SEWRPC Role In Water Dispute Highlights Suburban Biases There
The City of Milwaukee finds that an obscure technical tweak in water planning recommendations is assuming a central role five years later favoring Waukesha's position on diverting water to an area outside its borders.
How many examples do we need to grasp that Milwaukee is harmed by its inclusion in the southeastern regional planning commission (SEWRPC), where City of Milwaukee taxpayers supply 16% of the seven-county commission's operating budget but by law have no commissioner's vote.
SEWRPC is the agency that began a regional housing study a couple of years ago - - under pressure from urban advocates - - but hadn't written such a plan since 1975 as the region sprawled away from Milwaukee's economy and its minority residents and job-seekers.
And developed the freeway expansion plan - - against the City's wishes - - that will push development farther from Milwaukee, where transit is dying, but where water is sought and where SEWRPC has recommended in a study Lake Michigan water be diverted.
In 2006, I wrote:
SEWRPC has paved the way for much of the region’ssprawl, literally: The agency recently recommended $6.5 billion in state spending on freeway modernization and expansion, including adding new lanes across Waukesha County – - the very area where overdevelopment has contributed to the county’s water problems.
Though it says it will examine conservation and other alternatives, SEWRPC will probably endorse out-of-basin diversions as a key element for regional
I got curious recently and looked at MPOs and regional planning agencies serving MSAs with a population over 1 million. The vast majority of them had their main offices located in the downtown/CBD of one of the core cities of whatever region they served. Most of the ones that didn't at least had offices with some form of public transit access.
I could only find two agencies with offices located in suburban office parks with no transit access at all: SEWRPC and the North Central Texas Council of Governments serving Dallas/Fort Worth. NCTCOG almost has an excuse, since their offices are located in Arlington, in between Dallas and Fort Worth. Obviously, there is no other large city in southeastern Wisconsin except Milwaukee.
Imagine if CMAP had their offices and board meetings in some office park in Aurora as opposed to the Sears (sorry, Willis) Tower. Would anyone in Chicago or Cook County take them seriously?
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