At Risk in Alameda County
Josh Seidenfeld and Diana Ip, residents of Oakland, love taking their daughter to Lake Merritt and Redwood Regional Park. And all that open spaceAny parcelA lot, or contiguous group of lots, in single ownership or under single control, usually considered a unit for purposes of development. or area of land or water that is essentially unimproved and devoted to an open space use for the purposes of (1) the preservation of natural resources, (2) the managed production of resources, (3) outdoor recreation, or (4) public health and safety. is next to a great city. “I love the food, the cultural diversity, and the incredible greenspace of the Bay Area,” Josh says.
Alameda County, with its urban side and rural eastern side, has a long record of positive conservation efforts, including protecting scenic East Bay hills and ridgelines and creating much-loved parks. The East Bay Regional Parks District includes more than 112,000 acres of public land in Alameda and Contra Costa counties—a total of 65 parks including over 1,200 miles of trails. The district is a national leader in acquiring lands and making them publicly accessible for hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities.
Of the land that is neither permanently protected nor already developed, 87% is protected by policy measures. The vast majority of that land enjoys high protection, thanks in large part to Measure D, the Save Agriculture and Open SpaceAny parcelA lot, or contiguous group of lots, in single ownership or under single control, usually considered a unit for purposes of development. or area of land or water that is essentially unimproved and devoted to an open space use for the purposes of (1) the preservation of natural resources, (2) the managed production of resources, (3) outdoor recreation, or (4) public health and safety. Lands Initiative. Passed by voters in 2000, Measure D requires voter approval to increase development capacity on county land and requires cities to abide by the urban growth boundaryAn urban growth boundary defines where development should and should not happen. The line circumscribes an entire urbanized area and is used by local governments to guide land-use decisions. in the eastern part of the county.
However, despite strong policy protections on much of Alameda County’s land, some 30,000 acres remain at risk of development. Doolan Canyon, the area between Dublin and Livermore, remains ground zero for ongoing land-use battles, including a controversial proposal to develop as many as 1,990 units of sprawlThe process in which the spread of development across the landscape far outpaces population growth. The landscape sprawl creates has four characteristics: a population that is widely dispersed in low-density development; rigid separation of uses, so that homes, commerce and workplaces are segregated from one another; a network of roads laid out to separate land into huge blocks and offering poor access; and a lack of well-defined, thriving activity centers, such as downtowns and town centers. Most of the other features usually associated with sprawl – a lack of transportation choices, relative uniformity of housing options, and difficulty walking from place to place – result from these conditions. housing.
Preserving parks is important to Josh and his family. “I can’t imagine raising a child in a place where she couldn’t run around and experience the power of nature,” he says. “Having green space keeps us sane mentally and physically. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”