CF Insights asks a very simple but important question: "What if each community foundation could know what all community foundations collectively know?" This collection features research produced and funded by community foundations, and other resources relevant to the field. Contact us at and visit us at

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Bay Area Smart Growth Scorecard

June 28, 2006

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.

At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt

May 25, 2006

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.

Thirsty for Justice: A People's Blueprint for California Water

August 5, 2005

The report's first chapter analyzes the origins of environmental discrimination in California water policy. After an overview of how low income communities and communities of color have been historically left out of California water management, we analyze political, economic and social trends that produce the current exclusionary system and emerging policies and technologies that could further harm low-income communities and communities of color.In the second chapter, we provide an overview of what we term "water governance": who controls water supply and quality and what agencies are responsible for ensuring that people have enough clean water. We explain the current system of water governance, examine changing patterns in control over water, and provide examples of communities that face profound barriers to participating in water decisions. We conclude by discussing barriers within water regulatory entities that prevent community voices from entering into water decision-making.In the third chapter, we provide a picture of water-related environmental injustices that low-income communities and communities of color face on a daily basis. These communities' lack of access to safe, affordable drinking water and healthy watersheds exemplifies the health burdens many communities bear as a result of California's water policies.Our report concludes with policy recommendations for how to remedy some of the most pressing water concerns low-income communities and communities of color face, in order to guarantee the basic right to safe and affordable water.