Smart Growth Strategy: Shaping the future of the nine-county Bay Area
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Project History

In 1999, five regional agencies involved in transportation planning, environmental protection and local government coordination came together to discuss how to nurture “smart growth” across the Bay Area’s nine counties and 101 cities. As part of their work, this group sought to identify and obtain the regulatory changes and incentives that would be needed to implement a new growth vision in the Bay Area.

Meanwhile, the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development (now known as the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities) embarked on an ambitious public participation exercise to reach consensus on, and generate support for, a “regional livability footprint” – a preferred land-use pattern to suggest how the Bay Area could grow in a smarter and more sustainable way.

Although the two efforts represent diverse interests, they share a common, urgent goal: to address the region’s mounting traffic congestion, housing affordability crisis and shrinking open space. In 2000, they merged their respective efforts. Thus was born the Bay Area Smart Growth Strategy/Regional Livability Footprint Project.

Project Goals
The joint Project sought to engage locally elected officials and their staffs, private developers, stakeholder group representatives, and the public at large throughout the nine-county Bay Area to:

  1. Create a smart growth land use vision for the Bay Area to minimize sprawl, provide adequate and affordable housing, improve mobility, protect environmental quality, and preserve open space.

  2. Identify and obtain the regulatory changes and incentives needed to implement this vision.

  3. Develop 20-year land use and transportation projections based on the vision and the likely impact of the new incentives – projections that will in turn guide the infra-structure investments of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and other regional partners.

The Smart Growth Visioning Process
To achieve its bold goals, the Project embarked on a campaign to engage decisionmakers and the public from the far reaches of the region, to participate in two rounds of public workshops in each Bay Area county.

The Emergence of a Regionwide Smart Growth Vision
Following the workshops, the results were compiled to create a single regionwide land-use vision. The Vision incorporates the choices and decisions made by participants in the county workshops. It reflects their selections of mixed-matched and changed alternative growth scenarios appropriate for each county. The resulting portrait of the Bay Area's future was unveiled as the Regionwide Smart Growth Vision in the Smart Growth Strategy/Regional Livability Footprint Project's Final Report.

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