Regions are the modern construct for our economies, our environment, and our society. They are where local government, state government, and regional agencies meet in collaboration to work out solutions to problems, including economic competitiveness, housing affordability, and environmental protection, that do not respect our traditional city and county boundaries.
Many single- and multi-purpose "regional government" agencies have been established in California over the years, ranging from Sanitation Districts to Metropolitan Planning Organizations. Local governments have banded together in Councils of Government and joint-powers agencies. More recently, the First Five Commissions, funded by Proposition 10, have brought a regional perspective to the challenge of preparing pre-school-age children to be successful learners in their K-12 years. However, California's fiercely-guarded tradition of "local control" has limited the scope of these entities, and there is little public support in most regions for adding a layer of "top-down" government.
In response, Collaborative Regional Governance has risen up from California's regions. Increasingly across the state, local governments and civic leaders have come together to develop regional solutions to regional problems. The size and the shape of the "region" and the issue at hand may vary: residents and officials have worked to manage growth in the Pajaro Valley watershed across two counties and identified priority habitat to preserve for multiple species in north San Diego County.
The New Regional Governance is not the enemy of local control, but its best friend. Removing control of decisions from cities and towns to regions is the wrong strategy to meet California's challenges. Instead, collaborative relationships between existing agencies, at scales appropriate to the issues involved, can be powerful tools to understand local issues in their broader context and tap into greater resources. Each region will and should develop its own form and structure for collaboration, rather than have a single model imposed by state government.
Collaborative Regional Governance is not a government-only model. It can only be effective if the regional civic "side of the coin" is also strong. The Regional Collaboratives and other civic organizations have been valuable partners in bringing people and information together to define problems and find solutions.
Alliance for Regional Stewardship
The Alliance for Regional Stewardship is a national, peer-to-peer network of regional stewards who benefit by sharing experiences and working collaboratively on innovative approaches to common regional challenges.
Speaker's Commission on Regionalism
Speaker Emeritus of the California Assembly Bob Hertzberg convened this commission, chaired by CCRL President Nick Bollman, to examine some of California's most serious immediate and long-term issues. The commission's final report, issued in January 2002, presents a policy framework and specific recommendations for more effective solutions at a regional scale and tailored to the unique needs of the state's diverse regions.