Future Imperfect

Government, Part 2

This is the second of two episodes about local government. The last episode explored the basics of how local government works – the kinds of things California cities and counties are responsible for and who does what within a city government. In this you’ll learn how and when you can most effectively interact with your local government.

Questions and Activities

  1. Which government(s) have jurisdiction over the place where you live? Use randymajors.org to confirm your city (if you’re in one) and your county.
    Note: You may live in an unincorporated area that falls outside of any city, but comes under the jurisdiction of a county. Or, you might live on reservation lands, in which case the tribal government is your local government.

  2. Find your local government’s website and
    (a) locate the meeting schedule for the council/board of supervisors,
    (b) find the agenda for the most recent city council meeting or (if you don’t live in a city) county board of supervisors meeting, and
    (c) see if your city/county makes video of past meetings available.
    Note: If you live on reservation lands, your local government may not make meeting agendas publicly available on their website because, as sovereign governments, they are not subject to California’s meeting laws.

  3. Using this Caltrans map of planning agencies, identify the planning agency that manages transportation planning where you live, then take a look at their website to see if you can find agendas for their meetings. See “Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) & Regional Transportation Planning Agency (RTPA) Links” to find your local agency.
    Note: If you live in a place that has both a regional transportation planning agency and also a county or metropolitan agency, find meeting information for the smaller one. For example, if you live in Los Angeles County, look up agendas for the Los Angeles County MTA, not Southern California Association of Governments.

  4. Check this list of CA Youth Commissions and Councils to see if your local government already has a youth commission/council.
    Note: You should also search your local government website, in case this list is not up to date.

  5. Use the CalEnviroScreen Map to look at your hometown. Are there any census tracts in your hometown with an overall CalEnviroScreen overall percentile of 75 - 100? What does this mean for your city or county, the next time they update their general plan?


In order of appearance, the people I interviewed for this episode were: Karen Pinkas (El Cerrito), Dana Murray (Manhattan Beach), Juan (Sacramento), Sky Woodruff (Bay Area city attorney), Donna Colson (Burlingame), Rob Ball (Kern County), Tiffany Wise-West (Santa Cruz), Moiz (Sacramento), Carissa Bradley (Sierra Business Council), and Frank Lyles (Mount Shasta).


Want to listen on another platform? You can find Future Imperfect on Apple Podcasts and on Stitcher.


Below, you’ll find resources related to the topics mentioned in this episode. See the Resources list from the last episode for more information about local government.

Tools to find local government agencies:

About community engagement:

About SB 1000:

About the Sacramento Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change:

About the CivicSpark Fellowships:

About state-level climate change policy in California: