L.A.'s Crown Jewels: Historical Governance and Finance Lessons
University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
Scott A. MacKenzie
University of California, Davis
May 1, 2009
In contrast to academic debates over metropolitan coordination, which draw a sharp distinction between government and governance, we describe a third approach whereby existing regional and local public bureaucracies coordinate rule-making and policy implementation by functionally-specific local agencies. In particular, we consider the historical performance of two region-wide vehicles set up to promote cooperation across local jurisdictions - the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Southern California Regional Airport Authority - in promoting regional cooperation, responding to contemporary challenges, and balancing the benefits and burdens of growth. The experiences of these agencies show the benefits of proper institutional design. Carefully designed power-sharing arrangements enhance policy effectiveness and legitimacy without unduly compromising local sovereignty. Arrangements that fail to specify the responsibilities of members, impose super-majority voting rules, or subject agency decision making to the whims of term limited elected officials often prevent public bureaucracies from carrying out their core mission.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 72
Keywords: California politics, bureaucracy and public administration, economic
JEL Classification: H7, R5working papers series
Date posted: December 3, 2009
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