Another View: SACOG's role is to advise, not lobby

Published: Saturday, May. 18, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 10A

In response to The Bee's editorial ("Effort to muzzle SACOG could hurt entire region," April 27), we wanted to provide another perspective as elected officials.

First, there is a fundamental question being asked by elected officials and business groups around the region: What is the proper role of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments? Is it to provide commentary on projects? To lobby for or against their passage?

Our belief is that SACOG's role is to provide technical data on projects on a staff-to-staff level. If SACOG officials are invited by a city council or county board of supervisors, they can come and present that data and give a reason for their analysis.

However, we do not believe that unelected staff should be in the lobbying business of opposing or supporting projects.

Our jurisdictions have chosen to stay members of SACOG because we believe it plays a valuable role in our region, just as Regional Transit, the Sacramento Area Flood Control District, Sacramento Regional Sanitation, public safety agencies and others do. However, unlike SACOG, staff from these agencies do not advocate for or against projects.

We are suggesting that SACOG staff should work with staff within our own jurisdictions to provide the technical data for which SACOG was formed. The ultimate decision should be up to each of our jurisdictions as we are the people that were elected to make these types of decisions.

Secondly, we want to affirm our support of the Blueprint's goals. However, the Blueprint is not the guiding land use manual for the region. Its purpose was to provide a vision of growth; in fact the Blueprint clearly states, "It is not intended to indicate that a specific parcel should or should not be developed in a particular manner. That level of planning is the responsibility of local governments, and is beyond the specificity appropriate for regional-scale, long-term scenario planning."

We agree: Land use planning is beyond SACOG's level of responsibility. We respect the technical data that SACOG should and could provide; we simply differ on whose responsibility it is to land plan in the region.

Steve Detrick is vice mayor of Elk Grove; Spencer Short is a city councilman in Lincoln; Jeff Starsky is vice mayor of Folsom; Ray Nutting is an El Dorado County supervisor; and Barbara Payne is a city councilwoman in Galt.

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