Smart Growth

Learn about the Air District’s smart growth planning efforts to reduce vehicle dependence, enhance local communities, and support regional smart growth initiatives.

Reducing Vehicle Dependence

Vehicles are a major source of air pollution in the Bay Area. Well-integrated planning can offer residents more travel choices and reduce the need to drive via:

  • Locating housing, jobs, schools, shops, and services close to one another.
  • Locating high-density development near transit stations and corridors.
  • Providing safe and convenient pedestrian and bicyclist access to streets, sidewalks, paths, transit stops, and local services.
  • Developing underused land.

Community Benefits

Reducing the need to drive creates many benefits for communities, including:

  • Reducing vehicle and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.
  • Providing more affordable housing.
  • Reducing traffic congestion and long-distance commuting.
  • Reducing water pollution from urban runoff.
  • Reducing energy consumption.
  • Improving health through increased physical activity.
  • Improving local air quality.
  • Creating vibrant and livable communities.
  • Preserving open space and agricultural lands.

Regional Initiatives

Many local and regional efforts support smart growth, including:

  • Senate Bill 375 – Requires that the Bay Area’s Regional Transportation Plan contains a Sustainable Communities Strategy to integrate land use and transportation planning.
  • Plan Bay Area – Promotes smart growth strategies including compact, mixed-use development that is walkable, bikeable, and close to transit, jobs, schools, shops, and recreation.
  • FOCUS – Promotes a more compact land use pattern for the Bay Area by identifying 100 priority development areas and directing financial assistance and planning resources to these areas.
  • Transportation 2035 – Identifies how federal, state, and local transportation funds will be spent in the Bay Area during the next 25 years to create a healthy environment and promote equitable transportation options for all residents.
  • Clean Air Plan – The Air District’s most recent plan for reducing emissions and improving air quality in the region. Many of the control measures incorporate smart growth principles.


The Air District worked with Fehr & Peers Transportation Consultants to develop an Excel-based tool that calculates the impacts of project-level transportation demand measures on vehicle miles traveled. The tool and user’s guide are available at:

Additional smart growth resources include:

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Areana Flores
Senior Staff Specialist, Technology Implementation


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Last Updated: 6/19/2019