Puts Our Housing In Order

Priorities Matter

“New ways to place our spirit of collaboration and innovation at the center of our efforts…”



Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) President Bill Jahn spoke following his Installation. Jahn, a City of Big Bear Lake Council member, was sworn in Thursday, May 2, 2019 to lead the nation’s largest metropolitan planning organization after serving the past year as SCAG’s First Vice President. The swearing in took place on the first full-day of SCAG’s 2019 Annual Regional Conference and General Assembly.

VISIT this website at: http://www.bigbearlake.net/etnews/  SCAG President Jahn


President Bill Jahn opened with, "Thank you, Kome for that warm welcome! "

“To the members of the Regional Council and the General Assembly, our sponsors and guests.  And our amazing staff,  I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this great honor.

As someone that comes from The Very Small City of Big Bear Lake, I am humbled today to stand on the shoulders of giants, of the many great men and women that have held this position before me, to serve as the President of the Southern California Association of Governments.” 

“I would like to take a moment to recognize a number of fine public servants today that have served this organization well. To all the past presidents in attendance today, please stand so we can recognize your service to the region.


JAHN SCAG Family 050219.jpeg

Photo courtesy of City of Big Bear Lake Mayor Randall Putz 


Every elected official has a different path that got them to office , to where they are today. My path started with and continues to be supported by my family . 

I am truly blessed to have some of them here today: My wife, Mary Jo, our son Jason and his wife Jennifer with their four children, Avery, Eli, Camille and Oliver.

 Our son Wayne and his wife Jennifer and their two children, Logan and Serenity.

Our son Jeremy with his wife Jennifer and their three children, Brock and twins Mackenna and Makayla.

Last but not least, I would also like to introduce my City of Big Bear Lake family that I enjoy working with every day.

City of Big Bear Lake Mayor Randy Putts, Councilman David Caretto and his wife Cindy. Also,

City Manager Jeff Mathieu and Kathy Weber, Retired Chief Operating Officer Kathleen Smith and her husband Craig.  Unfortunately City of Big Bear Lake Mayor Pro Temp Rick Herrick and Councilman Bob Jackwoski could not be with us today. 



I remember distinctly when we were in this ballroom back in 2015 — when SCAG was celebrating its 50th anniversary. I remember discussing the great accomplishments of the agency over five decades of service to the 6 California counties — 191 California cities — and 19 million California residents of our region. 

But now is not the time to simply rest on our laurels; we are at a point where we must ask,

What does the future of SCAG hold for all of us?  as well as our families!

We need to ask, What’s next?

What’s in store for the largest Metropolitan Planning Organization in the nation for the next 50 years?

We are continually finding new ways to place our spirit of collaboration and innovation at the center of our efforts to benefit our region. 

With such a large jurisdiction — we use the word region, often and at times,  it may even seem abstract.  Never has it been more important than now, for us to connect as one to lift-up Southern California for future generations to come! 

This, Lift-up, will require some hard choices: Ingenuity and Perseverance …. when we think of what’s at stake, we owe it to our future.

I have been married to my wife Mary Jo for over thirty years and we have six grown children — thirteen grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

When I hear the words, What’s in store for the next 50 years?, I question, what type of world will they be living in.

Another question I ask myself is, Will they even want to live here? Make no mistake about it, my friends; we have a crisis on our hands. 


Housing will be the notorious straw that breaks the camel’s back if we don’t address it now! 

To that end — I am pleased to announce that under the Governor’s current budget proposal —  SCAG will receive approximately 42–48 million dollars to help our member cities and counties not only develop affordable and workforce housing policies, but also update general plans and housing elements. 

Should the Governor’s Budget be approved, and all indications are it will be approved; I have instructed Kome,  our new Executive Director to push these dollars out to our membership as quickly as possible. I have also asked Kome to make sure guidelines are developed to insure these dollars are not wasted on elaborate plans that are never implemented and simply end up sitting on a shelf.


I believe one of the most significant economic challenges facing our region and state today is the lack of housing. We cannot simply pass this off to the next generation to solve! 


I am a housing guy! My father and older brother were both home builders.  I grew up in the housing business. It is an industry that I know and love and have nearly four decades of experience as a developer and builder of the American Dream. 

Having said that, I see an opportunity, a real window to work with the Governor and the Legislature,   and experienced,  qualified developers to break down the very real barriers that stand in way of bringing affordable workforce housing to our communities.


I will admitĀ­, I have been the first to criticize Sacramento for not doing enough or not providing the tools or legislation for us to resolve these challenges.  If we sit down, identify the real problems and look at it with a spirit of collaboration and innovation; we can find common ground to get shovels in the ground and people into homes! 

HOWEVER!... we need to put Sacramento on notice, that we will oppose any legislation that strips our cities and counties of local control!  

This spirit of collaboration and innovation must not only include our partners in both public and private sectors but also a strong alliance with our neighbors to the South.

We need to include the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) in our transportation and housing discussions so that when we speak to Sacramento.  We do it with one voice that represents well over half of the State’s population.


I have asked our Executive Director to set up leadership meetings between SCAG and SANDAG in the next sixty days to discuss a collaborative effort to develop a collective vision for not only our region’s future.  but all of Southern California.  Balancing future mobility and housing needs with economic, environmental and public health goals and is an effort I look forward to tackling, starting today.


This spirit of collaboration and innovation also needs to extend to SCAG’s main mission, the long-range transportation planning for our region.


Connect SoCal — the 2020-2045 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy — will be transformative — and it will lay out a comprehensive strategy for how we can improve mobility, reduce congestion and meet the region’s and state’s air-quality goals. It will be a collaborative effort to develop a true vision for our Region’s future. 

So, what’s the purpose of all this? 

When SCAG convenes for the 100th Anniversary in 2055 ….! they will look back at what happened over the past 100 years. 

I want them to talk about how we transformed The Region, how we changed Southern California for the better.  I want them to talk about how we were a part of the solution in resolving the state’s housing crisis and how we worked with our partners throughout the state and region to make this place we call home, a better place to LIVE - WORK and PLAY!  I want them to talk about how we instilled that spirit of collaboration and innovation into EVERYTHING we did.


When Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for President of the United States in November 1979,  he famously said,  A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny;  that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality — and above all responsible liberty for every individual; that we will become that shining city on a hill.  I believe that you and I together can keep this rendezvous with destiny.”


In closing, I look forward to the things I know we can achieve.  I know that many things are possible because we have a great team, dedicated and hard-working elected individuals on our board and policy committees and quite frankly the best staff in the business. 

Again, I am humbled by your support and I offer you my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for this opportunity to serve as your President and look forward to the year ahead.


May God continue to bless our SCAG Region — and may God bless all of you! "


Edited by E T Russell, May 2019