Monday, February 19, 2007
Does metropolitan government hold the promise of better land use planning and the avoidance of costly competition among neighboring jurisdictions? Or is it just another layer of bureaucracy that is ineffective at offering solutions that city and state governments don’t already offer?
From the Southwest this week are two stories that appear to point in different directions concerning metropolitan government. First is the story of wealthy Troon, Arizona, north of Phoenix, which has taken advantage of school choice laws that (at least temporarily) allow children to attend school in neighboring jurisdictions while allowing Troon to avoid imposing any school taxes because there are no schools in the contrived “school district” set up for the purpose of avoiding such taxes. This kind of corrosive game-playing among suburbs is a powerful argument in favor of regional organization.
On the other side of the story is an exposé in the LA Weekly about the Southern California Association of Governments. Established 30 years ago to develop a centralized vision for land use planning and development in the great Los Angeles area, SCAG is criticized for its myopia towards the future, its impracticable plans (often fixated on rail), and the fact that the massive Los Angeles region, with its myriad of parochial local interests, is perhaps too big to plan effectively at the regional level.
Could we have a regional government that is both effective and efficient? A prize from heaven waits.