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The Bay Area Smart Growth Scorecard is a landmark assessment of the planning policies of all 110 cities and counties of the San Francisco Bay Area.Although a city's current development is apparent to anyone who visits it, the policies that guide a city's future development are not so obvious. The Smart Growth Scorecard provides the first view into these policies and the first comparison among them.The Smart Growth Scorecard evaluated 101 cities in seven policy areas: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; defining standards for good development. On average, Bay Area cities scored 34% (of a possible 100%), meaning cities are doing only a third of what they could be to achieve smart growth.The Smart Growth Scorecard evaluated eight counties (San Francisco is treated as a city) in five policy areas:managing growth; permanently protecting open space; preserving agricultural land; conserving natural resources; and offering transportation choices. On average, Bay Area counties scored 51%.The scores are low overall. But in every policy area, at least one city or county is doing well, whether it is a city that is encouraging walkable neighborhoods, or a county that is preserving its agricultural land. The Association of Bay Area Governments estimates that Bay Area will have one million additional residents by 2020; the Smart Growth Scorecard evaluates how well all the region's jurisdictions are planning for that growth, and how they can do better.
In 2006, Greenbelt Alliance, the Bay Area's land conservation and urban planning organization, published the newest edition of its landmark study on the state of the region's landscapes. The report found that if current development patterns continue, roughly one out of every 10 acres in the entire Bay Area could be paved over in the next thirty years. Today, there are 401,500 acres of greenbelt lands at risk of sprawl development. That includes 125,200 acres at risk within the next 10 years, classified as high-risk land, and 276,200 acres at risk within the next 10 to 30 years, classified as medium-risk land. Around the region, the places at highest risk -- the sprawl hot spots -- include the I-80 corridor in Solano County, the eastern cities in Contra Costa County, Coyote Valley in southern Santa Clara County, the Tri-Valley area of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, and areas along Highway 101 through Sonoma County.