Fractures and Faultlines: Growth and Equity in California's Megaregions

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By Chris Benner, University of California, Davis and Manuel Pastor, University of Southern California.

Since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, a growing regional equity movement has recognized the consequences of urban sprawl and regional causes of poverty and successfully built political power at the scale of metropolitan region. Now, with increasing attention to social and economic factors at the megaregion scale, this paper asks whether equity proponents must shift their attention outward and upward.

 Specifically, the paper asks: are problems of inequality are being caused and the scale of the megaregion, and if so, can equity issues be effectively addressed at the megaregion scale? To answer these questions, the authors present a quantitative analysis of megaregion patterns of economic growth and inequality in California, and identify certain issues, such as infrastructure and the environment, that would benefit from megaregion-scale alliances, as a complement to comprehensive equity organizing at the metropolitan scale. They conclude by recommending that megaregion analysts should expand their analysis to include a focus on political economics at the megaregion scale.