Southern California Association of Governments
The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) of six of the ten counties in Southern California, serving Imperial County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and Ventura County. San Diego County's MPO is the San Diego Association of Governments, an unrelated agency.
SCAG is the largest MPO in the United States, spanning 18 million people within 38,000 square miles (98,000 km2). As the designated MPO, the Association of Governments is mandated by the federal government to research and draw up plans for transportation, growth management, hazardous waste management, and air quality. Additional mandates exist at the state level 
SCAG's policy direction is guided by the 83-member official governing board known as the Regional Council. The Regional Council is composed of 65 Districts that include an elected representative of one or more cities of approximately equal population levels that have a geographic community of interest (except the City of Long Beach, which has two representatives). Additionally, membership in SCAG's Regional Council includes one representative from each county Board of Supervisors (except the County of Los Angeles, which has two representatives). SCAG's Regional Council also includes one representative of the Southern California Native American Tribal Governments. Finally, all members of the Los Angeles City Council are each considered members of the SCAG Regional Council, and the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles, serves as the Los Angeles City At-Large Representative.
SCAG Member Cities
As of April, 2009, there were 189 member cities within SCAG. These include:
The Southern California Association of Governments was formed on October 28, 1965, with the purpose of conducting growth forecasts and regional planning. With each new federal transportation authorization and key state legislation, SCAG’s roles and responsibilities have increased and expanded beyond transportation planning. Because of the different needs of the various member cities, and the geographic and political differences, SCAG works collaboratively with local governments, stakeholders and partners in developing a shared regional vision and resolving regional challenges.
In recent years, SCAG has taken a leadership role in goods movement activities and its impact on the Southern California region. In 2008, the California State Legislature passed SB 375, which sets a framework and target dates to achieve Green House Gas reductions. This legislation impacts transportation planning, growth and development, housing, and land use decisions. It also expands the role of SCAG in setting regional targets.
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Southern California is witnessing historic change at the global, national, and regional level. As the world continues to change in sometimes dramatic ways, Southern California is increasingly faced with tougher policy choices that will shape our region for generations to come:
As the SCAG regions adds over six million more residents to the region by 2035, the ability to coordinate growth and infrastructure will determine how the region consumes its finite resources, whether it’s open space, water, or even roadway capacity.
Making a real dent in traffic congestion is getting tougher and more expensive. The region must explore new initiatives that can reverse decades of worsening mobility and make tomorrow’s commute better than today. If the region is unable to develop new initiatives to address how people and freight move, average freeway speeds will slow to 28 mph (45 km/h) while the economic, environmental, and public health costs of congestion will continue to rise.
After decades of steady progress, air quality improvements have leveled off as growth has begun to offset the technological advancements that have served the region well until now. Today, the SCAG region faces an air quality crisis, with more than 5,000 premature deaths from fine particulate matter. SCAG must respond to more stringent air quality standards for PM2.5 (particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter) and even unregulated smaller pollutants called nanoparticles by reducing the reliance on diesel and other petroleum-based, combustion engines.
The future of the energy supply is becoming uncertain. Southern California is decreasingly dependent on imported petroleum, natural gas, and coal, which account for 65 percent of its energy use. As we question the long term viability of a petroleum-based energy future, we must explore more combustion based energy sources.
Regional water supplies are decreasingly threatened by pollution, and growth is often limited by whether there’s adequate supply. The quality of surface and groundwater supplies is equally important and must be protected through better management practices.
The regional economy continues to become more service- and technology-oriented, with manufacturing outsourced to other regions and other countries. Today, the freight movement and logistics industries fuel much of the local economy. Over time, the region needs to find a balance that promotes regional economic sustainability through promotion of local industries while recognizing its important link to the global economy.
The region must rethink its current waste management approaches and realize that waste is the result of the inefficient use of our limited, natural resources. The region generates over 80 million tons of trash each year. Burying the problem in landfills does not make it go away. We need to address this issue by reducing waste, reusing materials, recycling, and developing alternative technologies.
Suburbanization, as it has been practiced, is unsustainable because of a variety of reasons, including congestion, pollution, quality of life and economic. High on the list of resident complaints are increasing congestion, loss of open space, and an ill-defined but strongly held belief that "livability" is slipping away. A consensus has emerged that our transportation and land use activities are contributing to global climate change.
Resolving these concerns in an area as large as the six-county SCAG region will be impossible working purely at the local government level, prioritizing purely local interests and concerns. A regional framework in which to view these problems - transportation, housing, jobs, air quality, open space, and climate - that reach across political boundaries. The quality of life in any region depends in large part on travel - how easy it is to get from home to work and back, the amount of time spent commuting, and the types and degree of choices available for getting around. Closely related to that are the choices about how land should be used. The types and appearances of buildings, how they function in a neighborhood or business district, and where they are located all have an effect on transportation use. For example, a small neighborhood that combines a shopping area with nearby residences makes it easier for people to walk for some of their trips. Highway-adjacent commercial development, however, tends to require auto travel for all trips.
- Hal Bernson, Los Angeles City Council member, 1979–2003, former SCAG chairman