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This Month in Western City Magazine

March 23, 2012

Read articles from the March issue of Western City.

  • Trailblazing a Sustainable Path” — Metropolitan planning organizations throughout California are working to comply with SB 375, which requires metropolitan planning organizations to include a Sustainable Communities Strategy in their Regional Transportation Plan. In October 2011 the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), one of the four largest metropolitan planning organizations in California, became the first to adopt a transportation plan with a sustainability component. As a trailblazer, SANDAG bore the brunt of public scrutiny, but ultimately succeeded in producing a viable plan that meets the carbon-emissions reduction targets set for the region by the California Air Resources Board. Three major reasons account for SANDAG’s success.
  • Resources for Involving the Public in Land-Use Planning Decisions  Land use decision-making can be a fairly technical process, involving the application of specific decision-making criteria required by local, state or federal law. Sharing plain-language information about the more technical aspects of land-use decision-making can enhance the effectiveness of the public’s input into the decision-making process; it can also reduce the stress associated with participating in public discussions. The Institute for Local Government has developed several resources to enable local agencies to help residents understand the land-use planning process in a cost-effective way.
  • The Power of Groupthink: The New Denial  — Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon in which the group members form individual opinions that match the group consensus rather than critically evaluating information. One of the most powerful examples in government of groupthink gone awry in recent years with catastrophic consequences was the rush to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act in the final days of the Clinton Administration. The Glass-Steagall Act (also known as the Banking Act of 1933) prevented commercial banks from being active in any significant investment banking in order to prevent them from taking on too much risk with depositors’ money. The rush in Congress and the White House in 1999 to eliminate the firewall between investment and commercial banking took place in an atmosphere of pervasive exuberance that drowned out any contrarian’s views. Similar examples of groupthink are alive and well in California state government today as well.

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