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Sonoma County Gazette

Supervisors approve comprehensive planning work schedule

Jun 5, 2019
by Will Carruthers


The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors approved a plan Tuesday to allocate staff hours over the next two years to complete planning efforts including finalizing the county's cannabis zoning rules, updating an existing tree protection ordinance, and beginning the latest version of county's long-range planning document, the General Plan.

The supervisors unanimously approved a work plan proposed byPermit Sonoma's Comprehensive Planning division after recommending some changes to an initial staff proposal at a meeting April.

The document, known as the Comprehensive Planning Work Plan, determines how many hours county planning staff will allocate towards a variety of long-term planning efforts.

In this case, the supervisors directed staff to complete current and urgent projects in addition to eleven additional projects supported by members of the community.

General Plan Update

Under the work plan passed Tuesday staff will begin the scoping process for the 2020 General Plan, a document that lays out the county’s “objectives, principles, standards, and plan proposals” for issues including land use, housing and open space.

Milan Nevajda, a deputy director of planning, estimated that the General Plan update will take five years to complete. After completing the one-year scoping process, the county will hire a consultant to complete the report, a process that takes four years, according to Nevajda.

Cannabis Ordinance, Phase 2

The work plan also includes staff hours to complete the second phase of the county’s rules dictating where cannabis producers can locate their facilities and farms in the unincorporated county.

Since legalization last year, cannabis zoning has been the subject of heated debate in some parts of the county with residents criticizing the location of some proposed facilities and cannabis business owners complaining about legislative uncertainty.

“Let’s not frustrate these business owners anymore,” Supervisor Shirlee Zane said of the cannabis planning effort at Tuesday’s meeting. “Let’s get it done.”

Tree Ordinance

County staff will begin studying an ordinance to add extra protections for trees in the county from certain kinds of land use. While the county has a tree ordinance, activists argue that extra protections are necessary.

“The County’s Tree Protection Ordinance is currently not sustainable… insofar as it allows trees including oak woodlands to be cleared for hay, wine grapes, and more,” activist Kimberly Burr wrote in the Gazette in 2015 when an update to the ordinance was being considered.

Finishing Active Projects

The supervisors also approved a staff recommendation to allot hours to complete projects already underway.

The projects, which have already been funded, included completing planning documents for the Sonoma Developmental Center, the Sonoma County Airport, and the Sonoma Springs area. 



More information about the county’s Comprehensive Planning efforts is available on Permit Sonoma’s website.



Jun 5, 2019
VIA EMAIL: I am writing because of the proposed budget cuts in county behavioral health funding that would necessitate closing almost all of the mental health peer-run self-help centers run by GIRE (Goodwill Industries Redwood Empire), such as the Wellness and Advocacy Center, the Petaluma Peer Recovery Center, the Russian River Empowerment Center, and the Behavioral Health Co-Op, as well as other MHSA county and; state-funded programs in collaboration with other community non-profit agencies. Insofar as all of these established programs have an continuing history of proven success, I fear that in terms of long-term costs to the local community, they would be all-too conspicuous in their absence. I volunteer part-time at Interlink Self-help Center (that I joined in June 1998 while briefly attending SRJC), and completed the peer support specialist class June 2016 at the Wellness Center. Since the Wellness Center’s recent move to the new County Behavioral Health complex on Challenger Way, its attendance has doubled, & Interlink’s SMART Recovery & Life Ring groups continue to attract many newcomers. I’ve done extensive volunteer work both in N. Calif. and N. FL in the mental health & recovery field since becoming disabled in mid-1991. In Saint Augustine FL, I took AA/NA meetings into the Saint Johns County Jail once a week for six years, as well as into the Flagler Hospital Psych Unit and volunteered with United Way, dual diagnosis meetings & DBSA with county mental health, etc... I find that the secular recovery support groups and mental health meetings of the local drop-in centers are able to take up where the 12-step programs leave off, and so avert some of the huge costs to our society from addictions and mental illness--as detailed by SAMHSA and other federal agencies’ in-depth studies (such as the ACEs Study by Kaiser and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). I have lost friends and family to drug addiction and alcoholism, and so I am well aware of where untreated mental illness and addiction can take the unfortunate-- as AA and NA warn--“jails, institutions and death.” BRUCE FAUROT, SANTA ROSA
- Vesta Copestakes

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