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Projects Prior to 2010

Sierra National Forest Project Planning Forum Mediation

A significant challenge to national forests in the Sierra Nevada is unleashing controversy associated with management actions. These actions are essential to reducing fuel loads, providing habitat, improving public safety, reintroducing fire, and supporting vibrant ecosystems now and in the future. The Center mediated an agreement that ended a decade of controversy by applying a cross-disciplinary scientific framework to collaboratively develop a project under the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. Between the 2007 assessment and 2009, the scientific framework emerged to provide the foundation for a potential project on the area known as Kings River and Dinkey Creek. Mediator Gina Bartlett worked with Forest Service staff to identify a group of stakeholders representing landowners, environmentalists, timber industry, fire specialists, air quality and wildlife agencies to negotiate how the project should be developed. Scientists, vetted with stakeholders to ensure credibility, engaged as technical resources to the negotiation. The parties held a series of conversations and technical discussions that led to adopting the scientific framework and developing a project that all the parties could support. The group has received federal funding and has now expanded the area to 130,000 acres that includes 20,000 acres of adjacent private lands.

Placer County Affordable Housing Dialgoue

In 2005, the Placer County Affordable Housing Stakeholder Group (Group) was convened at the request of the Placer County Board of Supervisors to address the challenges of creating an inclusionary affordable housing ordinance. Individuals from the building industry, affordable housing advocacy and real estate and land owners were invited to take part in a collection of three interest-based, non-County “caucuses” to discuss issues with the content, intent and feasibility of the proposed ordinance.

The Center was brought on to assist with the facilitation and mediation of meetings, develop a clear definition of all parties' roles in the process, and define needs shared by all of the stakeholders. A variety of topics were identified for prioritization by the county, including the development of options for targeting a mix of income levels and creating tools to help parties address neighborhood opposition factors to name a few.

As the process moved forward with the assistance of the Center, the Group was able to identify a number of mutually acceptable agreements / principles designed to give the County guidance as it creates its affordable housing ordinance. Examples of these principles include a “certainty and timeliness” element to apply a consistent, expedient regulatory framework to affordable housing project approval and an understanding that affordable housing should be constructed with the same aesthetics and quality construction required of market-rate homes.

Over time, the Group has evolved their focus to a broader goal of a mutually supported Affordable Housing Program in Placer County. It will continue to meet to craft collaborative solutions to issues with the proposed affordable housing ordinance as they arise.

Alpine County Ad Hoc Winter Recreation Dialog

Disputes over motorized and non-motorized recreation, both summer and winter, are an increasing challenge for federal and state resource agencies. There have been very few success stories reported to date, particular for winter recreation. One reason is that efforts to find potential solutions often point to exclusion or severe limitation of one use or another from key areas. The Center is pleased to report on a potentially successful result that may offer hope, and some practical ideas, for accommodating different winter uses.

The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest's Carson Ranger District lies just east of Lake Tahoe and stretches over the Nevada line into California. Its 368,600 square acres are split almost 50-50 between Nevada and California. The northern edge of the district is north and west of Reno, Nevada and the southern boundary extends 84 miles into California's Alpine County, ending approximately 25 miles north of Yosemite National Park in California. The Forest Service estimates that the majority of the Carson Ranger District is within a four-hour drive for over 10 million people. The District is a popular destination for diverse winter activities, both motorized (snowmobiling) and human-powered (cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding). One increasingly popular area for these activities is known as Hope Valley, located south of Lake Tahoe along Highway 88 in Alpine County. Increased popularity has also increased challenges for the District in managing the resource. Conflict between motorized and non-motorized winter users of the Hope Valley area has become a particular challenge in the last 10 years, resulting in litigation and obstacles to adoption of a winter recreation plan.

In late 2005 the District contacted the Center seeking assistance in efforts to reduce conflict, gather citizen input, and build public support for a winter recreation plan. The Center previously had assisted an adjoining USFS District in California, the Calaveras Ranger District of the Stanislaus National Forest, with a similar set of issues related to winter recreation in the Bear Valley, CA area. J. Michael Harty, an Independent Contract mediator with the Center (who also worked on the Bear Valley project) began working with the District and a group of key winter recreation stakeholders to explore options. Following an assessment of the situation, the District and stakeholders established an Alpine County Ad Hoc Winter Recreation Dialog (the “Dialog”) in early 2006. The District and Alpine County agreed on a set of principles for developing a joint winter recreation strategy, and these were adopted by the County Board of Supervisors in May 2006 (Resolution 2006-28). Dialog participants agreed on a set of Principles and Discussion Guidelines to structure their efforts. Here are some key elements from the Dialog Principles and Guidelines:

  • The Alpine County Ad Hoc Winter Recreation Dialog (“Dialog”) is intended to be a forum for constructive discussion and option development around winter recreation issues in Alpine County.
  • The Dialog is not being established as a formal committee with fixed membership. It is beginning with discussions among a core group of people who have been active in connection with a set of issues around winter recreation in Alpine County. Some people represent organizations, and others are participating on their own behalf. There is no fixed membership; participation in the Dialog is open to other people who are committed to constructive dialog and agree to these Guidelines.
  • The Dialog seeks to explore mutually acceptable options for multi-use winter recreation in Alpine County. The Dialog is committed to addressing all relevant interests as part of its effort to develop options, as long as these interests are presented constructively and in good faith.
  • The Dialog has multiple desired outcomes. One is to foster improved communication and understanding among user groups and interested individuals in Alpine County. A second goal is to share with the USFS initial views on potential options for Alpine County Winter Recreation.

Dialog participants included representatives from Alpine County government, Friends of Hope Valley, Lake Tahoe Snowmobile Association, Cal-Nevada Snowmobile Association, and Snowlands Network, along with private citizens. Dialog participants worked with the mediator and District during 2006 to explore ways to expand winter recreation opportunities around the District in order to reduce pressure on Hope Valley and provide high-quality user experiences. Although the Dialog explicitly did not require a consensus outcome, the efforts of Dialog participants yielded a unanimous agreement on a set of recommendations to the District in January 2007 for elements of a winter recreation plan. There was a clear understanding between the District and Dialog participants that extensive internal and public review would be required, and that the District could not simply adopt the recommendations. The District published a scoping document requesting public comment on its proposed winter recreation plan in February 2007. While the regulatory process requires additional steps including NEPA review, and other factors may influence outcomes, the District- Alpine County- Dialog effort offers hope for co-existence and continued enjoyment of Hope Valley's winter resources. The goal is to complete all decision making, including NEPA review, by September 2007.

California Ocean Protection Council Strategic Plan Development

The California Ocean Protection Council (OPC) was established with the passage of the California Ocean Protection Act in 2004. The role of the Council is to:

  • Coordinate activities of ocean-related state agencies to improve the effectiveness of state efforts to protect ocean resources within existing fiscal limitations.
  • Establish policies to coordinate the collection and sharing of scientific data related to coast and ocean resources between agencies.
  • Identify and recommend to the Legislature changes in law.
  • Identify and recommend changes in federal law and policy to the Governor and Legislature.

The three voting members of the Council are the Secretary of Resources, the Secretary of Cal-EPA, and the Chair of the State Lands Commission (a position that rotates between the State Controller and the Lieutenant Governor). Two ex-officio members represent the State Senate and the State Assembly. The Coastal Conservancy serves as Secretary to the Council and provides direct staff support.

The Council met for the first time in January 2005. In September 2005, the Council Chair Mike Chrisman directed the Coastal Conservancy to undertake a process to develop a strategic plan for the Council. The Conservancy retained the Center for Collaborative Policy to guide the effort on behalf of the Council staff.

Working closely with the Council leadership and their staff over a six-month period the Center staff, Mary Selkirk and Susan Sherry, facilitated a successful process that resulted in a strategic plan unanimously approved and adopted by the Council on June 8, 2006, with broad public and State agency support. The strategic plan was formally announced at the California and the World Ocean '06 Conference in Long Beach on September 18, 2006.

The foundation for the strategic plan is based on six principles from the California Ocean Protection Act:

  • Recognizing the interconnectedness of the land and the sea, supporting sustainable uses of the coast, and ensuring overall ecosystem health
  • Improving the protection, conservation, restoration, and management of coastal and ocean ecosystems through enhanced scientific understanding, including monitoring and data gathering
  • Recognizing the “precautionary principle” that emphasizes the priority for resource protection
  • Identifying the most effective and efficient use of public funds by identifying gaps and new and innovative processes for achieving success
  • Making aesthetic, educational, and recreational uses of the coast and ocean a priority
    involving the public in all aspects of the OPC process, through public meetings, workshops, public conferences, or other symposia.

The Ocean Protection Council adopted a vision for the Strategic Plan. The vision describes the kind of future the Ocean Protection Council strives to achieve for California’s ocean and coastal environment and for all the residents of the State who value and enjoy the ocean and coastlines of the State.

For more information on the Strategic Plan, visit the Ocean Protection Council website.

The strategic planning process was designed to be as open and inclusive as possible. The process included both internal and external stakeholders, including state agencies, NGOs, local jurisdictions (e.g. ports), private industry, and private funders. The inclusive process was in recognition of the high political visibility of this Council and the importance of ocean stewardship to the Administration.

The Center conducted preliminary interviews with Coastal Conservancy and Resources Agency leadership, did extensive background review of the legislation and other relevant materials, and developed a strawman outline for a strategic plan that was the basis for an initial working session with the Council staff. The Center worked with the Council staff to develop a preliminary outline for the plan, which became the basic architecture for all reviews by internal and external stakeholders. Over an eight-week period, Center and OPC staff together interviewed or held focus group sessions with:

  • all Council members and/or their key staff,
  • senior staff of all contributing state agencies,
  • numerous private industry and foundation representatives,
  • ocean scientists, and
  • dozens of NGO representatives in Northern and Southern California.

A complete list of interviews is included in the Strategic Plan, available on the Ocean Protection Council website.

Center staff also facilitated two public workshops in Northern and Southern California attended by approximately one hundred people, to solicit specific recommendations for the draft plan.

California Mental Health Services Act

In November 2004, California voters passed Proposition 63, which created the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA). The goal of the MHSA is to create a state-of-the-art, culturally competent mental health service system for California adults, seniors, and children living with emotional disorders and mental illness. This historic statute redirects California’s mental health system toward transformation, such that mental health programs stress prevention, early intervention, wellness, recovery and resilience. Another groundbreaking aspect of the MHSA is its commitments and requirements to increase the level of participation and involvement of mental health consumers and their families in all aspects of the public mental health system, including but not limited to planning, policy development, service delivery and evaluation.

The Act’s funding is derived from a 1% tax on taxable personal income over $1 million. It is estimated that the MHSA will provide $2.1 billion for mental health funding over the next three years. The vision is to build a system where access will be easier, services more effective and less fragmented, barriers eliminated for underserved groups, out-of-home placement and institutional care reduced, and stigma toward those with mental illness no longer exists. The Act also expands the State’s commitment to developing and refining strategies for evaluating consumer outcomes and system/community indicators, using standardized measurement approaches where possible.

The State Department of Mental Health distributes MHSA funds to County Mental Health Departments based upon plans submitted by the 58 counties. The counties and their local service partners will provide the on-the-ground comprehensive services to renovate the state’s system of care, including treatment, prevention, early intervention, housing, job training and prescription drugs. Funding can only go to new or expanded programs that are based on models proven to be effective. State and local governments cannot redirect the funding.

The MHSA also created a Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to ensure that services provided pursuant to the Act are cost effective and in accordance with recommended best practices subject to local and state oversight. The Commission also has a special role in developing and approving funding for programs addressing innovation, early intervention and prevention. The Commission, chaired by Darrell Steinberg, consists of 16 members, including the Attorney General or designee, the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee, a State Senator and State Assemblyperson, and 12 gubernatorial appointments.

The Center has been actively involved with the launch of the Commission since July 2005, facilitating its first retreat, assisting with the design of its monthly agendas, and consulting with its Chair and Executive leadership on the development of collaborative partnerships. The Center also works with the Mental Heath Service Act staff team of the State Department of Mental Health on its priority setting and organizational development.

A new web-based resource called Network of Care provides Internet access to comprehensive mental health services available in each California county.

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Emergency Plan Development

Governor’s Executive Order S-2-05 requires state agencies, under guidance of the Office of Emergency to develop emergency plans compliant with the California Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS).  The Office of Correctional Safety in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is required to implement departmental emergency plans compliant with SEMS and NIMS.  The Center is currently engaged in a multi-phased work design including: 1) strategic design; 2) departmental emergency plan development; 3) intra-departmental emergency plan development; 4) department-wide emergency plan implementation through training and exercises.

The challenges associated with this project are particularly complex given recent large scale organizational changes and oversight from the courts.  Beginning in FY07 (October 1, 2007), all federal preparedness funding will be contingent upon full compliance with the NIMS.  CDCR’s core mission requires the organization to operate in a continual heightened state of readiness.  Emergency management and interagency cooperation are therefore of critical importance to the department.

The Center has initiated phase 1 of the project which includes strategic consulting and project management.  During this process an internal project Steering Committee will be developed in order to assist in the implementation of all phases of the project.  In addition, stakeholder assessment interviews will be conducted which will guide the development of the CDCR Emergency Plan, and subsequently intra-departmental plans.

Governor’s Emergency Operations Executive Council – Strategic Design and Policy Coordination Facilitation

The Governor’s Emergency Operations Executive Council (GEOEC) was established by Governor Schwarzenegger via Executive Order S-04-06 on April 18, 2006 to improve state agency coordination and overall state preparedness in California. The GEOEC was assigned three major tasks:

  • Provide information to the Governor, Legislature, local agencies and the public on pending emergency conditions that threaten public health and safety.
  • Develop a consolidated set of budget, legislative and administrative recommendations to improve State prevention and response capabilities to deal with pending threats to public health and safety.
  • Assist in emergency preparedness management, response, recovery and mitigation efforts.

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) and the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) were tasked to convene the leadership of approximately 20 executive branch offices, departments and agencies to address a wide array of coordination on emergency services and homeland security issues. 

Member agencies and departments have engaged in robust dialogue which has guided the Council’s struggle for the development of a coordinated effort in key areas including Budget, Legislation, Administration and Operations.  Prior to the GEOEC’s creation in 2006, there was no forum in which agencies could discuss and coordinate their efforts as they pertain to emergency management and homeland security. 

Along with the opportunity to coordinate, state agencies and departments have experienced the difficult task of working through complex dialogue and discussion, which has yielded the development of consensus-based policy recommendations to the Governor and his administration.

The Center provided organizational and process design, facilitation, policy mediation, and strategic planning services for the coalition of agencies, chaired by the Director’s of OES and OHS.  Since its inception in the summer of 2006, the GEOEC has successfully developed a charter for convening, developed a methodology for coordinating among the varied agencies on many topics, and identified key targets for joint collaboration on legislative priorities, budgetary options, operational coordination, and comprehensive strategic planning for California. 

Statewide Emergency Management Interoperability Collaborative

California has two primary multi-party organizations tasked with addressing the state’s critical communications challenges for disasters and emergencies.  The California Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (CALSIEC) and the Public Safety Radio Strategic Planning Committee (PSRSPC) together represent the diverse local and state first responder community.  The Center is assisting both organizations to develop statewide communications interoperability strategic plans that address current modernization challenges and federal mandates that have evolved since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the Gulf Coast hurricanes. 

The current planning effort has allowed diverse first-responder interests to address their specific communication needs in a coordinated manner that covers the full range of geographical, technical, operational, and policy issues.  Emergency responders at all levels in California have been struggling to integrate standard procedures in the state with new federal systems mandated as a result of recent national emergencies.  Prior to the Center’s involvement, the two main groups tasked with this coordination had been inactive and no formal mechanism was in place to address critical coordination needs and mandates for public safety.

The integrated effort of coordinating these two primary organizations, involving dozens of stakeholders and diverse organizations statewide, has allowed for key partners to successfully achieve consensus-based planning goals.  The current 2007 Statewide Integrated Public Safety Communications Strategic Plan is available at

Since 2005, the Center for Collaborative Policy has assisted CALSIEC and PSRSPC with meeting planning design and facilitation; charter development and stakeholder liaison; strategic Planning, and policy mediation for successful critical deliverables.

Emergency Health Volunteers Assessment and Operational Plan

The Center provided organizational and stakeholder assessment expertise, facilitation, and public policy mediation services for a coalition convened by the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), in the Health and Human Services Agency.   EMSA has been delegated by the California Health and Human Services Agency and the California Department of Health Service s to administer a new national program taking shape in California; the Emergency System for the Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP).  This program is a companion effort within the national public health/emergency medical system to similar efforts in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to address national capacity in the wake of 9/11.

For the assessment, the Center interviewed thirty professionals covering a wide range of stakeholders, including disaster services, emergency medical, local and state government, and volunteer groups.  Through this multi-party interview and organizational design effort, a structure for the long-term project was crafted that involved all key stakeholders in the field.  The assessment set the stage for comprehensive work on all aspects of policy, program management, strategic planning, and operational integration into California’s emergency response system.

As a next step and subsequent effort to the 2005 assessment, the Center provided organizational and stakeholder involvement expertise, facilitation, and public policy mediation services for a coalition convened by EMSA  to design and integrate a new operational process for the ESAR-VHP system in California. 

The Center worked with and facilitated several key experts to create a template of initial issues to be addressed for the new system.  A coalition of stakeholders covering the full range of operational integration was convened, and crafted the consensus document over a 3 month process primarily consisting of group conference calls and regular commenting on successive drafts of the document — while addressing policy issues arising out of the debate.  The Center provided pre-reading materials and comprehensive notes for all meetings; document management for the final operational procedure/agreement was also provided, as well as logistical support and stakeholder liaison during the process.

The final (but continually updated) consensus-based operational plan for the new volunteer program is consistent with the National Response Plan, National Incident Management System, and the state’s Standardized Emergency Management System protocols.

For more information, visit the California Medical Volunteer website at

California Compliance Project for National Incident Management System for Disasters

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) provides a consistent nationwide template to establish federal, state, tribal and local governments and private sector and nongovernmental organizations to work together effectively and efficiently to prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from domestic incidents.

The Center provided organizational design, strategic planning, facilitation, and policy mediation services to the California Standardized Emergency Management Advisory Board and issue-specific committees that led to national NIMS compliance for California.  The project design allowed a mechanism for diverse organizational perspectives to be incorporated into an issue resolution program and consistent template for compliance. 

The statewide project involved assisting the Emergency Management and Homeland Security community throughout California meet compliance requirements for the new National Incident Management System (NIMS).  All states are required to be NIMS-compliant to be eligible for additional federal grants in 2007 and beyond.  NIMS requires the involvement of a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary cadre of stakeholders at all levels of government, the private sector, Tribal Nations and the non-profit / volunteer community.  The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) engaged a design consisting of ten committees covering a wide range of key policy issues important to the state and invited a cross-section of stakeholders to participate throughout.  The result was strong support for this open dialogue, where the user communities themselves participated in the policy and program development mechanism.  A stakeholder-driven workbook for local government, state agency, and tribal compliance was created by rolling up suggestions and comments into a common template framework and then re-releasing the final document to the users statewide and convening workshops to assist with active documentation and implementation.  The intensive effort was completed in time for California’s Director of the OES to declare the state in compliance at a public forum of the group’s executives – attended by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, ensuring uninterrupted grant and policy authority for the next year. 

This form of consensus policy development assistance not only allows groups to work through complex disaster response planning issues, it also sets the stage for long term implementation success – since the user community helped craft the very compliance documents they were later asked to complete.

California State Citizen Corps Council Formation & Strategic Plan Development for Emergency Services/Homeland Security

In 2006-07, the Center provided organizational and stakeholder design, facilitation, mediation, and public policy development services for a coalition convened by the Governor’s Office, CaliforniaVolunteers staff.   The California State Citizen Corps Council – one of several programs funded through California’s Homeland Security grants  – involves all key stakeholders in the emergency volunteer field, covering volunteer groups, national service programs, first responders, and community-based organizations.  The Center assisted the Governor’s office with stakeholder participation, Charter/by-laws design, organizational structuring consistent with federal homeland security program and California response plan guidance. 

The initial 3-5 year strategic framework is being implemented in 2007 with a comprehensive work plan involving all participants, including a networked system of linkages between numerous affiliated workgroups and committees simultaneously undertaking policy and program development issues in the emergency volunteer arena.

For more information, visit the California Citizen Corps Council website at:

Medical Reserve Corps Disaster Program Statewide Integration Summit:  A key component of California’s Citizen Corps Program, the Medical Reserve Corps (MRCs) was successfully developed in California after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, with approximately 25 teams having been formed.  A joint conference was sponsored by the CaliforniaVolunteers O ffice of the G overnor, and the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA), to address near-term challenges and statewide consistency as the new volunteer-based medical disaster support system matures.  The Center provided organizational and conference design, facilitation, and policy mediation services to the summit effort.  The resulting event and documentation allowed for the determination of core values, strategic similarities, and consistent principles for the state’s network of MRCs, and identified work planning action items to continue throughout the next year.  The conference gathering was determined to be repeated annually or more often, due to the success of this effort.

For more information, visit the Medical Reserve Corps website at:

Sacramento City Special Needs Emergency Evacuation Summit

As part of Sacramento’s comprehensive effort to update the City’s Evacuation Plan, the Center was asked to provide organizational and stakeholder design, facilitation, and policy mediation services for a one-day conference in February 2006 directed at identifying stakeholder needs and perspectives for the city’s special needs community.  A design team of city and county officials, with key representatives of the region’s transportation challenged/special needs community jointly designed and planned the event to maximize the input possible from a diverse array of entities.  With more than hundred individuals attending, the event was opened by the Mayor of Sacramento and was reported on by local media.  The successful event outlined a prioritized list of key areas most important to the special needs community, and set the stage for future interaction and integrated projects that will ultimately include these issues into the city’s Evacuation Plan update and subsequent training efforts.

Emergency Response Practitioner-Electeds Scoping Summit for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta

The Center provided organizational and stakeholder design, facilitation, mediation, and public policy development services for a coalition convened by the California Delta Protection Commission (DPC) in June 2006 to discuss joint interests in the emergency response and planning area.  Elected officials from the five counties encompassing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta region came together in a small setting with representatives of the professional emergency response community in those jurisdictions to discuss future visions, current concerns, and opportunities to strengthen collaboration for joint benefit.  Extensive pre-work was accomplished with key participants to allow for clear expectations to be pursued at the event itself.  Conclusions from the summit have been incorporated in subsequent DPC work and has set the stage for cooperative efforts for future multi-jurisdictional projects for emergency and disaster planning.

For more information, visit the California Delta Protection Commission website at

Lower Yolo Bypass Stakeholder Process: Feasibility Assessment

The Lower Yolo Bypass is the most downstream portion of the Yolo Bypass, a leveed 59,000 acre floodway located west of the lower Sacramento River. The purpose of the Bypass is to provide flood conveyance. It is a primary component of the Sacramento River Flood Control Project (FCP) and carries the cumulative high flows from several northern California waterways to the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta). Several islands that are largely under public and quasi-public ownership in the Lower Bypass have been flooded since 1997. Other islands have been neglected and are not being actively managed. These flooded and non-flooded areas include rapidly growing habitat areas and levee degradation. Previous agricultural and other infrastructure is inundated or severely impacted. Agricultural land management has been rendered infeasible. Private landowners on these islands and lands adjacent to these islands have been impacted by these conditions. As part of ongoing stakeholder efforts, the Center proposed to the Yolo Basin Foundation that a Feasibility Assessment be conducted to determine whether a stakeholder-based process could help create solutions to conditions in the Lower Bypass.

Reforming the State Mandate Reimbursement Process

The Commission on State Mandates contracted with the Center to prepare an assessment of the potential to use a collaborative process to develop recommendations for fundamental reforms to the state's mandate reimbursement process. In 1979, the voters approved Proposition 4. Among other things, Proposition 4 requires that whenever the legislature or any State agency mandates a new program or higher level of service on local government, the State must provide a subvention of funds to reimburse the associated costs, with certain exceptions. In 1985 the Commission was created by the Legislature to hear and decide mandate claims. In recent years there has been much discussion about mandate reform but, so far, little consensus. The current process does not timely inform policy makers of the state's liability for mandate costs they incur nor does it timely reimburse local governments and school districts. Currently it takes about seven years for reimbursable claim determinations to be made. The Commission is seeking to streamline and reform the existing process for determining and reimbursing mandates.

For more information on the state mandate reimbursement process visit:

To view the Center's final assessment report, click the link below:

Assessment Report: Reforming the Mandate Reimbursement Process (344 KB)

Sacramento Area Water Forum Successor Effort

A collaborative group of diverse interests convened by the Sacramento City-County Office of Metropolitan Water Planning to negotiate an agreement to:

  • Provide a reliable and safe water supply for the region's economic health and planned development through the year 2030; and
  • Preserve the fishery, wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values of the Lower American River.

The Center provided strategic planning, facilitation, and mediation services to the Forum and is now helping the Forum implement its agreement of January 2001, an integrated package of actions with accompanying assurances. Represented in the Forum's negotiation and implementation of its agreement are the Sacramento region's business and agricultural leaders, environmentalists, citizen groups, water management, and local government officials. For more information, see the Water Forum website, To review the Executive Summary of the Water Forum Agreement, go to

In April 2005, the Water Forum completed the first Lower American River State of the River Report . The State of the River Report is the first ever comprehensive review of the health of the Lower American River , covering five key areas of river management: managing the river to protect habitat; maintaining and improving habitats near the river; meeting water quality goals and regulatory standards; stabilizing levees and controlling erosion; and communicating and collaborating with key stakeholders. Follow this link to read the report:

In February 2006, the Central Sacramento County Groundwater Management Plan was developed by stakeholders from the Central Sacramento County Groundwater Forum (CSCGF), in coordination with the Sacramento County Water Agency and the Water Forum Successor Effort. Under the aegis of the Water Forum Successor Effort, the CSCGF was formed in February 2002 to provide recommendations on a basin governance body to the Successor Effort. Pending concurrence by the Successor Effort, the recommendations in the Groundwater Management Plan would be adopted by the appropriate agencies.

In February 2006, the Water Forum Successor Effort released its five-year progress report, Progress on the Seven Elements–A Review: 2000–2005. The Water Forum Agreement requires the Water Forum Successor Effort to conduct a comprehensive and “transparent” review and evaluation of progress at the end of the first five years of the Agreement.  As part of the evaluation, the Water Forum Successor Effort conducted a survey of stakeholder representatives. Survey results showed that

  • Over 95 percent of respondents indicated support for continuing practice of addressing  “changed conditions”;
  • 80 percent of stakeholder respondents concluded that the implementation of the Water Forum Agreement over the past five years has been good or better; and
  • 76 percent felt the Water Forum Successor Effort is meeting the needs of their interest group or organization.

Notable accomplishments highlighted in the progress report include a new flow regime for the Lower American River, the publication of a comprehensive State of the River Report, significant improvements in regional water conservation efforts, and expansion of groundwater management. To read the report, please click here:

The signatories to the Water Forum agreement continue to work together to carry out the agreement. For example, as a Water Forum signatory, the City of Folsom has agreed to draw only 20,000 acre-feet of water from the river in years in which the projected flow into Folsom Lake drops below 400,000 acre-feet. The City is actively pursuing a backup supply of water for its needs to help it uphold this agreement.

The Water Forum stakeholders recently celebrated another victory for in-stream habitat and the salmon fisheries of our region.  And, for the first time, the Water Forum extended its leadership beyond the historic agreement on the American River into another regional watershed.  This time the Water Forum coalition worked on behalf of the Cosumnes River. 

On October 17, 2005, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released 5,000 acre feet of the water into the dry river bed of the Cosumnes from the Folsom-South Canal.  This creates a riverbed saturation level that makes it possible for the fall salmon run to pass from the Delta to their natural spawning grounds in the Sierra foothills.  The intention is for this to happen each Fall to preserve the salmon and to provide water for riverine habitat.

This negotiation took two years of discussions between Mike Eaton of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Keith DeVore, Sacramento County Water Agency Director.  Although TNC was not a signatory to the Water Agreement, they subsequently joined the Water Forum Successor negotiation addressing the South Sacramento groundwater management.   It was through that activity that TNC approached the Water Forum with their concerns about the Cosumnes River.  The County of Sacramento, along with the City of Sacramento, created and financially supported the work of the Water Forum for the six years it took to do the agreement.  Both the County and the City of Sacramento were stakeholders and actively participated in the negotiations.

Center Special Consultant Jeff Loux co-mediated the negotiation with Water Forum Executive Leo Winternitz.  Jim McCormack, Water Forum water engineer, did the technical work to support the negotiation.  Susan Sherry provided mediation advice.  Like other Water Forum efforts, it represented team work between mediators, technical experts and committed stakeholders.

In February 2006, the Central Sacramento County Groundwater Management Plan was developed by stakeholders from the Central Sacramento County Groundwater Forum (CSCGF), in coordination with the Sacramento County Water Agency and the Water Forum Successor Effort. Under the aegis of the Water Forum Successor Effort, the CSCGF was formed in February 2002 to provide recommendations on a basin governance body to the Successor Effort. Pending concurrence by the Successor Effort, the recommendations in the Groundwater Management Plan would be adopted by the appropriate agencies.

Lower American River Task Force

The Lower American River Task Force is a multi-stakeholder collaborative group sponsored by the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency and the Water Forum. The Task Force developed the consensus-based River Corridor Management Plan (RCMP) for the Lower American River, formally endorsed in January, 2002 by representatives of approximately 40 federal, state, and local agencies and partnerships, environmental groups, commercial fishing groups, recreation groups, and community groups. The plan focuses on:

  • Protecting and enhancing fisheries and in-stream habitat;
  • Protecting and enhancing vegetation and wildlife habitat;
  • Improving the reliability of the existing flood control system; and
  • Enhancing the Lower American River 's wild and scenic recreation values.

The Center managed the RCMP process and facilitated several working groups. The Center continues to co-facilitate the Task Force, which now monitors implementation of the RCMP. The Task Force also serves as a venue for project proponents to vet plans that impact the Lower American River and for stakeholders to receive information related to the Lower American River.

Initial Fisheries and In-Stream Habitat Management and Restoration Plan for the Lower American River

The FISH Plan was developed by the Lower American River Task Force's Fisheries and In-Stream Habitat Working Group (“FISH Group,”) facilitated by the Center in parallel with the development of the River Corridor Management Plan (see the Lower American River Task Force). The FISH Plan identifies the management and restoration actions that are most important to undertake to improve conditions for priority fish species (fall-run chinook salmon, steelhead, and splittail) in the Lower American River. The FISH Plan was completed in October, 2001 and endorsed by approximately 20 federal, state, local agencies and partnerships, environmental groups, commercial fishing groups, and recreation groups. The Center continues to provide advisory and facilitation services to the FISH Group as it implements its plan. The FISH Plan is available online at

California Water Boards Public Involvement Assessment, Training, and Staff Manual

The Center provided research, consulting, and training services as part of a three-phase project to assess and improve public participation at the California Water Boards, which are composed of a central State Water Resources Control Board and nine regional boards. The California Water Boards oversee water rights and water quality for the state of California. the Center was part of a project team that also included the University of California, Davis Extension and MIG, Inc.

In the first phase, the Center, with support from UC Davis Extension, conducted an assessment of public participation procedures for the California Water Boards. The Center interviewed Water Boards staff and stakeholders and observed diverse types of public participation efforts and outreach materials in all nine regions of the state. To reach a broader audience, the Center designed and analyzed the results of online surveys made available to Water Boards staff and stakeholders.

The results and recommendations of the assessment are being used by the Water Boards to update and standardize their public involvement procedures throughout the state. As one outcome of this project, the Water Boards have recently advertised an executive position to lead their new public participation program.

In phase two of the project, the Center, UC Davis Extension, and MIG, Inc., developed and delivered a series of one-day public participation trainings for Water Boards’ staff, based on the findings of the needs assessment. Approximately 650 staff from all over California (nearly two-thirds of the Water Boards’ total staff) attended one of twelve training sessions.

In the third phase, the project team is building upon the assessment and training efforts to create an all-staff manual to clarify public participation law and policy and to continue building skills for a variety of public participation needs.

California Bay-Delta Authority Project

A collaborative effort involving 23 state and federal agencies, over 2,000 private stakeholders, and the general public, created to address the challenges to efficient resource management posed by the San Francisco Bay-Delta’s multi-jurisdictional management context. The CALFED agencies have developed a single comprehensive plan, now in the implementation phase, that aims to restore the ecological health and improve water management of the San Francisco Bay-Delta waters. The program encompasses about 70% of California and includes the largest ecosystem restoration program in the United States. The Center has provided facilitation and strategic planning services to this unprecedented statewide collaborative effort since 1995. For more information, visit

Sacramento Transportation and Air Quality Collaborative

A multi-stakeholder collaborative effort initiated in 2001 to address transportation and air quality issues in the Sacramento region. The collaborative is sponsored by eight Sacramento public agencies and facilitated by the Center. The purpose of the collaborative is to coordinate a long-range and comprehensive strategy to improve transportation and air quality within a regional context, including relevant land use and economic vitality strategies, through the use of an interest-based negotiation and visioning process. The collaborative includes broad representation from business, community, environmental, government, neighborhood and social advocacy organizations. Over 100 community leaders, along with their alternates, participate in the collaborative.

Attorney General’s Task Force on Domestic Violence

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer convened the Task Force on Local Criminal Justice Response to Domestic Violence in December 2003 to study the effectiveness of how local criminal justice agencies respond to and deal with domestic violence. The policies and practices of the numerous enforcement agencies vary widely among California's 58 counties. The Task Force focused its investigation on 10 target counties, interviewing hundreds of practitioners and holding 6 public hearings to examine how well local criminal justice agencies respond to and deal with domestic violence issues. The Task Force was composed of 26 members from across the state, and included judges, attorneys, probation officers, law enforcement officials, medical practitioners, victims' advocates, and service providers. The Task Force addressed four key questions:

  • Restraining Orders: How are they obtained and enforced?
  • Prosecutor's Offices: How do they handle domestic violence cases, given that most are misdemeanors?
  • Batterer Intervention Programs: How do these programs, along with courts and probation departments, hold batterers accountable?
  • Health Practitioner Reporting: How does law enforcement respond when they receive reports of suspected domestic violence from health care practitioners?

The Center provided facilitation and strategic mediation services to assist the Task Force to reach consensus in identifying promising current practices and proposing recommendations for uniform standards and future action. In addition, the Center provided writing and editing support for the production of the Task Force's report.

In July 2005, the Task Force released its report, called Keeping the Promise: Victim Safety and Batterer Accountability. The report found that the state's criminal justice system is failing to enforce California's domestic violence laws and made 44 specific recommendations to improve law enforcement, interagency cooperation, accountability for batterers, and the capacity of justice system to address domestic violence.

Lahontan Water District/Truckee River Sediment Collaborative

A collaborative effort between the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Board and stakeholders in the upper Truckee River watershed. The Center facilitates this community-based process whose goal is to agree upon standards for sediment TMDLs (Total Maximum Daily Loads) in the watershed and implement strategies to improve water quality in the watershed.

For more information and documentation on the Truckee River Sediment TMDL and the Truckee River TMDL Collaborative Project, visit the
Lahonton Regional Water Quality Control Board TMDL page.

California Water Plan Update

Get the latest on this project at:

The Center worked with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) to design and implement a highly transparent, stakeholder consensus process for California 's strategic water “master plan.” Called the California Water Plan, it makes projections about California 's future water demand and recommends actions to meet the state's future water needs. Some pioneering features of the Center's work included:

  • Leveraging DWR's technical knowledge and expertise with community-based input and feedback into a full collaborative process and policy recommendations
  • Utilization of a 65-member public advisory committee consisting of statewide stakeholders drawn from state, federal, and local government agencies; tribal governments; local water interests; agricultural interests; the environmental community; the academic community; business and industry; and the general public
  • Creation of a 350-member extended review forum to allow for broad public input and transparency
  • Design of multiple planning scenarios and planning assumptions crafted by stakeholders
  • Creation of broad based consensus policy recommendations that have spanned and been sustained by two Governors of different political parties

The success of the California Water Plan collaborative process has attracted attention in the fields of conflict resolution and public administration. The Water Plan process is the subject of a Master's thesis in progress at the UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy, and DWR has entered the Water Plan as a case study in the U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution's Multi-Agency Evaluation Study (MAES). For his achievements as DWR's program manager of the Water Plan, Kamyar Guivetchi was presented with the 2005 Intergovernmental Cooperation Award by the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) Sacramento Chapter.

The Final Water Plan Update 2005 Report was released on January 31, 2006. For more information visit the Water Plan Update website at

Water Plan Update 2009 is currently underway with an even more extensive stakeholder involvement process that features an unprecedented degree of regional and tribal outreach and State agency coordination. The Water Plan project team provides weekly updates to keep stakeholders informed on rapid developments related to the project. For regular updates regarding the California Water Plan Update 2009, please visit

Off-Highway Vehicle Advisory Committee

Ongoing consensus-based advisory committee to the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR)’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program. Since 2001, the Center has assisted the Department of Parks and Recreation with the design, planning, and facilitation of the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee has gone beyond its original mandate of creating an optimum OHV program for the Department; it has reached consensus on two pieces of legislation related to OHV use for the California State Legislature (one of which is now law, and one of which is making its way through the Legislature) and is at work on a third piece of legislation. The Committee has furthermore given DPR consensus-based guidelines for several programs, including the design and commissioning of a fuel-tax study related to OHV use, and the redesign of DPR’s multi-million dollar grant program for the management of OHV recreation. Products of the Committee have the potential to help create national standards in at least two areas:

  • Sound standards related to the noise generated by OHVs, with implications for nationwide OHV manufacturing; and
  • Soil standards related to OHV impact on terrain.

The approximately 60 Advisory Committee members include environmentalists, non-motorized recreationists, OHV users, law enforcement, private property owners, local and state government representatives, and representatives of the OHV manufacturing industry.

For more information, visit the Department of Parks and Recreation’s OHV Program website at

An independent analysis of the project by John Forester of Cornell University is available.

A copy of an additional independent case study prepared by the USDA Forest Service National OHV Implementation Team and the U. S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution may be found at

California Floodplain Management Task Force

This project was a six-month multi-stakeholder collaborative process to develop consensus recommendations for the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the Governor to improve statewide floodplain management policies. The approximately 50 Task Force members represented state and federal agencies; local governments and water districts; farming interests; environmental organizations; tribal interests; and business and development interests. The Center provided an initial assessment, strategic planning and facilitation for the Task Force. The Task Force Report recently received the 2004 Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM) Tom Lee State Award.

Sacramento River Corridor Floodway Planning Forum

A collaborative effort convened by the California Reclamation Board, Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency (SAFCA), the cities of Sacramento and West Sacramento and the counties of Sacramento, Sutter and Yuba, with the cooperation of the Department of Water Resources and the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Forum brings together diverse interests to achieve greater coordination between the various users and stewards of a critical reach of the Sacramento River. The Center provides planning, facilitation, and mediation services to help the Forum members achieve the following purposes:

  • Achieve greater certainty and predictability in the permitting process for encroachments in the river through broadly accepted decision criteria;
  • Provide an informal setting for discussion of proposed encroachments in the floodway;
  • Create better understanding of the existing flood control system and its capability to withstand the stress of existing and potential new encroachments;
  • Explore opportunities for enhancing flood control system functionality;
  • Improve transparency, communication and coordination of the permitting process;
  • Expand opportunities for riparian habitat restoration and enhancement in permitting encroachments.

Forum members include representatives of local governments and agencies; state and federal agencies; business and commercial development associations; environmental organizations; neighborhood and community associations; and recreation and bicycle transportation interests. The final product of the Forum will be a Floodway Management Plan that includes guidelines for riverfront development, habitat conservation, levee maintenance and public access.

California Indian Heritage Center Outreach

The California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) retained the Center to provide training and support in community outreach to two Native American trainees charged with gathering input from the State's diverse Native American communities and other interests during site selection and master planning for a major new California Indian Heritage Center (CIHC). Working throughout the state, the trainees have created an effective community network and database, made presentations explaining the CIHC to varied constituencies and worked closely with a Native American Task Force created under state legislation to resolve complex issues regarding location and functions of the proposed Heritage Center.

For more information, see the CIHC website:

American River Parkway Plan Update

The 5,000-acre American River Parkway is a natural preserve and recreation facility regarded as a jewel of the Sacramento metropolitan area. Five agencies jointly funded an update of the 1985 Parkway Plan and retained the Center to undertake a stakeholder assessment and process design to ensure that the Update is focused and inclusive. The goal of the Update was to develop consensus recommendations for an improved Parkway Plan for adoption by Sacramento County, the cities of Sacramento and Rancho Cordova, and the California Legislature. The process included an opportunity for integrated planning of a 1200-acre riparian area near the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers in the metropolitan core and for detailed consideration of a large area contiguous to the City of Rancho Cordova.

In addition to completing the assessment and design phases, the Center became the primary facilitator for the 2.5-year Update process. A broadly representative Update Citizens Advisory Committee worked with numerous agencies to seek consensus on an updated Parkway Plan. A consensus draft plan was achieved in June 2006. The document was approved for environmental review by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors in January 2007. It is expected to be ready for final adoption by the local jurisdictions in 2008. Following adoption through local ordinances, the updated American River Parkway Plan will be presented to the California Legislature for enactment into state law.

In 2007, the American River Parkway was recognized by the Sacramento Valley section of the American Planning Association (APA) with its 2007 Outstanding Planning Award for Focused Issue Planning. The awards jury noted the effectiveness of the plan’s outreach and committee consensus process in recognizing the planning process for this important award.

Evaluation of California Dialogue on End of Life Issues

A professional evaluation of the process used and outcomes achieved by RESOLVE, Inc. while conducting a multi-stakeholder dialogue for the California Assembly's Select Committee on Palliative Care between November, 2001 and March, 2002. The purpose of the dialogue was to provide a single text report and consensus recommendations to the Select Committee on Palliative Care with regard to physician-assisted suicide/physician aid in dying. The Center developed and applied an evaluation tool tailored to the project in order to:

  • Assist RESOLVE in improving the project design and techniques at various intervals;
  • Provide a third-party assessment of the project's results as compared to its goals; and
  • Identify unanticipated project outcomes of beneficial use to the public.

Pilot Negotiated Rulemaking Process for Metal Finishing

A multi-stakeholder consensus-based negotiated rulemaking process initiated in February 2002 by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). The Center provided planning, facilitation, and mediation services to the project. The success of the project was evident when the AQMD Board unanimously adopted new measures to further reduce toxic emissions from the region's metal plating facilities - with total support from concerned members of the public and industry. Deeply interested parties representing local regulatory agencies, industry, environmental organizations and community groups designed detailed provisions that met everyone's interest and improved public health and safety. To read more about this ground-breaking accord, visit

Stanislaus Recreation Stakeholders

The Stanislaus Recreation Stakeholders (SRS) is a widely diverse, independent community group seeking to enhance the quality of recreation opportunities in the Stanislaus National Forest. Focused on both motorized and non-motorized recreational issues, the primary goal of SRS is to minimize conflict between different forms of recreation and minimize the impact of all types of recreation on the environment. Recommendations by the group will be submitted to the Forest Supervisor or other entities as appropriate. The Forest Supervisor is committed to considering SRS recommendations

Starting in December 2002, the Center initially facilitated a small design team that then invited 150+ diverse recreation, homeowner and environmental stakeholder representatives to a full day working session. After the large group shared concerns and defined issues, it voted to proceed with a formal collaborative process. The SRS group was formed in 2003 as an outcome of this process.

Lake Tahoe Restoration Project

CCP assists the agencies managing and restoring Lake Tahoe’s resources with a new effort designed to protect the lake for future generations. Called "Pathway 2007," it is a cooperative endeavor by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), the U.S. Forest Service and environmental regulators from Nevada and California, who hope to coordinate long-term development and ecological strategies affecting the lake and those who live or visit there.

CCP provides facilitation, public outreach and strategic advice for the Basin collaborative effort. The collaborative will utilize structured stakeholder processes in setting Lake Tahoe Basin public policy. CCP assists P7 in achieving a series of goals. These include goal alignment among different Basin agencies, integration of a cohesive set of supported, usable planning instruments, enhancement of interagency trust along and full understanding of agency missions, and coordination of effective public participation.