Issue 114 - August 2021
Registration has opened for the Authority’s 26th Annual Risk Management Educational Forum, titled S.S. Authority: Voyage Through the Sea of Risks. The Forum will be held on October 6–8, 2021, at the Catamaran Resort Hotel in San Diego.
This year’s keynote speaker is Captain Richard Phillips. The captain is the author of A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, detailing his dramatic encounter with modern-day pirates and his remarkable rescue. The story was also turned into an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated film.
This year’s Forum also features a wide variety of topics and issues relevant to local government, including legal liability, workers’ compensation, employment law, public safety, organizational thinking, governance, and legislation.
Please note that registration is limited to public agency officials and employees and the Authority’s business partners. There is no registration fee for members of the California JPIA.
As the pandemic continues, the Authority is working to ensure that appropriate protocols and procedures are in place to protect the health and safety of attendees and guests.Print Article
California JPIA staff members will share risk management best practices with elected officials and staff during presentations at the California Contract Cities Association’s Fall Educational Summit and the League of California Cities’ Annual Conference and Expo next month.
The California Contract Cities Association (CCCA) supports cities that contract for municipal services such as law enforcement and emergency medical services. Through education and collaboration, the association combines resources to secure the best service at the minimum cost and to influence policy decisions. The Authority supports CCCA’s efforts to strengthen local control and governance as a Platinum Sponsor.
“The California JPIA was founded by a sub-committee of city managers and administrators within the California Contract Cities Association. The Authority is a long-time supporter of not only Contract Cities but also its educational programming, which provides opportunities for the Authority to better understand and address the challenges faced by local governments,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull.
CCCA’s Fall Educational Summit, in Indian Wells, September 16-19, will bring together the association’s members to collaborate on solutions to issues that impact their cities. The event also will recognize the leadership of City of Lomita Mayor Mark Waronek, president, and City of West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, immediate past president.
During the session, “Is Telecommuting Post-COVID for the Public Sector? Legal & Practical Considerations for Employers,” California JPIA Employment Practices Manager Kelly Trainer Policky and Tripepi Smith President Ryder Todd Smith will focus on how the pandemic has challenged public agencies to develop new strategies for providing services and engaging constituents. They will also discuss how municipal administrators should address integrating full-time or hybrid remote work opportunities into their structure and operations.
Senior Risk Manager Alex Mellor also will represent the California JPIA at the summit.
Later in the month, the California JPIA will partner with the California City Management Foundation (CCMF) to present a panel at the League of California Cities Annual Conference and Expo, September 22-24, in Sacramento. “Building an Effective City Council-Manager Team from Day One” will feature Shull leading a discussion among CCMF Executive Director Ken Pulskamp, City of West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, and West Hollywood City Manager David Wilson. The session will be about developing and maintaining a dynamic council-manager relationship that will serve the community at the highest level amid all situations.
“Good governance is a risk management imperative,” said Shull. “The Authority is proud to provide this important educational opportunity.”
The League of California Cities, an advocacy organization that protects and extends local control for cities, offers year-round education for new and experienced municipal leaders. The Annual Conference and Expo provides opportunities to gain perspective and knowledge about challenging, real-world issues facing cities.Print Article
To better connect with current members and reach potential new members, the Authority has an active presence on social media. Members can find information on various topics on the social media channels listed below.
Connect with our latest posts:
“How can you reduce the likelihood of your agency becoming the victim of a cyber attack? Authority members can join us on October 6 in the session “Pirates of the Seas: Avoiding Cyber Attacks” at the 26th Annual Risk Management Educational Forum. Learn more: https://tinyurl.com/9fnwsxz5”
Comment and share:
“Congratulations on your award, Ken Striplin! 👏 🏆 ICMA – International City/County Management Association City of Santa Clarita”
Follow us, comment and share about risk management:
“The toiletries and household items we collected for our summer service project went to Child Lane, providing affordable early care and education programs to families. For more information, visit childlane.org. Thank you to Child Lane for your amazing community service!”
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For information on how to join these sites or participate in discussions, please contact Courtney Morrison, Management Analyst.Print Article
To help members identify and reduce the cost of claims involving cases where the application of governmental immunities may be a potential dispositive defense, the California JPIA has launched ReClaim, a new awareness campaign. This important, data-driven initiative will help members understand and address high-impact claims so that they can redirect critical funding toward important programs and services.
Design Immunity is the second of three specific governmental immunities on which the California JPIA’s ReClaim campaign will focus this summer. To receive an alert when new materials are available, please contact us via email.
Roadway design cases represent the single greatest liability exposure for California JPIA members. Over the past five years, the California JPIA has incurred more than 400 design-related claims with a total severity of more than $43 million in settlements and judgments. Although members’ liability in road design cases may be remote, when the person found to be the most liable for the accident is “judgment proof”—with little or no insurance or assets—many plaintiffs pursue local governments to receive a full recovery.
Joint and several liability has survived under common law for centuries because it ensures that the risk of a defendant’s insolvency would fall on one who was also responsible to some degree for the plaintiff’s injuries and not upon the plaintiff. Joint responsibility means that the plaintiff is deserving of the court’s award for damages without respect to the degree of responsibility.
In 1986, California changed the law regarding non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, and now limits the damages required by each defendant, thereby apportioning non-economic damages. This means that, in the case of multiple defendants, each shall be liable only for those non-economic damages the jury attributes to each defendant. However, defendants remain jointly and severally liable for economic damages, which often are significant in roadway design cases that involve catastrophic injuries.
One of the strongest defenses available to a public entity to defeat joint and several liability for economic damages is the design immunity. The design immunity provides that a public entity is not liable for an injury caused by an improvement to public property in which the design and construction conformed to approved standards or was approved by the entity’s legislative body. The concept of the design immunity is invaluable, providing an opportunity to dismiss a member from a trial proceeding, thus saving costs in the form of attorney fees and eliminating the member’s exposure at an eventual trial.
To invoke the design immunity, the public entity must establish three elements:
- A causal relationship between the accident and the design
- Discretionary approval of the design before construction
- Substantial evidence of the reasonableness of the design
The assertion of the design immunity is a document-intensive effort involving record maintenance, organization, and retrieval concerning the design of a particular roadway segment. Roadways within a city should be broken down into segments to provide for the indexing and retrieval of documents related to design, approval, construction, and maintenance. Similarly, traffic sign inventories that store information about the installation, inspection, modification, and removal dates for signs and their distance from an intersection or crosswalk should be recorded and preserved to establish the design immunity.
California JPIA members can and should inventory their records to determine if sufficient documentation exists for road designs:
- Break roadways into segments that will form the basis for indexing and retrieving documents related to design, approval, construction, and maintenance. These documents should include as-built plans, construction plans, drawings, specifications, aerial photos, inventories of roadway markings, and roadway signs.
- If original design plans are unavailable, identify and initiate pre-work to resurrect design immunity through capital improvement projects. Review every intersection to document the basis for all design features. If funding delays completion of the project, carefully document the budgetary decision-making process, along with subsequent plans to complete the work.
- Review your agency’s process for approving design plans, which must be approved by the legislative body unless others have been formally authorized to do so.
For more information, please read the California JPIA’s white paper on design immunity. This white paper presents a more detailed discussion on the statutory and legislative background of the design immunity and an outline of the elements of the design immunity, with attention devoted toward immunity preservation. The paper then discusses how members can lose this important protection, coupled with steps to take to re-establish design immunity.Print Article
National Preparedness Month is an observance each September to raise awareness about the importance of preparing for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. The 2021 theme is “Prepare to Protect. Preparing for disasters is protecting everyone you love.” More information on this awareness campaign can be found on the U.S. Government’s National Preparedness Month | Ready.gov website.
By taking advantage of available resources, including those offered by the California JPIA, members can prepare in the following ways:
- Training: Emergency Preparedness, Earthquake Preparedness, Fire Prevention, CPR, and First Aid Training can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. In-class and online training information is available by visiting the California JPIA website’s training page.Members should be aware of certain trainings that are required to be completed in order to qualify for FEMA funds in the event of a disaster. The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) offers self-paced courses designed for those with emergency management responsibilities as well as the general public. All are offered free of charge to those who qualify for enrollment. For a complete listing of courses, visit: https://training.fema.gov/is/
- Inspect for Safety: Inspect agency-owned facilities for emergency-related exposures, including clear evacuation routes, storage practices, securing furniture or other large objects from falling, proper lighting, and emergency supplies. Visit the California JPIA’s online resource library for a variety of inspection checklists.
- Develop Emergency Action and Fire Prevention Plans: Cal/OSHA-compliant programs should be in writing and cover the designated actions employers and employees must take to ensure employee safety from all types of emergencies. Elements of the plan include the following:
- Emergency escape procedures and emergency escape route assignments;
- Procedures to be followed by employees who remain in their positions to operate critical operations before they evacuate;
- Procedures to account for all employees after evacuation has been completed;
- Rescue and medical duties for those employees who are able to perform them;
- The preferred means of reporting fires and other emergencies;
- Names or regular job titles of persons or departments who can be contacted for further information or explanation of duties under the plan;
- An employee alarm system that complies with Article 165 of Cal/OSHA’s Fire Protection Regulations;
- The types of evacuations to be used in emergency circumstances; and
Download an Emergency Action Plan template on the California JPIA’s online resource library.
- Evaluate Applicable Insurance Coverages: Evaluate the city’s coverage for emergency-related perils. The California JPIA’s property program includes all-risk coverage for real and personal property, with the option of adding earthquake and flood coverage for damages or loss of use due to these perils. Additional information can be found here: Insured Programs – California JPIA (cjpia.org).
If you have any questions or need additional information and/or resources, please contact your agency’s assigned Risk Manager.Print Article
Guadalupe, located on California’s Central Coast, lies on Highway 1 at the northeastern edge of Santa Barbara County, 10 miles west of Santa Maria and five miles east of the Pacific Ocean. Originally serving as pastureland for Mission La Purisima, established in 1787, the area became part of the Rancho Guadalupe land grant in 1840 and was settled by pioneers from Central America, Asia, and Europe. Incorporated in 1946, the City of Guadalupe is now home to approximately 8,000 residents who value its rich agriculture and history as well as the Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes, a National Natural Landmark and the largest remaining dune ecosystem south of San Francisco.
“Our 75th anniversary is captioned ‘Guadalupe: Diamond in the Rough’ because the 75-year anniversary is the diamond year,” said Councilmember Lilliana Cardenas, a resident of Guadalupe since she was ten years old. “This caption also honors our city’s vision of continued progress and resiliency. Guadalupe is a gem that has and will continue to overcome challenges.”
The community’s most recent challenge came when their 75th-anniversary celebration was canceled due to the rise of regional COVID-19 cases, driven by the Delta variant.
The Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health requested that the city and event coordinators of the “Guadalupe 75th Anniversary Celebration” consider postponing the open-streets gathering, expected to draw more than 2,000 residents and visitors. One week before the event, scheduled for August 8, organizers agreed to cancel the celebration for the safety of the community.
“Residents would have been able to enjoy our stretch of Highway 1 free of motorized traffic to engage in activities including a parade, car show, bike obstacle course, over 50 booths with information and activities from community-based agencies and businesses, a COVID vaccination clinic, and music and dance performances,” said Cardenas. “One of the highlights was a healing ceremony to commemorate the lives of the community members that we lost to COVID and to provide a space for the collective healing of Guadalupe.”
The Infinity Healing Ceremony, which took place online at the same time as it would have in person, invited community members to exchange rocks and letters for seed packets in baskets in front of city hall. In addition to the ceremony, a proclamation at Guadalupe’s August 24 city council meeting recognized the community’s eldest member, Joseph Sauceda, 101, who would have been grand marshal of the parade in honor of his 96-year residency in Guadalupe and his service in World War II. The city also produced a 75th-anniversary publication celebrating the city’s history with photographs and written pieces from local youth.
This pivot is characteristic of the community’s resilient character and culture of public safety.
“Guadalupe is an attractive, friendly city, with safe neighborhoods and good restaurants,” said Senior Risk Manager Tim Karcz, who has supported risk management programming and training for the city council and staff. “Guadalupe ranks among the safest cities in California, with a public safety director who oversees both the police and fire departments.”
“Guadalupe is a hard-working, family-oriented community,” said City Administrator Todd Bodem, who joined Guadalupe in 2018 from Sand City, where he served as city administrator. “The residents are great, and the city staff and the city council are among the best with whom I’ve ever worked.”
Construction is in progress on a new community center in LeRoy Park, the oldest park in Santa Barbara County, which will serve as a vibrant gathering place for residents. The city received a $4.5 million Community Development Block Grant, of which $4.1 million was allocated to rehabilitate the existing building and grounds to include a barbecue area, playground, and open lawn. Beginning with a community-wide meeting, the design process was supported by more than a dozen community stakeholder meetings to ensure resident engagement.
“The Guadalupe city council has set a goal to ensure inclusiveness of all groups,” said Bodem. “By connecting the new and the old and bringing people together, we can accomplish great things.”Print Article
Last July, in the newsletter article Temporary Use of Member Property for Private Business Operations, the Authority advised members on effectively managing risk associated with the movement of business operations from private property into public spaces due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once it became clear that the pandemic could have a potentially devastating effect on local economies, many members took swift action to support their local business communities. The City of Paramount’s program, Paramount Al Fresco, streamlined requirements and approvals for outdoor dining at the intersection of private property and public rights-of-way, such as sidewalks and parking lots so that local restaurants could accommodate state and county public health guidelines. The City of Solvang, which closed a two-block area of its downtown, established guidelines for businesses to obtain encroachment permits to use public spaces. It also implemented safety features such as obstruction-free paths and marked, enclosed street seating.
Almost one year later, cities throughout California continue to allow dining, retail sales, and other private business operations to occur on sidewalks, roadways, and other public property. The City of Los Angeles, which has extended temporary operations through September 1, plans to establish a permanent outdoor dining program by this fall.
“The rapid rise of outdoor dining locations has increased the frequency of incidents involving vehicles and temporary and permanent outdoor dining locations, both on sidewalks and at curbside and parklet locations, from four or six incidents per year to more than 100 incidents between March 2020 and August 2021,” said Rob Reiter, co-founder of the Storefront Safety Council and a national expert on protection from vehicle incursions into public and pedestrian areas. “Many, if not most, of these incidents were preventable and foreseeable.”
Choices related to pedestrian-vehicle interfaces often involve high risk and serious consequences. After a July 2003 incident at the Santa Monica Farmers Market, during which a motorist bypassed barricades, killing ten pedestrians and injuring 63 others, the City of Santa Monica and other defendants paid $21 million to settle dozens of civil lawsuits.
While some municipalities are making responsible choices, others are prioritizing expediency and economic revitalization over public safety. The result, in some cases, is that diners are sharing roadways with vehicles traveling just feet from where they are enjoying a meal, without effective safety barriers.
The Authority strongly recommends that member agencies install (or require affected restaurants and other businesses to install) safety barriers rated to protect diners and pedestrians from moving vehicles. While the exact solution will vary depending upon the characteristics of each specific location, it is recommended that products be selected that conform to recognized standards for protective devices subject to vehicle impact, such as American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F3016 and ASTM F2656.
While this approach will go a long way toward avoiding a potentially tragic accident, members that formally adopt and require installation of products conforming to recognized standards are also more likely to be successful in asserting a design immunity defense. This reduces the likelihood that members will be held financially responsible for a vehicle vs. pedestrian incident.
Whether your agency is allowing on-street dining temporarily or permanently, solutions are available. Two Authority members have installed modular safety barriers to protect pedestrians and upgrade traffic control measures at entry points to their local farmers’ markets: The City of Claremont opted for crash-rated and removable security bollards, while the City of San Luis Obispo implemented three different types of barriers, including inground barricades that can be manually lifted and retracted when roads are to be closed and reopened, decorative bollards that limit vehicle access, and an attenuator truck/trailer for placement over the bridge deck. The City of Malibu, with assistance from Reiter, also has installed crash-tested bollards at a number of commercial locations, in accordance with an ordinance requiring vehicle impact protection devices in existing and future parking lots for head-in spaces within 75 feet of outdoor seating areas.
“There are solutions from California-based manufacturers, as well as consulting and engineering services from both large firms and small offices, that can help California JPIA members evaluate sites and implement protective measures and policies that may prevent simple accidents and reduce the threat and effect of deliberate vehicle attacks on outdoor dining areas,” said Reiter. “As a result, public liability will decrease, and safety of the public will increase.”
If you have questions or would like additional information, please contact your regional Risk Manager.Print Article
The California JPIA welcomes Finance Director Jason McBride, a licensed CPA with extensive accounting, finance, and management experience whose professional background includes work at a Big Four accounting and consulting firm, as well as municipal leadership experience in the most populous city in Orange County.
“I joined the California JPIA to serve our members,” said McBride. “I really want to get to know the people with whom I will work at the Authority’s member agencies, to understand their needs as they relate to the Authority’s finances, and to learn how I can contribute solutions to those needs on the Authority’s behalf.”
McBride joins the California JPIA from the City of Anaheim, where he served as the strategic planning manager for Anaheim Public Utilities, senior administrative analyst for Anaheim Fire & Rescue, and management auditor for the city manager’s office. Overseeing multiple divisions, he most recently was responsible for long-term financial planning, water and electric rate design, and energy trading settlement functions of the utility. He previously was an auditor and consultant with the Transaction Advisory Services group at Ernst & Young.
“I am driven by learning, continued growth, and challenge,” he said. “I look forward to applying new insight to the industry of risk management pooling while continuing to serve the public and filling a critical role for not just one, but more than 120 public agencies.”
As finance director, McBride will be responsible for directing the finance functions of the Authority, including preparing financial statements and reports, developing the Authority’s budget, managing treasury and investment operations, and providing administrative financial support for not only the Executive Management Team but also the Finance Officers Committee.
Looking ahead, McBride anticipates leveraging new technology to augment financial operations and enhance data analysis.
“Transparent, relevant reporting to the members is critically important,” he said. “Data analysis tools can enhance our ability to gain meaning from large data sets. There may be opportunities to integrate new technologies to help the Authority be more efficient in its processes, increase automation and accuracy, and use data the best way that we can on behalf of our members.”
A certified public accountant, McBride earned his MBA from the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine, with certificates in Digital Transformation and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University.
“Jason is a sound leader who will collaborate with the Authority’s staff and members to identify strategies and bring those strategies to fruition,” said Chief Executive Officer Jon Shull. “I am pleased to welcome Jason to the California JPIA.”
Welcome to the Authority, Jason!Print Article