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CalRegions Email Newsletters Archive

Volume IV, Issue 1 - February, 2003

REGIONAL EQUITY

Contents

I. A Personal Reflection by Nick Bollman
How do we continue and increase our commitment and actions to support economic and social opportunity for all Californians?

II. Regions in Action
Case studies of how California's regional civic organizations work to promote regional equity in innovative ways.

III. CCRL Activities: ASPIRE
ASPIRE will advance dialogue on crucial social justice and equitable development issues and develop the state's first regional equity agenda.

IV. Regional News and Information
The latest news and information from California's CRIs and other CCRL strategic regional partners.


I. A PERSONAL REFLECTION, by Nick Bollman, President, CCRL

nick bollmanCalifornia has always had a special place in the imagination of Americans and people across the world as the land of opportunity. From the pioneer days to the present, people have come here to take advantage of what seemed unlimited economic opportunity and an unequalled quality of life. Though our population growth in years to come will be driven more by births to Californians than immigration, the 21st Century challenge that now haunts us is: How do we continue and increase our commitment and actions to support economic and social opportunity for all Californians?

In spite of the current economic stagnation and state fiscal crisis, over the long term California's economy will continue to create family-wage jobs and career opportunities. But in the past decade and more, structural changes in the economy, inequitable educational opportunity, land use patterns, and other factors have resulted in a deep and widening disparity in family income and assets. Increasingly, California's social and economic disparities are played out geographically, as jobs and the tax base migrate away from older cities and suburbs, leaving poor communities and their residents isolated from economic opportunities and with inferior public services and infrastructure. The California dream of economically integrated communities is increasingly illusory.

California's new civic regionalism movement, as evidenced by our twenty-one regional collaborative partners (see http://calregions.urbaninsight.com), has committed itself to the "three E's:" a competitive Economy, a quality Environment and social and economic Equity. None is a trade-off for the other, but because of our growing equity "deficit," the third E requires special attention. Is this a moral commitment? Definitely. But it also is essential to sustaining strong, competitive regional economies. As UC-Santa Cruz Professor Manuel Pastor, Jr., and his colleagues have taught us, regions grow healthier economically when all the communities in the region are strong, and when regions have effective, targeted policies and programs to reduce poverty and create economic opportunity. It's the "Double Bottom Line."

Areas of particular promise include education reform, workforce investment, urban revitalization and community economic development, environmental justice, and inclusive civic participation. In this issue of CalRegions, we highlight programs and policy initiatives that can help all of us to create sustained economic opportunity for all Californians in the years to come.

[Note: CCRL is especially grateful for the national (and California) leadership on regional equity provided by PolicyLink and for the opportunity to participate this past November in Los Angeles in a national summit on "Promoting Regional Equity," sponsored by PolicyLink and the Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. For more information on this event and useful resources to meet this challenge, please visit http://www.policylink.org and http://www.fundersnetwork.org.]


II. REGIONS IN ACTION

California's regional civic organizations have pioneered some very effective strategies and programs to promote regional equity. Here is but a brief sample:

Case 1 -- Workforce Investment in Silicon Valley

Joint Venture Silicon Valley Network, in collaboration with A.T. Kearney, authored two workforce studies that detail the workforce trends shaping Silicon Valley's business, educational, and social environments and reveal vital information about regional inequities. The 1999 Workforce Study: An Analysis of the Workforce Gap in the Silicon Valley provides an overview of just how vast the workforce gap is in Silicon Valley and how critical it is to rally regional resources to ensure the development and full utilization of its regional "homegrown" talent.

The 2002 Workforce Study: Connecting Today's Youth with Tomorrow's Technology Careers updates the workforce gap information. The 2002 Workforce Study focuses on a population that is critical to the region's economic future: youth in Silicon Valley today. Drawing on a survey of more than 2,500 8th and 11th-graders across the region, the study finds that, to prepare youth for technology jobs, the region must work both to increase young people's understanding of and interest in technology professions and to connect them with career opportunities, information, and guidance. By enabling more students to learn about -- and prepare for -- technology fields, we increase the opportunities for these students to share in the region's future growth and prosperity. Additionally, an effort to prepare a broader population of students for tomorrow's technology-related careers helps to prevent future shortages of high-tech workers in Silicon Valley. The report asserts that if Silicon Valley is to remain a major economic force in the years ahead, the region must find ways to more fully develop its local pool of technical talent -- at all levels and in a variety of career ladders.

For more information please visit http://www.jointventure.org/workforce/index.html.


Case 2 -- Effective Pluralism and Inclusive Civic Participation in the Bay Area

The Bay Area, like many of California's regions, is blessed with an extraordinary cultural and ethnic diversity, well suited to an economy whose economic future is dependent on global interaction and whose workforce can spark innovation through the creative engagement of many different cultural heritages. It is widely accepted in business and social organizations that the Bay Area's multicultural leadership and the potential for effective pluralism is a key strategy for achieving a sustainable region.

The Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities is structured to ensure that the "three E's" have equal participation in Alliance decisionmaking, through three Caucuses representing the Business, Environmental and Social Equity sectors. The Social Equity Caucus (SEC) provides community-based social and environmental justice organizations with a forum to discuss Bay Area region-wide issues of sustainable development, and an autonomous platform to develop and project a vision for a socially just region. Through the Caucus, the diverse membership conducts dialogue among a varied group of social equity interests and perspectives, and considers issues that significantly impact low-income communities and communities of color throughout the Bay Area. The SEC also creates a functioning bridge between neighborhood and community-level strategies and activities and region-level opportunities. Most importantly, it creates capacity for an authentic dialogue with mainstream business and environmental interests, based on mutual respect. This does not always result in consensus or agreement but it is a breakthrough idea for effective pluralism and civic inclusion.

For more information, please visit http://www.bayareaalliance.org.


Case 3 -- Grassroots Planning for Sustainability in the Gateway Cities

Gateway Cities Partnership, Inc. (GCPI) is committed to a sustainable region from the grassroots up. Some observers of the "sustainability movement" suggest that it is largely the preserve of those with advanced degrees, high incomes and ample leisure time. Don't tell that to GCPI and its grassroots partners!

GCPI has begun on a city-by-city basis to develop sustainable plans throughout its region. The plans are focused on environmental and public safety, housing and land use issues, community design, quality of life, economic development, and education. GCPI organizes community meetings (at night, often at schools, to ensure that working parents can participate), provides residents with information, helps them to write a plan, and then commits to help them find private funding to implement the programs or projects called for in the plan. Thus far GCPI has worked with residents in Huntington Park (96% Latino and an average annual income of $27,000), Maywood (96% Latino and with 15% of the adult population registered to vote), and Bell (91% Latino and 65% of the adult population lack a high school diploma). GCPI is helping vision and stewardship to blossom in communities that deserve no less.

For more information, please visit: http://www.gateway-partnership.org.


Case 4 -- Farmworker Housing in the Pajaro Valley

The cost of living in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties is one of the highest in the United States, yet the rich agricultural lands draw farmworkers who, though vital to the region's economy, cannot afford to live there. In August 2001, Action Pajaro Valley brought more than 150 farmworkers, government officials, developers, and interested community members together for a Farmworker Housing Summit. Reflecting the regional and inter-agency nature of the problem, the meeting was cosponsored by a broad array of local and federal public agencies and local nonprofit organizations.

Attendees at the Summit could listen to the presentations from local officials in both English and Spanish through headsets. Not only did the participants discuss policy issues around developing affordable housing, but they were also able to express their opinions on the general location, layout, design, and amenities of their housing. Officials promised that the information would be used to guide future planning efforts. Action Pajaro Valley used the information from this Summit to inform its Growth Management Strategy, and subsequently to craft a General Plan amendment which was adopted by vote of the electorate (60% majority) in November 2002. Land-use planning expert Bill Fulton calls Action Pajaro Valley"s process and product "the best example of integrative regional planning in the state, if not the entire country."

For more information, please visit: http://www.actionpajarovalley.org.


Case 5 -- Education Reform in San Diego County

San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (SDREDC) is not your typical EDC, but it certainly is showing how the 21st Century regional economic strategy should be practiced. Certainly, it provides business assistance services to companies and markets the region. But, it also puts a high priority on improving the educational system in the region to improve educational and career opportunity for all.

SDREDC doesn't just pontificate. While many people just say, "Why don't those educators do a better job," SDREDC would rather get involved in education issues that impact regional equity, through:

  • Policy advocacy, by actively supporting education legislation in Sacramento.
  • Business-education partnerships, such as helping to close the digital divide by bringing more technology into San Diego County schools.
  • Career awareness -- bringing business leaders into schools to give students the facts, the feeling, and good practical advice to help them understand that they, too, could reach a little higher to capture their share of the new "California Dream."

For more information, please visit: http://www.sandiegobusiness.org.

III. CCRL ACTIVITIES: ASPIRE

In fall 2002, CCRL launched ASPIRE (Aligning State Policy to Implement Regional Equity). We are pleased to be collaborating in this effort with PolicyLink and several regional and statewide social equity and civic organizations. ASPIRE will advance dialogue on crucial social justice and equitable development issues and develop the state's first regional equity agenda.

ASPIRE's core activity is a series of four Regional Equity Dialogues: the Bay Area, which took place on December 17, 2003; Sacramento in March; Los Angeles in late spring; and San Diego in May. These dialogues bring together members of the social equity community, select business leaders, and state policymakers. The goals of the dialogues are to:

  • Build relationships for concurrence and action;
  • Discuss and engage each other on key state policy issues that can promote regional equity, such as affordable housing, transportation mobility, access to jobs, school facilities, and regional planning; and,
  • Identify concrete strategic steps for potential collaboration on state policy development.

The dialogues will culminate in a statewide gathering in Sacramento at the 2003 Civic Entrepreneur Summit, scheduled for June 1-3 in Sacramento. At the Summit, the ASPIRE Report will be presented to Speaker of the Assembly Herb Wesson, Jr. The Report will include policy recommendations from the Regional Equity Dialogues and will highlight examples of policy champions throughout the state. This will be California's (and the nation's) first regional equity state policy agenda.

ASPIRE Dialogues and the ASPIRE Report will emphasize policy themes and will cite examples of specific policies, calling for action by policymakers, with strong and broad-based civic support. The project draws directly from three recent statewide Reports: the Report of the Speaker's Commission on Regionalism, the Report of the Governor's Commission on Building for the 21st Century, and the 21st Century Initiative Report of CCRL and the State Treasurer. The national summit "Promoting Regional Equity" that took place in November 2002 in Los Angeles, where more than 650 advocates of regional equity from across the nation gathered together, provides a great spark of momentum for ASPIRE. Sponsored by Policy Link and the Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, the Summit spawned ideas and enthusiasm for a new generation of regional equity advocacy, and we believe that the ASPIRE project is a natural and fitting follow-up to the Summit, carrying those ideas and that enthusiasm into the real world of California policy decision-making.


IV. REGIONAL NEWS AND INFORMATION

JOB NOTICE: San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership (SGVEP), based in Irwindale, California, is seeking applicants for the position of President. Under the general direction of the SGVEP Executive Committee, the President is responsible for the overall management and administration of the Partnership. Contact jobs@fairplex.com.


A. Save the Date!

  • "Investing in California's Future," the first Sacramento Roundtable of the new California Policy Reform Network, will be held Thursday, February 27, 2003, 1:15 - 4:45 p.m., in Assembly Hearing Room 4202 of the State Capitol. California faces an enormous infrastructure deficit that will be compounded as our population grows. This seminar provides a dialogue about infrastructure financing options with regional leaders and state policymakers to discuss current and proposed legislation. Find the flyer and registration form (PDF) at http://www.calpolicyreform.net/events/
    downloads/infrastructureroundtable.pdf
  • The Housing Element Law is considered one of the state's most important levers in influencing residential housing growth. But Paul Lewis of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) says that cities that met the law's planning requirements in the 1990s did not add new housing units at a faster rate than their counterparts who fell short. PPIC and the Bay Area Economic Forum invite you to a forum with Lewis and other distinguished panelists to discuss the restrictions and local realities that shape housing development and examine possible changes to the law or other mechanisms that the state could use to encourage a substantial increase in housing production for all income groups.
  • "Rethinking California's Housing Element Law" will take place, Monday, February 24, 2003, from 12:00 - 1:30 p.m. at the MetroCenter Auditorium in Oakland. Contact (415) 981-6408 or robin@bayeconfor.org.
  • The Regional Civic Alliance for Ventura County will unveil their new report, The State of the Region: Ventura County 2002, and launch the implementation of its recommendations on March 20, 2003, from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. at the Clarion Hotel in Newbury Park. A fee of $20 will cover breakfast and a copy of the report; payment will be accepted at the door. Contact Susan Klipp at (805) 988-0196 x16 or msklipp@vccf.org.
  • The California Budget Project's second annual conference will use the 25th anniversary of the passage of Proposition 13, which dramatically changed the state's budget and policy landscape, to explore the current budget crisis within the context of this historic ballot measure. Workshop sessions will feature state and national experts addressing the budget crisis; the structure of the state's tax system; the impact of the recession on California's working families; the latest developments in welfare reform; and up-to-date information on budget-related policy proposals affecting child care, and health care. The conference will be held March 12, 2003, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., at the Sacramento Convention Center. Find the flyer and registration form (PDF) at http://www.cbp.org/2002/conf_broch03.pdf.


B. Events

  • "Shaping the Region with Vision," sponsored by the Tri-Valley Business Council, the Hacienda Office Park, and State Sen. Tom Torlakson, provided an opportunity for Tri-Valley communities (Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, San Ramon, and Danville) to discuss the critical balance between jobs, housing, and transportation. During the morning symposium on January 31, 2003, in Pleasanton, 150 business leaders, government officials, and community organizers heard from four speakers: UC-Berkeley Professor John Landis, Torlakson, Sunne Wright McPeak, and Laura Stuchinsky of Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group. An eSummary of the event with notes on the speakers' remarks is available from the California Policy Reform Network at http://www.calpolicyreform.net/
    esummaries/013103/index.htm
    .
  • Infrastructure Summits were held in two regions recently to present and discuss the findings of two Infrastructure Report Cards, which grade the regions on the capacity and condition of their vital infrastructure systems:
    • The Orange County Infrastructure Summit, sponsored by the Orange County Business Council, Center for a New Orange County, California Rebuild America Coalition and California Policy Reform Network, focused on school facilities, transportation, and urban runoff/flood control, the areas identified in the Report Card as most in need of attention. It was held February 11, 2003, at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, and was attended by about 250 participants.
    • About 250 civic leaders attended the Los Angeles Infrastructure Summit, held February 12, 2003, at the University of Southern California's Davidson Center, while many more listened on public radio station KPCC. The event was sponsored by the California Rebuild America Coalition; American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Los Angeles Section; Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation; California Policy Reform Network; and others.
  • Southern California Compass, a project tasked to craft a comprehensive, far-sighted "vision" for growth in the region by the Southern California Association of Governments, held its first Citizen Advisory Committee meeting for civic leaders on February 13, 2003, in Fontana. At the meeting, John Fregonese of Fregonese Calthorpe Associates provided an overview of the project and described some of the trends that Southern California has seen in growth and public opinion. For more information about Southern California Compass and its Citizen Advisory Committee, visit http://www.socalcompass.org.


C. Publications

  • State Senator John Vasconcellos has always been known as an outspoken advocate for his views on policy. Now, as he approaches the end of his final term after 37 years in Sacramento, the "Dean of the California Legislature" is writing a series of "Critical Observations" about vital issues facing the state, and advocating a new "Politics of Trust." His first three essays deal with the budget crisis, the restrictions on easy fixes, and Sen. Vasconcellos' challenge to address the problems from their roots.

    The papers are posted after their release on Sen. Vasconcellos' official website at democrats.sen.ca.gov/senator/Vasconcellos/, via the "Press Room" link on the left side.
  • The California Economic Strategy Panel, created to develop a statewide vision and strategy to guide public policy decisions for economic growth and competitiveness, has issued an initial report. Creating a Shared California Economic Strategy: A Call to Action includes the findings of the panel over its first year of work and both immediate and long-term recommendations for state government action.

    Find the report online by visiting the Technology, Trade, and Commerce website at www.commerce.ca.gov and clicking the "California's Economy" link on the left side, then the "Economic Strategy Panel" link on the right side.
  • State Policy Approaches to Promote Metropolitan Economic Strategy, by Dr. Marc A. Weiss, was published by the National Governors' Association Center for Best Practices in October 2002. It is intended to provide Governors and state policymakers with an overview of what can make regional metropolitan economies grow. In addition, this report discusses specific policy recommendations for linking inner cities to the region's growth.

    This report is available at www.nga.org/center/
    divisions/1,1188,C_ISSUE_BRIEF^D_4536,00.html


D. Projects

  • Many regions across the nation have found it extremely valuable to track key indicators of economic, social and environmental well-being over time. This data can reveal unnoticed trends in populations or businesses, identify persistent problems, guide policymakers to improve planning and services, and provide a tool to evaluate existing public resources. Four California regions recently released reports detailing dozens of indicators:
    • The Orange County Community Indicators Project published its fourth annual index of regional trends in February 2003. This year's report includes special sections focusing on workforce, an Infrastructure Report Card (see above), and pediatric asthma. Find the series of reports at http://www.oc.ca.gov/CEO/
      Comm_Indicators/Comm_Indi.asp
      .
    • Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network found that fundamental shifts in Silicon Valley's economic structure and population profile have created new job opportunities but underscore the need for a new, regional economic strategy in their Index of Silicon Valley 2003, released in January 2003. The report, which can be downloaded at www.jointventure.org/2003index/index.html, analyzes indicators of business shifts, population changes, economic vitality, and quality of life.
    • Bay Area Indicators: Measuring Progress Toward Sustainability is the inaugural indicators report by a collaboration of the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development and the Northern California Council for the Community. It includes data and indicators for nine of the ten regional commitments set forth in the Compact for a Sustainable Bay Area, which has already been adopted by two-thirds of the cities and seven of nine counties in the region. The report can be found at www.bayareaalliance.org/
      indicators.html
      .
    • The Santa Barbara South Coast Community Indicators Project recently issued their fifth annual report. Involving a wealth of information on social, environmental, and economic indicators, the 2002 report focuses on public health and healthy lifestyles. The report, the raw data, and prior reports are on the Internet at www.ucsb-efp.com/indicators/index.htm.
  • The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) and the California Institute for Federal Policy Research have released the first three reports in an ongoing series entitled "Federal Formula Grants and California." The project's first components include two overview pieces: one examining California's share of formula funding, and the other reviewing factors used in the formulas. The two groups also finished an in-depth formula grant study on TANF and welfare programs. Upcoming projects include an analysis of the formulas that distribute federal highway transportation funds in anticipation of next year's renewal of TEA-21, additional reports, briefings, fact sheets, a web database, and other products.

    Reports in this series are posted as they are published at http://www.calinst.org/formulas.htm.

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