Land Use BMPs: Nonprofit Programs

Nonprofit organizations have developed guiding principles and BMPs for development that focus in growth in the Sacramento Watershed. Two such organizations are the Local Government Commission and Great Valley Center. Local Government Commission (LGC) has produced a wealth of publications and information including the Ahwahnee principles, and Great Valley Center sponsored a scenario building process for the Sacramento Valley region which generated strategic options.

Local Government Commission

Local Government Commission (LGC), with offices in Sacramento, offer publications, conferences, technical assistance, and workshops on a number of smart growth issue areas; the Center for Livable Communities is an ongoing LGC project. Two publications of particular interest are Better Models for Development in California and The Ahwahnee Water Principles: A Blueprint for Regional Sustainability. Six "principles for better development" are presented in the first publication:

  1. Conserve agriculture, natural and scenic assets
  2. Maintain a clear edge between town and countryside
  3. Build livable communities
  4. Preserve historic resources
  5. Respect local character in new construction
  6. Reduce the impact of the car

The Ahwahnee Principles are complementary:

  • All planning should be in the form of complete and integrated communities containing housing, shops, work places, schools, parks and civic facilities essential to the daily life of the residents.
  • Community size should be designed so that housing, jobs, daily needs and other activities are within easy walking distance of each other.
  • As many activities as possible should be located within easy walking distance of transit stops.
  • A community should contain a diversity of housing types to enable citizens from a wide range of economic levels and age groups to live within its boundaries.
  • Businesses within the community should provide a range of job types for the community's residents.
  • The location and character of the community should be consistent with a larger transit network.
  • The community should have a center focus that combines commercial, civic, cultural and recreational uses.
  • The community should contain an ample supply of specialized open space in the form of squares, greens and parks whose frequent use is encouraged through placement and design.
  • Public spaces should be designed to encourage the attention and presence of people at all hours of the day and night.
  • Each community or cluster of communities should have a well-defined edge, such as agricultural greenbelts or wildlife corridors, permanently protected from development.
  • Streets, pedestrian paths and bike paths should contribute to a system of fully-connected and interesting routes to all destinations. Their design should encourage pedestrian and bicycle use by being small and spatially defined by buildings, trees and lighting; and by discouraging high speed traffic.
  • Wherever possible, the natural terrain, drainage and vegetation of the community should be preserved with superior examples contained within parks or greenbelts.
  • The community design should help conserve resources and minimize waste.
  • Communities should provide for the efficient use of water through the use of natural drainage, drought tolerant landscaping and recycling.
  • The street orientation, the placement of buildings and the use of shading should contribute to the energy efficiency of the community.

Great Valley Center

Great Valley Center sponsored a series of multi-stakeholder future scenario exercises in the Central Valley. The exercise held in the Chico area focused on Northern Valley scenarios. Scenario-building is one means of investigating possible futures, and defining best strategies to achieve that future. Similar to "Best Management Practices", these strategies, and the processes that developed them, are worthy of study. Strategies for the positive future for the Sacramento Watershed are excerpted below from The Good Life [PDF*, 106 KB] and The Valley Futures Project.

  • Create a leadership development and training program for the North Valley to build skills, outcomes, relationships
  • Develop a regional water plan/coalition involving diverse stakeholders to represent regions interest to state and federal agencies
  • Develop new initiative to improve parenting and life skills and raise kids with higher aspirations
  • Improve regional land use and transportation planning between population centers
  • Support a voter participation initiative led by regional youth
  • Raise awareness of regional issues
  • Plan for economic diversification and environmental protection
  • Improve the integration of schools with their communities (e.g., schools as community centers)
  • Develop mentorship programs on civic participation and leadership development for youth
  • Understand how decisions made today shape the region in 2025
  • Make connections between your own choices and options and the region

In the first quarter of 2008, the Rural Residential Development project will produce an overview of local smart growth organizations and issues.