The Citistates Group presents

Thank you for reading This website is no longer being updated, as of October 2013. We invite you to visit our new site at

Archive: Doug Henton

Bay Area Regional Governance: A Counterpoint

Doug Henton / Apr 12 2013

For Release Friday, April 12, 2013

Doug HentonBill Dodge’s April 6 Citiwire article proposed that a “Bay Area Grand Bargain” will stimulate an important discussion about regional decision-making in my region. However, I disagree with a number of his premises. In the spirit of dialogue with a Citistates colleague, I outline them below.

First, what’s the best unit of analysis when focusing on this dynamic region? It’s true, Silicon Valley – my base – has a strong relationship to San Francisco based on a shared workforce, commute patterns and an increasingly integrated business community. This was not the case a decade ago, when technology industries tended to locate in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, while San Francisco was still dominated by headquarters of finance, professional and business service firms as well as culture and tourism. Silicon Valley and San Francisco have become more fully integrated, due to the explosive growth of social media firms and tightly linked commute patterns in both directions.

The traditional nine-county definition of the Bay Area used by regional agencies is less relevant today than when it was established in the 1960s. The East Bay, including Alameda and Contra Costa counties, is now developing its own economic identity around UC Berkeley and its national labs, the port of Oakland, the Tri Valley including Bishop Ranch, as well as the emerging Livermore Valley. Likewise, Napa and Sonoma counties are developing their own unique economic identify focused on world-class wine, tourism and experience industries.
Read More »

To Sustain California’s Comeback, Look to Regional Strategies

Doug Henton / Jan 31 2013

For Release Thursday, January 31, 2013

Doug HentonEmerging from deep recession, California last year added more jobs than any state, and its economy grew faster than the nation. The legislature cut spending, and the voters decided to raise their taxes so now the state budget for next year looks to be roughly in balance.

After a period of $20 billion deficits and 12 percent unemployment, and years of education cuts, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed increased spending for schools and universities.

How, and why did this happen?

As the national economy has recovered, so has California’s. The state government made tough choices that improved the budget situation. Credit also goes to Brown’s championing of the tax increase on the November ballot. It’s the first time since Proposition 13 – which in 1978 reduced property taxes by 60 percent – that the voters have decided to raise taxes.

Brown had promised to take revenue decisions directly to the voters. Last year, he promoted realigning some government functions to local communities and is now proposing decentralizing educational programs in this year’s budget.
Read More »

Report from California: Regions Take Center Stage at the Economic Summit

Doug Henton / May 03 2012

Chairman and CEO, Collaborative Economics

For Release Thursday, May 3, 2012

Doug HentonAs Mark Twain once said “the reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” With unemployment soaring to over 12 percent and a loss of over 1 million jobs during the Great Recession contributing to a 20 billion dollar state budget deficit, many commentators have remarked that California’s better days are over. From the perspective of Sacramento and Washington, it would be fair to say that California has its share of fiscal problems and governance challenges to overcome.

However, from the perspective of California’s diverse regions, I am happy to report like Mark Twain that, “the reports of California’s demise are greatly exaggerated.” Regional stewards from across the states are not waiting for solutions to come from either Washington or Sacramento. Leaders from business, local government, education, labor and environmental groups are joining together for the first Annual California Economic Summit to create a jobs and competitiveness agenda to address our long term challenges.

The California Stewardship Network sponsored by the Morgan Family Foundation has been creating momentum for the regional movement in California for several years. As is the case across America, California “regions are on the rise” for the same of the reasons outlined in the recent Citistates report: American Regions Take Center Stage. Our regional economies are our source of competitive advantage. They are committed to economic vitality, equality of opportunity and environmental quality. They get the idea that collaboration is essential. They are developing effective regional strategies and learning how to partner with the state on several critical workforce, transportation, land use and environmental issues.
Read More »

Regional Stewardship Strategies: Grassroots Economic Response in California

Doug Henton / Jan 06 2011


For Release Sunday, January 9, 2011

Doug HentonFaced with 12 percent unemployment and a $26 billion budget deficit, California offers a perfect storm of economic disruption and public paralysis. This is the product of not only the national financial meltdown, but also a self-imposed governance crisis caused by years of ballot box initiatives as well as budget overruns.

However, below the chaotic surface, the grassroots has been active in responding to this dual economic and governance crisis. The seeds were actually planted in the 1990s during an earlier economic downturn. In regions as diverse as Silicon Valley and the Sierra Nevada, new collaborations of business, government and community leaders were launched to address complex challenges spanning multiple political jurisdictions. Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Sierra Business Council became models for other regions. Read More »

Getting Our Act Together for the Green Economy

Doug Henton / Nov 06 2009

For Release Friday, November 6, 2009

Doug HentonWhat if everyone wanted to do the right thing but didn’t know how to work together to achieve a shared outcome?

That pretty much sums up the challenge we face in realizing the potential of a green economy. The Obama Administration has made it a high priority. Most states and localities recognize the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy. Many businesses now understand the savings from greater efficiency and profits that can be gained from investing in the renewal energy. Labor sees this as a source of jobs.

So what is holding back the growth of a green economy? As we debate national cap and trade legislation, our fragmented, stove piped intergovernmental system is slowing down the implementation of over $40 billion in energy funding. Few states and regions have developed comprehensive energy strategies. Read More »

A New American Paradigm That Really Works

Doug Henton / Sep 04 2008

For Release Sunday, September 7, 2008

Doug Henton What do Portland, Ore., and California’s Silicon Valley have in common?

Both are leaders in the critical transition to the new paradigm described in Curt Johnson’s recent article — a high efficiency and environmentally low impact model, reversing Americans’ profligate, high-impact, low-efficiency culture of the past half century.

And it works, economically. Since the 1970s, Portland has prospered, transforming its economy from forest products to high-value technology, simultaneously increasing incomes and boosting property values. It’s also been able to contain suburban spillover through an urban growth boundary. Portland has built a light rail system, increased urban densities, and rolled back its greenhouse gas emissions. Read More »