If there's anything more confusing than one regional government bureaucracy, it's two regional government bureaucracies.
This is an axiom that cities in the Bay Area have gotten to know all too well over the past 45 years living under the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Calls to merge the two or eliminate one have resounded roughly as long as both have been around. At last, thanks in part to the regional planning mandate set forth by Senate Bill 375, the MTC may finally succeed in a hostile takeover of the much smaller ABAG. >>read more
For the moment, equilibrium has been more or less restored in rivalry between Northern California and Southern California - at least as far as urban planning goes.
Recommended awards have been announced in the competition for $120 million in planning assistance monies from the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities grant program, the state's largest funding program for planning. Of the 28 projects selected, 11 are from the Bay Area and 10 are from Southern California. That's a big shift from the semifinal count, when the 54 finalistsincluded twice as many from the Bay Area as from Southern California. >>read more
In perhaps a more sensible world, the 325,000-acre Lake Tahoe Basin would not be governed by two rival states, a handful of small cities, and embittered factions of environmentalists and resort-casino owners. Nor would it have miles of open highway or 55,000 year-round residents. Rather, it would be treated like the Grand Canyon, the Everglades, or any other of America's major natural wonders.
Judging by the likes of Oakland, Berkeley, and, of course, San Francisco, a plan to encourage density, transit use, and environmentalism in the Bay Area might seem redundant. But these vibrant urban centers are just small elements in the sprawling, nine-county region that is the subject of the fourth and final Sustainable Communities Strategy to be drafted for California's major urban areas.
For many jurisdictions that are part of California's "Big Four" metropolitan planning organizations, Senate Bill 375 has ushered in new, unprecedented degrees of collaboration. But whereas SB 375 makes a regional planning revolution for many, for the jurisdictions of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the SCS is business as usual.
Judging by the likes of Apple, Google, and Chez Panisse – to say nothing of the relative stability of housing prices -- the San Francisco Bay Area might not seem like the most likely recipient of an economic planning grant. But the federal Department of Housing and Community Development thinks otherwise.