Greenbelt Alliance Smart Growth Scorecard Wins Award

May 21, 2007

Elizabeth Stampe, Greenbelt Alliance, (415) 543-6771 x307

Greenbelt Alliance Smart Growth Scorecard Wins Award

Report earns Education Project Award from American Planning Association (Northern California chapter)

San Francisco – Greenbelt Alliance has won an award for its Bay Area Smart Growth Scorecard from the Northern California chapter of the American Planning Association; on Friday, the association awarded Greenbelt Alliance its 2007 Education Project Award.

The Bay Area Smart Growth Scorecard received significant attention when it was released last June. As the first comprehensive evaluation of policies in every single city and county in the Bay Area, the report broke new ground in the effort to prepare the region for growth.

Although the San Francisco Bay Area is projected to grow by one million people by 2020, the report found that the region is ill-prepared for growth. On average, cities scored only 34%, doing only a third of what they could be to achieve smarter growth, and counties scored 51%.

Greenbelt Alliance, the Bay Area nonprofit that protects open space and promotes livable communities, said the region needs to change the way it grows.

“The Bay Area is a great place to live, and new growth in the right places can make it even better,” said Tom Steinbach, Greenbelt Alliance’s Executive Director. “But cities and counties need good policies to make sure that happens. We can’t keep paving over our farmlands and natural areas; we can’t keep pushing people out to Tracy or Lodi. We need to invest growth in our existing cities.”

“This recognition of the Smart Growth Scorecard should make city and county leaders sit up and take notice,” said Steinbach. “It’s time for the region to get serious about dealing with growth. We need action at the local level, right in our own backyards.”

Since the report’s release, Greenbelt Alliance has been working with elected leaders and Bay Area residents to help cities and counties adopt better policies to manage growth and improve the region’s quality of life. Later this year, the organization will release an updated edition of Smart Infill, a guidebook to help cities invest in urban areas to create more livable communities.

The Bay Area Smart Growth Scorecard evaluated 101 cities and eight counties (San Francisco was treated as a city).

Cities were scored on:
Preventing sprawl; Making sure parks are nearby; Creating homes people can afford; encouraging a mix of uses; Encouraging density in the right places; Requiring less land for parking; and Defining standards for good development.

Counties were scored on:
Managing growth; Permanently protecting open space; Preserving agricultural land; Conserving natural resources; and Offering transportation choices.

The reports’ findings included the following:

  • On average, Bay Area cities scored 34% (of a possible 100%). Petaluma had the highest score, with 70%; San Jose was second, scoring 69%.
  • On average, Bay Area counties scored 51%. Alameda County was the top-scoring county with an overall score of 66%.
  • Only 25 of 78 eligible cities (cities not bounded by water or other cities) had urban growth boundaries to define where development should and should not go.
  • Only 31 of 101 cities required parks to be within walking distance of every resident.
  • Fifty-nine of 101 cities had inclusionary ordinances, which require new residential developments to include affordable homes.
  • Seventy-nine of 101 cities allowed a mix of homes, shops, and jobs in their downtowns and near transit, making it easier for people to walk from one to another.
  • In the report, five of eight counties had open space districts, but last November, Napa County passed a measure to create a public agency to purchase and protect open space. This leaves Solano County as the only Bay Area county with no public parks agency.
  •  Sonoma County scored 100% on open space protection—the only perfect score for a county—for its strong funding commitment to protecting farmland as well as parks.

The full report, with scores for each city and county, is available at:



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.

About the Northern California chapter of the American Planning Association:
APA is a nonprofit public interest and research organization committed to urban, suburban, regional, and rural planning. APA advances the art and science of planning to meet the needs of people and society. The Northern California chapter is the largest in California, with over 1,500 members, covering the area from Monterey to the state’s northern border. The Education Project Award is given for educating the public about how planning works and about its benefits.

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