As part of the National River Restoration Science Synthesis (NRRSS), we developed a summary database of 4,023 stream restoration projects built in California since 1980, from which we randomly selected 44 records for in-depth interviews with project managers. Despite substantial difficulties in gathering the data, we were able to draw conclusions about current design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation practices used in California projects and compare them with national trends. Although more than half of the projects for which we conducted interviews were located in watersheds for which a management or assessment plan had been prepared, these plans had a limited impact on site selection. We also found that the state lacks a consistent framework for design, monitoring, and reporting restoration projects, and that although monitoring is far more widespread than the information in the NRRSS summary database would suggest, there are still problems with the type, duration, and reporting of monitoring. The general lack of systematic, objective assessment of completed projects hinders the advance of restoration science.