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Is a Seat at the Bargaining Table Enough? Collaborative Policy Making Institutions and Citizen Voice in Regional Land-Use Politics

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Abstract:

Subnational governments in the U.S. face growing public anger over suburban sprawl. Local control over land use has resulted in uncoordinated patterns of development and an inability to achieve solutions to traffic and environmental problems, which are regional rather than local in nature. New Jersey is a prime example. The most densely populated state, it is also one of the most heavily suburbanized, with a "home rule" structure that makes coherent policy making difficult. New Jersey has undertaken three experiments in regional governance to remedy the problem: the Pinelands Commission, the State Planning Commission with its cross-acceptance process, and the Highlands Council. These regional planning institutions are all designed to achieve cooperation among government actors and stakeholders and to foster informal relationships between the participants. They are examples of the general move from command-and-control government to collaborative governance. The question addressed here is whether these collaborative institutions can reconcile the oft-competing goals of regional policy coherence and local empowerment that have proven so elusive in the past.

I find that, for these three cases, policy success against sprawl depends less on collaborative decision processes than on binding policy decisions. Informal networks are no substitute for command-and-control policies. Second, the collaborative process empowers local communities only where the important decisions have not already been made elsewhere, and often only when watchdog citizen groups apply additional pressure from outside the collaborative institutions. These comparative case studies suggest that an "old", conflict-oriented politics tends to prevail even in the presence of new, collaborative governance arrangements. Further, the old politics can sometimes help achieve both policy results and local community empowerment. The New Jersey cases show that there is still an important place for grassroots protest mobilization in giving local communities a regional voice. Governance theorists and regional policy makers alike would do well to take seriously the continuing relevance and, indeed, the desirability of conflict-oriented politics.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

plan (173), state (149), new (70), govern (67), local (66), region (65), pineland (63), commiss (60), municip (59), develop (58), jersey (54), highland (53), area (47), polici (45), process (41), polit (40), collabor (40), institut (38), land (35), growth (34), council (33),

Author's Keywords:

governance, land use, local democracy, environment, sprawl
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Hager, Carol. "Is a Seat at the Bargaining Table Enough? Collaborative Policy Making Institutions and Citizen Voice in Regional Land-Use Politics" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, Chicago, IL, Aug 30, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p208913_index.html>

APA Citation:

Hager, C. J. , 2007-08-30 "Is a Seat at the Bargaining Table Enough? Collaborative Policy Making Institutions and Citizen Voice in Regional Land-Use Politics" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Hyatt Regency Chicago and the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, Chicago, IL Online <PDF>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p208913_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Subnational governments in the U.S. face growing public anger over suburban sprawl. Local control over land use has resulted in uncoordinated patterns of development and an inability to achieve solutions to traffic and environmental problems, which are regional rather than local in nature. New Jersey is a prime example. The most densely populated state, it is also one of the most heavily suburbanized, with a "home rule" structure that makes coherent policy making difficult. New Jersey has undertaken three experiments in regional governance to remedy the problem: the Pinelands Commission, the State Planning Commission with its cross-acceptance process, and the Highlands Council. These regional planning institutions are all designed to achieve cooperation among government actors and stakeholders and to foster informal relationships between the participants. They are examples of the general move from command-and-control government to collaborative governance. The question addressed here is whether these collaborative institutions can reconcile the oft-competing goals of regional policy coherence and local empowerment that have proven so elusive in the past.

I find that, for these three cases, policy success against sprawl depends less on collaborative decision processes than on binding policy decisions. Informal networks are no substitute for command-and-control policies. Second, the collaborative process empowers local communities only where the important decisions have not already been made elsewhere, and often only when watchdog citizen groups apply additional pressure from outside the collaborative institutions. These comparative case studies suggest that an "old", conflict-oriented politics tends to prevail even in the presence of new, collaborative governance arrangements. Further, the old politics can sometimes help achieve both policy results and local community empowerment. The New Jersey cases show that there is still an important place for grassroots protest mobilization in giving local communities a regional voice. Governance theorists and regional policy makers alike would do well to take seriously the continuing relevance and, indeed, the desirability of conflict-oriented politics.

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Document Type: PDF
Page count: 18
Word count: 9345
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Is a Seat at the Bargaining Table Enough? Collaborative Policy Making Institutions and Citizen Voice in Regional Land Use Politics by Carol J. Hager Associate Professor of Political Science Bryn Mawr College 101 N. Merion Ave. Bryn Mawr PA 19010 chager@brynmawr.edu Prepared for delivery at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association August 30-September 2 Introduction Subnational governments in the U.S. face growing public anger over suburban sprawl. Local control over land use has resulted in
applicant and the agency. The deadline is the same no matter how complex the application and it presents an impossible burden to the understaffed state agencies (www.riker.com/articles "NJ Legislature Strikes Compromise over Development in Highlands and Smart Growth Areas"). 46 Highlands Draft Master Plan Section III (November 2006). 47NJ Conservation Foundation co-founded NJ Highlands Coalition in September 2006 to advocate for the plan and its implementation in NJ. The multi-state Highlands Coalition established in 1988 helped the regional gain


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