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Land Use Shows Itself To Be Controversial Element In Cool Cities Program

The land use policy in the US Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement calling for smart growth caused a Bay Area mayor to refrain from signing the agreement, believing that limiting density would be better for the environment.

A mayor of a small city of 26,000 on the San Francisco peninsula, "who considers herself an environmentalist, is saying no to the Mayors' Climate Protection Agreement, recently signed by San Mateo and Redwood City", neighboring cities in San Mateo County.

"Mayor Coralin Feierbach of Belmont said she refuses to sign the agreement, which is part of the Sierra Club's national Cool Cities campaign, mainly because of a clause about land use: Cities that sign the agreement commit to "adopt and enforce land-use policies that reduce sprawl, preserve open space, and create compact, walkable urban communities."

"Feierbach said she believes that the Sierra Club and other groups endorsing the pact are "using the 'green' excuse to rationalize more development. "The Bay Area is not an infinite population sink," she said. "We've got to look at how much (growth) we can accept. That's why I'm talking about limiting density." She added, "They're talking about urban" communities. "We're not urban - we're suburbia."

"You have all these cities like Redwood City and San Mateo that are building really high-density units," Feierbach said. "That means lots of new people are going to come in soon. How are we going to take care of our water supply? How can these cities call themselves green?"

"Redwood City Mayor Barbara Pierce, who signed the agreement last month, was eager to explain. She said her city has done research on the housing market and found lots of young singles and couples who work in Redwood City.

"These are the people that are leaving the Peninsula in droves because they can't afford to live here," Pierce said. "They are the work force. And now they're driving here from other places."

Rather than fight growth, Pierce said, Peninsula leaders should plan for it carefully. She said Redwood City has invested heavily in programs to recycle wastewater for landscaping, freeing drinking water."

Thanks to Glen Brand via John Holtzclaw

Full Story: Belmont's mayor refuses to sign climate agreement

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