Bay Area land at risk of becoming suburban sprawl
By Angela Hokanson, Bay City News Service
May 31, 2006
In the Bay Area, a land area thirteen times the size of San
Francisco is at risk of being turned into sprawl, or low-density
suburban development, according to a new report released by the
Approximately 401,500 acres of "greenbelt" lands, such
as forests, coastlines, fields, and orchards, are being threatened
by sprawl development, according to the report, which is titled
"At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt.''
The total amount of land in the region that is threatened by
sprawl development has fallen by 62,600 acres, or 13 percent,
since 2000, according to the report. This reduction is in large
part the result of revised planning and land-use policies, including
the use of urban growth boundaries, the study found.
"The region is doing better than it was in 2000, but 400,000
acres is still an enormous amount of land at risk," said
Tom Steinbach, executive director of the Greenbelt Alliance.
"If we want to protect the landscapes that make this region
special, we need to change the way we grow. We have to stop sprawling
outward, and instead direct new growth into our existing cities
and towns," Steinbach said.
The Greenbelt Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated
to land conservation and urban planning.
The region's "sprawl hot spots" -- the areas facing
the highest risk of sprawl development -- include the Interstate
Highway 80 corridor in Solano County, areas along U.S. Highway
101 in Sonoma County, the eastern cities in Contra Costa County,
Coyote Valley in Santa Clara County, and the Tri-Valley area of
Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the report found.
Solano County has the largest area of at-risk land in the Bay
Area, the report found.
Excessive sprawl development is undesirable because it requires
the paving of open space, and it can worsen housing and transportation
problems while decreasing air and water quality, according to
Of the land that the report has designated as at-risk, 125,200
acres are classified as high-risk, and will be in jeopardy of
in the next 10 years. The remaining 276,200 acres are medium
risk, and will be threatened by sprawl development within the
next 30 years.
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