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The Road to a Better Future

TWO DECADES from now, there will be 1 million more jobs in the nine-county Bay Area and an additional 250,000 commuters, according to the Association of Bay Area Governments. That could mean--among other things--traffic, traffic, traffic.

To help plan for that crowded future--and to help make it as commuter friendly as possible--a regional effort known as the Bay Area Smart Growth Strategy/Regional Livability Footprint Project, or just the Smart Growth/Footprint Project, is about to take the first steps toward responsible planning. At a Sept. 22 workshop, Sonoma County residents will have a chance to help decide that future.

"We have to take a profoundly new approach to accommodating the Bay Area's future growth," says Santa Rosa councilmember and project planner Steve Rabinowitsh. "We have to be smarter about the way we grow and the places we build. By developing in a sustainable way, we will make the Bay Area a better place for the people here now and for the people we expect in the future."

The Smart Growth/Footprint Project is a regionwide effort initiated by the Bay Area's five regional public agencies (Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Bay Area Air Quality Management District, ABAG, the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and the state Regional Water Quality Control Board), and the Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Development.

The project's steering committee includes ABAG, the Bay Area Council, the Sierra Club, and the Urban Habitat Program. These regional organizations, along with local governments and dozens of community-based groups, are sponsoring a countywide public workshop at which participants can learn about smart growth, walkable communities, compact, and transit-oriented development; see examples of building types that help create livable communities; and, through a computer-assisted mapping exercise, create a vision of what communities throughout the Bay Area could be like in 2020.

The project workshop will be held on Saturday, Sept. 22, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., at Santa Rosa Junior College, 1501 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. Similar public workshops will be held in Napa and Marin counties, each building on related local efforts. For details, e-mail smartgrowth@abag.ca.gov, or call 510/464-7926.

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From the September 20-26, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

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