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By Henrietta J. Burroughs
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Posted on Thursday, March 17, 2011  
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Logo for YouChooseBayArea website

YouChoose Bay Area website -http://www.youchoosebayarea.org
Interactive, public online planning program

The issues of growth and development have been of major concern in East Palo Alto and in other area cities. In responding to these concerns, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation launched a new web program this week that allows residents to get involved with the current and future growth of their communities.

The newly launched program is called YouChoose Bay Area, and it is the outgrowth of the foundation’s Envision Bay Area initiative, which was launched in partnership with the Greenbelt Alliance, TransForm CA, and other partners such as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG). The interactive website is designed to solicit public input on issues related to growth and development.

According to Rebecca Salner, the vice president of marketing and communications for the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the YouChoose Bay Area web simulation program is at the core of the Envision Bay Area initiative in that it will allow users to select different growth options and see the impact of their decisions.

It is currently estimated that the Bay Area will add nearly one million new households and 1.2 million new jobs over the next twenty years.  Given the growth projections, some think the decisions being made now by cities, counties and elected officials, as they decide where to build transportation and housing for the anticipated population increases, are critical since these decisions will have a major impact on the region and its residents for years to come.

For Erica Wood, who is the vice president for community leadership at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, “Land use planning and decision making is complex and has traditionally been the purview of public agencies.”

“But,” Wood said, “these decisions affect all of us. They affect the environment, the economy and every day life. We want to help people understand what is at stake and help them get involved in shaping the Bay Area’s future.”

The information users share on the YouChoose Bay Area site will be part of a series of forums that the Silicon Valley Community Foundation will soon host with MTC, ABAG and other planning agencies. There are presently five such forums planned with the first one scheduled to start in April in Mountain View.

In addition to Santa Clara County, other forums will be held in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo and Sonoma Counties. The feedback given in the forums will be used by the MTC and ABAG to gather needed feedback about how they can meet the greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that are currently required by California state law.

For more information about the forums visit the Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s event calendar at www.siliconvalleycf.org.


To contact Henrietta J. Burroughs, the author of this article, email her at epatoday@epatoday.org


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