Update 5/28/14: Read our joint comment letter [PDF] with Sonoma County Conservation Action.
On April 30, the Sonoma Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) conducted a public meeting in Cloverdale. Greenbelt Alliance, our allies, and members of the Cloverdale City Council attended to discuss concerns over the City’s sphere of influence (SOI) proposal.
The SOI is the future physical boundary of the city and Cloverdale is proposing a massive expansion of its SOI to the south to include the Industrial Area, the Asti Winery, agricultural lands, and the Western Hills, portions of which are beyond its voter-approved urban growth boundary.
Sonoma County is the only Bay Area county with urban growth boundaries—which determine where a city can and cannot grow and are one of the most effective policies for open space protection—around each of its incorporated cities. The City of Cloverdale was the last city in Sonoma County to adopt one.
At the public meeting, Greenbelt Alliance discouraged Cloverdale’s proposed sprawl to the south and encouraged LAFCO to instead discuss land acquisitions in the Western Hills with the Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District, Sonoma Land Trust, and Sonoma County Regional Parks District to ensure permanent open space protections in this area.
Meeting attendees also expressed support for permanently protecting the Western Hills from development and creating public trails and access in the area as well. They overwhelming rejected the inclusion of the Asti Winery and agricultural lands south of the city and called for more growth downtown and near the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) Station. Amidst the worst drought in California history, concerns were raised about the current water shortages and the threat of future development further affecting water availability in Cloverdale.
Based on community feedback from the public meeting, LAFCO Executive Officer Richard Bottarini recommended the LAFCO board to exclude Asti from Cloverdale’s Sphere of Influence and to look into policies to ensure the protection of the Western Hills.
The next Sonoma LAFCO board meeting, where they will have a straw vote on this proposal, is on June 4 at 2 p.m.
If you are interested in attending or getting involved, contact Lana Russell-Hurd at email@example.com.