Reconnecting America People * Places * Possibility

Green Your City's Blueprint: A Toolkit to Make Planning Easier

(Note: This is another in our series of expert blogs on TOD highlighting work and research that experts and advocates are doing in the field. Today we have Jennifer Gennari, Communications Director at Greenbelt Alliance)

Individual actions — bicycling instead of driving, turning off lights, recycling — are often the first steps taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. What we do collectively, though, can have a greater impact. Policies that change where we build are some of the best ways to lessen our shared footprint.

Too often, conversations about complex land-use solutions have not been in plain, accessible language. Updating a General Plan, a city’s blueprint for future development, is one of the best ways to address climate change, yet it’s a daunting task to take on if you don’t have a degree in urban planning.

To understand how these changes can benefit you and your city—especially if you don’t have a degree in urban planning—check out our nifty new guidebook, Green Your City’s Blueprint. It explains how reshaping development patterns can strengthen neighborhoods and help comply with the requirements of Plan Bay Area.

The toolkit explains the basic structure of a general plan, and then describes specific strategies you can ask city staff to insert in each element. It provides step- by-step instructions for working with city staff and leaders. For those who want to know more about state rules, it also gives an overview of California legislation that impacts how city’s plan for the future.

What is the first opportunity to use this resource?  Glad you asked...

County by county around the Bay Area, people have been meeting this spring to comment on the first draft of Plan Bay Area, the blueprint for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through land use and transportation. These public workshops mark one stage; the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) approve the final plan in March 2013. After that, many cities will update their general plans. A lot is at stake, including billions of dollars in funding for transportation projects. People are learning the ways the plan will influence the things they care about—like traffic and air quality—on an interactive website, www.youchoosebayarea.org.  With all this easily accessible information at your fingertips, and a handy guidebook to show the way, why not get involved?