By DENNIS ROSATTI and JACK BUCKHORN
Dennis Rosatti, executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action, and Jack Buckhorn, business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 551, are co-chairmen of the Accountable Development Coalition.
The Accountable Development Coalition has been in the news lately, and we recognized the need to clarify who we are, and what we stand for.
The ADC was formed in 2006 as a coalition of environmental, land use, labor, housing and social justice organizations to represent community interests in the important land use and development decisions that shape the economic life and environmental quality of our community.
Three key concerns dominated the formation of the coalition:
We want the community to be involved in setting good public policy and to participate in the earliest stages of planning in order to develop great neighborhoods and communities.
For example, we received a grant from the Hewlett Foundation to engage the local community in creating Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square Station Area Plan. The community spoke out and persuaded the city to approve a plan that will create a friendlier environment for pedestrians and bicyclists, support public transit users and provide more affordable housing near shops and incentives for better-paying jobs.
We’ve also advocated for green building standards, which is the wave of the future as we cope with climate change.
As a growing coalition of 14 diverse local organizations and committed professional members, we are big enough to attract the interest of developers. We offer to work in collaboration with developers to make better plans that meet more of the community’s needs.
For example, we collaborated with Sonoma Mountain Village to improve a re-use project to create good local jobs and strengthen green building standards, while providing a better sense of community with a mix of housing types close to shops and work. Three years of working together is documented in a community benefits agreement that acknowledges our support.
The current Wall Street business model, favoring out-of-state, corporate-owned retail stores harms our local small business retailers.
We believe in community prosperity. We go to bat for locally owned businesses that are active in our community, support local charities and are the drivers of local economic development. We cannot support big-box stores that do not embrace smart growth principles, which pay low wages and minimal benefits to their workers and siphon money out of the local economy to pay their corporate executives millions.
We helped fight off an effort to rezone land designated for affordable housing for yet another unnecessary big-box store near Santa Rosa Avenue. This victory will help retain Friedman’s Home Improvement, a family-owned local business that pays living wages, built a prominent community center and continues to be a leader supporting local charities.
The ADC established the following seven founding principles for accountable development to describe a sustainable and equitable development path that will serve the common good and create shared prosperity.
– Create and enforce community standards through development that meets local and regional needs.
– Build mixed-income neighborhoods through the inclusion of affordable housing for all incomes in all residential developments.
– Promote good jobs through family-supporting wages and benefits, job security, the right to organize, job training and local hire.
– Ensure community health and safety through accessible health care, safe working and housing conditions and a healthy neighborhood environment.
– Be environmentally sustainable through good community design, particularly through pedestrian and transit-oriented development, by using green building and environmentally conscious design.
– Build participation and encourage meaningful community involvement and representation in decisions about development.
– Be smart growth and transit-oriented by directing development toward existing communities, creating bike-able, walk-able neighborhoods and providing a range of transportation options.
This is the agenda of the ADC. We are part of a national movement of accountable development advocates that represents an evolutionary advance in public policy we hope to see implemented across the region.
Our goal is to create a policy platform that informs the next generation of public officials and planning staff and helps broaden civic discourse on public policy issues.