Greenbelt Alliance urges cities, residents to envision together a sustainable Bay Area

March 9, 2011

CONTACT:
Jeremy Madsen, Executive Director, jmadsen@greenbelt.org, (415) 543-6771
Stephanie Reyes, Policy Director, sreyes@greenbelt.org, (415) 543-6771 x319

Greenbelt Alliance urges cities, residents to envision together a sustainable Bay Area

Regional agencies to release initial vision scenario for future land-use patterns; residents can learn and give feedback at youchoosebayarea.org

San Francisco— On Friday, regional planning agencies will release the first draft of a plan that will impact housing and transportation for the next two decades. Today, to help residents understand what is at stake, Greenbelt Alliance and partners are launching YouChoose Bay Area, an initiative to encourage participation in determining where and how the region builds.

“We applaud city leaders for stepping up to the plate to plan for our region’s future growth, and we invite everyone to get involved in YouChoose Bay Area,” said Jeremy Madsen, Executive Director of Greenbelt Alliance. “Continued cooperation from city leaders will be key as the process moves forward. If we make good choices, our cities will be thriving places where people can work and live.”

A plan that focuses growth near transportation options and provides homes for all will ensure that the Bay Area retains its competitive edge. Executive members of the Bay Area Council and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group consistently cite traffic and the lack of affordable homes as the top two challenges to doing business in the Bay Area.

The draft plan by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments is the first step to comply with California’s requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under Senate Bill 375, each region in California must adopt a Sustainable Communities Strategy, a region-wide transportation and land-use plan, by March 2013. For now, the regional agencies will gather feedback on this first draft. Greenbelt Alliance is leading efforts to ensure the plan is beneficial for both the environment and cities.

“This draft plan is a great start toward focusing growth near transportation and in existing cities, which is exactly the right direction for the Bay Area,” says Policy Director Stephanie Reyes. “At the same time, we cannot forget to safeguard our greenbelt of farms, parks, and wildlife habitat.”

Interactive, educational website 
To make these land-use choices concrete, Greenbelt Alliance, in collaboration with lead partner, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, launched YouChoose Bay Area to help residents understand how the Sustainable Communities Strategy will shape future growth and give them a say in the development of their neighborhoods.

YouChoose Bay Area allows residents to make decisions, choose different growth options, and see the future consequences of those decisions. YouChoose Bay Area translates complicated planning concepts into user-friendly images that demonstrate the links between growth and the things many residents care deeply about, such as preserving open space, reducing energy use, and promoting public health. The site can be found at www.youchoosebayarea.org.

Residents invited to forums
At public forums this spring, residents will work with YouChoose Bay Area to explore growth options, choices, and the inevitable tradeoffs that must be made. This provides residents an unprecedented opportunity to participate in creating a healthier and less car-dependent Bay Area.

The YouChoose forums also will help the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and Association of Bay Area Governments gather feedback on the initial vision scenario. The forum dates are:

April 21: Santa Clara County
April 27: San Mateo County
May 7: Contra Costa County
May 18: Sonoma County
May 19: Alameda County

Workshops for Marin, Napa, San Francisco, and Solano counties will be hosted by MTC. For more information, visit onebayarea.org. For more information about YouChoose forums, visit www.greenbelt.org/regions/bayarea and YouChooseBayArea.org.

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For 50 years, Greenbelt Alliance has been the San Francisco Bay Area’s advocate for open spaces and vibrant places, with offices in San Francisco, San Jose, Walnut Creek, San Rafael, and Santa Rosa. www.greenbelt.org

YouChoose Bay Area is a partnership between the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Greenbelt Alliance, and TransForm; urban planning firm Calthorpe Associates; media partners KQED-radio and KTEH-television; and a 23-member advisory group representing leading business groups, public health experts, environmental and social-equity advocates, labor, community-based organizations and academics.

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