More Partners a Good Thing for Long-Range Planning

RECEIVED Mon., July 19, 2010

Dear Editor,
    Thank you for the excellent article by Katherine Gregor on the need for coordinated regional planning [“Best-Laid Plans,” News, July 16]. One topic that was not addressed is the potential role for the state in facilitating coordination. For example, although the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization can develop a plan that calls for clusters of development, it has no authority to require local jurisdictions to comply. Much of the coordination depends on good will among jurisdictions, and there need to be more requirements and incentives for cities to implement measures that promote a more sustainable future. In addition, state restrictions on the ability of counties to collect gas taxes and vehicle registration fees for transportation projects limit funding options for implementing regional transportation plans. The Texas Department of Transportation could help to facilitate regional plans if it was not so singly focused on roads, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality could play a real role in coordinating efforts that impact the environment (such as the two water treatment plants mentioned in the article and measures to reduce greenhouse gases) if it were a functioning agency instead of one that must be browbeat by the Environmental Protection Agency to do its job. Texas is far behind some other states in this regard, and the divide will continue to grow because of the lack of anything other than feeble efforts from the state Legislature and nothing at all from the Governor’s Office. Our ability to have coordinated long-term planning and development affects our ability to grow sustainably, which will increasingly affect the competitiveness of the region.
Susan Pantell
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