Longstanding greenbelt policies protecting open space and farmland between Sonoma County’s towns and cities were renewed for another 20 years. More than 80 percent (81.1%) of Sonoma County voters cast a yes vote for Measure K. The measure protects 53,576 acres of designated community separators from being converted to shopping malls, resorts or housing tracts without a countywide vote of the people.
“This landslide victory shows that we are united in keeping our greenbelts here in Sonoma County,” said Teri Shore, Regional Director for Greenbelt Alliance in Santa Rosa, a leader in the Yes on Measure K campaign. “Measure K was supported by just about everyone.”
“By expanding the natural landscape and farmlands surrounding our livable urban communities, Sonoma County citizens added momentum to the work ahead of us to create climate resiliency and economic vitality that will ensure a healthy future for generations,” said Dee Swanhuyser, a Greenbelt Alliance board member.
Greenbelt Alliance also supported and helped pass Measure Q to renew the City of Cotati’s Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) for another 30 years to 2048. The UGB expires in 2018.
Community separators complement cities’ urban growth boundaries by safeguarding adjacent unincorporated open space and farm lands. It has enabled Sonoma County to hold back sprawl and prevented us from making the mistakes made in other parts of the Bay Area.
Measure K was endorsed by all five county supervisors, more than 250 community leaders, conservation groups, farmers, housing advocates, developers and businesses. A diverse group signed the argument in favor of Measure K for the voters’ pamphlet: Greenbelt Alliance, Sonoma County Conservation Action, Sonoma County Farm Bureau, Katie Jackson of Jackson Family Wines, and Mike Wright of Wright Contracting. No opposition argument was filed.
Measure K costs taxpayers nothing as it is a policy measure and required only a simple majority to pass. It prevents rezoning of agricultural and rural residential lands to higher density or commercial uses without a countywide vote.
Voter protections for Sonoma County’s community separators were set to expire in 2016. If they were not renewed, the county would have risked opening the door to new sprawl development. Beginning in 2014, Greenbelt Alliance dedicated nearly two years of organizing and outreach to advance and strengthen these essential greenbelt protection measures.
This article was originally published by the San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center.