What the heck does SANDAG do? Its mission statement, from its website:
The 18 cities and county government are SANDAG, the San Diego Association of Governments. This public agency serves as the forum for regional decision-making. SANDAG builds consensus; makes strategic plans; obtains and allocates resources; plans, engineers, and builds public transportation, and provides information on a broad range of topics pertinent to the region’s quality of life.
I looked at the history of SANDAG and found that it formed as an unelected body which gradually gained authority and power by fiat. What started as an informal steering committee, was granted power as a regional transportation authority and then a centralized economic planning board. I can see how a collaborative effort, from and among the municipalities, can properly exploit economies of scale but isn’t that what the County Board of Supervisors does?
I like the idea of SANDAG because it is a republican form of government. Representatives from the different municipalities, jealously guarding their local interests, interests me more than an elected board of five, controlling a massive budget. The overweighting of the suburbs could counterbalance the influence of the City Of San Diego on regional decisions.
On the other hand, San Diego County is the fifth most populous county on the country and more populated than 20 states. Californians love the idea of direct democracy and an elected body appeals to many. I can see the need for an administrative department to coordinate public safety, transportation, parks, etc but isn’t that what SANDAG does?
Can we eliminate one of these government bodies and still survive? I think so. I’m interested in your thoughts, arguments, and ideas.