Editorial: Yes on Measures O, Q and T, create urban growth boundaries

Oct. 9, 2010

Yes on Measures O, Q and T, create urban growth boundaries

This election finds Sonoma County divided on a number of political fronts. But one issue on which there appears to be widespread agreement is the importance of maintaining and extending the region’s urban growth boundaries.

Eight of nine Sonoma County communities have urban growth boundaries to help protect open space areas and farmland. More important, they achieve the critical goal of requiring city-centered growth, thereby preventing the type of urban sprawl that severely altered the landscape of the South Bay and Los Angeles.

In this election, voters will be asked to extend the urban growth boundaries for Sonoma County’s two largest cities, Santa Rosa and Petaluma, and create the first one for Cloverdale. We strongly encourage residents to approve all of these measures.

Measure O would extend Santa Rosa’s urban growth boundary through 2035. The city’s existing UGB is not set to expire until 2016, but there are advantages to extending it now. First, the city recently completed an update of its general plan which incorporated the urban growth boundary that was first approved by voters in 1996. There’s really no reason to wait. Also, by extending it now, the city would avoid the costs of an environmental impact report and other analysis later. That documentation completed for the general plan covers an extension for now.

Likewise, Measure T would extend Petaluma’s urban growth boundary, first adopted in 1998, until 2025. Petaluma also recently completed an update of its general plan so the timing — and purpose — of this extension is right.

Measure O and Measure T were put on the ballot with the unanimous endorsement of the Santa Rosa and Petaluma city councils respectively. And there appears to be no organized opposition to either measure. That, in itself, is a testament to the importance of these boundaries on the county’s quality of life.

The only opposition that exists is in Cloverdale, where some are campaigning against Measure Q because they contend the measure does not create an urban growth boundary that is tough enough.

In particular, critics are opposed to an “exception area” carved out around Asti. We would agree if we believe there was a real threat of that exception area creating sprawl. But the wording makes clear that the exception is limited to maintenance of the historic Asti winery site. It would allow expansion of the winery but not the kind of large-scale development that would undermine the purpose of the UGB. Certainly it doesn’t warrant enough of a concern to reject this measure and force planners to start over.

That’s why a number of groups, including the Greenbelt Alliance and the Cloverdale City Council, have voted to support Measure Q. It’s better to have something than nothing.

The Press Democrat strongly recommends yes votes on Measures O, Q and T on the Nov. 2 ballot.

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http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20101009/OPINION/101009486?p=all&tc=pgall&tc=ar

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