San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and nine other big Bay Area cities must put aside traditional rivalries and parochial interests and develop a single application that could mean tens of millions of dollars in federal homeland security funds, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The surprise combination of the 12 cities is part of a sweeping reorganization in the way the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will award $765 million in competitive grants to urban areas to address terrorist risks and vulnerabilities. Federal officials said yesterday that balkanization of grants to indvidual cities doesn’t make sense in addressing terrorist threats that don’t recognize political boundaries.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff warned the 35 metropolitan areas across the country eligible to apply that delays beyond a March 2 deadline aren’t possible. “Regions are going to have to come together. Hopefully, they will figure out a way to allocate decisions among themselves. If they don’t, we will,” he said. In the last fiscal year, the Bay Area’s grants under the federal program were cut 22.3 percent, to $34.2 million. Communities can use the money for a wide variety of law enforcement and emergency equipment, planning, and operations. The 35 areas across the nation declared eligible for the new grants encompass 95 cities of more than 100,000 people.