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Use of USGS earth science products by city planning agencies in the San Francisco Bay region, California

January 1, 1975

An inventory of the use of USGS products in selected planning studies, plans, plan implementation devices, and other planning-related activities was completed for the ninety-one cities in the nine-county San Francisco Bay region. This inventory was designed to determine and document the use of the 85 earth science products prepared as a part of the San Francisco Bay Region Environment and Resources Planning Study (SFBRS).

This inventory showed that: (1) three-fourths of the cities had planning staffs who were familiar with SFBRS products, or had made use of such products; (2) over half of the cities had prepared planning documents which contained references to SFBRS products; (3) the types of planning applications most often indicated were: geologic hazards studies; seismic safety, public safety, conservation, and open-space plan elements; general reference; and the preparation and review of environmental impact reports and statements; (4) almost 90 percent of all 85 SFBRS products were used at least once for a city planning activity, and one product was used at least 67 times for various city planning activities; and (5) at least forty-five other other USGS products were also used for various city planning activities.

All of the seven SFBRS products that were used 30 or more times for city planning activities were small-scale, large-areal-coverage, hazard-type products. Each product is interpretative and contains additional data which makes it more relevant or more interesting.

The planning staffs of each city were also interviewed and asked to indicate any problems in the use of the SFBRS products, to recommend improvements, and to identify any needed or desired earth science data. The responses showed that: (1) the map scales commonly used by cities were much larger than 1:12,000; (2) few cities had planning staffs with training or experience in the earth sciences or engineering; (3) less than one-fourth of the cities failed to use SFBRS products-primarily because their staffs were unaware of the SFBRS, unfamiliar with its products, or lacked adequate capability; (4) almost two-thirds of the cities expressed some problems in using the products-primarily scale and detail; (5) over two-thirds of the cities expressed an interest in continuing to use, or planning to use, the SFBRS products in the future, and a need or desire for additional earth science, engineering or other data; and (6) over one-half of the cities suggested improvements-primarily larger scale or more detail and less technical or more interpretative products.

From the inventory and responses to the interviews, it is concluded that the cities in the Bay region have considerable familiarity with, and have made substantial use of, SFBRS products. This use was made by many cities despite their small size, limited staff capability, and the design of the products which was intended primarily for regional planning at a regional scale.

Suggestions are made to ensure more familiarity with, and more effective use of, earth science data in the future. These suggestions include: (1) providing engineering interpretations and land-use capability ratings to make earth science data more readily usable; (2) monitoring and analyzing new state laws and regulations to better anticipate and respond to local earth science data needs; (3) including technical assistance with any earth science data designed for planners and decision-makers; (4) providing larger scale and greater detail earth science data on a demonstration basis; (5) giving priority to urban and urbanizing areas so as to conserve limited staff resources; and (6) ensuring product distribution to all potential users. 

Publication Year 1975
Title Use of USGS earth science products by city planning agencies in the San Francisco Bay region, California
DOI 10.3133/ofr75276
Authors W. J. Kockelman
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 75-276
Index ID ofr75276
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse