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KATHRYN A.

FOSTER*
University at Buffalo

ABSTRACT: Spurred by fiscal pressure, persistent city-suburban disparities, and the
imperatives of the global economy, public and academic interest in metropolitan
regionalism is as vigorous now as it was in the 1950s. The resurgence of interest com-
pels analysis in this article of I0 regional impulses-natural resource, macroeconomic,
centrality, growth, social, fiscal, equity, political, legal, and historical-the operation
of which determine regional outcomes, such as regional service delivery, partnerships,
and practices, in metropolitan areas. A case study of regional impulses in the Buffalo
metropolitan area jinds that fiscal, legal, political, and historical impulses are most
salient in influencing regional outcomes. The study demonstrates the utility of the
regional impulses framework for comparative metropolitan analysis and understand-
ing why some regionsfunction more regionally than others.

P u s h e d by fiscal pressure and city-suburban disparities and pulled by the promise of glo-
bal competitiveness and regional excellence (Dodge, 1996), US metropokn areas have
rediscovered regionalism. Municipalities are forging intermunicipal agreements to consol-
idate service delivery. County governments are expanding their portfolios through func-
tional transfers from subcounty governments. Regionwide special-purpose governments
continue to proliferate, integrating services in many metropolitan areas. The rise of “pri-
vatopia” (McKenzie, 1994), profit-driven service providers, and privatization are reorder-
ing relations between citizens, their governments, and the business sector. Multisector
coalitions of private, nonprofit, and academic institutions-“civic regionalists” (Foster,
1997a)-a1-e gaining prominence as agents for regional agendas, policy, and outcomes.

* Direct all correspondence to: Kathryn A. Foster, Department of Planning, Universify at Buffalo, Hayes Hall,
3435 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14214-3087. E-mail: foster@arch.buffalo.edu

JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS, Volume 19, Number 4, pages 375-403
Copyright 0 1997 by JAI Press Inc.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
ISSN: 0735-2166.

376 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol. 79/No. 4/7997

The resurgence of activity in regionalism prompts investigation in this paper of “regional
impulses.” Regional impulses are factors that motivate local governments and other inter-
est groups to achieve regional outcomes. Regional outcomes include structures, such as a
regionwide multipurpose or single-purpose service entity; processes, such as a regional
forum in which citizens deliberate issues of regional significance; partnerships, such as
intergovernmental and intersectoral (public, private, nonprofit, civic, and higher educa-
tion) agreements; and practices, such as areawide embrace of regional identity and norms.
Theory suggests that the presence of or strong regional impulses should pave the way for
regional outcomes, while the absence of or weak impulses should thwart them. Analyzing
the nature and patterns of regional impulses in metropolitan areas provides a useful frame-
work for understanding why some regions are more apt than others to achieve regional
outcomes.
This article is in four parts. In the first, I describe 10 regional impulses and their theoret-
ical bases. Part two elaborates on the regional impulses framework, including the
methodology of measuring regionalism and regional outcomes. In part three, I apply the
regional impulses framework to a case study of the Buffalo metropolitan area, a prototyp-
ical northeastern metropolitan region with a declining central city, uneasy city-suburban
relations, intense local loyalties backed by strong home rule powers, and considerable pres-
sure from taxpayers and private enterprise for regionalization. In the final section, I
highlight five findings suggested by the analysis and conclude that the regional impulses
framework holds considerable promise for understanding metropolitan regionalism.

REGIONAL IMPULSES: A THEORETICAL REVIEW
Studies of regionalism focus typically on one of two different, though theoretically
related, varieties of regionalism. The first comprises the distinctiveness of a region qua
region and the development of regional identity. The primary focus is on a region’s exter-
nal relations, self-consciousness, and outward face with respect to other regions. A large
and long-standing literature examines this type of regionalism (Garreau, 1981; Isard, 1980;
Isserman, 1993; Odum & Moore, 1938; Solinger, 1977; Zelinsky, 1973).
The second variety of regionalism, on which this study concentrates, refers to the ways
in which localities within a region forge administrative, political, economic, social, or other
ties to create regional outcomes. The focus in this instance is on internal relations and links
among independent units within a region. This variety of regionalism has also spawned a
large and diverse body of analysis (Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations,
1987; Hallman, 1977; Teaford, 1979; Williams et al., 1965; Wood, 1961).
Of significance for present purposes is that hypotheses about external and internal
regionalism are often identical, albeit presumed to operate on a different scale. In practice,
issues that arise among regions typically mirror issues that arise among subgroups within
regions (Holden, 1964; Kincaid, 1989). For example, peppered throughout public debates
on devolution or multinational regional coalitions like the European Union or the Associa-
tion of South East Asian Nations are familiar intrametropolitan themes of jurisdictional
competition, parochialism, mutual benefit, compromise, equity, and power sharing (Hor-
mats, 1994; Kingsley, 1996; Nathan, 1996).

In broader terms. for example. Fiscal exploitation (for exploiting party) exploited party) Equity Support for redistribution Resistance to redistribution Political Common political affiliation. streams.g. High Low central city dominance. Long- efforts standina local Dolitical borders Categories of Regional Impulses I identify 10 categories of regional impulses: natural resource. as summarized in table 1. The most fundamental is the physical geographic reality that the absence of natural barriers facilitates regional ties. 1979. mountains) Macroeconomic Common mode of production (e. Fiscal exploitation (for scale. Geographi- for united front cally concentrated minority groups Legal State and federal incentives favoring State and federal incentives regionalization constraining regionalization Historical History of interjurisdictional History of interjurisdictionalantago- cooperation and successful regional nism and failed regional efforts. 1. To do otherwise is to invite a “tragedy of the commons” in which individual parties-localities in the case of a region-overuse a scarce asset to the detriment of all (Hardin. fiscal. growth. Adjacent jurisdictions separated by a mountain range or river. Ostrom.. while the presence of natural barriers hinders them. Potential for economies of capacity.. and historical. equity. 1995). jurisdictions with common interests in valuable natural resources have economic and environmental rationales to manage resource use on a regional basis. legal. rivers. air) Natural barriers within region (e. The practice of regional planning itself originates in a natural resource-based response to urbanization of the countryside (Friedmann & Weaver. 1990). Low center-peripheryinterdependence center-peripheryinterdependence Growth Common growth and development Uneven growth and development experiences experiences Social Similar cross-jurisdiction Dissimilarcross-jurisdiction socioeconomic status socioeconomic status Fiscal Similar cross-jurisdictionfiscal Dissimilarcross-jurisdictionfiscal capacity. are less apt to collaborate with one another than are adjacent jurisdictions that flow seamlessly from one to another without physical obstruction.. 1968. political. Desire Mixed political affiliations. Each category includes proregional impulses that promote regionalism and antiregional impulses that hinder it. macroeconomic. Luccarelli.g. thereby . Early regional planners hoped to strike a balance between city and county. social.g. central- ity. Natural Resource Impulses There are several resource-based impulses for regionalism. Mixed modes of production industrial or agricultural) Centrality High central city dominance. I Regional Impulses I 377 TABLE 1 Summary of Regional Impulses Impulse Proregional Factors Antiregional Factors Natural Resource Shared resources (e.

energy. Interregional conflicts such as the US Civil War or clashes between Native Americans and European settlers. and recreational and other facilities should have weaker regional impulses than will metropolitan areas with more tra- ditional center-hinterland interdependencies. for example-tend to develop distinct societies. 1996. observers from bioregionalists to mainstream economists agree that because air. McKenzie. for example. Macroeconomic logic also suggests that not only are areas with similar economies prone to alliances. for example-would be expected to have relatively strong regional impulses. 3. Macroeconomic Impulses Economic theory suggests that places with similar macroeconomies are more apt to link politically. These societies sport different settlement patterns. 1994). 1984). and other natural phenomena transcend local political borders. 1966. metropolitan areas in which individual communities are rel- atively self-sufficient in employment. central place theory. Although suburbanization and indus- trialization proceeded apace. areas with dissimilar economies are prone to antagonism. 1987). while the hinterlands support and depend upon the regional center for specialized functions. 1972. and world cities that offer successively broader ranges of functions and services (Christaller. the extractive resource-based region of Appalachia. labor practices. can be viewed as disputes between different macroeconomic cultures (Markusen. and hence societies. environmental management. from small crossroads settlements that meet basic needs to increasingly larger towns. for example. 1993). 79/No. species. The symbiotic exchange and interaction between center and hinterlands causes regionalism to flourish (Berry & Horton. present a formidable threat to regional identity and unity (Downs. Within the hierarchy. . Garreau. and rules governing property rights. Sale. Metropolitan regions that contain a single macro- economy-an entirely urban industrial area. 1933).378 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol. 1985. Areas that rely on different production modes-urban industrialism versus subsis- tence agriculture. shopping. Gurwitt. tend to forge intraregional ties. Stanback & Noyelle. institutions. management of natural systems warrants regional coordination (Camp- bell. water. coupled with the perception that suburbs and cities do not need one another. Centrality-based Impulses Geographers’ classic statement on systems of cities. infrastructure networks. their pres- ence in a single metropolitan area would tend to hamper regionalism. Markusen. 1987). economically. and the wheat and corn-based breadbasket in the central US (Artibise. trade. 4/7997 protecting natural systems from industrial expansion. 2. central places and their hinter- lands are mutually dependent: A regional center serves and depends upon the customer base found in hinterland settlements. 1978. and socially than are places with unlike economies (Brustein. This has occurred. 1987). schools. Central place theory posits a nested hierarchy of places. Forces eroding city-suburban links. offers a third rationale for regionalism. 1995. in the western Canada-United States border region of Cascadia. Clashes between fanners and hobby farm residents in the exurban fringe are an example of macroeconomic friction (Berry. and land tenure. 1984). Weaver. 1981. Places with similar macroeconomies. Because urban and rural areas have distinct macroeconomies and ways of life. regional centers. By this logic.

of course. nation-stateless world is the met- ropolitan region. If a jurisdiction believes it can capture a greater share of regional growth without collaborating. The second growth-driven regional impulse originates in the notion that systems of prop- erty taxation provide incentives to compete for development through tax abatement bidding wars.. jurisdic- tions have strong incentives to form regional coalitions to collude about the terms of growth (Breton. Swanstrom. land use. 1987). 1976)-then higher level governments could intervene to standardize rules for local com- petition or halt competition altogether (Breton. for example. The shortcomings of these studies notwithstanding (see Ihlanfeldt. 1991. Voith. 1957). If competition rewards developers rather than local governments. and cultural strategies at the metro- politan scale. Socially distinct . Places with similar growth experiences have impulses for unity (Markusen. Eisinger. 5. are more likely to associate voluntarily with one another than are countries with dissimilar attributes (Deutsch et al. The first is that uneven growth experiences lead to interjurisdictional competition. 1992). 1991). Several recent analyses argue that the most logical. the argument holds. 1994. current custom suggests that strong centers help promote strong regions and are essential for global competitiveness (Kanter. Rapidly developing places have incentives to form alliances to lobby against adoption of redistributive policies or to share notes on problems that accompany growth. Simmel. declining jurisdictions have incentives to band together to demand special treatment. social and environmental ills of uncoordinated development and policy decisions (Downs. or policy favors from growing places or higher level governments. 1993. Nations sharing social values and behaviors. In particular. Growth Impulses Economic theory suggests three growth-related regional impulses. If a regional coalition proved unstable-as the economic theory of cartels would suggest (Quirk. 4. 1980). Yaro & Hiss. These factors imply weak regional impulses between. Regions are represented by their central cities in name and reputation. for example. Savitch et al. viable. The third growth-related regional impulse originates in the political-economic impera- tives of the global economy. 1995). Social Impulses Social scientists have long noted an inverse relationship between social distance and the intensity of social interactions (Knox. 1996). of course. it has a growth- related antiregional impulse to pursue new investment on its own (Peterson. 1988). Ohmae. and economically nimble unit of production in a globalized. 1996).. 1995. Several core studies of the school of thought known as new regionalism suggest that the health of a region depends on the health of a central city (Ledebur & Barnes. infrastructure. 1987. 1993). today’s modem-day city state (Hershberg. 1981). 1994. Peirce. Global economic competitiveness provides a strong motivation for regional cooperation and multisectoral alliances (Dodge. a declining city and its growing suburbs. which hinders regional collaboration (Perry & Watkins. 1996). 1993. 1969). they will suffer the fiscal. Jurisdictions might agree to set maximum limits on property tax abatements or desist from luring development from one another. I Regional Impulses I 379 A second centrality-based impulse is the desire to cultivate a vital central city. Historical evidence indicates that social differences are not necessarily fatal to collaboration. Unless regions tackle economic. 1995. funds.

which are characterized by intense and varied preferences acrossjurisdictions. 1984). though accommodation generally requires ample commu- nication and mutual predictability of behavior across a social divide (Deutsch et al.. and airports. 1981). sewer. for example. 1971).. 1971. Municipal exploita- tion occurs when the net costs to a jurisdiction of providing its services to nonresidents exceed the net benefits its residents receive in other jurisdictions (Bradford & Oates.380 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol. A second fiscal impulse is the incentive to increase efficiency by internalizing spillover effects and coordinating service delivery. Dissimilar social status is an antiregional impulse for lifestyle services. Fiscal impulses There are three prominent fiscal impulses for regionalization. highways. Peterson. costs. 1957). util- ities. Jurisdictions that are home to most of a region’s low-income housing. notably education. have strong fiscal impulses to decrease costs by sharing labor and expensive capital equipment (Parks & Oakerson. Evidence from US metropolitan areas reinforces that differences in social rank are sig- nificant barriers to interlocal cooperation (Friesema. and sewer and water services. jurisdictions have an incentive to make service agreements with places that have equal or better. To safeguard against defaults by a collaborator. the result is often an intraregional standoff. 6. fiscal capacity. 1989. 1965). and tax revenues (Downs. and to a lesser extent fire protection and police investigation (Honey. In practice. such as water. 1994. . 1994). because exploiting jurisdictions have no fiscal incentive to collaborate. 7. Tullock. but not worse. Economies of scale are most common for services with high fixed capital costs. 1976). 79/No. zoning. such as airports. 1968. Williams et al. might be mitigated by interjurisdictional coordination of traffic signals and road repair or an intermunicipal agreement to share development approval. 1969). 1974. 1965). 4/7997 groups often interact peacefully. A third fiscal impulse rests in the theory of municipal exploitation. Neenan & Ethridge. however. The traffic and land use inefficiencies associated with a municipality’s unilateral development of a region-serving mall. Expand- ing political boundaries enables greater redistribution of resources from areas of plenty to areas of need. Exploited jurisdictions have a fiscal incentive to collaborate with exploiting jurisdictions to transfer the net difference between services rendered to nonresidents and those received elsewhere by residents. Equify impulses Social science theory suggests that metropolitan areas characterized by interjurisdic- tional social. and housing. for which customers have relatively sub- dued and narrow preferences (Williams. First. economic. Social rank is less significant for system maintenance services. for example. or service inequities have an incentive to pursue regional (or higher level) solutions to narrow these disparities (Downs. are more likely to forge interlocal alliances than are central cities and suburbs with dissimilar attributes. Central cities and large suburbs may be sufficiently large to realize economies of scale within their borders.. municipalities have incentives to regionalize service delivery to capture economies of scale. Central cities and suburbs that share social characteristics. most small jurisdictions. Marando. Communities of similar relative to dissimilar fiscal capacity are thus more likely to cooperate with one another (Williams et al.

Federal carrots and sticks influence the formation of regional special-purpose authorities (Foster. Political Impulses The literature on political integration suggests three important political impulses for regionalism. Solinger.. In contrast. and the arrangement of local government units on the other (Bollens. This tendency is offset to the degree that residents of affluent areas share collective responsibility for the region’s poor or believe their economic fortunes are tied to those of central cities (Baldassare. 1992). rather than collaborate with other regional jurisdictions to jointly determine the allocation of funds. The analogous political impulse in the metropolitan context is to establish cross-jurisdictional associations to thwart counterpro- ductive forms of competition and conflict (Hawley. or federal governments (Ake.Higher level governments often define the lim- its of what constitutes the “region. In both instances. 1988). collaborate. Entities that present a united front and internal political consensus allegedly have greater clout in dealing with higher level governments. 1990. Reed. State statutes may restrict the ability of a jurisdic- tion to incorporate. forge political alliances to avoid war. state. such as municipal councils of governments. for exam- ple. when collaborators have similar rather than dissimilar party affiliations.” thereby prescribing regional self-consciousness. Savitch et al. 1967. affluent jurisdictions have relatively weak equity impulses. and needy residents have strong equity-based impulses to region- alize funding and program implementation (Ofield. while in other states they do not (Hill. 8. or jurisdictions. 1930). 1997). local governments have considerable home rule authority. 1997b) and promote metropolitan planning through regional councils of govern- ment and metropolitan planning organizations (Atkins & Wilson-Gentry. 9.000 or more to seek funds indepen- dently as entitlement cities. This implies greater likelihood of political ties. Similar antiregional impulses affect geographically concentrated minority groups for which political consolidation means loss of representation and dilution of polit- ical power. The first is to establish popularly accepted institutions and a sense of shared fortunes to ensure peace among potential rivals (Deutsch et al. Ger- ston & Haas. A second political impulse stems from the principle of safety and power in numbers. because political representation is often determined territorially by wards. Nations. there is a strong political impulse to align with neighbors who share political leanings. Briffault. This creates an incentive for alliances. 1967). 1986. 1993). to increase political leverage in relations with county. a situation reflected in the traditional opposition to regionalization from racial minority interest groups (Piven & Cloward. especially mergers. regional impulses are conditioned by legal parameters that encourage or discourage regional outcomes.. annex territory. the federal community development block grant program (CDBG) provides incentives for communities with populations of 50. . 1993. In contrast. dis- tricts. 1993). 1977). 1976. Third. Legal Impulses Analysts have long noted the strong links between state and federal laws and policies on the one hand. 1989. There is little incentive for a community’s officials to support a political merger if it means allying with political opponents.Marando & Reeves. I Regional lmpulses I 381 declining infrastructure. 1957). or consolidate with anotherjurisdiction. In some states.

Jack- son. One approach. developed by Savitch and Vogel. and power rela- tions that shape regional outcomes (Orum. interest groups. for example. Metropolitan regions with long-fixed political borders are less apt than regions with frequent boundary changes to pursue regional restructuring. such as librar- ies and recreational facilities. 1972). 79/No. and establish a chronology of when impulses waxed and waned in significance. however. but have little influence in stable areas. may shape outcomes in rapidly growing or declining regions. researchers recognize the value in measuring and analyzing regional processes and outcomes. shopping. the harder it is to alter the institutional status quo. Every area has a unique combination of leaders.382 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol. for example. The first stems from the empirical finding that the older the age of a settlement. such as the presence of a regional marketing cam- paign or an areawide transit system. These historical factors may be at the root of an area’s tendency to forge or resist regional alliances. On the regional outcomes side is the reality that regional outcomes are difficult to quan- tify. may persist long after the historic conditions that shaped local relations have faded. Moreover. Although this relationship may be influenced by other conditions associated with urban age. may boost the natural resource impulse to regionally regulate its use. Residents’ patterns of working. may be highly regionalized. MEASURING REGIONAL IMPULSES AND OUTCOMES The extent and interplay of a metropolitan area’s regional impulses provide the founda- tion for assessing regional outcomes. influence of historical factors on regional outcomes. Inter- jurisdictional hostility or friendship. Savitch & Vogel. The theoretical link is straightforward: Regions with strong regional impulses should have more numerous and significant regional outcomes than do regions with weak impulses. while delivery of particular services. In practice. 1996). 1971. The second historical impulse is less specific. 1991. the less likely it is to regionalize through boundary expansion (Dye. if idiosyncratic. while news of its successful cleanup may diminish the impulse to collaborate. Despite these difficulties. News of the degeneration of a regional environmental asset. analysts note the considerable. a count of regional out- comes-would likely mislead or require considerable qualification. two war- rant mention. including formal single-tier or two-tier metropolitanwide polities. Regionalism is a multifaceted phenomenon comprising different dimensions of regional life. but probably more influential. Although historical impulses are by their nature case specific. Historical Impulses Finally. methodological complications arise. for example. classi- fies metropolitan regions into one of three categories according to their overall approach to regional challenges. it appears that the more long-standing the local government arrangements. although we can both observe regional outcomes. mutual . On the regional impulse side is the likelihood that the salience of particular impulses varies over time and place. is highly localized. Growth impulses. Under this scheme. regions primarily typify either metropolitan gov- ernment. 4/7997 10. institutions. for example. Variation in the nature of regional outcomes means that any overall index of regionalism-say. attributing specific regional outcomes to particular impulses is inevitably an inexact science. policies. and pursuing entertainment.

p. and other nongovernmental groups-and transsectoral coalitions-public-private. Savitch and Vogel similarly acknowledge the “vexing questions” posed by their three-category classification of regions: When. two-tier. though methodologically demanding.. and (2) the relative importance of individual regional impulses in shaping regional outcomes. & Sjoberg. and relative number of general-purpose governments per capita. now undercut by politicians and forced to emphasize its role as a regional advisory council? Most important. civic. approach that classified metropolitan areas according to the structure of public sector governance-that is. REGIONAL IMPULSES IN THE BUFFALO METROPOLITAN AREA I turn to a case study of regional impulses in the Buffalo metropolitan area. The Buffalo metropolitan area offers an excellent laboratory for testing the utility of regional impulses.” and “unplanned” interac- tions and outcomes (Long. 1996. regionwide multipurpose government(s). 255). public-nonprofit. With a common framework. One could develop a more categorically sophisticated. Feagin. The area comprises Erie County. Categorizing complex regions remains a challenge. historical processes and events. how do we balance a limited number of mutual adjustments against a backdrop of conflict and avoidance? Even the most conflict-ridden regions possess some form of regional coop- eration. as described by Long. 1997a). however. Although a single case must confront the issue of generalizability and cannot reveal the significance of variation across key variables (except over time). Case studies are well-suited to such complex methodological conditions (Orum. and private-non- profit-(Foster. 1996). and practices. as Putnam (1993) does in his multiyear analysis of regional governments in Italy.do extensive mutual adjustments begin to resemble two-tier governance? How do we classify a once vibrant two-tier government. and complex organizational issues that defy analysis through natural science models (Sjoberg et al.. 1991). Regional governance. marked by reliance on interlocal agreements and public-private partnerships. players. Research on regional impulses and outcomes thus lends itself to a case study approach..” “unnoticed. is a complex amalgam of “unconscious.” (Savitch & Vogel. single-tier. 1991). 13). which contains a range of settlement . regionwide single-purpose government@). Of special interest are two topics: (1) how well the regional impulses framework accounts for regional outcomes in the Buffalo area. Regions encompass multi- ple sectors. wherein regional cooperation is the exception rather than the rule (Savitch & Vogel. it can appraise human and social interactions and decisions. 1958. A more data-intensive approach would gauge also the nature and strength of regional activity undertaken by civic regionalists-private.. higher education. case studies also enable comparisons across place and time. nonprofit.formal interlocal agreements (by function). Case studies are particularly fitting for examining phenomena for which systematic comparative data are not available because they can provide insights that theory cannot. Still more fastidious would be using a point system to quantify the effectiveness of a regional system. issues. institutions. I Regional Impulses I 383 adjustment.. p. or avoidance andor conflict.

__ FIGURE 1 Erie County Jurisdictions types-dense urban areas in the central city.384 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol. 4/1997 City of Buffalo Ring 1 Suburbs L Ring 2 Suburbs 1 ' Outlying Suburbs 1 ! ! North C&r Concord I . older mostly stable or declining suburbs (ring 1 suburbs). the . the region had 968.000 in 1970.000 persons. newer growing suburbs (ring 2 suburbs). down from a high of 1.057. and rural farms in outer towns and vil- lages (outlying suburbs)-in western New York (Figures 1 and 2). 19/No.000 people. As of 1990. With 328.

I... strong ethnic heritage..... is fully incorporated.. 49 independent special districts (33 fire districts. and the lion’s share of the region’s poor and minority residents. and one water authority)... . and parts of two Native American reservations. . like the rest of New York State.I . six housing authorities. one library dis- trict. three cities.. . Issues of regional governance have moved to the front burner of the regional agenda throughout the 1990s as persistent central city and .IErie County 0 t h W e m a New York counties FIGURE 2 Vicinity Map.. 29 school districts. Pennsylvania . one sewer authority.. Western New York City of Buffalo is the metropolitan area’s central city and the second most populous city in New York State. i iI i . .. 1966). The metropolitan area...... Buffalo is a prototypical rustbelt city with a declining industrial base. individualistic political culture (Elazar. 16 villages. .. one soil and water conservation district. . . .. six industrial development agencies. .. 25 towns. . . I Regional Impulses I 385 Southern Ontario I . Public sector governance in the region is divided among 123 jurisdictions: one county. ... .

I intro- duce the concept of a “regional norm. Identification of the regional norm provides a means for assessing and comparing levels of regionalism in service delivery. includes services for which redistribution is appropriate or mandated. Metropolitan areas that do not provide “normally regional” services on a regional scale have “below normal” regionalism. state and federal legal impulses. Several area entities have critically assessed and widely publicized regional self-studies of service and financial arrangements (for example. The . The region shows increasing willingness to consider questions of regionalism. metropolitanwide provision of service by a general-purpose or special-purpose government). The second group. pollution control. 1993). The first group. a narrow range of consumer preferences. Assessing the Potential for Regionalism Natural Resource Impulses With the exception of the Town of Grand Island. environmental planning. subject to strong equity and. Erie County. subject to strong natural resource and fiscal impulses. The critical point is that certain services are expected to and routinely do have regionwide provision.386 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol. Those that do pro- vide such services on a regional scale have “normal” regionalism levels. and a strong need for cross-border coordina- tion. transit. water. 1996. Areas providing regionwide services beyond the regional norm have “above normal” regionalism. particularly stable or declining regions in the Northeast.4/1997 regional economic decline and fiscal pressure have renewed national attention to links between governance structure and regional competitiveness (Peirce. including over two dozen back- ground interviews with area officials and other knowledgeable observers of governance and service delivery in the Buffalo region. Unless otherwise noted. It is politically complex. Regional outcomes constitute formal institutions of regionalism (for example. though there is neither consen- sus about nor an institutional framework for deliberating issues of regional significance. and regionwide or subregional (but supralocal) cooperative practices (for example. there are vir- tually no physical features that impede regionalism and several that promote it. 19/No. sewer. with strong local loyalties amidst growing regional self-consciousness. Such services comprise the regional norm. Because even the most staunchly localist regions have some regionwide practices.” The regional norm constitutes two groups of services whose attributesvirtually compel regionalization accordingto theories informing the regional impulses framework. These services include public assistance. strong externalities. The Buffalo region is thus typical of many metropolitan areas. UB Governance Project. regional marketing campaigns and visioning efforts). 1996). economies of scale. its similarities with other metropolitan regions. often. highways. Although the region’s location along an international border is relatively uncommon. and fund- ing of region-serving cultural facilities. social services. Services in this group include airport. make findings from the Buffalo case generalizable to these areas. formal or informal interlocal or cross- sectoral agreements (for example. which is truly an island. mutual aid pacts and public-private partnerships). comprises services characterized by high capital costs. and regional marketing. I gauge the Buffalo area’s potential for regionalism by assessing regional impulses rela- tive to theoretical expectations and regional outcomes. figures are from the relevant years of the Census ofPopuZation and Housing compiled by the US Bureau of the Census. The case study draws on primary and secondary sources.

when the City of Buffalo reached an all-time high population of 580. the Niagara River flows over the Niagara escarpment to form Niagara Falls. thus.1 640. These resources create over 70 miles of shoreline along- side Erie County jurisdictions.80 1930 573.82 0.03 0.03 0. however.75 1950 580. In 1910.65 1970 462. 15 miles north of Buffalo. As of 1990. I Regional Impulses I 387 strongest proregional resource impulse is common interest in two valuable water features.4 0. the suburbs collectively dominate the central city.1 1. it still had over 65% of area residents. Population. when the City of Buffalo lost 43% of its residents (over 250. The remaining 18% of the population lives in the relatively low density suburbs in ring 2 and outlying areas. but not between. 82% of the metropolitan area population lived in the urbanized central city and ring 1 sub- urbs. Today.3 3. 1910-1990.42 1990 328. 1970. offering motivation for subregional ties within. an urban-industrial northwest and a rural-agricultural southeast.8 650. dominated its suburbs (Table 2). the lake and river are the area’s sole water source and form its drainage basin.000 people). Centrality Impulses The steady and severe erosion of the City of Buffalo’s regional dominance in population. For- tunes reversed between 1950 and 1990. Lake Erie and the Niagara River are also important recreation resources for residents and tourists. as recently as 1950. its urban and rural areas.000. Macroeconomic Impulses Macroeconomic impulses in the Buffalo area are relatively weak.1 319. Total Metro Year (‘000) Suburbs (’000) CitySuburbs Population 1910 423.7 0.71 0. which comprise approximately 20% of the metropolitan land area.7 105. City Share of City of Buffalo Erie County Population Ratio.51 0. Erie County sustains two distinct economies and ways of life. which draw water from wells or surface water. employment. Around 245. representing over one-third of county temtory. Lake Erie and the Niagara River. its potential for regional alliances. 1930. are in formally designated agricultural preservation districts. the City of Buffalo. The city retained its dominance for decades. Buffalo City and Suburbs Population. Except for some rural towns. More so than many cen- tral counties in US metropolitan regions. TABLE 2 Population Attributes. 1950.000 acres in the south and east. Lake Erie abuts four states and Canada. a potential source of regional coordination. Census of Populationand Housing. which has only 34% of area residents. 1910. with 80% of regional residents.000 persons). particularly between city and suburbs. 1990 .2 4. and retail sales weaken the area’s centrality-based regional impulses and. hence.34 Source: US Bureau of the Census.1 189. while the suburbs doubled in population (gaining over 320. a natural feature of global significance and.

5 1992 26. 1954-1992 -61.1992. Buffalo Clty and Suburbs Pct. 1977. Over the same period.6 1977 23.5 Total Change.4 62. while Buffalo lost nearly 70% of its manu- facturing jobs (Table 3).2 17.2 -29. Buffalo Clty and Suburbs Pct. These proregional impulses are weakened. Census of Manufactures.4 -43. 1954-1992. 79/No. US Bureau of the Census.4/7997 TABLE 3 Manufacturing Employment. in contrast.0% Source: US Bureau of the Census. the suburbs held losses between 1954 and 1992 to a bleak 27%.5 -36.3 -69. were accompanied . by the distinct kinds of decline faced by the central city and most suburbs. 14 of the 16 villages.3 . Census of Business.8 44. Change. 1958-1992.3 141. Change Pct. 1954.9 -11.8 45. 1958- 1992 -16.3 -57. Retail Sales Retail Employees (Constant ’82-’84$) Erie County City of Buffalo Suburbs (“hchange over (70change over City of Buffalo Erie County Suburbs previous) previous) Year (‘000) % Change (’000) % Change 1958 37. Although the entire region lost manufacturing jobs in the postwar period. 1992.0 60. Census of Retail Trade.5% -27. constant dollar retail sales in Buffalo declined 57%. Suburban population declines. - 1977 46. Trends in employment and retail sales tell a similar story of declining city centrality. population loss since 1970 was accompanied by a 14% decline in the number of households and a nearly 9% decrease in dwelling units.3 169.3 157.6 -35.2 3.8 46. In the City of Buffalo. while suburban sales were up 169%. 1958.7 40. TABLE 4 Change In Retail Employment and Sales.0 -42.7 Total.388 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol.2 1992 20. Change Erie County City Suburbs City of Buffalo Suburbs over previous over previous Year (‘000) (‘ow (“h) (%I 1954 88.4 -34. Shared population decline among individual jurisdictions suggests strong growth-based impulses for regionalism. Growth Impulses All three cities.2 -16. Relentless decentralization of retail activity saw the City of Buffalo fall from having more than twice as many retail employees as the suburbs in 1958 to fewer than one-third as many in 1992 (Table 4).0 11.1 63. however.4 -47.1 262. 1977. and 11 of the 25 towns in Erie County have fewer residents than they did in 1970.4 Source: US Bureau of the Census.

A. Nearly 92% of the area’s black resi- dents and 80% of its Hispanic residents live in the City of Buffalo. The City of Buffalo and outlying suburbs have relatively similar educational attainment and occupational status (Table 5 ) .1 28.’ H. with B. Erie County has experienced a trickle of black suburban- ization (DeWitt. Managers/ Pct.2 20. Fiscal Impulses Although there may be potential for subregional suburban alliances.5 16. I RegionalImpulsesI 389 TABLE 5 Educational Attainment and Occupational Status.7 Note: ‘Of persons 25 years and over. by a 28% increase in households and a 30% increase in dwelling units. but potential alliances are hampered by geographical separation. Buffalo City and Suburbs Percent Minority City of Erie County Total Metro Buffalo Suburbs Area Year (%) I%) (%) 1950 6 2 5 1970 21 1 10 1990 35 3 15 ~ Source: US Bureau of the Census. are offset by stark and widening city-noncity differences in racial composition (Table 6). .0 30. Relative to other northeastern metropolitan areas. Source: US Bureau of the Census. Thirty-five percent of Buffalo residents are racial minorities (primarily black).4 18. however. Degree’ Professionals Place (%I (%) (%) City of Buffalo 15. without Pct.0 Outlying suburbs 13. but ultimately weak.S. Whatever proregional social impulses the city and noncity areas might have. Census of Population and Housing. 1990. Social Impulses Social conditions offer theoretical. 1994).6 Ring 2 suburbs 22.7 27. city-suburban fiscal differences suggest weak and diminishing fiscal impulses for regionwide collaborations. Buffalo City and Suburban Rings Pct. a level over 10 times that of the 3% minority level in the suburbs.0 22. The different nature of decline impedes formation of regionwide growth-based alliances.1970.1990.7 Ring 1 suburbs 21. Between rural and urban areas are rings of suburbs with relatively high social status.5 20. 1950-1990. impulses for intraregional alli- ances. especially across city-suburban lines. 1950. 7990 Census of Population and Housing. TABLE 6 Racial Cornpositlon.

Buffalo City and Suburbs Median Family Income Proportion of Persons below Place 1959 1989 Povertv line.219 $84. Equity Impulses Equity-based impulses offer mixed potential for regionalism.35 2.034 .000 threshold for achieving economies of scale for many services (De Torres.60 4.4 . New York State Comptroller. and the highest ratio of state and federal aid to total revenues (Table 7)-make it an increasingly undesirable fiscal partner.189 $76. 79/No. 7992 Financial Transactions for Local Governments.83 Source: US Bureau of the Census.61 Source: US Bureau of the Census. The City of Buffalo’s negative fiscal indicators-it has the county’s lowest median house value.700 $46. the lowest assessed valuation per capita. 1989 City of Buffalo $5. county medical center. . Because the net balance of fiscal exploitation is contested.1990.713 $23. 1990. including the symphony hall. Census of Population and Housing. 1960. 1992 Revenue. and professional hockey and baseball facilities. the 33 towns and villages with fewer than 20.091 $40. On economy of scale grounds.34 Erie County Suburbs $16. 1959-1989.72 . fiscal impulses are also weak for the City of Buffalo and the four towns with populations above the 50. region-serving facilities. The disagreement itself is a source of antiregional impulses between city and suburbs.0 .887 .61 .390 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol. 1972). 1960. there are few fiscal impulses for regional cooperation.000 residents have strong fiscal incentives to consolidate delively of services subject to economies of scale. In contrast. 4/7997 TABLE 7 Fiscal Attributes. with differences increasing over time (Table TABLE 8 Equity Indicators. City sentiment holds that city taxpay- ers help fund an extensive system of exurban roads and sheriff services and bear the greatest burden for city-located.051 Citv to Suburbs Ratio . for which city residents are the prime beneficiaries.25 Erie County Suburbs $7. Buffalo City and Suburbs Median House Value Assessed lntergovernmental Valuation Per AidiTotal Place 1959 1989 Household. central library.12 City to Suburbs Ratio . 1992 City of Buffalo $1 1. Income data reveal a poor central core and relatively affluent suburbs. 1959-1992. Suburban sentiment holds that suburban taxpayers pay the lion’s share of public assistance and transit services. Census of Population and Housing.81 .700 $29. Contrasting perceptions within the region of who is fiscally exploiting whom complicate the picture of fiscal impulses associated with municipal exploitation.

1996). New York State Comptroller. although specific provisions of state law dissuade regional outcomes. all 13 city court judges. The City of Buffalo is solidly Democratic. 1987). functions that are unauthorized for county government (New York State Commission on State-Local Rela- tions. Split political allegiance hampers politically based regional impulses. The State Constitution enables interlocal service agreements but limits the scope to only those services for which participating gov- ernments have independent authority. City-county consolidation is not authorized by general law and so requires special legislation. the majority of Erie County towns (19 of 25) have Republican majorities or pluralities (Erie County Board of Elections. partisan politics. As of March 1996. in part because geographic. I Regional Impulses I 391 8). majority approval by voters in each area affected by a change-a provision that in practice thwarts reorganizations. including the mayor. State statutes enable most types of regionalization. a provision that impedes municipal-county collaborations in industrial development. Political Impulses Patterns of political affiliation suggest potential for subregional but not regionwide alli- ances.74% of its registered voters and virtually every elected city official. Approval of municipal annexation. Although similar characteristics may hold for suburban governments. 1993. compared to 4%-6% for areas outside the central city. comptroller. and some functional transfers require a split referen- dum-that is. racial. To the extent that noncity officials consequently perceive city government to be an unfit part- ner. the negative perception of “business as usual” government clings primarily to the city. housing. In 1994. and urban renewal. down from 81% 30 years before. were registered Democrats. As of 1989. Only if afflu- ent jurisdictions agree that a more equalized distribution of wealth is desirable-and such sentiment seems relatively muted within the region-would equity-based impulses spur regional outcomes. consolidation. New York State Commission on Consolidation. the median family income in the City of Buffalo was 60% of suburban income levels. and 12 of 13 city council members. A second antiregional political impulse is the City of Buffalo’s reputation as a bastion of old-style politics characterized by patronage. Although state executives have encouraged intermunicipal collaboration (for example. Home rule provisions of the New York State constitution give jurisdictions extensive pow- ers to manage their own affairs and limit state intrusion on local prerogatives. the State Legislature failed to approve two . consistent with the “metropolitics” strategy promoted by Orfield (1997). A countervailing equity impulse is the presence of pockets of poverty in rural villages and certain ring 1 suburbs. These areas have fiscal and equity incentives to join with city forces to lobby for a greater share of area resources. and voting blocks based on ethnicity and race. One-quarter of Buffalo residents live below the poverty line. and cultural differences separate poor urban and rural areas. In contrast. the chances for city-noncity collaboration is diminished. 1994). Such alliances have not occurred in Erie County. Legal Impulses Legal impulses for regional outcomes are mixed. legislative action has not followed.

The second antiregional historical impulse is the long-standing rivalry and distrust between the City of Buffalo and its suburban neighbors.1930~-1990s. The 42-square-mile City of Buffalo has essentially the same boundaries it did in 1853. historical society.392 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol. 1985). seniors’ services 1980s botanical gardens. Geopolitical stability fosters a strong sense of municipal identity and loyalty to one’s hometown. Buffalo’s post-canal domination of regional growth. pending: services for the disabled. DC. the city’s refusal in the late 1800s to extend water to infrastructure-poor adjacent suburbs. countywide industrial development 1990s convention center. art museum. When city-subur- TABLE 9 Service Reglonalization. one to facilitate cooperative purchasing agreements by local govern- ments and another to authorize consolidation of county special districts. environmental conservation. Comprehensive state efforts await consensus on approaches to designing a legislative framework for regionalism. Coupled with New York State’s strong home rule prerogatives. including whether state officials or localhegional officials should take the lead.Buffalo MetropolitanArea Service Regionalization by Decade Decade Regionalized Services 1930s social welfare. public health. town boundaries are virtually the same today as they were in 1857. Animosities date back to the early 1820s when the then-Village of Buffalo was designated the western terminus of the Erie Canal after intense wrangling with an adjacent larger village neighbor (Eberle & Grande. especially among longtime residents. Historical Impulses Three historical impulses. and most village borders are identical to those estab- lished in the late 1800s. updated by author. roads Source: UB Governance Project 1996. Funds have been included in subsequent state budgets to support pilot projects for shared services and school-municipal collaborations. Louis. some city Darks. two antiregional and one proregional. cost sharing for cultural facilities (zoo. putting it in a class with Washington. philharmonic orchestra). public hospital 1940s probation. Similarly. airport 1960s transit (takeover from private corporations) 1970s central police services. “new services”: mental health. public golf course. Bennett Beach. and St. and its similar refusal to extend sewer services in the 1930s bred anticity resentment. Paul. San Francisco. cities whose territorial size has not changed for over a century (Jackson. science museum. 1987). The first antiregional impulse is the remarkable stability of local government borders (UB Governance Project. St. influence regional out- comes in the area. 79/No. 81.4/7997 regionalism bills. Angola Beach 1950s libraries. 1996). . senior transit services. Philadelphia. ardent localism makes for an unreceptive envi- ronment for regional restructuring involving jurisdictional consolidation.

and functional transfers. uneven fiscal capacity. libraries. and formation of regionwide special- purpose districts have resulted in regionalization of numerous functions. and other services all foundered (UB Governance Project. including social services. public works. Favoring subre- gional. macroeconomic commonalities in urban and rural areas. uneven jurisdictional growth trends. Since the 1930s. and similar social. several parks. transit. mutually beneficial municipal-to-county ser- vice transfers. Social: wide city-suburban disparities in socio- nicipal agreements economic status and racial composition Historical: numerous precedents for service Fiscal: wide city-suburban disparities in fiscal regionalization capacity Equity: some resistance to redistribution Political: mixed patty affiliations. political incentives to col- laborate for greater political clout with higher level governments. an international airport. weights and measures. Table 10 summarizes the theoretical potential for regional alliances in the Buffalo area. mac- TABLE 10 Regional Impulses Balance Sheet. regional takeover of private service operations. environmental conservation. and some sentiment for narrowing intermunicipal disparities. and growth patterns in a band of relatively affluent suburban jurisdictions. the operation of a city- based regional-serving market. central police services. An offsetting proregional historic impulse is the 20th-century track record of service regionalization in the area. and funding for several cultural and recreational facilities (Table 9). selected cross-jurisdiction political commonalities. consolida- tion. suburban charity was lukewarm. parks. assignment of new public functions to county or higher levels of government. seniors services. Promoting regionalism are joint interest in area water resources. Although city-county and city-suburban accommodations have occurred. anticity senti- ment Legal: constraints on annexation. public health. Hampering regionalism are the declining centrality of Buffalo. legal provisions enabling municipal service agreements. long-standing city-suburban antagonism . strong municipal home rule powers Historical: long-standing local government bor- ders. fiscal. proposals over the years to regional- ize police. Buffalo Metropolitan Area Proreaional ImDulses Antireaional ImDulses Natural Resource:common interest in area Macroeconomic:distinct urban and rural water resources modes of production Equity: moderate interest in redistribution Centrality: waning central city domination Political: common local government interest Growth: uneven city-suburban growth versus higher-level governments experiences Legal: permissive state legislation for intermu. a public hospital. outcomes are fiscal incentives among smaller jurisdictions to capture economies of scale. 1996). though not regionwide. historic precedents for regional achievement in recent decades. highways. significant race and income differences between city and suburban residents. I Regional Impulses I 393 ban fortunes later reversed and the fiscally strapped city turned to the suburbs for assistance in the postwar period.

Erie scale). rail. Erie County Fiscal (economies of scale. 1970s-1980s ourism and Conventions Greater Buffalo Convention and Growth (compete effectively Managed by private Greater Buffalo Visitors Bureau in global economy) Partnership ibraries Buffalo and Erie County Public Fiscal. City to county transfers: probation. Legal (state incentives Federationestablished. and selected towns to east). 1970s hilharmonic Orchestra oad Maintenance Mutual IntermunicipalAgreement Fiscal (economies of scale) Established 1980s id Pact obbying Association of Erie County Political All municipalitiesare members. Erie County Industrial in global economy) established in five suburban Development Agency (IDA) municipalities. airport) (NFTA) Natural Resources companies. 1950s-1980s coordination) ublic Health and Hospital Erie County Natural Resource. Niagara Frontier Transit Authority Fiscal (economies of scale). Takeover of failing private transit orts. 1930s ultural Facilities-Zoo. Art and multisectoralfunding 1960s-1980s. Anti: Political Tonawanda operate local systems. and urbanized suburbs) Anti: Historical. 1950s conomic Development Empire State Development Corp.Equity City to county transfer. Towns of Grand Island. rural areas use wells or surface water. istorical Society. Political Tonawanda operate local systems.with Fiscal. 1970s ublic Assistance Erie County Legal (state-mandate). Fiscal City-municipalto county transfers. spillovers) 1940s. Growth (compete effectively Autonomous and competitive IDAs (state). Grand Island. regional Governments mergers not high on agenda II. Subregional Arrangements Service Provider Relevant Regional Impulses Comments ater Erie County Water Authority (most Pro: Fiscal. 1930s-1940s entral Police Services Erie County Fiscal (economies of scale. ewer Buffalo Sewer Authority (city plus Pro: Fiscal (economiesof Towns of Amherst.able 11 rie County Service Framework I. Macroeconomic. Buffalo. Equity City to private or nonprofit ownership.county assumption of cience Museums. coordination. rural County Sewer Districts (remainder of areas unsewered urbanized area) . 1947-1954 Libraty System to federate) elected Parks New York State. forensics and training. Private-nonprofits. major funding. RegionalArrangements Service Provider Relevant Regional Impulses Comments ransportation (bus. City to county transfers.

Fiscal 1968 police consolidationproposal served by County Sheriff defeated in voter referendum oad MaintenancelSnow Individual municipalities Political. Anti: Political lanning-University City of Buffalo. Local Arrangements Relevant Antiregional Service Provider Impulses Comments ital Statistics Individual municipalities Political. countywide District Attorney olice Patrol Individual municipalities. Social. operating since 1994 Buffalc Growth uman Resources/Civil Erie County. Political City to county transfer proposal rejected service by municipal or private by city in 1996 provider unicipal Courts Individual municipalities Legal (home rule powers) Forty-fourcourts. Centrality Institutional resistanceto mergers authorities conomic Development Municipalities. Fiscal Forty-four bureaus. Legal. Legal collaborate olid Waste Management Three subregionalconsortia. Towns of Amherst Pro: Fiscal (coordination. 1990s including City of Buffalo Fiscal. excluding City of Buffalo Pro: Fiscal. Individual municipalities Fiscal. City-suburban-universityjoint istrict and Tonawanda. not Pro: Legal (state incentive).ommunity Development Consortium of small towns and villages Pro: Fiscal (economies of Smaller municipalities (36 of 43 total) lock Grants (CDBG) scale). and University at spillovers). Anti: Political City retains own personnel and civil ervice Personnel service department 111. Countywide effort thwarted. Fiscal Over 140 entities provide economic (interiurisdictionalcomoetition) develoDment services . Social Some service sharing in rural towns tion olid Waste Collection Arranged by individual municipalities. Natural Resource. agreement. Social Strong allegiance to volunteer fire district submunicipal fire districts companies lanningKommunity Municipal departments or private con.rural areas Historical. consolidation opposed by municipal governments MS Dispatch Individual municipalities Political Twenty-eight dispatchers ocal Parks and Recre. Fiscal Municipal public works departments are lowing (interjurisdictionalcompetition) rich source of local jobs ire Protection Municipal departments and 33 Historical.IDAs Growth. Growth Regionwide planning inactive since evelopment tracts 1980s ublic Housing Six municipalitiesoperate housing Social.

equity. sewer. which excludes services provided nationwide or statewide by federal and state entities. fiscal. there is more regionalism in the area than might be expected on the basis of regional impulses. and natural resource impulses are important incentives for regionalism. and regional economic development. regional planning. Despite relatively weak proregional impulses and several strong antiregional impulses. The inventory. these services are expected to be and routinely are provided at the regional scale. With respect to service delivery. 19/No. growth. especially at the city-suburban divide. I suggest that proregional impulses are less numerous and generally weaker than antiregional impulses. On balance. either are not provided or are accomplished locally or subregionally. and mutual aid for road maintenance. and natural resource impulses. public health. legal constraints on municipal annexation and consolidation. Libraries and mutual aid road maintenance exceed regional norms. some aspects of economic development such as regional marketing. and locally. and social impulses are important obstacles to regionalism. fiscal. including areawide provision of transit. infrastructure development. Because of legal. public assistance. as indicated by the inventory of service delivery arrangements in Table 11. Numerous services are provided at the regional or subregional scale. then. political. and historical rivalries and distrust between the City of Buf- falo and its suburbs. including water. lists services provided regionally. Findings Minimum Regional Norm The first finding is affirmation of the concept of regional norm. All except libraries and the mutual aid road pact are regional norm services.396 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vo/. libraries. subregionally. long-standing local government boundaries. 4/1997 roeconomic differences between urban and rural communities. the Buffalo area has a mixed record of regionalism relative to a regional norm. strong home rule provisions. the Buffalo region has numerous regional outcomes. Does the reality of regionalism bear this out? Only to a qualified extent. Several other regional norm services. Historical. central police services. Although standard scales for measuring regional impulses do not exist. ASSESSING REGIONAL IMPULSES AND OUTCOMES What accounts for the greater than expected extent of regional outcomes in the Buffalo region? How useful is the regional impulses framework in accounting for regional out- comes and shedding light on metropolitan regionalism? The analysis suggests five findings. Fis- cal. growth management. Still. along with the regional or antiregional impulses most relevant to these outcomes. services provided locally that are normally provided . although several important service collaborations exclude the City of Buffalo. The Reality of Regionalism The regional impulses analysis suggests relatively weak potential for regional outcomes in the Buffalo metropolitan area.

Cou- pled with the absence of a multisectoral forum or process for deliberating issues of regional significance. While the relative importance of impulses may be case specific. The analysis reveals that these outcomes emerged when regional impulses were rela- tively stronger than they are today. given pressures of a global economy. From the 1930s to the 1980s. Nelson. centrality. fiscal. this group comprises fiscal. Secondary influence may be short-lived in the case of growth impulses. but. 1990). This finding reinforces the influence of regional impulses on regional outcomes and affirms the value of detailed historical case studies in understanding metro- politan regions (Orum. Other regional impulses-social. I Regional Impulses I 397 regionally outnumber those provided regionally that are normally provided locally. centrality. Legal incentives that promote or hamper region- alism can predispose regional outcomes. on balance the region could be judged to fall shy of normal levels of regionalism. do not singularly determine them. Most fundamental. Bollens. As elaborated below. Even when other impulses warrant regional outcomes.Foster. natural resource. the Buffalo study suggests several potential generalizations. though often undervalued. Political and historical impulses are often most salient as obstacles to regionalization. State mandates and federal incentives to provide transportation. some impulses are more influential than others. Historical Accumulation The third finding is that past decisions and historical inertia may account in large mea- sure for contemporary patterns of regionalism. a potent antiregional growth impulse in many economically declining metropolitan areas. a finding consistent with studies investigating the determinants of metropolitan political structure (for example. 1996. Next most influential are impulses that singularly affect regional outcomes. and state-mandated or federally encouraged regional services. macroeconomic. historical. and an entrenched antiregional political culture reflected in resident norms and attitudes toward governance can derail regional agreements. a historical leg- acy of interjurisdictional conflict. In the Buf- falo region. may be sufficient to offset unhealthy forms of interjurisdictionalcompetition. and growth-reinforce or erode regional outcomes. and some social services at the county or higher scale also facilitated regional outcomes in the 1960s and 1970s. which. . Social. 1986. 1991). shape regional outcomes. at least in the Buffalo region. regional planning. political loyalties. Today’s menu of regional out- comes is largely the product of cumulative historic choices originating in regional impulses of an earlier time. especially mandates or prohibitions. is that legal impulses. making for an environmentrelatively receptive to regionalism. A Hierarchy of Impulses The second finding is that although each regional impulse influences one or more regional outcomes. and political impulses. proregional fiscal impulses appear to be a sine qua non of regional outcomes. environ- mental control. and equity gaps between city and suburbs were narrower in past decades. public takeover of private services. regional outcomes resulted from municipal to county functional transfers. equity.

The Greater Buffalo Partnership. governs regional outcomes. These include the Erie County League of Women Voters (which has led campaigns to streamline government). 1995). civic. the major metropolitan newspaper. In Buffalo. have county officials been willing to assist municipalities through regionalization. Some private groups base their proregional ardor in part on a political impulse. the area’s regional chamber of commerce. the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics that have traditionally rendered poorer. takes the lead on regional marketing. particu- larly those with investments in the central city and a desire to revitalize downtown. respond also to equity and centrality impulses. and political impulses also motivate nonprofit. must be made no worse off by new regional outcomes or such outcomes will not occur. namely lack of confidence in local governments’ ability to effectively meet regional needs. Public officials indicate that uncertain fiscal conditions at municipal and county halls in the Buffalo region have dampened regional impulses over the past two decades. Private groups. offer strong proregional incentives for private sector players (Teaford. equity. As a consequence. not altruism. 1979. and tourism. 1996). unduly raises the property tax burden. The mutual benefit condition seems most crucial with respect to fiscal impulses. Contrary to theoretical predictions. notably the desire to compete effectively against other regions for economic development. nor is it sufficient for a strong entity to seek to expand its influence through regionalization. and academic entities in the Buffalo region. oper- ates the area’s convention and visitors’ bureau. 4/1997 Mutual Fiscal Benefit A fourth finding is that mutual benefit. bargaining parties. The imperative of mutual fiscal benefit nonetheless suggests a new means by which fis- cally poor but multiculturally rich jurisdictions like the City of Buffalo can be attractive regional collaborators. centrality. promotion. 19/No. nonprofit.398 I JOURNAL OF URBAN AFFAIRS I Vol. Wallis. The BuffuZo News. the University at Buffalo (which has conducted research and forums on regional governance issues). Apparently. Because the proregional initia- tives of nongovernmental groups have been generally ad hoc and uncoordinated. citizen-based visioning process. Erie County rejects any service takeover that jeopardizes its credit rat- ing. and the Buffalo Foundation and the Western New York Grantmakers Association (which have coordinated and financially supported proregional efforts). Some federal and state programs require that municipalities demon- strate economic hardship or meet minimal levels of minority participation as a condition for receipt of program funding. Fiscal and growth impulses. widespread fiscal stress appears to hamper rather thari motivate regional consolidations. Fiscal. Poten- tial collaborators require that a functional transfer not jeopardize their fiscal footing. however. Only recently. It is evi- dently not enough for a weak party to seek regionalization as a bailout for serious problems.is a champion of regional- ism and proregional efforts in the area. growth. as Erie County has strengthened its financial position. strong and weak alike. sponsors a regionwide. as a matter of policy. more diverse jurisdictions undesir- able service partners now make them potentially desirable collaborators. and conducts research on issues of governance. Still. Civic Regionalism A final finding is the importance of nongovernmental players-private. . or merely shifts fiscal burdens from one jurisdiction to others (Erie County. civic and academic-in the regional impulses framework.

regional outcomes in service delivery reflect a regional norm. In general. social. politics. however. REFERENCES Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR). talk of “consolidating the con- solidators’’ has renewed interest in collaboration. History matters. History. and developmentally-the more apt these people and places are to pursue and forge regional alliances. fiscally. and higher education players take a more aggres- sive role in regional governance. strength. Analyzing regional impulses can reveal gaps between the theory and practice of regionalism in politically complex metropolitan areas. as these private. The regional impulses framework also offers a means for policy makers to reveal gaps between theoretical norms and regional realities and thus identify strong and weak links in a regional governance system. CONCLUSION Social science identifies numerous proregional and antiregional impulses for regional outcomes. the regional impulses approach holds promise for scholarship and practice as regions strive to achieve more effective regional governance systems. Application of the regional impulses framework to the Buffalo metropolitan area yields several findings worthy of further investigation in analyses of other metropolitan regions. too: The accumulation of past decisions and organizational inertia underlie contemporary patterns of regionalism. DC: Author. and legal factors may reinforce or weaken tendencies toward region- alism. Proregional fiscal impulses appear to be a necessary con- dition for regionalism in economically declining regions. and underlying political structure would shed light on the persis- tence of regional impulses under different conditions and whether certain impulses consistently trump others in importance. the framework offers a basis for comparative case studies of regionalism’s possibilities and reality in different metropolitan areas. Washington. As such. rate of growth. politically. Beginning in 1997. and historical impulses to foil proregional efforts. resources. Regardless of the strength of regional impulses. Nongovernmental groups also play key roles in the regional impulses framework. although the region still lacks a multisectoral regional body to deliberate issues of regional concern. This institutional absence opens the way for strong antiregional political. Investigating areas that vary by size. I Regional Impulses I 399 their cumulative influence has lagged. The regional impulses framework enables testing the relevance of theoretical motiva- tions for regionalism and clarifying why some regions function more regionally than others. age. (1987). The organization of local public economies. The nature. Normally regional services are those for which fiscal and resource impulses oblige regionalization or for which equity and legal impulses compel regionwide delivery. political. economics. . In short. the greater the similarity between people and places with a region-socially. the relative prominence of specific impulses may shift and new impulses may emerge. fiscal. and historical impulses are often singularly influential in achieving or preventing regional outcomes. Legal. nonprofit. and interplay of these impulses determine the extent to which an area functions regionally.

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