Voter-approved land-use policy measures have been a critical tool used to protect open space and farmland in the Bay Area and stop sprawl development. This type of measure has contributed to Bay Area lands at risk for sprawl development dramatically shrinking over the last three decades.
In 2000, two such measures were put in place. Alameda County voters approved Measure D— the “Save Agriculture and Open Space Lands Initiative”—to limit urban growth and protect open space and agricultural land. And voters in the city of Livermore adopted the South Livermore Urban Growth Boundary to protect and enhance agriculture and open space in the South Livermore Valley.
Overall, these measures have had significant success in ensuring city-centered growth while increasing the preservation of agricultural land in eastern Alameda County.
During that time, agriculture in the area grew, particularly vineyards. This thriving wine industry has since supported both protection of open space and ag-lands along with economic development. However, as these industries evolve, some limitations in the current land use are undermining original goals. Alameda County’s Measure D and Livermore’s Measure P make minor changes to the measures to better achieve their original goals.
Livermore Measure P Overview
Measure P would amend the South Livermore Urban Growth Boundary policies in the City of Livermore’s General Plan to allow the City to extend sewer service to permitted uses within the South Livermore Valley area. The lack of sewer service has caused the stagnation of the wine industry. The County’s South Livermore Area Plan calls for the expansion of agricultural use of wine to 5,000 acres but the total acreage used so far has stalled at around 2,800 acres. The expansion of sewer service is critical for the wine industry to thrive and extending this service will NOT allow for residential or commercial development.
Why We Support It
Conservation of these unique agricultural uses are key to our mission of protecting the greenbelt from sprawl development and supporting working agricultural lands. A vibrant and healthy wine country will support commercial success throughout the region, preserve important agricultural land, and enhance the quality of life for Tri-Valley residents.
Learn more about why we encourage Livermore residents to vote YES on Measure P here.
Alameda County Measure D Overview
In 2000, the approval of Alameda County’s Measure D established an Urban Growth Boundary to prevent sprawl from encroaching on dwindling agricultural lands, open space, watersheds, and wildlife habitat. In turn, it encourages infill and transit-friendly development to help revitalize neighborhoods within existing urban boundaries. Measure D also set standards for development outside the urban growth boundary to protect open space from excessive development.
This year’s Measure D would amend the original one to increase the allowable size of buildings “available to be constructed on land zoned for agriculture uses, including greenhouses, equestrian facilities, and wine production” (Wine Industry Network Advisor, 2022). The proposed changes would allow:
- A maximum floor area ratio of .025 for agricultural buildings in Large Parcel Agriculture areas; and
- A maximum floor area ratio of .025, with a minimum of 20,000 and a maximum of 60,000 square feet, for covered equestrian riding arenas in Large Parcel Agriculture and Resource Management areas.
Learn more about why we encourage Alameda County residents to vote YES on Measure D here.
Why We Support It
The new Measure D would maintain the open space and agricultural lands that are key to our mission of protecting critical landscapes from urban sprawl. With the Bay Area being one of the hottest real estate markets, we recognize that the risk of open space and agricultural lands being converted to residential uses is very high. This measure reaffirms the protections in place while increasing the potential viability of wine and equestrian-related industries. These types of industries are compatible with protected open space and are critical partners with environmentalists in maintaining long-term conservation goals. This measure also helps to continue the focus on infill housing in core areas close to transit and jobs, which decreases the need for cars and in turn reduces overall greenhouse gas emissions.
Other Supporters of These Measures
- Tri-Valley Conservancy (Both Measures)
- Friends of Livermore (Measure P)
- East Bay Times (Both)
- Friends of Open Space and Vineyards (Measure P)
Photo: Jay Huang via Flickr