continued Graizbord says most of this would be impossible in San Diego -- because of regulations and because San Diego planners don't have the horsepower their counterparts in Tijuana do.
"One important benefit of the work style we have is [public administrators and politicians] respect planners' expertise. I didn't feel that [way] in San Diego. I'm sorry to say it, but it makes life very difficult [for a planner] over there. My own personal view is that the [San Diego city] planning department puts too much effort into regulating, into enforcing the law. They have swallowed the idea that that's planning. I'd say...right now the profession is in a dip over there."
Tijuana has one more advantage SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments) planners must envy. "If this was San Diego, you'd have one city here, one city there, another city over there -- Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach -- and the county is a different government. So you have five governments, all overlapped. Here we have one government for our whole municipality."
Graizbord says he respects San Diego's association of governments and its cross-border outreach efforts, but he feels its effectiveness is limited by so many masters. "SANDAG is strong in transportation planning. It's not strong in other areas because the politics in the U.S. are complex. You have regulations all over the place from everybody, and the political power is so fragmented. So you have to bring a hundred people to the table to achieve a consensus on everything. Everybody is struggling with that situation."
At the moment, Graizbord is struggling with several cross-border planning issues of his own, including sharing the water from the aquifers that lie beneath both cities, a coordinated plan for wildlife and wildlands, and more anti-immigrant fence-building by the U.S. through ecologically sensitive lands.
"This is an example of how primitive our transborder planning is," he says. "The U.S. federal government is building a second or third border fence for the INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service]. This is your territory, so you do whatever you want here. But we inquired about the road's [environmental] effects on our side of the fence. We called the City of San Diego. Our inquiry was, 'Are we going to [see an] estimate of the impact on both sides of the border?' [The U.S. federal government] said they would look at it 'on a discretionary basis.' So we're depending on their goodwill. You see, we don't have the rules for all these things. I'm not blaming the U.S. or Mexico, but it's an example of how things haven't been institutionalized."
Graizbord believes negotiations on water and wildlife issues are going well on both sides of the border, but working out land-use issues could be better. "We can do one of two things: we can do one plan here, and you do another plan in San Diego, we then communicate with each other and coordinate. Or we can say, 'Why don't we look at the area as a whole, plan for the whole area?' If we both wanted to, there should be an agreement, a formal, institutionalized way of doing that. Maybe we need a planning department here and a planning department there under a Binational Institute."
Above all, Graizbord wants his 68-member staff and their plans to be taken seriously. Two weeks ago he took his ideas across the line. "We went to SANDAG, and for the first time we presented our projects. I think they got the message. They gave me an opening 10, 15 minutes. I presented some projects. I gave them a sample. And the message was, 'We are doing planning in Tijuana. Join us. Join us, you people!' "