California Local Explainers, Guides, Etc.


Image caption: The 2024-2025 City of Sacramento budget is dry reading, but worth it. $1.6 billion worth. Courtesy City of Sacramento.
Show Me the Money: How California Cities and Towns Fund Their Annual Budgets

Local democracy is a complex, expensive process. We explain.

Image caption: Participation on Civil Grand Juries is open to all Californians of voting age.
How Civil Grand Juries Make Government Better

Civil Grand Juries are a powerful means by which ordinary citizens investigate local governments and provide recommendations for improvement.

Image caption: Incorporated communities in California must manage local resources and your tax dollars according to a plan.
The Central Role of Planning in California Government

General Plans, mandated by the state and carried out by local counties, cities, and other municipalities, serve as a locality’s ‘constitution'.

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How California Works: an Editors' Note

True stories about how, at its best, California has resisted and pushed back against anti-democratic forces. The histories and policies, deeply human characters, and controversies that have led us to where we are today.

Image caption: Dalip Singh Saund,  the first Sikh, Indian American and Asian American to be elected to Congress and Kamala Harris, the first Asian American vice president.
25 AAPI Leaders From California

California has been home to many Asian American and Pacific Islanders who have transcended barriers and reshaped society, from education to advocacy, art to sports, politics, and beyond.

Image caption: 207 units of market rate housing in Santa Cruz almost ready for occupancy in May 2024
How California Manages Housing as a Public Resource

Like the 33 million acres of forest in California, the nearly 15 million units of housing in the state are tended and managed with future generations in mind. Meet the California Department of Housing and Community Development.

Image caption: The California mental health crisis is tied to both homelessness and rising crime.
UPDATE: California’s Mental Health Crisis: How We Got Here

How the California mental health crisis emerged out of the state’s history of deinstitutionalization and laws designed to protect the mentally ill, as well as the communities around them.

Image caption: A view of the Helen Madere Memorial Bridge crossing the Sacramento River at Rio Vista in Solano County, California.
California Forever: Building a New Community From the Ground Up

We take a closer look at ambitious plans to build a new community of up to 400,000 residents in Solano County.

Image caption: As residents continue to exit California, the state’s political power at the national level is at risk.
Updated: California Exodus, Housing and the State's Political Future

The California housing crisis is not only weakening the state politically at the national level, it could shift the political balance in Washington, D.C., as Republican-led states add population while California’s exodus continues.

Image caption: This image, titled 'Montara Mountain,' was used on the cover of 'The Unseen Peninsula.'
The Making of ‘The Unseen Peninsula’

A celebrated photographer reflects on the life that led to his first book, which captures a secret paradise in the heart of the San Francisco Peninsula.

Image caption: Gov. Gavin Newsom tours a Chinese electric-car factory in October, 2023.
How California Helped Clean China’s Bad Air

A Tesla lobbyist, an LA-based environmental group, and Gov. Jerry Brown brought a rule minted in Sacramento to Beijing, and helped launch China’s EV industry.

Image caption: California has a goal of 6 million heat pumps cooling and heating buildings by 2030.
6 Million New Heat Pumps: Essential to California's Climate Future

Heat pumps, an energy-efficient way to both heat and cool homes, are a necessary element of California's climate goal of net zero carbon emissions. Here's what they are, how they work, and how to get one.

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Pi Day Desert Recipes

We know that Pi Day, 3.14, is universally celebrated by eating pie, but our friends at Sac Digs Gardening apparently prefer other delicious treats. Here you will find a bunch of desert recipes from their cookbook, Taste Spring!

Image caption: The city of Downey is home to the oldest McDonald’s restaurant still in operation.
Beyond the Burger

McDonald’s might be the biggest fast-food chain to get cooking in California, but many others have followed, serving up hot dogs, tacos, and more.

Image caption: The 1965 law known as the Williamson Act has been responsible for keeping about half of California's farmland out of the hands of developers.
The Williamson Act: How the Law That Protects California’s Farmland Works

The Williamson Act, passed in 1965, now keeps more than 16 million acres of farmland out of the hands of developers. Here's how the law puts the brakes on the development of California agricultural properties.

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February Reading List

Mark Black History Month by reading these novels, nonfiction books and collections that feature Black voices exploring the Black experience in the Golden State.

Image caption: Does California’s signature environmental law protect the state’s scenic beauty, or cause more problems than it solves?
CEQA: The Surprising Story of CA’s Key Environmental Law

The California Environmental Quality Act, CEQA, is both the state’s signature environmental legislation, and is also often named as the villain in the state’s housing shortage. But the story may not be that simple.

Image caption: From its factory on the San Francisco Peninsula, Guittard makes chocolates that are used by professional pastry chefs and confectioners, including See’s Candies.
Beans, Bars and Bonbons: A Guide to California Chocolate

From giant companies with roots in the Gold Rush days to local microproducers with a focus on fair trade, California is ground zero for high-end chocolate.

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Bending the Arc of History

Here’s a short list of just some of the organizations working to build better futures for African Americans in California.

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