Feb 25, 2020
By Teri Shore
The City of Sonoma is moving forward to renew its existing Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) for another 20 years by placing a ballot measure before voters in November 2020. This is great news for open space and agricultural lands and climate-wise, city-centered growth for the next generation.
After a robust discussion and hearing from a crowd who cared deeply about the community and environment, city leaders agreed unanimously to ask city voters to renew the existing UGB as is. Next steps will be to finalize the ballot measure text with public review at the upcoming City Council and Planning Commission meetings.
For those concerned about affordable housing, the renewed UGB is slated to contain stronger provisions requiring 100 percent
affordable housing if the City Council finds a need to allow an exemption from the UGB under certain conditions.
Mayor Logan Harvey and Chair Robert Felder presided over the special joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission on Jan. 27 at Vintage House where the UGB was discussed. The City Manager Cathy Capriola and her staff provided a draft UGB measure for public review.
The UGB is simply a line around the city that protects open space and ag lands. It prevents urbanization and development beyond the boundary without a majority vote of approval by its citizens. The UGB can be revised if needed at any time by going back to the voters. It gives the community a direct voice in the future of the city.
Sonoma County’s Map of Sonoma City’s UGB, City Limits, and Sphere of Influence Map URL:https://www.greenbelt.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/City-Sonoma-Urban-Boundaries.pdf
The city will be updating its General Plan, Housing Element and Zoning Code in the coming years to determine how the community will grow. The Citizens to Renew the City of Sonoma’s Urban Growth Boundary were there to make a solid case for the 20-year UGB renewal: Bill Willers, Carol Marcus, Jack Ding, Johanna Patri, Nancy Kirwan, and Vic Conforti. They recently launched a new website:http://sonomaugb.com
City of Sonoma’s Urban Growth Boundary and General Plan Land-Use Map URL:https://www.greenbelt.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/SonomaLandUseMap2020_General_Plan-19.pdf
Greenbelt Alliance’s Teri Shore told how a 20-year renewal provides flexibility, certainty and cost savings to the city and community. Read more about Greenbelt Alliance here: https://www.greenbelt.org/city-of-sonoma/
Tom Conlon of Sierra Club provided convincing testimony explaining the importance of the UGB to protect open space while encouraging walkable and bikeable neighborhoods near schools, jobs, and transit.
Sonoma County Conservation Action sent in a letter urging a 20-year UGB renewal. In addition, many community members signed petitions and sent letters urging renewal of the UGB.
Housing advocates and local developers also stated support for the 20-year UGB renewal!
If the UGB is not renewed in 2020, its boundary can be modified by the vote of a simple majority on the City Council. This would put the future size of Sonoma on the ballot in every city council election, every two years.
After a lively and informed discussion, the Council and Commission decided unanimously to place a ballot measure to renew the existing UGB for another 20 years before the voters in November 2020 before it expires.
• Protects open space and farmland
• Promotes city-centered growth where public services already exist
• Preserves Sonoma’s rural and small scale character
• Encourages a diverse, climate-wise and healthy community
• Keeps the voice of voters central in deciding the city’s future
• See City Documents and Video Here:
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