Strategies for Governance of Megaregions: Lessons from Northern California
Department of City and Regional Planning
University of California Berkeley
Sarah Di Vittorio
Environmental Sciences, Policy and Management
University of California Berkeley
David E. Booher
Center for Collaborative Policy
California State University Sacramento
The Problem. Metropolitan areas are increasingly growing together into megaregions with many linkages and interdependencies in their economies, their infrastructure, and their natural resources, but they are not linked well in terms of governance. Hundreds of jurisdictions, federal and state sectoral agencies, and regulatory bodies make independent and conflicting decisions with no entity focusing on the regionís overall welfare.
The Purpose of the Research is to investigate ideas for governance strategies for such megaregions, drawn from examples of large scale collaborative processes. As we have noted elsewhere, such processes can do many of the needed tasks for regional governance, as they fill gaps where government fails to operate, cross jurisdictional and functional boundaries, engage public and private sector actors on common tasks, and focus on the collective welfare of a region. Our goal is to identify strategies that allowed these processes to have some success in planning and managing resources, adapting to unique conditions, and mobilizing a variety of key players in joint action.
Methodology. We rely on our own in-depth research in California on two major water planning cases, CALFED and the Sacramento Water Forum, on two cases of regional civic voluntary organizations known as Collaborative Regional Initiatives, and on Californiaís regional Blueprint transportation and land use planning program, along with studies of the National Estuary Program and the ROM project in Ghent, Belgium. We use two interrelated analytical perspectives, complexity theory and network analysis, to develop our findings.
Results and Conclusions. These cases shared the following features: diverse, interdependent players; collaborative dialogue; collaborative knowledge development; creation of networks and social and political capital; and boundary spanning. They were largely self organizing, building capacity and altering norms and practices to focus on questions beyond the parochial interests of players. They created new and often long term working relationships and the ability to respond constructively to changes and stresses on the system.
Takeaway for Practice. These shared features can be the basis for planners to work with self organizing governance networks for regions. Planners and other public officials will need to cultivate new roles because there will be no effective governance without the involvement of government. Elected officials need to set visions, frameworks, and incentives for action rather than designing detailed programs. Agency leaders and planners need to create new roles like network facilitators, change reward structures, and provide training to enable effective boundary spanning Civil servants will have to focus less on following rules and achieving specific performance targets and more on building, informing, and participating in networks.
Keywords. Megaregion, network governance, collaborative planning, infrastructure planning, resource management.
Sources of Support. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The James Irvine Foundation. National Science Foundation. California Water and Wildlands.