Making Democracy Work

Issues of Emphasis 2016-2017

Issues for Education and Advocacy for 2016-2017:

City Good Governance Framework: Independent Redistricting Commission, Transparency Ordinance and Ethics Commission

Civic Engagement: Increase voter turnout by broadening Voter Service outreach in the communities with low voter turnout.

Homelessness: Study homelessness in Sacramento County.

Climate Change: Educate ourselves on what measures can be used to mitigate the effects of climate change in the Sacramento area, i.e. preparing for adequate drinking and agricultural water and protecting our region from sea water flooding.

Here are updates on some of our current issues:

Sacramento Voters Approve Citywide Redistricting Reform

Measure L, which will create an independent citizens-led redistricting commission to draw city council districts in Sacramento, passed on November 8 with 53% of the vote. This Sacramento City charter amendment is modeled after the successful state redistricting commission. It is the first of three good governance reforms in a "framework" adopted by the City Council last year in response to recommendations from the League of Women Voters Sacramento County (LWVSC) and Common Cause, natural allies on these issues. This successful community partnership is a good example of what can be achieved through collaboration with our natural partners. Nicolas Heidorn from Common Cause has been invaluable in this effort.

The LWVSC and Common Cause will now be working with Mayor elect Steinberg and the Council on the two remaining parts of the framework, a comprehensive "Sunshine Ordinance" and a five member ethics commission with enforcement power. It has been a slower process than we hoped, however we have learned more about how the City works and now, with a new administration including new city manager at City Hall, we will need to engage the public again on these issues.

Members living in the city interested in helping move this forward, please contact or go to for more information.

"This is a big win for the voters of Sacramento," said Nicolas Heidorn, Legislation and Policy Counsel for California Common Cause, "Measure L puts the interests of voters and neighborhoods first in the redistricting process, not incumbents. The independent commission adopted by the voters is the gold standard for local reform."

"Redistricting has been very contentious in Sacramento. Sacramentans deserve a citizen-driven, transparent process for drawing council boundaries every 10 years," said Paula Lee, Co-President of the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County. "I am so proud that city leaders, community groups, and the voters came together to pass this landmark reform, the first in the good government framework adopted by the council. The League of Women Voters looks forward to support for the adoption of the next two reforms, a comprehensive transparency ordinance and an ethics commission."

Update on Sacramento Homelessness

Homeless women and men in our community only live to an average age of fifty-years-old. Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, SRECH, has documented the deaths of nearly 800 homeless people over the past 14 years. That's approximately one homeless person dying every seven days. The data collected by SRECH has led to changes in direct services and increased county funding to help prevent needless deaths of those experiencing homelessness.

SRCEH will hold its 3rd annual Interfaith Homeless Memorial Service, December 19, 2016, - to provide a dignified remembrance to homeless people who have passed away over the year - who all too often remain invisible in life.

A British newspaper, The Guardian, covered the June report of the Sacramento Grand Jury. The Grand Jury concluded: "The Grand Jury recognizes the work that area leaders and homeless service providers have made in order to address the homeless crisis. In spite of these efforts, the Grand Jury found that there has been little progress in reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness. It is the recommendation of the Grand Jury that Sacramento County and surrounding cities should declare homelessness a state of emergency. Criminalization of homelessness is not an effective solution, and other options need to be developed, including basic supports to meet the needs of all the homeless and reduce the amount of blight and negative effects on the public. Nontraditional approaches of responding to homeless issues such as access to toilets and showers, safe sanctuaries, Navigators and impact units require additional funding and support. While the Grand Jury supports the intent of the Housing First model to move homeless people into permanent housing, the model does not address the needs of all homeless individuals and families. With resources shifted to one specific solution, an already overburdened safety net is challenged to meet the needs of all people experiencing homelessness. Without substantially increased affordable housing, the Sacramento area is incapable of providing sufficient resources to meet the demand and significantly reduce the number of people who are homeless at this time."

For the full report, please see:

Governor Brown, at the end of September, signed SB 1380 (authored by Senator Holly Mitchell, Los Angeles) which requires a state agency or department that provides housing to people experiencing homelessness to revise or adopt guidelines and regulations: "Establishes a Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council to oversee the implementation of Housing First guidelines and, among other things, to identify resources, benefits, and services that can be accessed to prevent and end to homelessness in California."

For the full legislature, please see: