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Connecting California's Regions to the State and Each Other
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CalRegions Email Newsletters Archive

Volume IV, Issue 5 - November, 2003


REGIONAL QUALITY OF LIFE INDICATOR PROJECTS AND THE CALIFORNIA PROGRESS PROJECT

Contents

  1. Trust and Accountability: Performance-Based Civic Leadership, Government Budgeting, and Government Services

    Building trust through accountability
    by Nick Bollman

  2. Indicators: The Key to Engagement and Progress

    A new cutting-edge tool for engaging the community

    A. Tools to Measure and Mobilize
    B. A New Report Tells the Story

  3. Regions in Action

    California's Regional Collaboratives take the lead in innovative projects and implementation

  4. The California Progress Project

    A new opportunity to build the community of practice.

  5. Regional News and Information

    The latest news and information from California's Regional Collaboratives and other CCRL strategic partners

    A. Upcoming Events
    B. Resources
    C. Projects


I. Trust and Accountability: Performance-Based Civic Leadership, Government Budgeting, and Government Services

nick bollman

Some truths are so simple and obvious that they are often overlooked. For example, it is certainly a worthy trait to be clear about your intentions and to do what you say you will do. This is true for individuals, institutions, and governments. In California, the depth of mistrust in our political leadership is no doubt linked in part to the confusion about what government is supposed to do and whether it is accountable for what it actually does.

In this issue of CalRegions, we present the findings of a new CCRL report that describes and analyzes California's 14 Regional Quality of Life Indicator projects. These reports are an amazing new tool by which civic leaders enable our state's regions to be clear about their intentions for the community and to hold themselves accountable across a wide array of indicators that measure results. Is our economy competitive in the global marketplace and providing economic opportunity for all? Are we protecting our precious natural resources as a legacy for future generations? Do our people use their democratic processes and institutions, such as voting, to engage fully in decisionmaking about the future of our communities? These indicator reports hold us accountable for making progress on the things we care about.

Now imagine that government operated in the same way. Performance-based budgeting has been used by Governor Gary Locke in the State of Washington to address an enormous budget deficit, $2.4 billion in a $24 billion budget. Under this system, the state began its budget process by first establishing goals and priorities. Those spending programs that then fell to the bottom of the priority list were vulnerable to the budget axe. In California, budget outcomes have largely been determined by the interplay of interest groups. Sometimes this reflects the people's priorities, often it does not.

Performance-based delivery of government services would be another worthy reform. For example, the state's historic new land use law, AB 857 (about which we've reported in prior issues of CalRegions), prescribes three planning goals to guide the expenditure of state infrastructure and operating funds. Now imagine that the Department of Finance actually holds state agencies accountable for trying to meet those goals. This is required by the law, but the true test will be the extent to which DOF successfully implements the law's intentions.

Governor-elect Schwarzenegger, by virtue of coming fresh to the business of state government, has a golden opportunity to work together with civic leaders across the state to move state government toward performance-based budgeting and operations. This kind of accountability might restore the people's faith in state government. We hope he'll take advantage of this opportunity. If so, we plan to add our help to that noble effort.


II. Indicators: The Key to Engagement and Progress

A. Tools to Measure and Mobilize

  • A working mother in the San Fernando Valley, accessing online mapped data that tracks changes in local commuter patterns and population, can quickly prepare a presentation for the City Council supporting increased transit service for her neighborhood.

  • Church and social leaders from a relatively large population of Filipino immigrants in a Central Valley suburb, reading regional data, can confirm that many workers from their community commute to Modesto to find jobs. They then work with the city manager to create a bilingual economic development outreach unit that helps these residents establish their own small businesses closer to home.

  • An economist in Humboldt County, noticing that a languishing urban industrial park is located close to a poor neighborhood with high unemployment but far from environmentally sensitive areas, can propose incentives for companies in the region's rapidly growing custom-furniture industry to locate there. This program would be paired with the establishment of a workforce training project for the local residents in this high-paying craft.

Community indicators are tools to measure a community's well-being. Quality of Life Indicator projects promote and monitor progress toward sustainable vitality, quality and inclusion for the economy, environment, and people (equity) across the 3 E's. The indicators may range from the crime rate in an area to the soil drainage capacity, but all can help regions to track and prioritize their own distinct strengths and challenges. As shown above, this data is also a catalyst for civic engagement, educating and mobilizing residents and policymakers to action in their communities.

California's Regional Collaboratives (RCs) have been at the cutting edge of innovation in the emerging field of Regional Quality of Life Indicators. A new report from CCRL and the California Children and Families Association documents how RCs and other civic organizations have created projects that, by tracking data on quality of life issues in regions around the state, will promote progress toward sustainable vitality. This report is the initial stage of an effort -- the California Progress Project (see Section IV) -- that will bring together the community of practice to share best practices, build the capacity of current and new projects, identify issues with statewide policy implications, and consider the potential for a region-based statewide indicators report.


B. A New Report Tells the Story

The stories above illustrate how indicator data can be most valuable when we are able to compare it across time and regions. In the last ten years, civic groups have published the results of Regional Quality of Life Indicator projects in 14 regions, from Silicon Valley (The Index of Silicon Valley) to the Sierra Nevada (The Sierra Nevada Wealth Index). The scope and size of these projects varies, but overall they try to identify important conditions and trends, educate civic leaders and citizens, and engage them to take action on these issues.

Many of these groups have had great success in informing regional discussions (see Section III), but until recently, there had been no link between the projects or statewide analysis of their information. This fall, CCRL released a new report titled Telling Our Story, Measuring Our Progress: California's Regional Quality of Life Indicator Projects that serves as a best practice and technical resource, documents what has been learned at a regional level, analyzes and compares data sets across regions, identifies emerging issues of policy importance through the development of new indicators, and lays the groundwork for a community of practice.

This is the first time that these projects have been studied collectively, with specific indicator data sets documented across regions. In Telling Our Story, Measuring Our Progress, we found that while there are many common challenges shared by the regions of California - demographic and economic transition, housing shortages and affordability, disparities in access to opportunity, and children's health issues - each region is unique in their strengths and challenges.


III. Regions in Action

California's Regional Collaboratives, working with other civic organizations, have driven the development of the field of Regional Quality of Life Indicator projects. They have also proven inventive in their use of project data to drive change in their regions. Below are examples of the partnerships, effective data tracking, and engagement done by the RCs:

  • On October 14, more than 100 business executives gathered at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, but not to talk about interest rates or monetary policy. Instead, they eagerly discussed the inaugural regional indicators report, State of the Bay Area: Pathways to Results, and how its results could guide community and charitable investments. In an innovative outreach effort, the business leaders were given the report along with a list of regional projects to help them find opportunities for community leadership and engagement.

    As suggested by its title, the report is geared to providing tools to implement and measure progress toward sustainability and prosperity goals, in this case the ten regional commitments that the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities set forth in the Compact for a Sustainable Bay Area.

  • The grandparent of the Regional Quality of Life Indicator projects will turn nine years old when Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network releases its 2004 Index of Silicon Valley on January 23, 2004. As always, hundreds of community members and media will be present, ensuring that the report's impact will be broad; over 13,000 copies of the 2003 Index have been distributed worldwide.

    In addition to helping foster a sense of regional identity, the Index provides a sound basis for proactive, coordinated efforts to make Silicon Valley a better place to live, work, and do business. The indicator report measures progress toward the goals of Silicon Valley 2010, published by Joint Venture in 1998. The next Index will feature new data on the impact of the global economy on the changing industry and occupational structure of the Valley and the implications for regional stewardship.

  • One of the most interesting ways that indicator project data has been used is to infuse regional visioning projects with a wealth of data on change in the region. A rapidly growing region like the Inland Empire needs both information and a vision of the future, and civic leaders there found them at the Inland Empire Visioning Summit, "Breaking the Mold," on September 5, sponsored by the Inland Empire Economic Partnership. Using information from the first Inland Empire 2003 Indicators Report, participants identified their visions for the future and mapped specific strategies to help achieve them.

Each of the other Regional Quality of Life Indicator projects in California has also brought new innovations:

  • The Regional Civic Alliance of Ventura County keeps interested civic leaders up to date with the progress of its first indicator report, The State of the Region: Ventura County 2002, in part by maintaining a weblog that tracks media stories related to its 12 domains - http://www.vcregion.org

  • The Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley engaged nearly 400 community leaders to determine the indicators that would be used in their first report, San Fernando Valley Indicators 2000 - http://www.economicalliance.org

  • The Great Valley Center issued an integrated baseline indicator report in 1999, and has followed it up with a series of specific topic reports - this year focusing on Public Health and Access to Care. They also have posted the information in an online database that is searchable in multiple ways - http://www.greatvalley.org/indicators/index.aspx

  • The Santa Barbara South Coast Community Indicators Project report tracks a set of core indicators in its annual reports, and each report also focuses on a "hot topic." In 2002, the hot topic was public health and non-profit corporations - http://www.ucsb-efp.com/indicators/index.htm

  • The Orange County Community Indicators Project continued its leadership of the field by producing an "Infrastructure Report Card," linked to the region's indicator report, to raise public awareness of an infrastructure in dire need of attention - http://www.oc.ca.gov/CEO/
    Comm_Indicators/Comm_Indi.asp


  • In 2002 and 2003, Gateway Cities Partnership prepared special reports on the workforce and immigration, based on issues identified in its original indicators report of 2001 - http://www.gatewaycities.org

  • The Tri-Valley Business Council uses the latest update to its indicator report to measure progress toward the seven goals of the region's vision, The Golden Valley: A 2010 Vision for the Tri Valley Region - http://www.tri-valley.org

  • Following the publication of its first and second indicator reports, Valley Vision made presentations to the elected leaders of almost every jurisdiction in the six-county Sacramento region - http://www.valleyvision.org

  • The outcomes of The North Coast Landscape: A Portrait of Life in Humboldt County were integrated into Prosperity -- The North Coast Strategy, which has been adopted by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors as the County's Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy - http://www.northcoastprosperity.com/

  • San Diego's report, Indicators of Sustainable Competitiveness, San Diego Region, compares several measures of the region's performance against 20 regional competitors and the nation in the three broad areas of economy, environment, and equity - http://www.sandag.org/uploads/
    publicationid/publicationid_731_1240.pdf


  • In publishing the Sierra Nevada Wealth Index, the Sierra Business Council sought to redefine the notion of wealth in the region in the context of a changing economy and population growth, in part by considering natural capital as equal to social and financial capital - http://www.sbcouncil.org/wealth.htm


IV. The California Progress Project

The potential of the Regional Quality of Life Indicators field has only begun to be tapped. The need in the regions of California and nationally for tracking of this kind of data has already led to connections between these successful indicator projects and to an enthusiastic reception for the report Telling Our Story, Measuring Our Progress.

A diversity of organizations have become involved in indicator projects around the state, including especially the Regional Collaboratives, community foundations, Councils of Government, Children and Families (First Five) Commissions, educational institutions, and United Ways. Recently, the California Center for Regional Leadership, the Alliance for Regional Stewardship, and the Catanese Center for Urban and Environmental Leadership at Florida Atlantic University formed an Indicators Affinity Group that will facilitate the development of the field nationally. Through this group, these interested organizations can share ideas and plan for the future of the field.

With the plethora of projects that have sprung up in California, there is much to be gained from working more closely together and sharing resources within the state. CCRL has created a new program, called the California Progress Project, to connect these indicator projects and support each other as a peer network. We intend to build the capacity of current and new indicator projects by:

  • Sharing information on best practices
  • Improving the consistency of data sources and methodologies
  • Improving access to critical data sources
  • Enhancing partnerships with community foundations and other organizations
  • Raising the overall quality of the field of practice
  • Identifying key regional policy issues of statewide significance
  • Considering the potential for a region-based statewide report

Working together as a strengthened and broadened network has great potential to assist regions and ultimately the State in addressing our critical issues.

So what would it take for the scenarios presented at the beginning of this newsletter to become possible? For a glimpse of the future of the Regional Quality of Life Indicators field, look at the Boston Indicators Report, a civic initiative coordinated by the Boston Foundation in partnership with the City of Boston/Boston Redevelopment Authority and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. The authors of this report included dozens of data points, tracked over time, in ten different categories, mapped down to the neighborhood level. Then they posted all of the information on the Internet (at http://www.bostonindicators.org), easily searchable by category, keyword, and crosscut topic. Wow!

We'll continue to report through future issues of CalRegions on the activities of the California Progress Project. For additional information, please contact CCRL's Kala Venugopal at kvenugopal@ccrl.org.


V. Regional News and Information

A. Upcoming Events

  • On Wednesday, November 12, PPIC Research Fellow Junfu Zhang will speak on "High-Tech Start-Ups and Industry Dynamics in Silicon Valley" and their public policy implications. Join the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, and the Bay Area Economic Forum at the Santa Clara Convention & Visitor's Bureau. E-mail Robin@bayeconfor.org for more information.

  • At 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 13, economic leaders will gather at the Schwab Center at Stanford University to kick off a project rooted in one of the most significant economic trends of the past decade: globalization. The Silicon Valley Global Knowledge Network is a project spearheaded jointly by Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network and the Stanford University Project on Regions of Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SPRIE). The Network will study global trends and their effect on the Silicon Valley economy, at the same time leveraging relationships between technology leaders in the Valley and other regions around the globe. The Network will also create a cross-boundary "network of networks" spanning our region's many diverse entrepreneurship organizations. Find out more about the project and register for the kick-off at http://www.jointventure.org/news/
    events_pages/sv_global2.html
    .

  • Where some see crisis, others see opportunity. "Bringing It Back Home: City Center Renaissance" is the name of the second annual conference co-sponsored by the California Business, Transportation & Housing Agency; California Department of Housing and Community Development; and the California Housing Finance Agency. Learn about this "housing renaissance" on December 8-9 at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in Los Angeles. Visit http://www.cce.csus.edu/cts/calhfa/index.htm for more information.

  • It's not just about the gadgets -- really. New technologies and techniques are continually improving our ability to involve more people in planning and decisions, analyze how policy decisions impact development, and build agreement among stakeholders. Take a look at the cutting edge at the 5th Working Session of Tools for Community Design and Decision Making: Information Technology in Action, December 11-13 at the San Francisco Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel. Find out more or register at http://www.placematters.us/
    Documents/EVENTS/OpenUpcoming.html


B. Resources

  • The Grantmaker Forum on Community & National Service, an influential group of grantmakers who aim to provide leadership and information about the value of service and volunteering, have updated their website, found at http://www.gfcns.org. In addition to learning more about their work, you can find Getting Things Done: Ten Years of National Service, the first-ever report to detail the impact of AmeriCorps and other national and community service initiatives on neighborhoods and communities across America (released by Innovations in Civic Participation).

  • A new (May 2003) report, published by the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing, under contract with the City of Los Angeles, Housing Department, examines the housing production expenditures of major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Jose, Chicago, and Phoenix. Los Angeles ranks fifth on that list in per-capita spending. Read the report online at http://www.scanph.org/publications/
    production_expend_0604.pdf


  • Transportation is the second-largest annual expense for American families, exceeded only by housing. For lower-income families, the expense of transportation poses an even greater burden, inhibiting wealth creation, hindering home ownership, and dangerously straining already tight family budgets. A new report from the Surface Transportation Policy Project outlines this issue and ranks 28 major metropolitan areas by the amount of the family budget devoted to daily transportation costs -- San Diego ranks fourth, Los Angeles 16th, and San Francisco 21st. The report is available at http://www.transact.org/report.asp?id=224.

  • A new report from Latino Issues Forum highlights several issues that are a problem for many Latino communities throughout the state, such as poor drinking water quality and infrastructure; persistent contamination of drinking water sources by pesticides, nitrates, and other contaminants; and contaminated waterways and fish. Promoting Quality, Equity, and Latino Leadership in California Water Policy is also intended as an advocacy tool that Latinos and others can utilize to advocate for greater representation and demand accountability for water policies that impact our communities. Find this report at http://www.lif.org/publications/reports.html.

  • The Center for Collaborative Policy has launched a new electronic newsletter, The Collaborative Edge. Their goal is to provide timely information on collaborative strategies and methods to public agencies, civic organizations, and the public. Each quarterly edition includes articles on success stories, tool kits, challenging issues, and news and resources. To sign up for this free e-newsletter, visit CCP's website at http://www.csus.edu/ccp/.

  • The Governor's Office of Planning and Research has released the final version of the new state General Plan Guidelines, which help local governments with their plans. New sections of interest include environmental justice guidelines, optional water and energy elements, and a new chapter on the role of community participation in the general plan process. Download this important document at http://www.opr.ca.gov/planning/PDFs/
    General_Plan_Guidelines_2003.pdf
    (PDF document).

  • Travel and Environmental Implications of School Siting, released by the EPA on October 8, 2003, is the first study to empirically examine the relationship between school locations, the built environment around schools, how kids get to school, and the impact on air emissions of those travel choices. Access the study online at http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/school_travel.htm.


C. Projects

  • The Santa Barbara Region Economic Community Project has published the Regional Impacts of Growth Study, an assessment of current growth-related policies and alternative growth scenarios that affect issues of importance to the South Coast region. It presents the results of several broad policy approaches to land use as they play out over a number of indicators between now and 2040. Find it on their new website at http://www.sbecp.org/documents.htm.