You are on page 1of 14

Urban PaPer SerieS 2013

regional Collaboration to redUCe

aUto dePendenCe
leSSonS from eUroPe for Sb 375
aUtUmn bernStein

2013 Te German Marshall Fund of the United States. All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission in writing
from the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF). Please direct inquiries to:
Te German Marshall Fund of the United States
1744 R Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
T 1 202 683 2650
F 1 202 265 1662
Tis publication can be downloaded for free at
gmf Paper Series
Te GMF Paper Series presents research on a variety of transatlantic topics by staf, fellows, and partners of the German
Marshall Fund of the United States. Te views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the
views of GMF. Comments from readers are welcome; reply to the mailing address above or by e-mail to
about gmf
Te German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) strengthens transatlantic cooperation on regional, national, and
global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan. GMF does this by supporting individuals and institu-
tions working in the transatlantic sphere, by convening leaders and members of the policy and business communities,
by contributing research and analysis on transatlantic topics, and by providing exchange opportunities to foster renewed
commitment to the transatlantic relationship. In addition, GMF supports a number of initiatives to strengthen democra-
cies. Founded in 1972 as a non-partisan, non-proft organization through a gif from Germany as a permanent memorial to
Marshall Plan assistance, GMF maintains a strong presence on both sides of the Atlantic. In addition to its headquarters in
Washington, DC, GMF has ofces in Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Belgrade, Ankara, Bucharest, Warsaw, and Tunis. GMF also has
smaller representations in Bratislava, Turin, and Stockholm.
On the cover: Trams in Torino Autumn Berstein
Regional Collaboration to Reduce
Auto Dependence
Lessons from Europe for SB 375
Urban Policy Paper Series
February 2013
Autumn Bernstein
Autumn Bernstein is the director of ClimatePlan, a statewide coalition of non-profit organizations working to advance
sustainable development and transportation policy in California. She built a statewide movement to support implementa-
tion of SB 375, the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, which requires each of Californias 18 Metro-
politan Planning Organizations to develop a regional strategy for reducing vehicle miles traveled. She was an Urban and
Regional Policy Fellow in 2010.
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Case Studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Torino Metropolitan Area . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Greater Lyon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Verband Region Stuttgart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Discussion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Importance of Leadership from Major Cities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Overcoming Competition and Parochialism among Municipalities . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Linking Economic Development to Sustainable Transportation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Ensuring Community Participation in Abstract, Large-Scale Planning . . . . . . . . . . 9
Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Regional Collaboration to Reduce Auto Dependence 1
ith the passage of the Sustainable
Communities and Climate Protection
Act (SB 375) in 2008, which requires
each of Californias 18 Metropolitan Planning Orga-
nizations to develop a regional strategy for reducing
vehicle miles traveled, the state has embarked on
an experiment in metropolitan planning to address
climate change. The new law, the first of its kind
in the United States, aims to build communities
and transportation systems that shrink the foot-
print of new development and reduce the emis-
sions from automobiles that contribute to climate
change. The law calls on metropolitan planning
organizations (MPOs) to develop integrated land
use and transportation plans that focus devel-
opment around transit and slow the growth in
automobile travel. At its core, SB 375 asks cities and
counties to take a larger view when planning for
future growth. Historically, planning in California
has hewed to the old adage all politics are local.
Cities and counties have made planning decisions
based almost exclusively on local economic, fiscal,
and political considerations, with little thought to
coordination among neighboring jurisdictions.
Thus, planning in California has traditionally been
seen as a battle over scarce resources, with each
city or county trying to get a bigger slice of the pie.
For SB 375 to work, cities and towns that are more
accustomed to competition than collaboration must
come together around a common vision for the
larger metropolitan region.
Many European regions have worked for decades
to reduce auto dependence. Many of the best-
known examples such as Stockholm, Sweden,
and Copenhagen, Denmark operate under
national or state mandates to conduct integrated
regional planning. I chose not to study these places
because their governance framework is so radically
different from Californias that they are politically
irrelevant. Instead, I chose to focus on places where
metropolitan planning has evolved on its own, as a
bottom-up response to challenges such as deindus-
trialization. While Californias SB 375 does include
requirements to prepare integrated regional land
use and transportation plans, implementation of
those plans is largely based on incentives. Cities
who choose to comply with SB 375s regional plans
may receive a larger share of transportation funds
as well as regulatory streamlining for projects.
Thus, I examined regions where local jurisdictions
chose to increase collaboration, rather than places
where such efforts were mandated by the central
As California implements SB 375, the state could
learn from metropolitan regions in Europe that
have been working collaboratively for years. As
a fellow with GMFs Urban and Regional Policy
Program, in the fall of 2010, I visited Torino, Italy;
Lyon, France; and Stuttgart, Germany, to examine
the factors that led to successful metropolitan
collaboration, the strategies and policies that have
been successful in reducing auto dependence, and
how economic considerations helped or hindered
the push toward regional planning for sustain-
For SB 375 to work,
cities and towns that
are more accustomed
to competition than
collaboration must
come together around
a common vision for
the larger metropolitan
The German Marshall Fund of the United States 2
Case Studies
Torino Metropolitan Area
n the early 1990s, economic and political
upheaval in Torino spurred an unprecedented
experiment in metropolitan planning. After the
collapse of the local automobile industry and a
corruption scandal that toppled the local political
establishment, the City of Torino for the first
time directly elected its mayor, Valentino Castel-
lani, a professor and political outsider. Under his
leadership, the City of Torino voluntarily invited
surrounding municipalities and leaders of civil
society including philanthropic institutions,
academics, business associations, and community
organizations to come together to develop a stra-
tegic plan for the future of the metropolitan area of
49 municipalities and 1.8 million residents.
I had the opportunity to meet Mayor Castellani,
his vice-mayor Franco Corsico, and the mayors
of two suburban jurisdictions, Carlo Novarino of
Moncalieri and Marcello Mazzu of Grugliasco.
Throughout our conversations I was struck by the
similarity between Torinos challenges and those
faced by Californias regions. Each of these offi-
cials cited competition among jurisdictions and a
lack of appropriate policy and fiscal incentives for
collaboration as the biggest challenges to effec-
tive regional planning. Despite these challenges,
the Torino metropolitan area came together to
adopt a strategic plan in 2000. The plan focused on
improving the urban environment, strengthening
transportation connections both within the region
and with other cities, and fostering social integra-
tion and economic development. A non-profit
organization, Turin International, was established
to track implementation of the plan and facili-
tate ongoing communication among the various
municipalities. Further, a new agency called the
Metropolitan Mobility Agency of Torino was estab-
lished to coordinate and manage transportation
plans for the metropolitan area. This new agency
is significant both because it represented a nascent
form of metropolitan governance and because of its
important role in looking at transportation across
the entire metropolitan area. According to those I
interviewed, the agency has played an important
role in reducing VMT by coordinating transporta-
tion systems among the various cities, overseeing
large new infrastructure projects, and tracking
progress toward regional goals.
The Strategic Plan was particularly successful
in developing a new economic strategy for the
metropolitan area, one that relies in part on the
improvement of transportation connections within
the metro area and to other European cities. Key
aspects of the plan that have had a significant
impact on VMT include:
LaSpinaCentrale:The flagship transportation
project is a makeover of the regional train
system, including a major upgrading of
the tracks and station infrastructure in the
central city. The project, known as La Spina
Centrale or the central backbone, was nearing
completion at the end of 2012. The project
is converting an old industrial rail corridor
through the very heart of the city into a multi-
modal corridor with mixed-use development
clustered around five upgraded stations.
Each station acts as a transportation hub that
provides improved connections to job centers,
educational institutions, urban neighborhoods
and cultural centers. Planners attracted new
mixed-use development around each of the
stations through a combination of regulatory
and financial incentives for redevelopment of
old brownfield sites. Projects were eligible for
permit streamlining while certain costs, such as
those associated with cleaning up contaminated
sites and providing basic infrastructure, were
paid for by the city and province.
The new metropolitan transportation agency
worked with local transportation agencies and
Each of these officials
cited competition
among jurisdictions
and a lack of
appropriate policy and
fiscal incentives for
collaboration as the
biggest challenges
to effective regional
Regional Collaboration to Reduce Auto Dependence 3
cities to better coordinate bus service with the
expanding rail system and the City of Torinos
new subway system. (The first segment opened
in 2006, and additional segments opened in
2007 and 2011. Another line is currently being
Highspeedtrainconnections:The plan helped
elevate the importance of better connections
to other European centers in order to improve
Torinos economy. New high-speed train service
between Torino and Milan has been established,
and a high-speed rail link to Lyon is currently
being planned.
Torino and its surrounding suburbs have begun
to take back piazzas and streets for pedestrians
and bicyclists. Many of the regions most
beautiful historic piazzas, some dating back
500 years, had become parking lots or traffic
roundabouts. The cities are now reclaiming
those spaces, establishing car-free zones,
including Via Garibaldi, Europes longest car-
free street. Driving in Torinos city center is
now restricted during commute hours and on
weekends. Following the lead of Lyon and many
other cities, Torino established bicycle sharing
programs in the city center and surrounding
suburbs, as well as improvements to the bicycle
network, such as the creation of new bicycle
lanes and paths.
These changes have reversed a trajectory of
increased automobile use. The mode share of public
transit had been decreasing since 1991 (the first
year data is available) and reached a low point of 23
percent in 2006. But between 2006 and 2010, the
mode share of transit has increased to 26.5 percent.
The reorganized rail system, which became fully
operational with the opening of the new Porta
Susa train station in December 2012, is expected to
reduce driving even more dramatically.
The Strategic Plan envisioned the gradual evolution
of a stronger governance structure for the metro-
politan area, but initial steps in this direction have
been hampered by a lack of appropriate incentives,
conflicts among municipalities over new develop-
ment, and a lack of leadership from higher levels of
government. Nearly everyone I interviewed pointed
to the leadership of the City of Torino particu-
larly Mayor Castellani, but also his successor Sergio
Chiamparino as a key factor in the success of the
regional plan.
However, all noted that local leadership can only
go so far. According to those I interviewed, Torino
does not have an active partner in the national
government to ensure that overarching laws,
funding programs, and priorities are not working
against its regional vision. Specifically, the national
government controls the majority of funds that
flow to municipalities for transportation, housing,
and other planning-related programs. The distri-
bution of these funds does not reward cities that
collaborate with neighboring jurisdictions or create
disincentives for those who continue to go it alone.
Thus, there are no consequences for municipalities
that fail to collaborate, and no rewards for those
that do.
Torinos successes and setbacks provide two impor-
tant lessons for California:
the need for big cities such as Los Angeles
and San Francisco to take a leadership role in
planning their regions future; and
the important role of the state and federal
governments in supporting regional
Greater Lyon
The Greater Lyon Urban Community is widely
cited as a leader in metropolitan planning in
Europe. It encompasses the city of Lyon and 56
surrounding municipalities, and is home to 1.3
The Strategic Plan
envisioned the gradual
evolution of a stronger
governance structure
for the metropolitan
area, but initial steps
in this direction have
been hampered by a
lack of appropriate
incentives, conflicts
among municipalities
over new development,
and a lack of leadership
from higher levels of
The German Marshall Fund of the United States 4
million inhabitants. The move toward increasing
regional collaboration started with concerns about
water, wastewater, and garbage that stemmed from
a lack of coordination, and led to the formation of
a nascent regional authority in 1966. Interestingly,
the precursors to many of Californias regional
agencies have a similar history. While Californias
regional agencies have kept their roles limited,
the municipalities of Greater Lyon have gradually
developed a robust regional governance structure
whose authority now includes large-scale urban
planning, transportation, and economic develop-
ment. All municipal land use decisions must be
broadly consistent with adopted metropolitan
plans, and the entire transportation system for all
57 municipalities is managed by a single agency.
Greater Lyon is governed by a metropolitan council
composed of appointed representatives from each
municipality and chaired by the mayor of Lyon,
who plays a powerful role in setting priorities,
brokering agreements and mediating conflicts. This
structure ensures that all municipalities participate
in important decisions, while the political muscle of
the mayor serves as a force to overcome gridlock.
This combination of a legal mandate for coordi-
nated planning, financial incentives for compliance
(primarily transportation funding), and strong
political leadership is an effective framework
for collaboration. While conflicts between local
jurisdictions and regional plans inevitably arise,
Greater Lyon has had marked success in developing
a regional transport system reduce automobile
dependence and foster compact growth patterns.
Key factors in Lyons success include:
linkedtourbangrowthplans. In recent
decades, Greater Lyon has greatly expanded its
light rail, subway, and rapid bus network, now
considered the best regional network in France.
New routes are planned in coordination with
urban development plans, so that appropriate
levels of density are achieved to support
transitinvestments.Greater Lyons economic
development strategy emphasizes new
commercial development in areas with fast,
convenient transit connections to housing areas
and nearby economic centers such as Paris and
Geneva. Lyon was the first French city to have
high speed train service to Paris and the Greater
Lyon area now has three high speed train
stations. Greater Lyon has utilized those assets
to lure investment in Lyons transit-oriented
business districts through a combination of
permit streamlining and financial incentives.
Stephanie Chemtob at Greater Lyons economic
development agency said this strategy has
helped Lyon weather the recent economic
downturn. Commercial rents have declined
less than other nearby major cities such as
Marseilles and Barcelona. New transit-oriented
development continues at large sites such as the
Lyon Confluence, a former brownfield site just
south of the city center that is well served by
high speed rail and local transit.
Bicyclesharing.Greater Lyon was the first
European metro area to create a large-scale
bicycle sharing program. The Velov program
and its success inspired copycat programs all
over Europe and now across the globe. Modal
share of bicycles tripled in the three years after
the introduction of the program, due to the
Velov bikes themselves and their interesting
ripple effect. For every bike Velov put on the
street, another three bikes have been added by
private users. Lyons vice-mayor and godfather
of the VeloV program, Gilles Vesco, attributed
this phenomenon to the changing perception
about who belongs in the street. Velov and
other changes to the streetscape such as
replacing street parking with bike lanes, and
For every bike Velov put
on the street, another
three bikes have been
added by private users.
Regional Collaboration to Reduce Auto Dependence 5
building tram lines above ground on existing
roadways have led to a sea change in how
residents use their streets. The Velov program
is also noteworthy because it is relatively
inexpensive for both the municipality and
the user. The majority of the program costs
are offset by advertising revenues. This
strategy has engendered some criticism due
to the proliferation of street advertising, but it
demonstrates that large-scale bicycle sharing is
not cost prohibitive, even in a relatively small
city. This is a key factor in bike sharings rapid
spread across the globe.
Stablefundingfortransit. Greater Lyon has
been able to build and operate a robust multi-
modal system thanks in part to a transport
tax on employers that amounts to 36 percent
of the annual budget for the transit network.
The power to levy this tax was granted by the
national government.
As noted in the example
above, Greater Lyons
success is due in part
to support from the
national government.
Since its inception in
1966, Greater Lyon has
played an active role in
shaping national land
use and transportation
policy. Marc Ellenberg,
Deputy Director at
CERTU, a French national
agency that works to
support local and regional
transportation planning,
explained that Greater
Lyon, as a pioneer in
metropolitan governance,
has successfully lobbied the national
government to create more financial and
regulatory incentives for collaborative regional
planning over time. As a result, other regions
in France began to follow Lyons model and
established their own collaborative governance
growth.Automobile use in Greater Lyon and
across France began declining even as the
economy continued to grow. From 1995 to
2006, the average number of automobile trips
per person in Greater Lyon declined from
1.93 to 1.67 trips per day. Nationwide, in 2003,
automobile use in France leveled off and began
declining for the first time since World War II,
even as gross domestic product continued to
grow (Figure 1). This is significant because the
prevailing theory in transportation planning is
that economic growth is inexorably linked to
increased automobile travel. Frances investment
Figure 1: Relationship between GDP and Vehicle Kilometers Traveled (VKT)
in France, 1990 2008. source: CERTU.
Page 1
ReIationship between vehicIe km traveIed
and GDP from base 100
France 1990 - 2008
vehicle km



Greater Lyon, as a
pioneer in metropolitan
has successfully
lobbied the national
government to create
more financial and
regulatory incentives for
collaborative regional
planning over time.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States 6
in a robust national high speed rail network,
coupled with its support for effective regional
transportation planning, provides powerful
evidence that a different economic model one
that doesnt rely on perpetual road-building is
While Greater Lyon has its share of planning chal-
lenges interviewees cited a range of issues, from
cronyism to high cost of living to leapfrog develop-
ment beyond Greater Lyons borders it was the
place where I saw the greatest success in building
an effective regional framework for improving
Verband Region Stuttgart
In 1994, the 179 municipalities of the Stuttgart
metropolitan area came together to form Verband
Region Stuttgart (VRS), expanding the power
and scope of regional governance. The impetus
for the creation of VRS was the economic slump
of the early 1990s, coupled with fears about
increasing regional competition in a more unified
Europe. Stuttgart is an industrial area Daimler,
Porsche, and Bosch are all headquartered there
and several decades of rapid suburbanization
and eroding transportation infrastructure raised
concerns about the regions ability to retain its labor
force and provide adequate facilities for transporta-
tion of people and goods.
The push for the creation of a stronger metro-
politan government was led by the City of Stuttgart
and the center-left Social Democratic Party. They
lobbied the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg to pass
legislation creating the Verband Region Stuttgart,
arguing that the region needed better planning to
retain its economic competitiveness. The city saw
the law as a means to attract reinvestment in the
city center, which was heavily damaged by bombing
in WWII and had suffered from disinvestment
ever since. The legislation also enjoyed support
from Germanys influential environmental move-
ment, which saw it as a means to reign in suburban
sprawl. Together this coalition overcame opposition
from the ruling center-right political party (the
Christian Democratic Party) and from the smaller
suburban and rural communities who feared the
loss of local control. The law passed, giving the new
agency authority to create binding land use and
transportation plans and an economic development
strategy for the metropolitan area.
Verband Region Stuttgart took the unprecedented
approach of creating a directly elected metro-
politan parliament, rather than a governing body
composed of delegates from the municipalities.
The goal was to create a governing body that would
rise above parochial interests. This approach has
enjoyed some success, thanks to the following
Planningforgrowthneartransit.VRS was
given the authority to develop binding urban
development plans, developed with broad input
from cities and the public. The first regional
plan was adopted in 1998 and updated in 2009.
The plan marked a departure from sprawl and
auto dependence: 50 percent of new housing
is planned along major transit corridors and
binding limits have been placed on development
in rural areas.
transportationsystem.The region adopted its
first regional transportation plan in 2001. This
was the first transportation plan for the entire
region, and helped promote better coordination
among local transportation agencies. Most of
the regions transportation systems are still run
by local agencies, although VRS has taken over
management of the S-bahn, the train system
that connects Stuttgart to many of its inner-ring
Openspaceplan.VRS also prepares a binding
open-space management plan for the regions
Verband Region
Stuttgart took the
approach of creating
a directly elected
metropolitan parliament
Regional Collaboration to Reduce Auto Dependence 7
open spaces. The plan regulates how farmlands
and forests are managed, limiting development
and providing for bicycle and pedestrian trails.
While these policies demonstrate that regional
governance has made some progress, a linchpin of
this new regional vision has sparked a huge public
backlash that helped bring down the ruling govern-
ment in Baden-Wuerttemberg and set back efforts
to improve the transportation system. The Stuttgart
21 project is a massive, 4.8 billion plan to upgrade
the Stuttgart regions rail infrastructure. The plan is
backed by the city, the metropolitan government,
and state and national governments, but it has
drawn the ire of tens of thousands of local resi-
dents. Protestors cite concerns about the huge costs
and negative local impacts of the project such as
construction noise and the destruction of hundreds
of trees in Stuttgarts central park.
Just two months before I arrived in Stuttgart,
construction on the project began and led to huge
protests and violent crackdowns by the police.
Televised images of bloodied protestors sent shock-
waves across the nation and sparked a local political
crisis. During my visit there were protests every
day, and the planners and officials I interviewed
were in a state of crisis management. Construc-
tion was temporarily halted and a mediator was
brought in, but attempts to reach a compromise
failed. The crisis so badly eroded support for the
regional and state governments that in March 2011,
the ruling CDU party, which had governed the state
of Baden-Wuerrtemburg for over 50 years, was
voted out of office. The Socialist and Green parties
who campaigned against the Stuttgart 21 project
prevailed and now govern the state. After taking
office, the new left-wing government followed
through with a campaign promise to hold a public
referendum on Stuttgart 21. That vote came in
November 2011 and to the surprise of many a
strong majority voted to support the controversial
project. The new government thereafter allowed
construction to proceed, although the projects
future remains uncertain. Protests have continued,
and construction delays and cost overruns have
plagued the project.
California is not unfamiliar with controversial
transportation projects. But it is noteworthy
that even a directly elected regional government
like Stuttgarts in a place as transit-friendly as
Germany can make the mistake of alienating
their constituency and sparking a backlash. Much
of the opposition came from within the City of
Stuttgart, demonstrating that the jurisdiction was
out of step with its residents even while it was
taking a leadership role in the larger region. Cities
in California will encounter the same tension as
they work to develop a regional vision under SB
But it is noteworthy that
even a directly elected
regional government
like Stuttgarts in a
place as transit-friendly
as Germany can
make the mistake
of alienating their
constituency and
sparking a backlash.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States 8
hile the case studies vary widely, several
themes emerged consistently across this
research. Certain factors are essential in
understanding why regional collaboration has been
successful in these regions, and may play a decisive
role in California as the state implements SB 375.
Importance of Leadership from Major Cities
In every place I visited, a key factor in effective
metropolitan collaboration was strong leadership
from the largest city. More specifically, the mayor of
the main city is, formally or informally, the leader
of the metropolitan area. These mayors gener-
ally are the most visible and politically influential
local elected officials in the region, and they wield
that power to establish a regional vision, resolve
disputes, push through deadlock, and broker deals.
Because large cities are generally where the greatest
opportunities exist for transit, mixed use develop-
ment, and redevelopment of urban spaces, central
city leaders also possess the greatest ability to
initiate strategies that will reduce auto-dependence.
When there is a lack of strong leadership from the
central city, the process breaks down. In Torino,
earlier attempts to improve the public transport
system faltered due to a failure of leadership from
the city itself. Leaders in Lyon also cited this issue
as a key reason they were more successful than
other, similarly sized regions in France that lacked
effective leadership from the central city. The city of
Stuttgart played an early leadership role in estab-
lishing regional governance, but failed to bring
along its own residents in developing an ambitious
plan for the regions future.
In California, leadership from central cities has
been missing from regional plans. Big cities such
as Los Angeles and San Francisco generally take a
backseat at metropolitan planning organizations,
where smaller suburban and rural municipalities
often have disproportionate power and influence in
shaping metropolitan policy. As a result, metropol-
itan transportation plans have been skewed toward
highway investment to serve development on the
urban fringe encouraging parochialism and frac-
tured planning, and resulting in increased traffic
and auto dependence. Unless this dynamic changes,
it will be difficult for SB 375 to succeed.
Overcoming Competition and Parochialism
among Municipalities
All politics is local, and that was as true in these
case studies as it is in California. Local govern-
ments, first and foremost, exist to serve local
concerns. While everyone knows that myopic local
planning can create big regional headaches, the
politics and economics of local government
will inevitably supersede regional considerations. In
the places I studied, overcoming this parochialism
began with leadership and vision, but long-term
success relied upon incentives and mandates.
In Lyon, increasing metropolitan power has gone
hand-in-hand with the creation of financial incen-
tives facilitated by the national government. These
incentives helped build the credibility and influ-
ence of the regional government. In the early days
of Torinos strategic planning process, leadership
and vision from a new mayor brought the region
together around a vision. However, incentives and
mandates from the Italian government have not
followed, and so regional governance in Torino has
not continued to expand as hoped.
In Stuttgart, a powerful new mandate was given to
a new agency governed by directly elected officials.
This strategy seems to be working for land use
plans two plans have now been approved and
implemented but the corresponding transporta-
tion vision has been sidetracked not by quarreling
among jurisdictions, but by the citizens themselves.
Thus the Stuttgart case is a reminder that an ambi-
tious regional vision must be tempered by local
The mayor of the main
city is, formally or
informally, the leader of
the metropolitan area.
Regional Collaboration to Reduce Auto Dependence 9
California has neither strong incentives nor
strong mandates for regional cooperation. SB
375 mandates a metropolitan planning process
and creates some streamlining incentives for new
development. These represent a significant shift.
However, given the current fiscal climate, the
greatest immediate need is for additional financial
incentives for municipalities to align their develop-
ment plans with a regional vision as Lyon has done.
Linking Economic Development to Sustainable
In all three regions, economic development was
a central component of collaborative transporta-
tion planning efforts. Officials interviewed cited
economic concerns as a primary driving force
toward greater collaboration, and Lyon and Torino
both experienced demonstrable economic improve-
ments in the form of new investment and economic
diversification. Lyon and Stuttgart each have a
metropolitan economic development agency that
works closely with transportation and urban plan-
ners to attract new investment in transit-oriented
locations. This integrated approach demonstrates
the potential benefits, both economic and envi-
ronmental, of strengthening regional collabora-
tion. While SB 375 does not directly address
economic development, these case studies suggest
that stronger integration of economic develop-
ment strategies into regional plans is an important
element of success.
Ensuring Community Participation in Abstract,
Large-Scale Planning
The controversy over the Stuttgart 21 project was a
unique and unexpected factor in my research, but
it provides a cautionary tale for what can happen
when regional planning gets ahead of its constitu-
ency. Verband Region Stuttgart, with its directly
elected parliament, is meant to serve as an innova-
tive approach to overcoming parochialism. But the
huge backlash against the S21 project points to a
challenge that all regional planners face: how to
ensure that local residents buy into a wide-ranging,
abstract regional plan.
In the case of S21, the governments response to
public concern came too late. The government
temporarily halted the project and made an inten-
sive effort to engage the public, but only after public
trust was deeply shaken and the government was
irreversibly committed to the project (it was fully
planned, financed, and set to begin construction).
Methods such as mediation, community work-
shops, and televised debates are all important, but
only if they happen early in the process.
In California, implementation of SB 375 has led to
unprecedented public involvement in regional plan-
ning. Of the five regions that have already adopted
SB 375 plans, each reports a spike in public involve-
ment. In most regions, this has resulted in broad
support for the final plans. However, opposition has
plagued the San Diego region, which was the first
region to adopt a regional plan under SB 375. The
San Diego plan was approved in October 2011 but
relied heavily on local land use plans and trans-
portation funding priorities that were outdated,
in some cases by 10 years or more. A coalition of
environmental groups immediately filed a lawsuit,
challenging that the plan didnt go far enough to
reduce greenhouse gases and invests too heavily in
highway projects. The California attorney general
joined the suit, and in December 2012, Superior
Court Judge Timothy Taylor ruled in favor of the
plaintiffs. This ruling will likely be appealed. The
San Diego experience has some similarities to
Stuttgarts and it speaks to the need for Californias
metropolitan agencies to deepen their engagement
with community organizations as they develop
plans to implement SB 375.
Stuttgart 21 project
...provides a cautionary
tale for what can
happen when regional
planning gets ahead of
its constituency.
The German Marshall Fund of the United States 10
alifornias grand experiment in metropolitan
planning is founded upon years of experi-
ences, both good and bad, that have exposed
the shortcomings of a fragmented approach to
community planning. Spurred on by the impera-
tives of climate change, gridlock, and the implosion
of the housing bubble, California took an important
step with the passage of SB 375.
The places I visited in Europe turned to collabora-
tive metropolitan planning as a response to their
own sets of challenges stemming from de-indus-
trialization, European unification, environmental
concerns, and changing demographics. All three
have struggled, succeeded, failed, and struggled
again. Their successes demonstrate what is possible,
and their failures remind us that all governance is a
work in progress.
Above all, I was struck by the important role of
leadership in developing a vision and sticking
to it. This leadership exemplifies a middle pat
approach. It is not the sheer exertion of power by
those who have it; nor is it the aimless cobbling
together of parochial interests that passes for
consensus. It means bringing everyone to the table,
asking the difficult questions, and holding everyone
accountable for the answers.
Californias communities face immense challenges
today. As these case studies remind us, times of
crisis are when leadership and innovation emerge.
Californias brief history is rife with crisis and trans-
formation, and I believe the challenges we currently
face have set the stage for just such a transforma-
tion in how we plan our communities.
Successes demonstrate
what is possible...
failures remind us that
all governance is a work
in progress.
Of f i ce s
Washington Berlin Paris Brussels Belgrade
Ankara Bucharest Warsaw Tunis