Urban Growth Boundaries

urban growth boundaries

One of the most important policy tools that city planners can use to promote smart growth and protect farms, ranches, and natural lands outside of the urban footprint are urban growth boundaries.

What Are Urban Growth Boundaries?

An urban growth boundary (UGB) separates urban areas from the surrounding natural and agricultural lands, or greenbelts. It puts a limit on how far out the city can expand. UGBs are often set for a specified period of time, such as 20 years. Different cities may call these barriers by different names, such as “urban limit lines” or simply “growth boundaries,” but they serve the same purpose of stopping sprawl development and encouraging sustainable growth practices.

Greenbelt Alliance led the fight to create the Bay Area’s first urban growth boundaries in 1996 and has been their champion ever since.

We work with residents around the Bay Area to help them create, renew, and strengthen UGB’s for their cities and towns. Thirty-eight cities across the Bay Area have voter-approved urban growth boundaries.

Current Urban Growth Boundary Campaigns

Two Landslide Wins for Urban Growth Boundaries

With two ballot measures in November 2017, North Bay residents in Novato and Windsor resoundingly said “yes” to renewing UGB’s. Both measures passed with over 70% approval to renew the boundaries for another two decades.

More Recent Urban Growth Boundary Wins

Here is a detailed article from the Sonoma Valley Sun chronicling the process of creating the City of Sonoma’s first UGB and the path forward for renewing these important policies. You can also read more from us about why the Bay Area needs growth boundaries. Below are several UGBs that were created or renewed in 2016-2017.

History of Urban Development | Bay Area

History of Urban Development in the San Francisco Bay Area