Future Imperfect

Government, Part 1

This is the first of two episodes about local government. We begin with the basic structure of local government so you can understand who does what. Plus, we look at what local governments are doing to address climate change. In the next episode, you’ll learn how you can get involved and influence these policies.


  1. What is a climate action plan? What is a climate adaptation plan? How can these documents influence policy-making in local government?

  2. Does your city, county, or school district have a climate action plan, an energy action plan, or a climate adaptation plan? First, look at the CAP-Map. If you don’t see anything there, search their websites.

  3. Is your city a charter city or a general law city? If it’s a charter city, who is responsible for preparing the budget?

  4. What is one way local governments reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

  5. How are local government agencies working to adapt, so that climate change will be less dangerous for their residents?

  6. What questions would you like to ask your local government officials after listening to this episode?


In order of appearance, the young people I interviewed for this episode were: Zeke (Canyon Arroyo), Sky Woodruff (Bay Area city attorney), Bo Pak (Oakland), Donna Colson (Burlingame), Karen Pinkas (El Cerrito), Lana Adlawan (North Bay), Bjorn Jones (Grass Valley), Tiffany Wise-West (Santa Cruz), and Dana Murray (Manhattan Beach).


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


There is a tremendous amount of information about government planning for climate change. Below, you’ll find resources related to all the topics mentioned in the show.

Interactive tools:

California Climate Action Portal (CAP-Map) from Air Resources Board

Our Coast, Our Future - Hazard Map

EN-ROADS Climate Change Solutions Simulator
This simulator allows you to play with possible government policies at a national level to see how different policies would affect global temperatures.

City websites and documents related to this episode:

“Types and Responsibilities of Local Agencies” from Institute for Local Government

Alameda County Stop Waste

City of Burlingame Climate Action Plan

City of Burlingame Disposable Food Service Ware ordinance

City of El Cerrito Climate Action Plan

PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff October 9th-12th Report from PG&E

City of Grass Valley

One Shoreline: San Mateo County Flood and Sea Level Resiliency District (FSLR)

City of Santa Cruz Climate Action Planning

City of Santa Cruz Climate Adaptation Planning

City of Santa Cruz Beaches: Urban Climate Adaptation Policy Implication & Response Strategy Evaluation Technical Report

Sustainable Manhattan Beach

About laws and policies from State of California:

“AB 32 Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006” from California Air Resources Board

AB 32 Climate Change Scoping Plan” from California Air Resources Board

“California Cap and Trade” from Center for Climate and Energy Solutions

“Cap and Trade Explained in Two and a Half Minutes” from Cal Matters

Checking the math on cap and trade, some experts say it’s not adding up” from Cal Matters

SB 100: California Renewables Portfolio Standard Program: emissions of greenhouse gases

About mitigation and adaptation planning:

“Preparing for Climate Change in California” from Georgetown Climate Center (an overview of steps the state has taken to prepare for climate change impacts)

“California Climate Policy Dashboard” from Berkeley Law

“Climate Action Plans” from Institute for Local Government

“Local Government” from CoolCalifornia.org (Climate Action Planning)

Climate Tools from Cal-Adapt

“2019 Report on the State of Climate Action Plans in California" from California Air Resources Board

“Adaptation Capability Advancement Toolkit (Adapt-CA)” from Adapt-CA

Adaptation Planning Guide from Resilient CA

California Adaptation Planning Guide: Defining Local & Regional Impacts from California Emergency Management Agency

California Adaptation Planning Guide: Understanding Regional Characteristics from California Emergency Management Agency

Planning and Investing for a Resilient California: a guidebook for state agencies from Governor’s Office of Planning and Research

“Transformative Climate Communities: Community-led transformation for a sustainable California” from California Strategic Growth Council

About community choice aggregation:

“Lessons from East Bay Community Energy for Central Valley cities pursuing Community Choice Energy” from Environmental Justice Project

“Answers to ‘Where Does MCE’s Energy Come From?’” from MCE

“Power to the People: Community Choice Aggregation in California” from Georgetown Environmental Law Review

About complete streets:

“National Complete Streets Coalition” from Smart Growth America

“Complete Streets Program” from CalTrans

About microgrids:

“Community Microgrid Initiative” from Clean Coalition

About preventing flooding:

“Bioswales” from National Association of City Transportation Officials

“How Does Permeable Pavement Work?” from Practical Engineering

“Urban wetland at Peabody Creek” (in Grass Valley) from The Union

“Grass Valley looks ahead with groundwater recharge projects” from The Union

About addressing sea-level rise:

“Climate change could result in a beachless Manhattan Beach” from Easy Reader & Peninsula

California Has A New Idea For Homes At Risk From Rising Seas: Buy, Rent, Retreat” from NPR

Coastal Armoring in California

“Can reviving beach dunes help California with sea level rise?” from Los Angeles Times

About cool streets & shade trees:

Global Cool Cities Alliance

“Shade” from 99% Invisible

‘Turn Off the Sunshine’: Why Shade Is a Mark of Privilege in Los Angeles” from New York Times

Student-Led Mapping Locates Areas in Los Angeles in Need of Shade Equity” from ESRI Blog

City Plants

USC Urban Trees Initiative