Big Win: Sonoma County Renews Community Separators for 20 Years
The most important green measure in Sonoma County in 2016 was Measure K, which renewed voter protections for community separators—the greenbelt lands in between the county’s cities and towns—for another 20 years. More than 80% of Sonoma County voters cast a yes vote for Measure K, which needed a simple majority to pass.
The purpose of community separators is three-fold:
- They serve as green buffers between cities and towns.
- They contain urban development.
- And they preserve the rural charm of Sonoma County’s landscape.
Community separators complement cities’ urban growth boundaries by safeguarding adjacent unincorporated lands.
For more than two decades, Greenbelt Alliance has helped Sonoma County prevent sprawl through urban growth boundaries and voter protection of community separators, which were passed by more than 70% in a countywide vote in the 1990s. Voter protections for Sonoma County’s community separators were set to expire in 2016. If they were not renewed, the county would have risked opening the door to new sprawl development.
Beginning in 2014, Greenbelt Alliance dedicated nearly two years of organizing and outreach to advance and strengthen these essential greenbelt protection measures.
Greenbelt Alliance led the charge to not only renew voter protections for Sonoma County’s community separators, but also triple the amount of land protected.
Hundreds of people sent letters and attended meetings in support of the campaign, urging voters to approve a countywide ballot measure in the 2016 election—which resulted in overwhelming support for passing Measure K.
The resulting Community Separator Protection Ordinance protects a total of 53,576 acres of natural and agricultural land from subdivision and sprawl. It extends voter protection to all green buffers designated as community separators. The ordinance prevents the conversion of these rural lands to shopping malls, housing tracts, or resort hotels without a vote of the people.
See The Results
Drag the line from right to left to see how the lands protected as community separators tripled in 2016.