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Adam Garcia

Holy Urban Greening, Batman!

We are very excited about the Bay Area Priority Conservation Area (PCA) program’s new urban greening designation.

Like PCAs, urban greening means exactly what it sounds like—improving our quality of life through trails, parks, street trees, natural processes that support our water supply, facilitating wildlife migrations, and fighting climate change impacts.

Urban Greening PCAs are an investment in our neighborhoods’ natural resources that will create healthier environments for humans and wildlife while also cutting long-term costs and increasing land value. Here are examples of heroic urban greening efforts from around the Bay Area that are addressing the many challenges we face:


  • Sea Level Rise: In San Francisco’s Mission Bay, the City is working with SPUR to protect critical infrastructure from becoming inundated by building an elevated recreational path that will help reduce sea level rise from spilling over into adjacent neighborhoods.
  • Urban Watersheds: The San Francisco Estuary Partnership is working to integrate environmental and planning information to provide recommendations to cities on where they can reduce stormwater impacts and better manage groundwater drinking supplies.
  • Urban Heat Island Effect: In West Oakland, Urban Biofilter is addressing increasing urban temperatures and helping protect neighborhoods from harmful pollution exposure drifting in from the Port of Oakland.


  • Parks & Recreation: For the PCA program update in Solano County, stakeholders worked together to meet multiple goals by improving farm-to-market county roads while also connecting a gap in a regional trail along Putah Creek.
  • Food Access: The Oakland Food Policy Council takes a comprehensive approach toward improving food access and urban agriculture in disadvantaged communities.


  • Urban Forests: Urban Releaf and Friends of the Urban Forest are two grassroots organizations that beautify our neighborhoods by planting trees.
  • Aquatic/Wetland Habitats: An inspiring example of inter-jurisdictional collaboration between San Leandro and Oakland and led by Merritt College is maximizing the benefits of a new PCA along San Leandro Creek that will help restore fish passage, provide a trail connections, and even restore an old farm adjacent to the creek.
  • Wildlife Habitat Connectivity: The PCA discussion in Santa Clara County focuses on both existing and potential benefits Coyote Valley could provide for recreation trails, groundwater replenishment, and especially wildlife movement with additional investment.

With new PCAs set to be adopted in July, Greenbelt Alliance is advocating for additional PCA funding to help meet community needs and assisting cities with the integration of PCAs into their planning processes. We will also work to address the potential gentrification that often comes with neighborhood investment in disadvantaged communities.

The Urban Greening PCA is the heroic policy the Bay Area deserves, and the one it needs right now.

Photo: David Lytle via Flickr

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