Communities in California, Georgia, and North Carolina are the worst offenders when it comes to suburban sprawl in the United States, according to a three-year study released yesterday by the Washington, D.C.-based coalition Smart Growth America. The study, based on the work of researchers at Rutgers University and Cornell University, measured sprawl by evaluating the density of development, the blend of homes, jobs, and services, the accessibility of streets, and the strength of downtown areas. California’s Riverside-San Bernardino region came in at rock bottom, scoring a dismal 14.2 points on a “sprawlometer” where 100 is average, and higher is better. The Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point area and Raleigh-Durham area, both in North Carolina, were ranked a distant second and third, respectively, while Atlanta took fourth place.