to fund the transition plan development progress that the ADA Assistance Program offers.Print Article
The Authority is excited to announce that we are resuming the scheduling of three in-person, classroom training courses effective immediately.
- CPR/AED/First Aid Safety
- A/C Pipe Initial
- Respirator Certification
These three unique courses were chosen to be scheduled in-person because there is not a comparative online training that can be taken in its place. The training staff will be reaching out to members soon to schedule. We will also be updating members soon with the Authority’s new Training Protocols for in-person training events during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At this time, all other classroom trainings are suspended due to COVID-19. The Authority has recently held several of our new virtual trainings and received positive feedback from members on this delivery mode. If you would like to schedule a virtual training, which are live trainings with an instructor held online (over Zoom), please contact our training staff.
Thank you and please contact us if you have any questions.Print Article
The Authority’s academies are going virtual in 2021 beginning in March! Training academies continue to be the Authority’s premier events as they allow for attendees to learn in an immersive setting while networking with their peers, Authority staff, and speakers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, gathering in-person continues to be a challenge. As such, the Authority anticipates utilizing online webinar and meeting technology to conduct interactive virtual academies next year. Virtual technology will allow speakers and attendees to present, interact, and complete group activities online.
Authority training staff are finalizing dates for next year’s virtual academies including the Authority’s newest academy, Governance Leadership Academy, designed for elected officials that have served for two years or more.
Information about the virtual academies will be forthcoming.
Thank you for your continued support of the Authority’s Training Program.Print Article
The Authority is proud to announce development of new online workplace harassment prevention courses for supervisors, local agency officials, and non-supervisory staff. These courses will replace the existing workplace harassment prevention online series during January and meet the California state requirements for harassment prevention training to be taken by all employees and elected officials every two years.
The course content for non-supervisory employees focuses on how to promote a respectful workplace and prevent sexual harassment, abusive conduct, and retaliation. In addition, employees’ roles in the complaint and investigation process are reviewed, including the roles of the claiming party, the accused party, potential witnesses, and co-workers.
The course content for supervisors and local agency officials focuses on how to promote a respectful workplace and prevent harassment based on legally protected categories including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, race, religious creed, as well as abusive conduct and retaliation. In addition, the supervisors’ roles in the complaint and investigation processes are reviewed.
For further information about these new online courses, or how to access them, please contact the Authority’s training team.Print Article
In the spirit of Henry David Thoreau and John Muir, National Hiking Day, November 17, brought opportunities to exercise and appreciate the peace and beauty of the natural world. The protection afforded by California’s recreational trail immunity empowers public entities to encourage residents to explore local trails without fear of liability.
Under the California Tort Claims Act, public entities are afforded a variety of statutory immunities. One such immunity is recreational trail immunity, which shields public entities (and private property owners who grant public easements to public entities) from liability for injuries caused by a condition of any unpaved or paved recreational trail [¹] . This immunity exists to encourage public entities to allow their property to be used for recreational purposes without the fear of potential litigation resulting from public use of the property.
Located in northern San Diego County, City of San Marcos offers approximately 63 miles of multi-use recreational trails to residents and visitors. Stewardship of the trail network is a true community effort. While the city has park operations staff who maintain the trails, they are supported by park rangers who regularly hike the trails and provide education and assistance to the public. These efforts are further supported by the Friends of San Marcos Parks and Recreation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the city’s parks and recreation facilities.
According to Andrea Gonzalez, Recreation Program Manager with City of San Marcos, the city’s trail network is an invaluable community resource and has become even more important as community members seek safe and effective ways to recreate during the coronavirus pandemic.
“During the pandemic we have seen a 100% increase in the use of city trails. Residents who used to engage in other forms of recreation that are currently unavailable are now taking advantage of city trails.”
Gonzalez also highlighted the easy accessibility and mental health benefits of hiking and other outdoor modes of recreation.
“One of the great things about hiking is its inclusive nature. All you need is a pair of walking shoes and the motivation to get outside. Outdoor recreation also has benefits for mental health. Recreating in a natural environment stimulates feelings of relaxation and tranquility. I think that’s something we could all use in these challenging times.”
When asked what impact the absence of recreational trail immunity would have on the San Marcos community, Gonzalez didn’t beat around the bush.
“It would be devastating. If the city had to assume liability for injuries that occurred on our trails, the financial impact would be immense. Some or all of the trails might have to close and that would have a hugely negative impact on the San Marcos community.”
Recreational trail immunity is an absolute immunity that applies to the “condition” of the trail. However, it does not apply to conditions unrelated to and not part of the trail. For example, in 2013, a branch fell from a eucalyptus tree and struck a woman while she was walking through Mission Bay Park in San Diego. An appeals court ultimately held that the city was not entitled to recreational trail immunity because the claim was not based on a condition of the trail itself, but rather on alleged negligent maintenance of the adjacent eucalyptus tree (Toeppe v. City of San Diego).
For any unpaved or paved trail on a public entity’s property, there is no duty to maintain the trail, or to warn of any condition of the trail, or liability for a hazardous condition of the trail. Conversely, for any paved trail, walkway, path or sidewalk on an easement granted to the public entity for the purpose of providing access to unimproved property, the public entity must reasonably attempt to provide adequate warnings of the existence of any condition that constitutes a hazard to health or safety.
In light of this, for any paved trail that provides access to unimproved property that is obtained through an easement, the following suggestions are made to help trail managers reduce their entity’s exposure to liability[²] :
- Create comprehensive, written standards for trail-building and maintenance and adhere to them.
- Regularly inspect and maintain paved trails, and indefinitely retain documentation of inspections and corrective actions.
- Warn of known hazards by installing signage where appropriate.
For any trail, paved or unpaved, the following suggestions can be considered:
- Close trails if dangerous conditions such as wildfire, extreme heat, land movement, etc. exist.
- Install bollards or similar barriers at trailheads to prevent motorized vehicle access.
- Install informational signs at trailheads indicating authorized use. For example, e-bike use is permitted on some trails but not on others.
- Create an emergency plan that facilitates providing rapid assistance to trail users who may get into trouble. This can include ensuring first responders are familiar with the area, know how to locate and access trail users, and have access to any locked gates.
- Ensure that developed trailheads are ADA accessible. While certain individuals with disabilities may not be able to access the trail network, public entities have an obligation to ensure facilities such as restrooms and visitor centers are accessible.
To learn more about how Authority member agencies have leveraged trail immunity to provide increased recreational opportunities for their communities, click here or contact your assigned Risk Manager.
The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act, or CANRA, (California Penal Code, Sections 11164-11174.3) requires employees who may have direct contact with or supervision of children (under the age of 18) in the course of their professional duties to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect. Child Abuse and/or Child Neglect can include any of the following:
- A physical injury inflicted on a child by another person other than by accidental means.
- The sexual abuse, assault, or exploitation of a child.
- The negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a person responsible for the child’s welfare under circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child’s health or welfare. This is whether the harm or threatened harm is from acts or omissions on the part of the responsible person.
- The willful harming or endangerment of the person or health of a child, any cruel or inhumane corporal punishment or any injury resulting in a traumatic condition.
Failure to fully comply with CANRA reporting requirements subjects a mandated reporter to criminal and civil penalties.
Effective January 1, 2021, AB 1963 adds the following positions and training requirements to the current California Penal Code list of mandated reporters for businesses with five or more employees that employ minors:
(48) A human resource employee of a business subject to Part 2.8 (commencing with Section 12900) of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code that employs minors. For purposes of this section, a “human resource employee” is the employee or employees designated by the employer to accept any complaints of misconduct as required by Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 12940) of Part 2.8 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code.
(49) An adult person whose duties require direct contact with and supervision of minors in the performance of the minors’ duties in the workplace of a business subject to Part 2.8 (commencing with Section 12900) of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code is a mandated reporter of sexual abuse, as defined in Section 11165.1. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to modify or limit the person’s duty to report known or suspected child abuse or neglect when the person is acting in some other capacity that would otherwise make the person a mandated reporter.
Employers subject to paragraphs (48) and (49) of subdivision (a) shall provide their employees who are mandated reporters with training in the duties imposed by this article. This training shall include training in child abuse and neglect identification and training in child abuse and neglect reporting. The training requirement may be met by completing the general online training for mandated reporters offered by the Office of Child Abuse Prevention in the State Department of Social Services.
A complete list of positions defined as mandated reporters is provided in California Penal Code, Section 11165.7(a). As of the publication date of this article, the list has not been updated to reflect the positions added under AB 1963. Along with the addition of these positions to the list, most members have other classifications meeting the definition of a mandated reporter, such as police and fire, code enforcement, childcare, parks and recreation, and senior center personnel. Thoroughly reviewing the list of positions and identifying your agency’s mandated reporters is advised. Employers must provide mandated reporters with a statement informing them of their obligations under the law (Penal Code §§ 11165.7, subdivision (c)(1); 11166.5, subdivision (a)).
Based on the face of the statute, the language may be perceived as ambiguous, and thus, interpretations may vary. As a best risk management practice, and to seek to ensure that employees understand their responsibilities under the law, the California JPIA recommends that all designated mandated reporters receive training in child abuse and neglect identification and reporting.
Free general, childcare, law enforcement, and volunteer mandated reporter training is available through the Child Abuse Mandated Reporter Training Project , funded by the California Department of Social Services and Office of Child Abuse Prevention. The California JPIA also offers instructor-led mandated reporter training. To schedule training, please contact Michelle Aguayo, Training Coordinator.
The California JPIA is committed to assisting member agencies and employees in following the requirements and understanding responsibilities under the law. Mandated Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting and Mandated Elder and Dependent Adult Abuse and Neglect Reporting policy templates are available in the Resource Library. The policy templates are intended to identify employees who are required to report child, elder, or dependent adult abuse under the law, set forth the timeline and procedures for making reports, identify safeguards for reporting parties, identify penalties for failing to comply with reporting obligations, and establish additional obligations of the member and its employees and volunteers.
If you have questions, please contact your assigned Risk Manager.Print Article
Q&A with Dylan Feik, City Manager of Monrovia, and Recipient of Two 2020 ICMA Local Government Excellence Awards
The Authority takes great pleasure in highlighting the extraordinary things our members do. This month, we focus a spotlight on Monrovia and City Manager, Dylan Feik. The city is the recipient of two 2020 ICMA Local Government Excellence Awards, which recognize outstanding local government programs.
Q. Could you give us some background on Monrovia for members not familiar with the city?
A. As the fourth oldest incorporated city in Los Angeles County, Monrovia is home to nearly 40,000 residents and nestled up against the San Gabriel Mountains. Monrovia maintains its small-town charm by: supporting our historic Old Town with events and programs; serving over 150 local historic landmarks and 2 unique historical districts; and maintaining over 1,500 acres of the Monrovia Hillside Wilderness Preserve, a dedicated open space across the northern end of the city. Our calls for service frequently include mountain lions and bears! Monrovia is a full-service city and works closely with California JPIA members Alhambra, Azusa, Bradbury, Duarte, La Canada Flintridge, San Gabriel, San Marino, and Sierra Madre.
Q. The city received a Program Excellence Award for Community Partnership for its GoMonrovia transportation program. Tell us what makes GoMonrovia a unique, affordable, and efficient way of providing transportation services to the community?
A. The city lacked a convenient, reliable method of transportation so most often, residents relied on their own private vehicles to meet their transit needs. Ridership levels on Monrovia Transit (the city’s historic bus service) were low, providing 39,000 rides per year, despite being an open system that allowed both residents and visitors to request rides within the city’s boundaries or to pre-approved medical centers within a 3-mile radius. With an average ridership of 3,243 passengers per month and an average trip length of 1.19 miles, it was costing the city around $19.70 per ride to operate Monrovia Transit. Monrovia Transit vehicles were often providing trips for one or two passengers in shuttle vans that could hold up to 12 people.
GoMonrovia served as a new mobility model for suburban communities across the country. Monrovia successfully transformed our traditional dial-a-ride model found in most suburban settings into an innovative, cost-effective, and user-friendly form of public transit. Whereas Monrovia used to provide 38,000 rides per year with its dial-a-ride program, we have now provided over 1.2 million rides since March 2018. The city was able to leverage the strengths of Lyft, in combination with retooling our dial-a-ride program to focus solely on serving ADA passengers, to provide a new form of public transit that is beneficial to all who live, work in, and visit Monrovia.
In terms of cost savings and efficiencies gained, the dial-a-ride program cost an average of $19.70 per ride. The current average prices on GoMonrovia is $4.13 per ride, a nearly 80% savings per trip.
Q. The city also received a Program Excellence Award for Monrovia Renewal, the city’s innovative multi-year initiative to prioritize street, sidewalk, water, and sewer system repairs and restore infrastructure to a healthy baseline state. Can you tell us about the initiative and the city’s focus on an issue that many cities find challenging to address?
A. As I frequently like to say, “The answer is money…now, what’s the question?” Similar to every other city, Monrovia’s aging infrastructure was plagued by a backlog of deferred maintenance with 65% of streets in less than satisfactory condition, and average Pavement Condition Index of 57.1%, and a significant backlog of cracked and undersized water and sewer lines increasingly prone to leaks and sewer overflows. At one point, the city averaged a water main break every other day. To assess the extent of needed repairs, the city commissioned four master plans to identify major deficiencies in the street, sidewalk, water, and sewer systems, respectively, and the estimated costs to restore these systems to healthy, reliable conditions the city can maintain going forward. The end result is Monrovia Renewal, an innovative five-year initiative comprising of $55.7 million in priority repairs to the city’s water and sewer pipelines, water facilities, and street system including sidewalk, curb/gutter, and driveway approach improvements. This initiative allowed the city to strategically prioritize repairs where they will have the greatest impact in our community and restore our infrastructure to a healthy baseline state, which can then be proactively maintained moving forward at a reduced cost to improve fiscal stability. Throughout implementation, the city planned and executed the work, from coordinating all underground work prior to street repairs to reduce the number of pavement cuts, to performing sidewalk repairs using a cost-effective diamond-cutting technique as an alternative to removal and replacement. The project incorporated public input and participation throughout and included regular, weekly updates showing street closures, parking availability, and overall coordination of construction activities across 13 square miles. Since the Monrovia Renewal began in the summer of 2015, the city has successfully completed infrastructure improvements to more than 90% of the project areas throughout the city, while keeping the community engaged along the way. Our recent PCI assessment rated our street condition at 87.3% and we still have one section left to complete!
To finance the project, the city utilized revenue bonds, utility fee revenues and successfully committed funding to the project.
Q. Are there additional programs or initiatives that the city will be exploring or implementing in the future?
A. We are always pushing ourselves to get better. “Pursuit of Excellence” is our vision and with that vision comes change, goal setting, and pursuing hard things. The city created an ad hoc Committee on Equity & Inclusion to look at our current and past practices which are barriers to equity and racial justice. Out of this plan is coming new reforms, hiring practices, ADA Transition Plan and implementation, and much more. Construction is beginning on our Station Square Transit Village, a visionary project which includes over 2,200 new residential housing units, +30,000 sq. ft. of office space and if that’s not enough, we’re adding a 170-room hotel. We purchased our first cadre of electric vehicles and are preparing plans to install EV charging stations throughout the community. Finally, in November 2019, residents approved Measure K, a ¾ cent sales tax increase which will generate up to $4.5m in perpetuity. This general purpose tax revenue will be annually allocated with an emphasis on addressing infrastructure, building reserves and enhancing community partnership programs like our award-winning Monrovia Garden Pilot Program and Housing Displacement Response Plan. I could not be more proud of our City Council and the staff who lead in times of change. I look forward to big things in Monrovia.
Q. A focus as a member of the California JPIA is on risk management and reducing the cost of risk for members. What is your overall risk management philosophy, and how do you promote it within your organization?
A. To me, risk management isn’t a “thing you do,” but rather a frame of mind. Much like finance or emergency management/mitigation, I believe managers should learn these important skillsets to assist with overall leadership and management of an organization. When ideas are presented, does a manager consider the risk involved, much like the way we consider costs of the effort? Do we review and ensure appropriate forms, waivers, and indemnification agreements are in place? During the first few months of my current position, we invited the California JPIA to do the onsite risk assessment with all of our departments participating. It sends a positive message to everyone when the manager shows care towards risk management. We also require certain California JPIA risk management trainings for all employees and attempt to build a culture that “risk management is everyone’s job.”
Q. Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and budgetary constraints facing local governments, how do you keep risk management as a top goal for your organization?
A. At the onset of the pandemic, the city’s leadership team came together and discussed a shared approach as we lead through uncertain times. We developed key goals like “employee safety first,” and “set an example for other cities to follow.” We also knew the pandemic would pass so we would take care of our employees always, knowing decisions about furloughs and layoffs would never be considered until the most dire times. The approach was shared across the organization so we could give employees at least something concrete…the city leadership approach. We developed our own Workplace Safety Plans back in April to share with the staff exactly what we were doing to protect them. During the pandemic, our organization shifted 26% of our workforce to remote work while the remaining staff continued their field services (police, fire, and public works). We did this to reduce face-to-face interactions with the public. We implemented online crime reporting so we could reduce law enforcement daily interactions down from approx. 60 to 20 per shift. We isolated employee workgroups from each other to prevent community spread while also creating a daily “Monrovia Strong” newsletter to enhance employee connectivity while we remained isolated. We transitioned most every other city service to virtual service delivery – planning & building, crime reporting, records requests, utility billing and much more. We’ve been afforded time and opportunity to think critically about how we do things well, and where we can improve. Employee safety was always the #1 priority and I believe employees would agree.
Q. Final thoughts?
A. One of the most profound messages I received as a youth was “Dylan, go thrive in awkwardness.” That message encourages me daily as we lead through uncertain times. There is an abundance of leadership and excellence occurring right now in Monrovia but also throughout the state and country. I hope to continue learning about how other managers are demonstrating excellence during these uncertain times.
Congratulations to Dylan Feik and the City of Monrovia.Print Article
The California JPIA congratulates Rolling Hills Mayor Pro Tem Beatriz (Bea) Dieringer, elected to a one-year term as president of the League of California Cities Women’s Caucus. She has been a member of the Women’s Caucus Board of Directors since 2017. The Women’s Caucus, a non-partisan organization of local public officials, advances women as leaders and advocates for issues affecting the well-being of women throughout the state.
“The City of Rolling Hills applauds Mayor Pro Tem Dieringer’s election as president of the League of California Cities Women’s Caucus,” said Rolling Hills City Manager Elaine Jeng. “Mayor Pro Tem Dieringer is very involved with regional issues. She provides the city with external perspectives with respect to risk management, crime prevention, and policy insights through her engagements with industry organizations. The city commends her work for the community of Rolling Hills and for local government throughout California.”
First elected to the Rolling Hills City Council in March 2013, Dieringer was selected as mayor in 2016 and elected to a third consecutive four-year term this year. She represents Rolling Hills on the California JPIA’s Board of Directors, the California Contract Cities Association’s legislative committee, and the South Bay Cities Council of Governments’ board of directors. She also serves as a member of the legislative committee for the Los Angeles Division of the League of California Cities.
“As a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County, Mayor Pro Tem Dieringer provides an added layer of risk management to the City of Rolling Hills’ policies and practices to minimize risks,” said Jeng. “She encourages the city to seek resources from the California JPIA whenever possible, and highly values and often attends training opportunities designed by the California JPIA.”
“The City of Rolling Hills is committed to protecting the public from injury and liability through active review of contracts, prompt attention to claims, and compliance with mandated programs,” said Senior Risk Manager Melaina Francis. “Mayor Pro Tem Dieringer’s knowledge of and advocacy for risk management best practices will be an asset to her new role as League of California Cities Women’s Caucus President.”
Dieringer’s Women’s Caucus leadership team includes two additional California JPIA members: Second Vice President Rachelle Arizmendi, mayor pro tem, City of Sierra Madre, and Director-at-Large Cheryl Viegas-Walker, councilmember, City of El Centro.
Congratulations, Mayor Pro Tem Dieringer, on your election as president of the League of California Cities Women’s Caucus!Print Article