Suisun Valley Residents Continue Effort to Keep It Rural

Greenbelt Alliance’s signature At Risk is the definitive research on the Bay Area’s farms, ranches, and natural areas at risk of being lost forever to sprawl development. In an effort to bring these lands to the public view, we have real life stories told by the dedicated local residents who fight to keep them free from sprawl.

The valleys and oak-dotted hillsides of Solano County have long been threatened by growth sprawling out from I-80; today, feverish speculation has turned up the heat.A total of 44,600 acres of Solano’s land is at risk of development over the next 30 years, and in just the next 10 years, 12,300 acres could be developed. The amount of land at risk has increased by almost half since 2012; now, nine percent of all the county’s land is at risk. Only Contra Costa County has a higher percentage of all land at risk.

“When people come visit, they always say, ‘it’s so quiet here!’” says Esther Pryor, owner of four goats, nine cats, and a small bike shop on Suisun Valley Road. Her neighbor Larry Welsh adds, “Well, they might hear the coyotes.”

Here at the gateway to the fertile Suisun Valley, the quiet is made possible in part by Esther and Larry’s efforts to keep this place rural. On a small plot of land below Rockville Hills Regional Park, horses and cattle graze, and Swainson’s hawks catch prey in golden grass. But the “Woodcreek 66” developer is trying to change the area’s zoning to allow 66 homes, and the City of Fairfield is supporting the proposal, hoping to annex the land.

Esther and Larry’s group and others are suing—not for the first time—to stop this. It’s a dangerous precedent, a direct attack on the county’s voter-approved Orderly Growth Initiative.

“These developers are trying to wrangle water and sewer into land outside the city, so the city can swallow us up,” says Esther.

If allowed, this would pave the way for a much larger proposal for 400 homes in nearby Green Valley, and Fairfield’s continued sprawl out into rural land.

Learn more and download the At Risk 201 7 report here.

Photos by Dani Padgett ©

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