Contra Costa County has lost almost 20% of its bountiful farmland to sprawl since 1990. As the Bay Area housing market soars, much of what’s left is still threatened by development pressure.
Rich with an abundance of Brentwood sweet corn, fine wines, and U-Pick cherries, Contra Costa County farms and ranches are some of California’s most fruitful, contributing nearly $100 million per year to the Bay Area economy. Yet the county has the most open space at risk of development in the entire region: over 18,000 acres or the equivalent of 18 Golden Gate Parks. Greenbelt Alliance is working with the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), the most important group you’ve never heard of, to shape a brand new policy that will protect these vital lands from the wrong kind of development.
Despite the protection of voter-approved urban limit lines, which designate where development can and cannot occur, the county’s agricultural lands are being chipped away, one annexation at a time. Each annexation is controlled by LAFCO, and unlike many other counties in California, the Contra Costa LAFCO hasn’t historically protected farmland and open space, leaving these lands vulnerable to growing municipalities.
LAFCO recognized that this couldn’t continue and invited us to work with them on a solution for Contra Costa County. Over the next year, Greenbelt Alliance will shape a robust policy to ensure the continued vitality of our farms and ranches so that we can all continue to enjoy those tasty Brentwood cherries.
Photo: Allan Chatto via Flickr