Rural-Urban Connections Strategy


Rural-Urban Connections Strategy

In 2008, SACOG shifted the planning paradigm to more explicitly include rural areas. Responding to criticism that SACOG’s land use and transportation planning lacked adequate attention to and information about rural parts of the region, the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy project (RUCS) was launched. 

Through cutting-edge technical work and stakeholder engagement, RUCS has brought on par the region’s understanding of both urban and rural challenges and opportunities and how policies and strategies impact both parts of the region. The region’s prosperity and sustainability are now being viewed from both an urban and rural perspective with a notable increase in attention to agriculture and food industries, in particular, but rural issues generally. 

Much like urban areas, rural economic vitality is fundamentally derived from land use decisions; however, detailed planning for agriculture is typically unavailable. RUCS seeks not only to support the main land use and economic activity, agriculture, but also to conserve open lands and the ecosystem services they provide. RUCS is built upon the premise that resource conservation is greatly bolstered by strategies that leverage and enhance the value of these assets. Increased revenues can change the perception of open lands from being “undeveloped” or “future urban” to assets that produce income and should therefore remain open.

Given that the Sacramento region is 85 percent rural, this change in perspective about rural land is also changing the view of what constitutes a “region” and how to plan for its future, particularly how SACOG approaches its primary responsibility to build a Metropolitan Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy. Healthy rural economies provide a counterbalance, but also complement urban development and economic strategies. This helps bind the region around linked goals and objectives such as smart growth, resource conservation, enhancement of agriculture and food industries, food access and healthy eating, and recreation. These objectives are being sought by a growing collaboration of stakeholders to distinguish the region as providing high quality of life, progressive policies and strategies, and new economic opportunity for both urban and rural areas.

Post Renée DeVere-Oki

Coordinated Rural Opportunities Plan (CROP) Project

Agriculture has deep roots in our region’s history and future as we have some of the most productive farmland in the world. In our region, agriculture is a $2 billion industry. Much like urban areas, rural economic viability is fundamentally derived from land use decisions and investments in supportive infrastructure. Our region has demonstrated a commitment to agricultural preservation and investment at the local level.


RUCS Booklet

This booklet provides an overview of the primary topic areas at the center of the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy, highlighting key principles and findings of recent RUCS work.

For more information about RUCS, please contact Renee DeVere-Oki, Rural-Urban Connections Strategy Program Manager at


Agriculture & Habitat -
Working Landscapes Pilot Study

In a growing body of work, researchers and trade organizations have studied the relationship between wildlife habitat and a range of land cover types, including the potential for various types of agricultural lands to double as habitat for different wildlife species. However, there is little understanding of the economic impact of these potential land use changes on a system-wide scale.


Delta Case Study

In SACOG’s Local Food System Assessment for Yolo and Sacramento County Delta Communities, also referred to as the “Delta Case Study”, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG) and The Hatamiya Group have partnered with the Delta Protection Commission in deploying SACOG’s Rural-Urban Connections Strategy (RUCS) modeling and analysis tools to help answer questions about how to stimulate agricultural-based economic development in the Delta’s rural communities in a manner that aligns with a shared vision of the Delta: “the ideal synthesis of cultural, ecological, and


Food System Multipliers

The Food System Multipliers project is work conducted through the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy in partnership with ERA Economics and BAE Urban Economics. The project provides updated data, modeling and tools to better demonstrate the important role agriculture and food plays in the Sacramento regional economy. By linking crop production on the farm to a larger food system—aggregation, processing, and distribution—the project develops a series of economic multipliers showing the ripple effect of agricultural industries on the greater regional economy.


Sacramento Capital Region

Food and Agriculture Cluster and Workforce Needs Assessment: Sacramento Capital Region

The region’s Next Economy project provides a playbook for carrying out joint economic development activities to help shift the economic trajectory of the Sacramento region. Next Economy identified six promising business clusters in the Sacramento region poised for continued job creation and growth opportunity, including the Food and Agriculture cluster.


Yolo Case Study

The Yolo Case Study project explores rural economic development opportunities within the “West of 505” portion of the county, with analyses examining context-sensitive development strategies for the areas around Winters, Esparto, and Woodland in western Yolo County. SACOG prepared the Yolo Case Study upon request of local elected officials and staff in Yolo County, with the objective of assisting western Yolo County and its communities in devising economic development strategies that leverage their existing assets of land uses, infrastructure, agriculture lands, and natural resources.


Sacramento Region Food Hub

RUCS stakeholders have identified the need for expanded regional agricultural infrastructure to increase the amount of locally grown food reaching local markets. Agricultural infrastructure encompasses aspects of aggregation, packing, processing, storage, marketing and distribution capacity and facilities, forming what many are calling “food hubs.” Food hubs help connect locally produced and source-identified foods to local markets by creating new market channels between growers and consumers.


Yuba Case Study

SACOG’s Yuba County Case Study responded to requests from Yuba County Supervisors to employ tools developed as part of the Rural-Urban Connections Strategy on the existing agriculture industry. In working with the supervisors, farmers, county staff and other stakeholders, SACOG analyzed a range of agriculture scenarios to examine existing and potential future agriculture value in the county associated with production and food processing.