On this regional public affairs program, John Boland, chairman of the Metropolitan Council, presents a "State of the Region" address on the occasion of the council's 10th anniversary.
In 1967, Harold LeVander, who was Governor of Minnesota at the time, signed into law a bill that created the Metropolitan Council. The council was to coordinate plans for the area rather than have the kind of unplanned development typical of so many metropolitan areas. The council has a considerable amount of influence over many activities in the seven county metro region. It has a large professional planning staff and a number of agencies such as the Metropolitan Transit Commission, Metropolitan Waste Control Commission and the Metropolitan Housing and Redevelopment Authority.
Boland’s remarks are followed by comments from Ted Kolderie, president of the Citizens League.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
Limitation that you received describe the purpose of this Gathering as one of sharing and it evenings discourse on the Twin Cities area 1967 to 1976 a look back and look ahead. We at the Metropolitan Council spend a good deal of time trying to figure out where we've been where we are now where we're going and where we should be going. This year for the first time we published a state of the region report. This document is the first try at assembling under one cover a great deal of data on basic Regional social and economic conditions and Broad Council policies. It is crammed with information and will be available free at the back of the room as you leave tonight. I hope you find the report valuable and interesting. I don't intend tonight to try to cover the Waterfront of the Twin Cities area are new report does a pretty good job of that. I would like instead to take a rather personal look back and look ahead. I would also like the balance a few of what-ifs against what actually has occurred in this region over the past 10 years. What ifs that might have happened if the Citizens Community leaders local elected officials businessman and legislators of the Twin Cities area and the state had lacked the vision the will and the talent to deal with urgent Regional problems in an intelligent and courageous way. First we're where we the 1967 the year of the seemingly endless and often bitter dialogue over how best to handle area y problems culminated in a legislative decision to replace the purely advisory Metropolitan Planning Commission with an agency called The Metropolitan Council and endowed was substantially brought her powers. Many of you remember those times quite well, I'm sure many of you were in the thick of those battles. The other day, I looked over some of the old newspaper clippings from that era. New ways of dealing with the so-called Urban crises were big in 1967. John McGuire of Burnsville wrote a letter to the editor and asked why more Newtown he said if planners have their way will wind up in the metro area of some 10,000 square miles surrounded surrounding to the costliest parking lots in the world Minneapolis and st. Paul. Saint Paul was excited about the Allentown urban renewal the Minneapolis Tribune carried a big story on Saint Paul Phoenix across the river. I'll pass the cathedral the huge sum of University will do a project seem to be finally getting off the ground. A headline from another newspaper. No more metro parks in Carver County and still another two hundred say goodbye to Doom City Park. I need an editorial preview of the 1967 legislative session the Minneapolis Star noted that a surprising consensus exists as a Citizens League report last week showed even I'm so complex a question as the creation of some umbrella governmental Agency for the metropolitan area the progress so far leaves us convinced that the Twin Cities area can make a major start for the song We Built decision-making system for the solution of Metropolitan problems, perhaps even the best sister in the country. I believe we did that in 1967. Our system is by no means perfect. Certainly the Metro Council isn't we made our share of mistakes? But the people of this region have also done many things, right? You created the only system in the nation in which a generalist planning and coordinating agency with broad Authority is able to exercise affect the policy and budgetary control over special purpose on a region-wide basis. Assistant that makes possible the resolution of those critical Metropolitan problems that so stubbornly resists solution in other urban areas A system that allows local government agencies to plan and work together as partners towards Mutual goals. I think it's an Emily the evidence is overwhelming that local government even though sometimes pictured is the victim or loser in a life-and-death struggle with Metro is stronger and healthier in this region today. Then it would be if we lacked the tools to deal with regional problems on a regional basis. I think most local officials know this I think most of them know it's possible to live in a room there home community and a house their region at the same time. A few what ifs? What might have happened over the past decade if this region had not made it his business to bring some order to the disorder and confusion that prevailed first. We would have a lot of special purpose single-function districts. They would be autonomous. It would be much like their sisters special purpose districts. So, in other Metropolitan centers, very competent good Builders and very good at getting their way. We might resemble the San Francisco Bay area where 14 Special Districts exist side-by-side and in each other's lap. The one agency responsible for comprehensive planning there has no legal mandate to implement his plans. Our region would pay a high price perhaps an unbearably high price for the massive Financial commitments that almost surely would have company sent it arrangement. Second we would probably be wondering where the decision to build a rapid rail transit system was very smart after all. The 1972 cost estimate for the system was 1.2 billion, but that estimate like Austin estimates brother fix guideway systems built in this country in recent years would have nearly doubled again, perhaps the parallel to San Francisco. They are the nation's first modern real transit system Bart provides fine service the long-distance generally Apple Computers across 50% more than expected to build and 500% more than expected to operate the cherries half as many writers as predicted and it's had little effect on traffic congestion or pollution. Third we might also wonder whether our brand new airport in the mocha was a good idea. the original 500 500 million dollar cross there would probably have been to a little fourth would be making do with an inherited Park system apart from purchases by the end up in County Park Reserve District, very few large-scale Park land Acquisitions would have been made in the region. Most of the good Parkland would now be in the hands of developers were a few wealthy landowners. Lyft poor people in the region would still have had two basic choices on where to live Minneapolis or Saint Paul about 90% of the subsidized housing would still be located in the central City's only 10% in the suburbs. 12.2 other what-ifs. You may think some of those examples are far-fetched. I don't they have happened in too many other urban areas of the country. What actually did happen in the Twin Cities are 1967 and 1977 as well as I but it doesn't hurt occasionally to check car history. Are sewer problem the number one Regional the land of 1967 is well in hand the top job of converting a Central City zone system into a regional system was accomplished in 1969 with the creation of the metropolitan sewer board its successor agency in the metropolitan Waste Control Commission now owns and operates a modern efficient 900 billion dollar system that includes 20 treatment plants and 375 miles of regional sewer lines a major expansion an improvement in the big Pig's Eye Treatment Plant is underway. Because we made the hard decisions of setting up a regional sewer system. This 7 County area has since 1969 received more than three hundred million dollars in federal funds. The Twin Cities area is a rarity in this regard most metropolitan areas are still arguing over who should be responsible for the planning and operation of their Regional sewer system many haven't received $0.01 from Washington. The Metropolitan Transit Commission fix Skyway Transit proposal was Black by the legislature in the console. What's the commission is compiled a strong record in improving bus service ridership is up 40% from 1970. LeapFrog development continues but seems to be slowing down the adoption of regional development controls to discourage sprawl and make better use of vacant service land within the urban service area. Will I believe have Major Impact? This will also cut down in the enormous waste of taxpayers dollars that accompany such growth low and moderate-income citizens of the region have substantially greater choice of where they want to live now than it did a 1967 more than seventy Area Community now have subsidized housing in 43 communities not participate in the voluntary Metro HRA program, the percentage of subsidized housing outside. The central City's has arisen from 10 to 27% in during the last two-and-a-half years 62% of them of the more than 5,000 subsidized housing units have been built or rented in the 7 County area and we're located in the suburban community this strong Regional local housing effort has brought many millions of dollars in a claim in federal funding into the area. The first major large-scale Park acquisition program since the late 1950s has just been completed this added more than 10,000 acres and 15 new parks to the regional system. I've talked mostly about the past. Let's take a look at the trends that show up in the state of the region report some very important ones as a matter of fact. In the seventies we broken with the post-world War II pattern of rapid growth we've seen the first recorded net out-migration of people 4019 75 from the Twin Cities area Metropolitan building rate falling below the national rate Peak unemployment rates a drop in real income and when measured on a per household bases, I drop and real expenditures by local government in this region. A drop in the birth rate from 19.7% I was in a 1972 14 3000 a 1975 lack of population growth far from the age composition of our population is changing dramatically with enormous consequences for this economy. Reduce birth rate means that the under-five age group is smaller School enrollment will continue to decline over the next 10 years, but the children born in the post-world War II Baby Boom repeat the 1958 are reaching adulthood for the next several years. The household formation rate will greatly exceed population growth. Not only because the young adults need home because more young people are living alone more divorces many more double households and more senior citizens are choosing to remain in their own homes. The average size of household is going down all adding up to an estimated need for 220,000 new housing units by 1985. This at a time when our forecast for housing needs are not now being met and monthly income payments are increasing more rapidly than income. Similarly the large young adult group needs jobs at a time when the number of jobs is not keeping up with the girls for the regional labor force. The rapid shift and age composition means not only changes and employment housing and educational needs but also changes in lifestyle values and consumer preferences. More jobs in Moore housing me a greater demand for energy for heat light transportation and Industrial uses energy is critical to economic Vitality. Will we have enough? We have low density development requiring more travel and we are definitely automobile oriented despite energy conservation warnings. There is no a large-scale recycling underweight little perceptible increase in the level of Auto a occupancy. We could find ourselves economically disadvantaged compared with the rest of the country. These are crucial concerns providing the jobs and housing mean to eat in an ear of energy scarcity changing lifestyles in Computing pressure on her social and economic life. It is clear that the growth of the region will depend Less on natural increase then on the state of our economy if we can provide jobs for a young people those who have grown up here will stay here and others will come from other metropolitan areas. If we cannot we can expect out migration to the South and West how can or should the region respond to these concerns? Let me share with you what I think we should concentrate our strongest efforts on in the next few years. First the imbalances between the older and newer portions of our region that have led to the lack of private investment neighborhood deterioration and increasing social and economic stratification in our Central cities and older suburbs must be checked and reversed. These conditions are the basic ingredients of the explosive social economic and fiscal crisis facing so many of our great Urban centers today. The report last month of a council Advisory Group to fully develop the area task force amply documents all existing public and private policies and actions discriminate against the health and vitality of our Region's core and older areas the report calls for adoption of a new Urban policy that recognizes the neighborhood is the key element in the revitalization effort and cost for the allocation of additional resources to the other areas. This strategy must be a long-range carefully planned and generally accepted and supported by government developers and most of all the citizens of the region. It should include a halter premature expansion and wasteful public investment in rural areas. I turn around in public investment priorities from expansion to investment of high-quality services within a 1/2 find. Original policies are more and more reflecting the shift. Revision of policies programs in fiscal formulas which gives new areas and insurmountable competitive advantage over older ones the task force recommends changes and school aid and Municipal aid form balance. The council will begin formal consideration of a task force report and changes in Council policies recommended 1 week from today. Second in the area of Human Services by far the largest sector of governmental spending and activity. We are witnessing a kind of social sprawl as agencies in public and private sectors grow and proliferate. This fall is less visible than the physical sprawl which the Metropolitan land planning Act of 1976 addresses, but it is just as real and trouble. By one estimate there are nearly three 2500 public and private human service agencies in the metropolitan area. And that is probably a conservative figure the geography of our region of sliced up at least a hundred different ways by public and private service districts. The private human service sector is increasingly frustrated because I must respond to so many different governmental agencies. And because it must live in uncertainty over where the line is being drawn between public and private Human Service responsibilities to provide a variety of Human Services are unable to finance them coyotes or like in the financial commitments for federal and state initiative Human Service programs are compelling cutbacks and other worthwhile local programs. And needy people are under tremendous burden to try and sort through the jungle and meet requirements that are based on specific administrative problems rather than on people. Major initiatives are being taken at the national and state levels to bring some order to this nine system. President Carter is committed to a full-scale reorganization of the executive branch with particular attention to Human Service programs in Minnesota Legislature. Now, I was considering proposals that would reorganize State human service agencies and dramatically alter the state local funding relationship. Since the early 1970s, the Metropolitan Council has been involved with the number of federally funded categorical Human Service programs in health Aging criminal justice and housing are always been one planning coordination and grants rather than direct provision of services. I do not believe the council should become involved in the Direct Delivery of Human Services any more than I believe it should have been involved in local zoning questions in between State and County levels the major Human Service actors places it in a unique position to take a fresh look at the human services in the region. It is my hope that the social framework effort now underway at the council will help lay the foundation for the better means of meeting the needs of the Region's citizens. A top priority of the Metropolitan Council the next few years must be to use the authority and responsibility already given it by the state legislature wisely and well our responsibilities are brought the include review of Health certificates of need review of federal grants for Aging criminal justice and many other programs administration of the Metro HRA and the carrying out of several important laws relating to the metro area further the federal regional Clearinghouse process gives us an opportunity to influence a large amounts of federal expenditures. Federally required regional planning programs and waste management Solid Waste housing transportation. In other areas provide an array of regional planning opportunities Beyond anyone's expectations and take you to go. If we have to Metropolitan Council can achieve the major benefits original coordination and planning under existing Authority. The whole concept of the agency should be called into question. How can the council improve its performance Peter Drucker has said the major sickness of government. Is it in ability to stop doing anything? I believe my I believe we must continually assess which area is provide a significant payoff for the region and limit our efforts to these significant areas. We should also clarify our policies right now has several hundred Regional policies in it. We must make it clear to ourselves and the region what the five or six or ten or twelve basic goals for the region are and how we intend to achieve them. The council has since 1974 advocated the streamlining of our governmental review processes. We will continue to urge that and we were we work to streamline our own. For moving on I would like to discuss an issue. I know many of you have strong opinions on that's the question of whether the Metropolitan Council to remain a point of or should become elected. If any of you believe this is a simple issue. I invite you to glance through the recent League of Women Voters survey on the question. I do not believe it is my place or that any members of the council placed a Lobby for one method or the other. I do sincerely believe personally. However, the time has come when elected cancel. The responsibility is given it by the state and federal governments since its creation is considerably more powerful today than his early years. I think it is clear today that socially urgent that Society urgently needs a strong as possible bond between people and their government that's like I've come to the conclusion that The Ballot Box the direct election of council members is the only way to strengthen that Barn I think it is clear from what I've said up to this point. There was a good deal has been accomplished the Twin Cities area faces some very real and very difficult problems in the years ahead. I hope you didn't come here tonight expecting new Solutions or new answers to AR. Yeah, it is perhaps the very absence of new Solutions and answers that brings me to my final point. It is this the very best solutions to the problems of this region have been and will continue to be homegrown those we develop ourselves there have been if you continue to be a highly local character and without exception the very best answers will come from Individual men and women concern inform citizens who somehow cannot get it through their heads that there are problems. They can't handle People like Louis Hannah Brandt Richard Walter and Roman Turtle the Carver County Farmers. We decided years ago that small scattered housing subdivisions were seriously disrupting their farming operations in a prime agricultural area. Their efforts were instrumental in the adoption by Carver County of one of the most for Lucky Rule and preservation ordinances in the nation that ordinance was a key influence on the Metropolitan council's adoption of a region-wide policy, but assigned high priority to protecting good Farmland from Urban encroachment. People like the thousands of Citizens League members and members of League of Women Voters chapters for who for years that made Regional issues key elements and their annual research and study. People like the hundreds of Mayors County and Tiny board members legislators consonant and other work elected officials who take a lot of grief for a little reward, but without whose Collective leadership this reason to be very common pleas and mediocre. Our best answer should be the natural outgrowth of a long long history of incremental Improvement in the way. We govern ourselves the product of extensive dialogue. Integrating our local planning commission's and City Hall's our neighborhood Civic business and labor groups. The Metropolitan Council the regional Commissions in my judgment fit. There's mold. They are homegrown product. They were created by people who are not easily impressed by the latest new model from Washington or other metropolitan areas by people who are impressed by what works between cities in my nearly four years is Metropolitan Council chairman and more recently as a board member for the National Association of regional councils. I have been privileged to meet and talk with a great many people from other urban areas almost without exception. They are envious of and curious about the Twin Cities area. They asked a lot of questions how to do it where your system work in our area. What's the secret? Where do we start? Those questions are very difficult to answer because there are hundreds and thousands of answers. They're called people. My experience with Metro Council chairman tells me we must have gave me the number of challenges in the years ahead. The same experience leads me optimistic. I believe you will in your study stubborn intelligent bipartisan contentious and purposeful way do quite well. Thank you. One of the principal questions in my mind when I started reading through the draft of John speech was whether or how forcefully he would. describe the consuls interest in the Whole emerging field of human and social services. I don't think I had any question about the or think he had any question about the importance of this. I'm not sure the right. term for it is a is a mess and I think that's not the right term, but we are beginning into a tremendous expansion and reorganization of the Human Services field the kind of growth than a public policy area that makes the arrival of something like the interstate highway system. But it is a highly controversial area and the council's entry in this would not be universally welcome John some dancer this. I thought it was for swollen and unequivocally. There is a metropolitan interested in programs of hospitals Healthcare and Manpower planning and the council intends to play them. My own reaction to this. I think I'm a whole is with that. Are you supposed to welcome but thing to hear from you? I think we all are. JoJo mean next to me that she has and John indicated in his talk. He is concerned of the council I try to take on too much. but John indicated the dollars involved in these programs are absolutely enormous and make the physical development programs in which the council has been engaged the past 10 years small by comparison for year that to run Hennepin County Medical Center. Is it cost to build it? But the numbers are so close. They they continually astonish me. And finally, I guess I've been in Preston in recent weeks by something. I read recently and that why I think magnificent Atlas so the metropolitan area in which young one of the authors that includes the one of the principal challenges facing Us in the urban areas to make sure that the primary beneficiaries of the Programs to refinance and run are the recipients of the service is rather than the program agencies and their staffs relationship to what John says about the human service areas is kind of contribution. The council is going to make the this. they need to come in and having something of affirmative and positive and useful to say not to see if the table for its own sake they need this area that kind of thing they have in the past which is occasionally out of Britain start of clarification of the issues system or some kind of innovative new proposal to be done the whole relationship very difficult relationships between public and private as we move into these social service area. Funny I like I think I'd like to mention a couple of things that but we're not in his talk. I did not hear him say one of these is an area that is in the council's planning and just not mentioned that's very very of communications, which is is a minor part of the council's planning and hope that perhaps next year. We can take a little time to television moves for have to be on Broadcasting. The second one is something that is not on the council's planning never has been told that that's as a result of both federal and state policies of Education. Schools have always been treated separately. But again, I have the feeling based partly on the kinds of things that school officials in the central cities and in the suburbs have been coming to us and saying privately in recent week. That the independence of Education from General government, which was a great asset. The relationship potential necessary between schools and education are very close with their continuing Investments. And with their under-occupied plant have an enormous stake in the success of the council's policy at urban sprawl control. Declining enrollments is partly a problem of population of demographics, but it's also heavily a function of for the people live on the land. And finally, the programs that are running schools in the success of those programs is absolutely critical to the ability of the council and its new dimension of physical development to restore and Revitalize.