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Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 19
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]

The City of Santa Clarita is the recipient of the League of California Cities’ highest honor – the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence – for its “Granada Villa Neighborhood Committee,” as announced Wednesday, Sept. 18, at the League’s annual conference in Sacramento.

The “Granada Villa Neighborhood Committee” was the winner in the Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics and Community Involvement category.  The City created the civic engagement program for the Granada Villa Mobile Home Park to build community trust, enhance public safety, increase resident involvement, and bridge communication gaps with City staff, law enforcement, and local service agencies.

In recent years concerns were mounting in this neighborhood where safety for youth and families was in jeopardy due to gang activity and crime and unfortunately residents in the neighborhood were not reaching out to the City to help combat these issues.  As a result, the program was designed to solve problems by opening lines of communications between residents, City staff, and other public agencies while finding creative ways to address challenges like crime, gangs, graffiti, and blight.

In collaboration with other public agencies, Santa Clarita provided positive alternatives to the gang lifestyle, including tutoring services and job skills programs.  Regular patrols by the City’s Graffiti Task Force were also increased to help improve the quality of life in the neighborhood, and law enforcement noted a decrease in gang-related crime and violence after the inception of these specific outreach efforts.

Youth and families learned new skills to help them succeed in school and life, connected with the City, law enforcement and other agencies, received ample support facilitating problem-solving, and were empowered to take back their community by creating a stronger neighborhood.  Additionally, the Granada Villa Neighborhood Committee’s efforts and collaboration with the City and local agencies helped create a strong neighborhood by instilling pride and ownership among its residents and restoring safety in a once troubled community.

“The City of Santa Clarita is honored to have been recognized by the League for excellence in developing a program that enhanced the quality of life for residents,” said Mayor Bob Kellar.  “This hands-on, collaborative approach to addressing critical issues helped unify the residents of Granada Villa, and Santa Clarita will continue to provide resources and support to encourage community engagement with City staff and partners.”

The Helen Putnam awards program holds a long tradition with all California cities as being a coveted and premier award, recognizing outstanding achievements in a variety of categories that deliver the highest quality service in the most effective manner possible.

Helen Putnam was a mother, school teacher, principal, mayor and county supervisor.   But most of all, Helen Putnam was a person who viewed meeting one’s potential as the measure of success.  Excellence to Helen Putnam was shown by someone who did his or her very best.  To the League and to California Cities, Helen Putnam defined excellence.

For more information about the City of Santa Clarita’s Granada Villa Neighborhood Committee, please contact Communications Manager Gail Ortiz, at  (661) 255-4314.






The 2013 Helen Putnam Winners Have Been Selected

Congratulations to the following winning cities:

CCS Partnership Intergovernmental Collaboration Award

Ontario and Montclair

Program Title: Ontario-Montclair Promise Scholars Initiative
The Ontario-Montclair Promise Scholars Initiative is a partnership between the cities of Ontario and Montclair, County of San Bernardino, Ontario-Montclair School District (OMSD), Chaffey Joint Union High School District, Chaffey Community College, CSU San Bernardino, Inland Empire United Way, and local businesses to provide early awareness and access to college for all students in the community. The program began as a pilot in 1999 and is in its second year of expanding from six schools to thirty-five.

Contact: Leslie Sorensen, Resource Development Administrator
Phone:  (909) 418-6331 or email: leslie.sorensen@omsd.net

Community Services and Economic Development


Program Title: “G.U.L.C.H.” (Growing Unity, Leadership, Community & Health)
The G.U.L.C.H. (Growing Unity, Leadership, Community & Health), is an innovative, youth driven teen program designed to provide an enjoyable, safe and nurturing environment through adventure, self-discovery, and mentorship.
Contact: Donna Wood, Recreation and Facilities Manager
Phone:  (707) 268-1858

Economic Development through the Arts


Program Title: Cultural Arts Resource District
Eureka, the Humboldt County seat, is a historic city of 28,000 nestled between the majestic redwoods, and California’s rugged North Coast. The City has experienced economic problems since the early 1990’s. Construction of a regional mall on the City’s perimeter in 1988 hastened the flight of business from Eureka’s commercial core area, which was already suffering from the decline of the region’s natural resource-based economy.
Contact: Charlotte McDonald, Executive Director
Phone: (707) 442-3054 or email: ekamainst@aol.com

Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics, & Community Involvement

Santa Clarita

Program Title: Granada Villa Neighborhood Committee
The Granada Villa Neighborhood Committee is a great example of how a grassroots effort can flourish into a successful community partnership despite challenging economic times and limited City resources. It has measurable, far-reaching results. Utilizing existing resources, the City partnered with residents and local agencies to facilitate problem-solving, open lines of communication, build trust, and find creative ways to address challenges and meet needs. Residents were empowered to take their community back and create a stronger neighborhood; connect with law enforcement and service agencies; and learn new skills. Youth found positive activities and the help they need to succeed in school and in life. The quality of life in the Granada Villa mobile home park has significantly improved.

Contact:  Tess Simgen, Administrative Analyst
Phone: (661) 286-4157 or email: tsimgen@santa-clarita.com

Health & Wellness Programs

San Clemente

Program Title: Fun on the Run Fitness Programs
Fun on the Run Fitness Program is a community based childhood obesity prevention program, providing underserved youth with free mobile recreation, affordable afterschool sports, swim lessons and nutrition education to improve children’s health and lifestyles.

Contact: Pamela Passow, Recreation Manager
Phone: (949) 429-8875 or email: passowp@san-clemente.org

Housing Programs & Innovations


Program Title: Homeless Services Continuum of Care
The City of Ontario implemented a full service Homeless Services Continuum of Care that transitions homeless individuals and families into permanent housing while creating a reliable source of funding for the program with new long term affordable housing units. The City was able to seize the opportunities created through the housing crisis to acquire foreclosed multi-family properties at reasonable costs to create an inventory of 62 housing units for this program. To date, thousands of people have been served through this full service program.
Contact: Brent Schultz, Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization Director
Phone: (909) 395-2317 or email: jbjork@ci.ontario.ca.us

Internal Administration

Walnut Creek

Program Title: A Community Connected: The 2012-14 Budget Story
“A Community Connected: The 2012-14 Budget Story” seeks to engage and educate the community about Walnut Creek’s fiscal challenge by tossing aside traditional dense budget documents in favor of a colorful story full of photos, graphics and a compelling narrative.

Contact: Gayle Vassar, Communications & Outreach Manager
Phone: (925) 943-5895 or email: vassar@walnut-creek.org

League Partners Award for Excellence in City-Business Relations

Mammoth Lakes

Program Title: Mammoth Gateway Community Project
The Mammoth Gateway Community Project illustrates how cooperation between local, state, and federal agencies as well as business and community volunteers can help make a lasting first impression on visitors in a town where the local economy is highly dependent on tourism.

Contact: Jessica Morris, Transportation Planner
Phone:  (760) 934-8989 x2 or email: jmorriss@ci.mammoth-lakes.ca.us

Planning & Environmental Quality

Elk Grove

Program Title: Elk Grove Rain Garden Plaza
The City of Elk Grove transformed a blighted one-acre parcel into an inspiring, educational and recreational Project that mimics a natural approach to retain and cleanse urban stormwater runoff while protecting the environment and promoting future sustainable practices. The Elk Grove Rain Garden Project demonstrates the connection between a small urban space and innovative storm water management practices and is the first large-scale rain garden in California. The Project provides a community gathering area with picnic tables/benches and features an art sculpture for interactive play. Colorful interpretive signs help explain the functions of the Project, with its water harvesting features, wildlife attracting plants and fitness equipment. The Project is connected to a corridor of residential homes, businesses, parks and trails. The beautiful, inviting open space inspires visitors of all ages to have fun as they learn easy ways to prevent stormwater pollution and preserve the environment for future generations.

Contact: Darren Wilson, Engineering Services Manager
Phone: (916) 627-3446 or email: dwilson@elkgrovecity.org

Public Safety

Santa Maria

Program Title: Listos
By means of an innovative disaster preparedness program, the City of Santa Maria is effectively engaging its non-English speaking Hispanic/Latino population through an education program designed to promote trust in local government, enhancing public safety and disaster preparedness, and fostering better civic participation. Community trust and involvement are taking hold with hundreds of families and individuals who experience the City’s willingness to invest in meaningful outreach efforts through the “Listos” emergency preparedness program. This collaborative effort is intended to engage the City’s non-English speaking Hispanic/Latino community, whose numbers now represent more than 70 percent of the City residents.

Contact: Mark van de Kamp, Management Analyst II
Phone: (805) 925-0951 or email: mvandekamp@ci.santa-maria.ca.us

Public Works, Infrastructure and Transportation



Program Title: Legacy Park
The City of Malibu’s Legacy Park is one of the most protective and innovative stormwater management projects in California, if not the nation, due to its scope and treatment capacity. Legacy Park is an integrated multi-benefit project that 1) improves water quality by capturing, detaining, screening, filtering and treating stormwater runoff to remove pollutants, 2) beneficially reuses treated stormwater, and 3) creates a public amenity that will provides valuable habitat, education and passive recreation opportunities.

Contact: Robert Brager, Public Works Director
Phone: (310) 456-2489 or email: eshavelson@malibucity.org

Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government


Program Title: Youth Employment Service
The Youth Employment Service (YES) Program provides job training, mentoring and internship opportunities to Monrovia-area at-risk youth.

Contact: Danielle Tellez, Human Resources Director
Phone: (626) 932-5518 or email: jmclain@ci.monrovia.ca.us


Award categories include:

CCS Partnership Intergovernmental Collaboration Award

Community Services and Economic Development

Economic Development through the Arts-NEW Category

Enhancing Public Trust, Ethics, and Community Involvement

Health and Wellness Programs

Housing Programs and Innovations

Internal Administration

League Partners Award for Excellence in City-Business Relations

Planning and Environmental Quality

Public Safety

Public Works, Infrastructure, Transportation

Ruth Vreeland Award for Engaging Youth in City Government

Additionally, the winning city can receive the President’s Advocacy Award. This prestigious award honors a distinguished program or individual that best advocates for the League’s annual strategic priorities. One outstanding winner may be chosen from the 12 categories.

Cities must be a member of the League of California Cities to apply. Particular attention and credit is given to applications specifically advancing the League’s strategic priorities at www.cacities.org/priorities, which are determined each year by the Board of Directors.

What is the Helen Putnam Award?

Established in 1982 by the League of California Cities, the California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program recognizes outstanding achievements by California’s 482 cities. These winning cities have made unique contributions to community residents and businesses, contributions which have resulted in lower costs or more effective delivery of services. The purpose of the California Cities Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program is to recognize and promote the outstanding efforts and innovative solutions by city governments to:

  • Improve the quality of life in local communities.
  • Implement efficiencies in service delivery and operations.
  • Provide services responsive to the local community.

Sponsored by the League Partners, the Helen Putnam Award for Excellence program was designed to recognize and promote the outstanding efforts and innovative solutions made by city governments each year. For a complete list of this year’s categories, please view this year’s program brochure.

Award winners are recognized at the League’s Annual Conference, in Western City magazine and press release notifications, on the League’s website, and in presentations made to city council meetings.

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