Sonoma County is beginning to recover and rebuild after the firestorms of 2017. As we start to overcome the impacts of the devastating fires, Sonoma County and other North Bay counties face many important decisions about rebuilding and growth.
Our Role in Recovery
Already, Greenbelt Alliance is being asked to play a role in planning for recovery and future resiliency. We are working with our partners and the community to shape the important land-use decisions ahead so that Sonoma County can lead the way to a safer, healthier, and resilient future for us all.
Enhancing Open Space Legacy & Smart Growth
Sonoma County’s success in protecting open spaces and directing growth into the urban footprint has relied on voters and elected leaders putting in place an impressive set of land conservation policies. With Greenbelt Alliance’s leadership, voters in each of Sonoma County’s nine incorporated communities have approved urban growth boundaries (UGBs), drawing distinct lines where communities can and cannot grow.
In 2017, we renewed Windsor’s urban growth boundary (UGB) for another 25 years. Now we are looking forward to working with the cities of Sonoma and Rohnert Park to renew their UGBs by 2020.
In 2016, Sonoma County voters dramatically expanded protections for rural lands between cities and towns called community separators. This designation limits the ability of county leaders to approve inappropriate development on key open spaces—mostly comprised of farms, ranches, and wildlife habitat.
Greenbelt Alliance led the campaign to more than triple the area of open space and farmland designated as community separators to 53,600 acres. Voters then renewed these protections for another 20 years, blocking any housing tracts, shopping malls, or resort hotels without a vote of the people.
While Sonoma County has made the region’s largest recent strides in land protection, the landscape remains at risk from sprawl, rural event centers, and subdivision of agricultural lands into smaller parcels. To protect open spaces outside of our cities and towns, Greenbelt Alliance is also supporting walkable, bikeable neighborhoods in downtowns and near SMART stations and standing up for smart growth projects that create homes for people across a range of incomes, like the DeTurk Winery Village in Historic Santa Rosa.
Our Goals In Sonoma County
- Engage with our partners and the community to shape the important land-use decisions ahead to ensure a resilient rebuild and beyond after the fires of October 2017.
- Add community separators that were identified but not included in the 2016 expansion.
- Protect the most at-risk greenbelt land through the Vital Lands Initiative of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.
- Increase protections for wildlife corridors, groundwater basins, and natural and working lands in next Sonoma County General Plan update.
- Protect the Sonoma Valley wildlife corridor on Sonoma Developmental Center lands.
- Support walkable, bikeable neighborhoods in downtowns and near SMART stations.
- Continue to endorse smart growth projects that create homes for people across a range of incomes, like the DeTurk Winery Village in Historic Santa Rosa.
- Renew urban growth boundaries in Windsor in 2017, and Sonoma and Rohnert Park in 2020.
- Reject projects on high-risk greenbelt lands such as the proposed luxury resort in the Windsor-Larkfield-Santa Rosa Community Separator.
Campaign Updates & Big Wins
Sonoma County Conservation Action, Sierra Club
Staff Contact: Teri Shore
Photo: Harminder Dhesi Photography via Flickr