Crafting a Vision for Sonoma County

Whether you live here or visit, everyone agrees that Sonoma County is pretty great for its rolling hills, dramatic coast, and everything in between. Yet we face many challenges ahead to conserve and restore these lands and achieve thriving neighborhoods for all in the next 20 years and beyond.

Looking forward, Greenbelt Alliance is excited to be working with county supervisors and community partners to launch an update of the General Plan, the blueprint for Sonoma County’s future. Recently, the supervisors voted unanimously to launch a big public visioning process that will take place later this year.

“Let’s find the best examples we can from around the state to help us create a vision in our General Plan that goes beyond the usual tweaking and nob-turning,” said 4th Supervisor James Gore, who will be chair next year when the revision will be in full gear.

The current Sonoma County General Plan 2020, which was finalized in 2008 after a lengthy public process, is the legal document on which all land use and planning decisions for county lands are based. Now we have the chance to add and implement specific policies and goals to address the changes over the past 20 years.

Here are some of the concepts that Greenbelt Alliance is already forwarding to strengthen greenbelt protections and encourage walkable, bike-friendly homes near public transit for the next 50 to 100 years:

  • Add community separators around Cotati, Sonoma, and other lands that were identified but were not designated last year.
  • Expand and protect wildlife corridors based on new science that shows us exactly where and when mountain lions, bobcats, deer, and beavers roam.
  • Establish groundwater overlay zones to prevent overdevelopment in key areas that prevents recharge of underlying aquifers and increases flooding.
  • Adopt new agricultural preservation policies that require equivalent or more protection of every acre of farmland converted to non-agricultural uses.
  • Prioritize protection of heritage communities such as Freestone.
  • Require city-centered, transit-oriented growth to receive any transportation or related funding measures.
  • Invest in public transit and alternatives to auto travel and the reduction of Vehicle Miles Traveled.
  • Enhance climate resiliency, implement the county’s Climate Action Plan and Clean Air Plan (BAAQMD) as part of the General Plan.

Join us in co-creating a vision for the future of Sonoma County. Contact Teri Shore for the latest news and ways you can get involved.

Photo: Harminder Dhesi via Flickr

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