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July 12-18, 2006

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News Briefs

By Patricia Lynn Henley

Golly Gee, Officer...

Summertime, and the driving is speedy--or at least it can be for folks dashing out of town for some quick relaxation. Who's most likely to try sweet-talking his way out of a speeding ticket? According to a national survey, it's wealthy male drivers with children who are talking on a cell phone. The Response Insurance National Driving Habits Survey revealed that 22 percent of men, compared to 13 percent of women, admit to attempting to dissuade an officer from writing them up. That's also true for 25 percent of drivers with incomes of more than $75,000, versus 16 percent of those who earn less than $25,000 annually. In other categories, 11 percent of people who are single say they try to weasel out of a citation, as opposed to 21 percent of those with children; 20 percent of the college-educated but just 10 percent with less than a high school diploma; and 19 percent of people who use a cell phone while driving but only 14 percent of those who never phone-drive.

Petaluma Scores

A rating of 70 percent put Petaluma at the top of 101 cities in the Greenbelt Alliance's first-ever Bay Area Smart Growth Scorecard. This nonprofit group evaluated the policies (but not the existing realities) that local cities and counties have in place to encourage well-reasoned growth and avoid sprawl. Cities' policies were appraised in the areas of boundaries, parks, affordable housing, mixed-use development, density, parking and development standards. The average city score was 34 percent. Napa and Santa Rosa each earned 65 percent, making them third and fourth on the list. Other North Bay results: Windsor, 61 percent; Rohnert Park, 58; San Rafael, 56; Sebastopol, 55; Novato, 55; Cotati, 47; St. Helena, 44; Sonoma, 44; Healdsburg, 40; Yountville, 32; Larkspur, 30; Corte Madera, 28; Mill Valley, 28; Calistoga, 27; Tiburon, 26; American Canyon, 24; Sausalito, 21; Cloverdale, 21; and Ross, 17 percent. San Francisco was rated as a city (49 percent), but the other eight Bay Area counties were evaluated on how well their general plans and other policies manage growth, protect open space, preserve agricultural land, conserve natural resources and offer transportation options. The average county score was 51 percent. Marin and Sonoma counties each earned overall scores of 46 percent; Napa was at 41 percent. Sonoma County earned 100 percent in the open space category (the only perfect score) but 10 percent for its transportation options. Napa was rated 90 percent in growth management and 0 percent in both open space and transportation. Marin's scores ranged from 25 percent for agricultural zoning to 65 percent for open space.

The complete scorecard is online at

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