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CCRL California Center for Regional Leadership
Connecting California's Regions to the State and Each Other

200 Pine St., Ste. 400
San Francisco, CA 94104
Phone (415) 445-8975
Fax (415) 445-8974

CalRegions Email Newsletters Archive

Volume II, Issue 5 - August 2001


August 13, 2001

Regionalism, Small Version

"You would think Californians really like government. The state has 58 counties, 476 cities and nearly 5,000 special districts that deliver water, fight fires, kill mosquitoes, manage airports and run cemeteries. They often duplicate services and compete for tax dollars. The need for streamlining has been obvious for years, but every major attempt has failed because no one will give up turf. One more defeat is expected soon in Sacramento as the report of the San Diego Regional Government Efficiency Commission goes before the Legislature. The 11-member panel was created last year to craft a regional government with broad authority over transportation, housing and growth and to thus preserve what's left of the local quality of life. The thought was, if you can't do it in compact, isolated San Diego County, then where?

The commission produced two proposals. One is to establish a powerful, 15-member regional government, with 12 of those seats directly elected by county voters. The Legislature was to put the plan before San Diego County voters next March, but the county's delegation in Sacramento is deeply split over the proposal. No action is expected. The second and narrower proposal, for the creation of a countywide authority to pick a site for a new San Diego airport, deserves legislative approval and a ballot spot next March. Local governments have been deadlocked for years over replacement of the antiquated downtown airport. Airport officials in Los Angeles and Orange counties, tangled in their own airport controversies, should watch with interest.

Fortunately, the demise of the general government plan will not end the quest for better planning in San Diego. Members of the commission and others continue to seek less dramatic ways to make smart-growth decisions. Nick Bollman, the president of the California Center for Regional Leadership, is enthusiastic about the prospects. His concept of the new regionalism is not to "carve up the state into a new pattern or new set of rigid political jurisdictions." Rather, it is to work with existing governments and organizations on specific problems. One such effort is the 7-year-old Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, a collaborative working to shore up the Valley's economic base.

This path does not have the political sex appeal of massive government reorganization, but it also does not contain the inherent political conflicts that doom such efforts. Smart growth may not be an oxymoron after all in California."

To download a copy of this editorial, visit the Los Angeles Times at:

And now, back to our regular newsletter.........

National Strategies in Support of the New Regionalism
August 28, 2001


I. The Alliance for Regional Stewardship
II. The Alliance and a Presidential Executive Order & Report to the President on Federalism
III. Partnership for Regional Livability
IV. Regional News & Information
A. New CCRL Staff Members
Kala Venugopal, CRI Program Officer
Seth Miller, C2K Program Officer
B. Speaker's Commission on Regionalism (SCOR) Update


California's Collaborative Regional Initiatives (CRIs) often encounter the visible or invisible hand of the federal government in their work:

  • The Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development, Gateway Cities Partnership and others interested in urban investment are affected by federal housing, brownfields, and transportation policies, among others.
  • The Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, Valley Vision and others interested in improving transportation choices are affected by transportation and air quality laws and regulations and funding.
  • The Fresno Business Council, Action Pajaro Valley and others interested in farmland preservation through more compact urban growth are affected by federal agriculture and endangered species policies.
  • The Institute of the North Coast and the Sierra Business Council are affected by federal forest and other lands management policies.
  • Federal defense downsizing and base closure actions have affected the Santa Barbara Economic Community Project, Orange County Business Council and many others.
  • Perhaps more than any other CRI, San Diego Dialogue is affected because its region straddles the border with Mexico, and national policies on immigration, and on infrastructure and economic development are major "drivers" of how the region will develop.

Until recently, however, there has been little opportunity for CRIs to meet the federal agencies "at the regional table." This issue of CalRegions explores some promising new strategies designed to align federal policy and practice to the unique needs and capacities of regions, an ambitious agenda, but one that will be necessary if the idea of "regional home rule" is to be fully applied to the goal of making our regions more sustainable.

I. Alliance for Regional Stewardship: a national learning network and advocate for regions

The Alliance for Regional Stewardship (ARS) is a national peer-to-peer learning network of regional leaders who benefit by sharing experiences and working collaboratively on innovative approaches to common regional challenges. The Alliance is for experienced leaders who recognize the interdependencies of their regions' economy, environment, and society- seeking practical ways to effect change. These leaders can come from business, government, education, and community sectors, but they share a common commitment to collaborative action and regional stewardship. The Alliance supports Regional Stewardship by helping leaders learn about best practices from other regions, communicate to state/federal leaders and the media about regional challenges and innovations, and develop new leaders for regional civic efforts. The James and Rebecca Morgan and James Irvine foundations and the Heinz Endowments support the Alliance. In addition to CCRL, leaders from several CRIs have been involved thus far in ARS activities: Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development, Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, Fresno Business Council, Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network, Metropolitan Forum Project, San Diego Dialogue, San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, and Valley Vision.

Each year, the Alliance sponsors two Leadership Forums that bring diverse leaders from across the country together to share their experiences and exchange ideas about effective approaches to regional challenges. At the Leadership Forums, regional leaders share critical issues facing their regions, identify best practices, and develop communities of interest for long-term sharing of new ideas and approaches. The Leadership Forums are hosted by Alliance members from alternating regions and provide an opportunity to spotlight regional activities. The next Alliance Leadership Forum will be November 8-9 in Miami, Florida. For more information on the forums visit:

Discussions at the Alliance Leadership Forum in Pittsburgh on May 10th & 11th focusing on a new federal-regional partnership centered around forming a Committee on Regions to help develop a unified voice on regional issues. The idea evolved from Alliance discussions with federal leaders about how best to promote a federal partnership with regions. An Alliance working group of regional leaders was developed to focus on a new federal-regional partnership.

II. The Alliance and a Presidential Executive Order & Report to the President on Federalism

At the May ARS Leadership Forum, Ruben Barrales, Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Relations, and former President and CEO of Joint Venture Silicon Valley, invited Alliance participants to suggest specific ideas that might be included in a Presidential Executive Order to be issued in early Fall.

On July 10, the Alliance for Regional Stewardship's Committee on Regions met with the White House Working Group on Federalism to present suggestions for an executive order on federalism and a report that will accompany the executive order. The Committee's presentation entitled "Regions Matter", held that:

"The President's Executive Order on Federalism provides the opportunity for the federal government to recognize the importance of regions. Regions matter because they are the real communities where people work and businesses compete, not only nationally but also internationally. The reality of today's economy can be found in metropolitan regions, where over 80% of our gross domestic product is generated. Regions are also where the toughest challenges are emerging -- from relieving traffic congestion to purifying air and water, providing affordable housing, and shaping balanced growth. Regions require federal, state and local governments come together to make collaborative decisions about our competitiveness in the global economy and the quality of life in our neighborhoods. It takes the entire federal system to build the regional communities that make our nation strong."

(A copy of the presentation, titled "Regions Matter," can be viewed at the ARS website by clicking:

The ARS Committee recommended that the federal government recognize regions and work with regional leaders to help develop and support regional compacts. Kristine Simmons, Special Assistant to the President, who is leading the White House Working Group on Federalism, indicated interest in a regional compact idea, as well as new ways to engage federal employees in regional initiatives. Ruben Barrales asked that the ARS Committee identify state and elected officials that support regional cooperation. He also asked that the Committee suggest how Bush Administration priorities in the economy, education, energy, and faith-based initiatives can be advantaged by regional approaches.

A summary of the meeting with Kristine Simmons, Special Assistant to the President, Ruben Barrales, White House Director of Intergovernmental Relations, and other members of the working group are available at the ARS website, visit

To read a recent Neal Pierce article about the White House meeting with the Alliance for Regional Stewardship, go to

III. Partnership for Regional Livability: an experiment in philanthropic-federal-regional collaboration

The Partnership for Regional Livability (PRL) began in 1999, with support from the MacArthur, James Irvine and Ford foundations. Its purpose is to help civic leaders in regions across the United States develop collaboration with federal agencies to address large-scale, intractable problems, such as air pollution, sprawl, poverty, and unemployment. The Partnership delivers technical assistance to regions, drawing on a national network of experts. It organizes a region's access to federal government expertise and resources, with the cooperation of local and state elected officials. It helps develop federal readiness and capacity to work with regions. And it helps regions build supportive relationships with each other, exchange information, and share tools and lessons learned.

The Partnership initially selected four regions to work with: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, and the San Francisco Bay Area (working with the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development). Each region developed one or more projects to address regional challenges: cleaning up air pollution; connecting poor, inner-city job seekers to jobs sprouting in suburbs; preventing sprawl into the countryside and congestion on the roadways; attracting private investment for housing and businesses in impoverished neighborhoods; and protecting the quality of drinking water. After the regions designed their projects and built local and state support for them, through a "reverse RFP" process they each asked an array of relevant federal agencies to participate in the projects. Today, the projects are in various stages of development, with more than a dozen federal agencies participating to add value to the regional projects using existing authorities.

Though still very much a "work in progress" the Partnership has brought together diverse stakeholders in the regions and Washington to work on regional problems. It has helped regions build stronger relationships with federal officials and other regions. It has helped federal agencies work with regions and collaborate with each other.

A key to PRL success has been to ensure that the Partnership, as the "intermediary" organization is flexible, timely, and innovative in responding to the needs of regions and federal officials. If these first four pilot projects are successful, the Partnership may expand to additional regions.

For more information about the Partnership for Regional Livability visit online at

To view a copy of the PRL blueprint for facilitating regional-federal partnerships - identifying promising PRL projects to secure detailed partnership agreements between regional leaders and federal agencies - visit

IV. Regional News & Information

A. New CCRL Staff Members

CCRL welcomes it's two newest staff members to our San Francisco office, Kala Venugopal, CRI Program Officer; and Seth Miller, C2K Program Officer.

As CCRL's CRI Program Officer, Kala will provide leadership for CCRL's program of technical support to the Collaborative Regional Initiatives or CRIs. As private sector organizations (though often with public sector leadership and/or participation), CRIs take a "stewardship" responsibility for the economic, environmental, and social equity future of their regions and their communities. Kala's work at CCRL will include technical assistance for organizational development, leadership development, fund-raising, and program development. For more information about Collaborative Regional Initiatives in California, visit, and/or contact Kala Venugopal, CRI Program Officer, at, or California Center for Regional Leadership, 455 Market Street, San Francisco, California, 94105. Phone (415) 882-7300 Fax (415) 882-7272.

As C2K Program Officer, Seth is responsible for the CCRL component of the C2K Project. With support from the James Irvine and William and Flora Hewlett Foundations, the California 2000 Project (C2K) is a collaborative, statewide program whose purpose is to engage citizen leaders throughout California in activities to promote fundamental land use, governance, and state-local fiscal reform. CCRL is one of eight organizational partners in this project. In carrying out CCRL responsibilities for the project, Seth will be assisting in organizing several regional forums and one statewide forum; helping to engage state and local elected officials in the forums; assisting in outreach to the media; preparing materials that translate reform issues into local/regional interests; providing input to the web-based communications program; and providing feedback and lessons learned through the project's evaluation effort. For more information about the C2K project, contact Seth Miller, C2K Program Officer, at, or California Center for Regional Leadership, 455 Market Street, San Francisco, California, 94105. Phone (415) 882-7300 Fax (415) 882-7272.

B. Speaker's Commission on Regionalism (SCOR) update

In July SCOR met in Santa Barbara, hosted by the Economic Community Project and the Community Environmental Council to: 1) Hear from regional leaders about the growth challenges in the region, and 2) Continue its discussion about state policies to support collaborative regional planning. In August the Commission met in Nevada City, hosted by Commission member and Nevada County Supervisor Elizabeth (Izzy) Martin, to 1)Hear from regional leaders about natural resource and urbanization challenges in the Sierra Nevada, 2)Hear from Assistant Resources Secretary Madelyn Glickfeld about the Agency's approach to regional resource issues and the C-CRISP project, and 3)Plan for the Commission's Final Report (due in November). For more information about SCOR, visit, or contact SCOR Chair Nick Bollman,