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Type of Regions

Most regional governments in California have evolved from local government collaboration.  Accordingly, there are differences in how they form, operate, and implement policy.   Regional governments typically plan, fund, and to some extent deliver transportation infrastructure.   In some regions, this is their only function. 

But other regional governments are formed as general purpose councils of governments (or "COGs") under the state joint powers authority’s statute.  COGs represent the joint powers of cities and counties, while others are transportation commissions created by statute.  All regional governments are governed by locally elected officials selected by their peers.

A list of the primary types of regional governments is provided below.  The classifications are not exclusive.  For example, some regional governments are formed as a Council of Governments, have been designated the Metropolitan Planning Organization for federal purposes, and are defined as a Regional Transportation Planning Agency under state law. 

Go to our Member Directory to see a full profile listing of members by type.

  • Councils of Governments or “COGs.” General purpose regional agencies that can undertake any action in which their member cities and counties share in common.  Although many COGs are formed to focus on transportation planning and programming, some COGs have been tasked by their local governments to address homelessness, water infrastructure, energy efficiency, earthquake safety, and more.
  • Regional Transportation Planning Authorities. County or multi-county entities charged by state law in meeting certain transportation planning requirements. 
  • Metropolitan Planning Organizations. An MPO is a designation under federal law that encourages large urbanized areas to engage in regional transportation planning.  California has 18 MPOs, four of which are multi-county MPOs that coordinate planning in three or more counties.
  • Transportation Commissions and Authorities; Congestion Management Agencies. Most commissions and authorities are located within the multi-county MPOs.  They provide a more localized focus to transportation planning within the larger region and often manage county-raised revenue from sales tax measures.