Nearly four-dozen mayors from across California will be in Washington this weekend for the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. They'll be meeting with federal officials to push for more federal dollars or less federal regulation.
Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin said cities are hampered by federal requirements that end up costing them money.
For him, the fight is over treatment of water from its 1960’s icon, the Seaside Lagoon. He says the city takes seawater to create a saltwater, heated, sandy bottom pool. He said they have to chlorinate the water when they pump it into the lagoon. They dechlorinate it before discharging it back into the bay.
The discharge has to meet federal and local sandards. Gin said Redondo Beach sometimes gets fined "and those violations can be very costly."
Environmental regulations are also on San Jacinto mayor Mark Bartel's wish list. The Riverside County town has launched big highway and river levee projects.
During an earlier lobbying trip, San Jacinto got a pilot project inserted in the transportation bill that gives Caltrans the authority to approve both state and federal environmental reviews. Bartel is here to make sure it sticks.
"A lot of cities can’t afford to send people here," he said. "This is the time, the season to do it when things are in this position. If you wait till after everything’s done, then you’re going to get behind the eight ball."
For San Jose, the issue is pension reform. In June, voters approved a change to San Jose's charter that lowers pension benefits for new city employees and requires current workers to choose a cheaper plan or pay more for their pensions. The employees’ union has sued.
Mayor Chuck Reed is asking the U.S. Treasury for a letter confirming the city structured the deal properly. Reed said the city doesn't need their permission, "but tax lawyers get nervous when you’re not 100 percent certain about the tax treatment."
Reed says Orange County has also asked Treasury for a similar letter as it reorganizes its pensions.