Recognized as a top Bay Area Climate Change nonprofit in the following years:
Jeremy comes to Greenbelt Alliance from The San Francisco Foundation, where he helped to launch the Great Communities… See full bio.
Back when Greenbelt Alliance was known as People for Open Space, the construction explosion of the postwar era had already inspired local activists to enact a variety of growth controls. By the late 1970s, home prices had risen sharply in the Bay Area. Real estate and law journals blamed growth controls.
Now, a new Stanford University study challenges the assertions that land preservation contributes to housing scarcity. “The surprising thing is how strong the result is, that conservation has had a minimal effect on the housing supply in Silicon Valley,” said Jon Christensen, Executive Director of Stanford’s Bill Lane Center for the American West and co-author of the report with Carrie Denning and Robert McDonald.
Today, there remains a pent-up demand for walkable, urban neighborhoods. The Bay Area has plenty of room to accommodate this type of growth without paving the farms, forests, and bay lands that contribute to the high quality of life residents enjoy. Yes, homes are expensive in the Bay Area, but it is not because of urban growth boundaries. “Hopefully, this study will take this bold argument off the table,” Christensen said, “and as a region, we can think about how conservation and development go hand in hand.”
(Read more about the complementary nature of conservation and development at: http://greenbelt.org/about/)
Expert Reviews of Greenbelt Alliance
Evidence of Impact Summary:Greenbelt Alliance works in 9 Bay Area counties on smart land use planning. Since it's inception they have secured long-term protection for more than 1.1 million acres of open space, established urban growth boundaries around 26 cities and 5 counties, and endorsed the creation of 60,000 homes within existing urban areas. They also supported developing more affordable housings and developing in a more sustainable pattern.
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Organization Strengths Summary:Greenbelt Alliance has been well run and involved in the Bay Area community for so long that they are well respected and real leaders in the area. Their leadership is top notch, their staff are knowledgeable, and they know how to affect policy change around land use issues. As one expert said "they are boldly leading the way."
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Areas for Improvement Summary:Greenbelt Alliance should do more to partner with businesses and folks in the community to highlight local success stories and extend the reach of their message. They could also use more high level staffing to help with this work.
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Expert Comments: Evidence of Impact
|The Greenbelt Alliance helped save open space and change to more sustainable patterns of development.|
|Greenbelt Alliance works in nine Bay Area counties on smart land use planning. One example of the great work they do is in Mountain View, where they have had a campaign organizer focusing on educating the public on smart land use planning, resulting in the creation of the Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning, a resident driven group working on improving the General Plan.|
|They have had a huge influence on land use planning to reduce sprawl and encourage transit oriented development.|
|They produced an infill report claiming the Bay Area can accommodate all new housing with no greenfield development which was an important contribution to the movement.|
|Among the most difficult local issues to move is effective land-use which improves quality of life and reduces climate impacts through walkable communities with transit options. Greenbelt has been instrumental in both ensuring quality projects such as Bay Meadows in San Mateo proceed, and that there is good regional planning and affordable housing.|
|Greenbelt Alliance laid a strong foundation for "smarter" land use in the Bay Area before climate change was the reason with the release of numerous reports on Smart Infill and Conservation. With Climate Change as an urgent reason for changing patterns of land use and transportation, Greenbelt has both led ground level change through its field work on general and specific plans and released two groundbreaking studies (Grow Smart Bay Area and a Conservation Report) that challenge Bay Area communities to grow up and not out. Through strategic advocacy and sometimes litigation, Greenbelt has had a tremendous impact on the footprint of development in the 9 Bay Area counties -- possibly more so than any other organization.|
|They are active at both the regional and state level on issues of climate change and land use. They actively work with the state's Strategic Growth Council and with the Association of Bay Area Gov'ts/ Metropolitan Transportation Commission to affect funding decisions and land use planning. Again, transportation accounts for over 40% of Bay Area GHGs. They are also active in local cities by adopting new land use plans that support infill development - thereby protecting open space and reducing future sprawl and GHG from auto use and heating/cooling/etc of large homes in warmer locations. They protect active farmlands near the region's population centers.|
Expert Comments: Organization Strengths
Great Leadership and Skilled Staff
|They have had great leadership for as long as I can remember. They have also been financially stable and well operated for as long as I can remember.|
|They have very knowledgeable staff, community resources, and are policy experts.|
|Greenbelt has one of the strongest reputations for being well managed of any in the Bay Area.|
|Greenbelt has excellent and dedicated leadership and staffing in its Executive Director Jeremy Madsen. Their marketing is also quite good; they have avoided climate change as the banner and instead focused on quality of life, etc. as reasons for change. Their local programs, including hiking, biking etc. draw in a broader base of support for the advocacy work.|
|They have additional staff expertise/highly qualified staff to implement the infill first policies in their Grow Smart Bay Area report. This is a GREAT pilot for the rest of the state if successful. Only a handful of counties, including their cities, have attempted to calculate their infill potential. Most are still prepared plans for sprawl. Infill first and growth "up not out" is a policy decision. Greenbelt is boldly leading the way.|
Provide Excellent Data for Policy Making around Land Use
|Their expertise is in land use planning and they have credibility among local elected officials. They publish expert reports on land use and the benefits of smart growth, which provide excellent data for policy making.|
Deep Local Involvement and Respect Among Community
|Greenbelt is doing excellent work watch dogging MTC on the SB 375 implementation process. They are asking the right questions, meeting with the right staffers, and pushing the process where it needs to go. They also have an in depth knowledge of the geography of the Bay Area, the infill opportunities and the politics of individual jurisdictions that makes them invaluable.|
|They effectively influence policy decisions at the local level regarding land use while bringing a broader regional vision to the work.|
|They have a long history in the Bay Area (30 or 40 years?!) and are well known. They are seen as effective and competent.|
Expert Comments: Areas for Improvement
Expand Reach and Message
|It'd be great if they did more work in San Mateo County, where their work is greatly needed.|
|They should do even more work highlighting local success stories of smart growth and climate. This would strengthen their advocacy and contribute to the movement.|
|Greenbelt could likely do more to partner with business partners to improve the reach of their message.|
More Skilled Staff
|Greenbelt needs additional high level staffing. They are spread very thin. In addition, to achieve the extraordinary work effort laid out by the new reports, they need to be able to put more skilled folks, including attorneys and planners into communities to assist them with everything from community based planning efforts to ordinance drafting. So, in a word more funding for more skilled staffing.|
Jeremy comes to Greenbelt Alliance from The San Francisco Foundation, where he helped to launch the Great Communities Collaborative and supported social equity, affordable housing, and smart growth efforts around the Bay Area. From 2001 to 2005, Jeremy was Greenbelt Alliance's Field Director, leading the organization's policy campaigns and supervising the work of all its field offices. Previously, Jeremy served as Field Director for Washington state’s Transportation Choices Coalition, coordinated fair trade campaigns for the Washington, DC-based Citizens Trade Campaign, and ran get-out-the-vote efforts for candidate and ballot measure campaigns. B.A., George Washington University. M.S., Environmental Studies, University of Oregon.