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In November 2004, the voters of San Diego approved Proposition F, which involves a switch from a Council-Manager to a Mayor-Council form of government, effective January 1, 2006. This report lays out the issues facing the Mayor and the City Council, explores the choices they will have to make, and makes recommendations about how best to proceed with the transition. The authors caution that transition will be an ongoing process rather than a short-term exercise and that resolution mechanisms should be put into effect before specific issues are decided. Given San Diego’s current fiscal difficulties and political culture, it is also important that the transition process be as transparent and inclusive as possible. To the greatest extent possible, the executive and legislative branches should reallocate resources rather than simply appropriating new funds for the transition and the new governmental units to be created. Finally, the critical ingredient for successful City governance is executive leadership, which depends not just on the Mayor’s use of the formal powers of the position but even more importantly on the Mayor’s leadership skills and the Mayor’s ability to use the “soft powers” of the Mayor’s office. Of particular importance is the Mayor’s ability to set the overall direction for city policy and to control the pace of issue development.

The research described in this report was conducted within RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment (ISE), a unit of the RAND Corporation, for the Better Government Association of San Diego.

This report is part of the RAND monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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