Contra Costa County Campaigner Turning the Tide on Sprawl

Greenbelt Alliance’s signature At Risk is the definitive research on the Bay Area’s farms, ranches, and natural areas at risk of being lost forever to sprawl development. In an effort to bring these lands to the public view, we have real life stories told by the dedicated local residents who fight to keep them free from sprawl.

Out of all Bay Area counties, Contra Costa County has the most land at risk, with 62,000 total acres at risk, including the most land at high risk: 20,000 acres. That means that in just the next 10 years, development the size of Concord, the county’s largest city, could pave over the county’s golden hills, farmland, and habitat for wildlife.

“Every Saturday morning I’d be at Willy’s Bagels—that’s how it all started. We made flyers. We walked neighborhoods. Spoke at City Council meetings. We did everything we possibly could.”

In 2010, local mom Kathy Griffin helped turn the tide on sprawl in Brentwood—one of the fastest-growing cities in California.

She’d had some practice: in 2005 and 2006, Kathy had helped with campaigns resulting in voter approval of a tight urban limit line, halting the city’s relentless sprawl. Then, in 2010, developers tried to break through the boundary to allow enormous expansion on the city’s western edge. Kathy and her cadre of concerned Brentwoodians sprang into action.

Developers spent $300,000 trying to pass their measure, but to no avail: Kathy’s small group convinced voters to hold the line.

Now, Brentwood is again trying to burst through the limits its voters have set. Though the city’s leaders have expressed concern about the city’s imbalanced growth—all housing, few jobs—they are planning more low-density residential development outside the urban limit line. More than 2,000 acres of rich agricultural land and valleys are at risk.

kathy-griffin-at-risk-2017-dani-padgett“These plans are still terrible, bad ideas. Where is the promised economic and job-sustaining growth we need—inside our city boundaries?”

“For the time being, we’ve won the common-sense battle. But it’s always a fight.” Kathy laughs. “I retire next year. I’ll have a lot of time on my hands.” She’s ready.

Learn more and download the At Risk 201 7 report here.

Photos by Dani Padgett ©

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