May 15, 2012

New report finds more than 322,000 Bay Area acres at risk

At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt 2012, the definitive research on the state of the region’s open space, shows that better managed growth combined with the down real estate market decreased the pressure to build on the greenbelt. Compared to six years ago, the amount of land at high and medium risk of development has been reduced by 20 percent, or 77,300 acres. The 322,800 acres that remain at risk—over ten times the size of San Francisco—deserve protection, and all of the region’s open spaces need stewardship and investment to thrive.
“The Bay Area has made good progress since we released our first At Risk report in 1989,” says Jeremy Madsen, Executive Director of Greenbelt Alliance. “The good news is that development patterns have been shifting from sprawl toward a smart growth future. But we still have more to do to save lands at risk and keep what makes the Bay Area special.”

Land is protected from sprawl in two ways: conservation groups can permanently preserve it by either buying land outright or buying the rights to develop it. Voters and leaders can protect it by growth management measures, such as urban growth boundaries and hillside ordinances. In the last six years, key growth management measures were renewed, such as the ones in Napa and Solano counties and cities in Sonoma County, which safeguards land for future generations.

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