Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 5, 2017

For Additional Information Contact:
Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125
 

Little Hoover Commission Calls for Urgent Repair and Bold Transformation of the Yountville Veterans Home Campus
 

The state must immediately fix public safety threats at the Yountville veteran’s home, including malfunctioning elevators and other critical infrastructure issues, according to the Little Hoover Commission, in a report sent Tuesday to Governor Brown and the Legislature. The report calls for bold and innovative approaches to transform the historic 615-acre campus in the heart of Napa Valley to better meet the changing needs of veterans statewide.

Transforming the Yountville Veterans Home Campus builds on findings from a March 2017 Commission report in which the Commission identified critical infrastructures issues on the historic Yountville veterans home that pose a public safety risk to residents and others. Early in its study process the Commission identified problems with antiquated heating and cooling systems and alarming malfunctions of elevators in the home’s multi-story skilled nursing facility, designed to house veterans with acute health care needs, some of whom also have mobility challenges. This update report acknowledges efforts by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) to address some of these issues, particularly to fix the faulty elevators. However, despite repairs, the problems persist. The report calls for CalVet to develop ongoing and proactive strategies to monitor and repair structural problems immediately as they arise, while at the same time evaluating and re-configuring, as necessary, its homes program to ensure that the levels of care offered meet the needs of California’s veterans population.

Additionally, the Commission determined the state has greater latitude than originally believed to craft a new future for the home. Officials long had operated under the misperception that use of the Yountville property is limited by a 1899 deed that stated California must maintain the property as a home for United States soldiers, sailors and marines. Instead, the Commission discovered that state law permits leasing real property on the Yountville veterans home campus and lawmakers could further clarify the terms and purposes of leasing opportunities.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform pristine property in the heart of Napa Valley and do so in a way that honors the history of the campus, while simultaneously expanding the state’s ability to serve more veterans,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava. 

The Commission recommends that California establish an independent entity to plan, design and manage the use of the Yountville property, beyond the current veterans home program. New uses could include affordable housing for veterans home employees and others, park space for residents and visitors, modernized office space in formerly underutilized buildings and a hotel and restaurants to serve the community while providing jobs for returning veterans. Though the Commission recommends the property should maintain a strong veterans focus, state law should be adapted to expand the use of the campus to allow long-term leasing agreements that generate revenue to be used for other veterans services across the state.

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2017

For Additional Information Contact:
Carole D’Elia, Executive Director
(916) 445-2125

Little Hoover Commission Calls for Special District Reforms


The Little Hoover Commission, in a report sent Wednesday to Governor Brown and the Legislature, recommended several measures to strengthen oversight of California’s 2,071 independent special districts.  The state should eliminate unnecessary hurdles for district dissolutions and consolidations to improve service delivery, expand transparency by requiring every district to have a website with basic information and standardize current reporting requirements on  revenues, expenditures and reserves, according to the Commission’s report, Special Districts: Improving Oversight & Transparency.

“Special districts are the most common form of government in California, yet because there are so many performing so many different types of services, it is hard to draw conclusions on whether taxpayers would be better served if various districts merged or consolidated,” said Commission Chairman Pedro Nava.  “Current local government oversight of these districts is working in many places, but not all corners of California.  To that end we are recommending some legislative changes that should lead to improved service delivery and greater efficiency.”

Special districts are the workhorses of government in California, providing vital services ranging from fire protection to water, cemeteries to sewers. Often it is special districts on the front lines of adapting to climate change and the Commission’s study focused on the important role districts can plan in both planning for change and educating their constituents. The Commission spent a year investigating whether California taxpayers are well-served by this little-understood layer of bureaucracy.  While they vary greatly in size and in servces provided, some common themes emerged.

The Commission found that the 58 Local Agency Formation Commission charged with oversight are not uniformly effective at initiating dissolutions and consolidations when necessary to improve service delivery and efficiency.  The Commission recommends several legislative modifications to strengthen these local bodies as well as a small one-time funding injection to initiate the most urgent dissolutions and consolidations, something that should save taxpayer dollars in the long run. 

Also in its review, the Commission found it difficult to find basic information on all special districts.  The Commission recommended requiring every special district to maintain a website outlining how to participate in decision making and an easy guide to revenue resources and expenditures, plus a published policy for financial reserves.

Additionally, the Commission focused on one type of district – healthcare districts – particularly those that no longer operate hospitals.  It found this segment needs to evolve to a modern preventative healthcare model, as some healthcare districts have.  As a start, the Commission recommends updating the outdated practice act that governs these districts.

The Little Hoover Commission is a bipartisan and independent state agency charged with recommending ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state programs. The Commission’s recommendations are submitted to the Governor and the Legislature for their consideration and action.

California's Little Hoover Commission Launches New Website, Brand and Logo


The Commission is pleased to announce the launch of its newly redesigned website, brand and logo. Our refreshed new look mirrors the exciting and engaging direction we are taking the Commission’s work.

Over the past year, the Commission has been working with lowercase productions to enhance our brand identity and web communication strategies. The Commission began its journey by developing a new logo design that better reflects its core mission, values, vision and purpose. You’ll see our refreshed look on our new website, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube platforms, and very soon on all of our business collateral, as well.

In conjunction with our brand identity project, we also redesigned our website. With a focus on user experience, we wanted to create an aesthetically pleasing website with an intuitively accessible navigation scheme to make it easier for visitors to find the information they’re looking for.

We will be continually expanding our online content to bring you updated information about future events, report releases and much more. So we encourage you to sign-up for our public notice list – located on our contact us page – and follow us on Twitter!

We invite you to explore our new website and welcome your feedback.


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