Local government boundaries play an important role in the governance of metropolitan areas by defining local electorates and tax bases and the scope of local regulatory powers and service responsibilities. Yet, the close association of local powers with local boundaries generates spillovers, fiscal disparities, and interlocal conflicts. Real local autonomy is constrained but the local government system fails to provide a means for addressing regional problems. Public choice theorists and political decentralizationists oppose regional governments because of the threat to local autonomy that would result from removing powers from local hands. Richard Briffault's solution to the metropolitan governance problem is a "mixed strategy" that would both reduce the significance of existing local boundaries and create elected regionally bounded governments to address matters of regional significance. In his regime, small local governments would remain units for local decisionmaking. But regional political institutions, with regional land use and fiscal powers, would provide an opportunity for regionwide deliberation, popular participation in decisions of regional significance, and the framing and implementation of policies addressed to the needs of the region as a whole.
The Local Government Boundary Problem in Metropolitan Areas,
Stan. L. Rev.
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