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Alex Chen

Her Rural Majesty: Julie’s Story

“It’s beautiful around here,” she gushes. “It’s the night sky, the quietness. I still have to pinch myself every time I’m driving up from the city and Alexander Valley opens up.”

After reading Jack London’s Valley of the Moon, Julie Dilley and her husband fell in love with Sonoma County. So they found a place to call home in Asti, a rural hamlet outside of Cloverdale.
Turns out, Asti’s rural majesty was exactly what they needed. Julie and her husband started a garden. Their dog, Jackson, had more space than he knew what to do with. Julie even took up beekeeping since they were always buzzing around the garden.

Unfortunately, neighboring Cloverdale was looking to sprawl out beyond its urban growth boundary and had unincorporated Asti in its sights. Julie and her fellow concerned neighbors felt helpless.

“When you’re out here, if you don’t have a setup with a neighborhood association that’s been around for 25 years, you feel like you’re on your own and it’s really difficult to figure things out. The possibility of development all the way down Asti Road—it was like we could end up living across from a strip mall.”

That’s when we met. Julie and a group of fiery, passionate residents teamed up with Greenbelt Alliance and our local partners Sonoma County Conservation Action to fight the expansion. Together, we penned comment letters, voiced our concerns at public hearings, rallied the community, and ultimately, blocked Cloverdale’s incorporation of Asti.

“From my viewpoint, you gave us backbone,” remembers Julie. “I thought, ‘Wow! There are people who hear what we’re saying, and they’re established, and they’re doing this.’ It erased any lingering doubt that I had, so I am incredibly thankful—it made a huge difference.”

Navigating the world of land-use policy and staying on top of how it impacts our communities is at the core of Greenbelt Alliance’s work. As advocates and experts, we help shape the rules that govern growth. We ensure that the right development happens in the right places—not on our greenbelt lands. We are incredibly thankful for community champions such as Julie and we encourage you to be a champion as well.


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