Former Contra Costa County Supervisor Donna Gerber wasn’t about to let sprawl come to the Tassajara Valley. She remembers well the victory to create a strong boundary when she sat on the Board of Supervisors from 1996 to 2000. “In 2000, we were able to move our urban limit line,” she said. “That land we saved—4,500 acres—was essentially the Tassajara Valley.”
Donna found a strong ally in Greenbelt Alliance. Back then, we organized the community, and about 500 people showed up in support at a supervisors’ board meeting. “You made it possible as a political leader to move the campaign,” she said.
That victory caused Donna to grapple with where good development should go, if not on farmland. Once again, she worked with Greenbelt Alliance and other allies to push through good plans around the Pleasant Hill BART station. “That project was complimentary to my efforts to preserve agricultural land and stop suburban sprawl,” she said. “We wanted to put development where it should be.”
She added, “Stopping sprawl is hard but doing the right thing is also really hard.”
Fast forward 10 years. When she saw that two initiatives—Measure F in Brentwood and Measure W in San Ramon—were going to undo the hard work won in 2000, she immediately volunteered. “It was like watching history go backwards,” she said. She connected organizations and individuals and addressed postcards and other basic campaign work.
Retired from her job as head of the California Nurses Association lobbying arm, Donna wanted to help the organization that had helped her. “My political life was enhanced by my relationship with Greenbelt Alliance,” she said. “Its mission is completely in sync with my thoughts and experiences in Contra Costa County.”
Donna joined the Greenbelt Alliance board in 2006. “The Bay Area has the basic DNA—a great balance of environmental and urban attributes,” she said. “There’s so much opportunity to create a better Bay Area with transportation and cultural connections. It’s satisfying to work with good people on that.”