Urban Growth Boundaries
Read the following description of one approach to limiting the negative environmental impact of urban growth.
As development pressures continue to intensify here in the Bay Area, one promising trend has been the increasing number of communities that have recently adopted urban growth boundaries (UGBs) to curb sprawl and encourage smarter growth.
UGBs â— officially mapped lines that separate a city from its surrounding Greenbelt â— differ from city limits in that they’re set for long periods of time (typically 20 years) to discourage sprawl and speculation at the fringe.
But a UGB is more than just a line. As Florida land use analyst Marie York has noted, “an urban growth boundary is a pro-active growth management tool that seeks to contain, control, direct, or phase growth in order to promote more compact, contiguous urban development.” UGBs also help to protect farmlands and other resource lands outside the boundary from scattershot or low density development.
So far, UGBs have been adopted by 17 Bay Area communities: Benicia, Cotati, Cupertino, Healdsburg, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Monte Sereno, Morgan Hill, Napa, Novato, Palo Alto, Petaluma, Pleasanton, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, and Windsor. In California, UGBs can be established by city councils or by voters through a ballot initiative.
Source: Greenbelt Alliance. “At Risk: The Bay Area Greenbelt.” 2000. www.greenbelt.org/downloads/ resources/report_at risk summary.pdf
1. What are the environmental benefits of urban growth boundaries?
2. What environmental problems remain?
3. What groups would be opposed to the establishment of urban growth boundaries?