WatchSonoma Watch

GUEST OPINION: We must continue to fight sprawl


It is encouraging that the census statistics cited in The Press Democrat’s March 11 editorial (“Census 2010”) support that Sonoma County has done a good job of stopping sprawl. As the editorial states, this is due in part to our urban-growth boundaries, policy tools that guide development toward urban areas and away from open space.

Amanda Bornstein

These growth boundaries surround all nine cities in the county. However, it is imperative that Sonoma County residents stay engaged to ensure that we protect our open space and farmland for future generations.

It is significant that Sonoma County voters have taken land-use control as it relates to sprawl out of the hands of elected officials. By directly approving growth boundaries to preserve the “country in the city” feeling we enjoy in Sonoma County, voters have made clear that they value our open space and agricultural lands, and by so doing, Sonoma County is somewhat insulated from the common problems of sprawl.

Nevertheless, we cannot rest easy on our laurels. Urban-growth boundaries need to be renewed every 20 years. Over the next few election cycles, voters will have to say yes again to keep the valuable protections in place. In 2010, Santa Rosa and Petaluma did just that by renewing their urban-growth boundaries.

Once the recession recedes, and growth trends reappear, sprawl may become a threat again. Future development should be focused around the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit train depots in mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods. It is critical that pedestrian-oriented development becomes the norm and that smart growth advocates work closely with developers and city leadership to craft plans that can guide development to create vibrant and great communities.

Dennis Rosatti

The cities of Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Cloverdale and Healdsburg are currently doing station area planning for the neighborhoods around future SMART train stations. These plans present an important opportunity for residents to influence decision-making and ensure that the development of the future does not make the same mistakes of the past.

Public engagement in these processes will lead to a more relevant and honest assessment of the needs of the rapidly changing and increasingly diverse population.

By 2035, the nine-county Bay Area is expected to add more than 900,000 new households and 1.2 million new jobs. Some of that growth will likely occur in Sonoma County. Through community involvement and thoughtful policies, such as urban-growth boundaries, we can keep new development off open space and reinvest in existing city centers.

We can build communities with a variety of homes all residents can afford, close to parks, transportation, shopping and other necessities. And with these efforts, we can maintain the sense of place that we love about Sonoma County.

Amanda Bornstein is a field representative for Greenbelt Alliance, and Dennis Rosatti is executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action.

54 Responses to “GUEST OPINION: We must continue to fight sprawl”

  1. brian says:

    they rather spend $71m into ways of preventing urban sprawl thats stupid

  2. Kim says:

    I dunno, I’m confused….. In reading all the postings on this subject and looking at the thumbs up and the thumbs down indicators, I just wonder how the heck some people get elected to office in our cities, County and State.

    I don’t think some running for office without a (D) next to their name are getting a fair shot. Isn’t it itme to start looking outside the (D) box?

  3. Skippy says:

    Just whistling past the graveyard, Eric.
    Your whole government-centric house of cards is collapsing.
    When we stop paying our taxes or elect folks that will cut taxes and gut spending, the tolling of the bell will become intolerable.
    Recall Walker and we’ll send up a hundred more. We no longer fear being called racist sexist homophobic islamophobic bigoted nazis. We are immune.
    The taxpayer revolt is becoming a full-blown revolution.
    Sic semper tyrannis.

  4. Eric Newman says:

    Wishful Thinking

    The wishful thinking here is that the national awakening inspired by the Wisconsin uprising will just fade away, because it does not fit with the conservative and corporate Democrat world-view. Mark my words, Gov. Scot Walker and several of the tea party Republican senators will be recalled before this episode is over. The sleeping giant of an authentic working class movement (not a faux grassroots astro-turf Koch Brothers production, complete with dixie flags)has been awakened, and the political landscape will be changed by 2012.

    BTW: My dear conservative brethren, can you please stop using the McCarthyite “socialist” slander for anyone who doesn’t buy the “free market” fundamentalist mythology?

  5. Phil Maher says:

    @Eric Newman-

    Welcome back. Now we have the complete matching set.

    Are they “real” values simply because they’re your values?

    You mistake a populist uprising for the discontentment of socialists and public sector workers who seem to actually be the ones losing ground. I’m no tea partier, but it seems like the contagion is just starting to spread. All isn’t well, and wishing it so won’t change it.

  6. Steve Klausner says:

    SMART was never about solutions for current residents, taxpayers, or commuters. SMART’s publicly owned properties are not for public parking or train maintenance yards. At it’s heart SMART is about Social Engineering.

    Social engineers, this is their vision: “Transit Villages” built on public lands and primed with redevelopment district funds along with any other governmental monies that can be captured. This will come as a surprise to voters who overwhelming supported the SMART train because they thought it was a transportation project for them. But the insiders knew all along what it was really about. Developers must be pinching themselves and trying to keep a straight face as they prepare to fleece the taxpayer with a public land grab that has the full support of their former arch enemies/newest best friends; Sonoma County’s environmental progressives.

    And who’s to live in our lovely new villages? Likely be emigrates from San Francisco, they’re used to tight quarters like these. They’ll certainly appreciate the relative economy of Sonoma County’s new taxpayer subsidized housing, a $500k condo is a good deal when you sell your 75 year old flat in the City for a million. Plus there’s convenient and inexpensive rail transport promising connections to City’s Financial District. With an espresso in the morning, glass of wine in the afternoon, free internet, clickety-clack…the good life just keeps rolling along.

    Testifying at public hearings, but never being heard, I have argued: If we want to build transit villages let’s help the people that need help. Go down to the Santa Rosa’s main bus terminal on a cold rainy night, there are working mothers and fathers trying to get home to their families; on public land near transit, using redevelopment funds, build housing for them. Ok, so maybe I’m sounding like a social engineering wantabe to, but at least in my heart there is still some compassion for regular working folks.

  7. Grey Whitmore says:

    @ Eric Newman.

    Thank god someone sees these nuts jobs on here for what they are. I had no idea that crack pots like this lived in Sonoma County.

    They see schemes within schemes, behind impostors controlled by a secret world government, controlled by a room full of people.

    Can’t wait for their rants trying to show me what I just wrote is actually true.


  8. Eric Newman says:

    ” WSC: Watch Sonoma County=
    Watch Serious Craziness”

    Same old WSC. I took a break and come back to find the same dozen tea party characters raving on about ‘UN agenda 21′. I miss the days when we could have genuine political discussions about real values and genuine (not paranoid) issues. I guess that I can take some solace in knowing that fewer and fewer people go to WSC, now that the site has been overrun by the tin-foil hat crowd.

    Their moment in the sun has just about ended, now that the over-reach of the new Republican governors has set off an authentic populist revolt (see Wisconsin uprising). Gov. Walker will be recalled, and the tea party will end up a footnote in American history (see ‘Know-Nothing Party’). That’s one party that never was fun.

  9. Anderson says:


    Yours was one of the most spot-on, accurate and honest posts I’ve ever read on this site.

    Like many politicians, these people think they know better than everyone else and want to tell you what to do and how to think for your own good. I’ll bet they can spell the word arrogant in several languages.

  10. steveguy says:

    There are other threats to small farming, as these folks want every product certified by a lab, so even the ‘home grown’ aspect of food is under threat.

    I have been planning on growing produce on a 4 acre parcel off of Stony Point Road. Tomatoes, potatoes, etc, for sale to the drive by public at very cheap prices.

    The land has 5 old chicken houses that are melting into the ground, and a fairly decent long barn that was used for sheep and lamb rearing for many years. Try that now……….

    These ‘book learners’ from the colleges are out to control your own inherent right to your own destiny. They think that ‘they know best’ as they have read about it somewhere.

    We need to toos these folks to the ashbin of history as a treasonous to the Constitution that they are. Everything in their ideology is opposite of what this country and county started as.

    By their rules, you can’t board horses unless you have a handicap restroom in your barn. Go try and get a permit for that. They are all about running your lives for their own self-centered ‘worth’ to society.

    I say they are worthless.

  11. Josh Stevens says:

    @ PD

    Still waiting for an answer.

  12. FedUp says:

    @Jim M
    “The UN has nothing to do with it, the first UGB’s in the country were established in the early 1960′s, well before UN agenda 21 in 1992.”

    This is incorrect. The first UGBs were passed by Greenbelt Alliance sponsored ballot initiatives for Santa Rosa, Healdsburg, and Sebastopol simultaneously in 1996, four years after Agenda 21 was adopted ’92. See
    http://www.car.org/governmentaffairs/localgovernmentaffairs/ugb/ or the Greenbelt Alliance website.

    -56.2% of all facts encountered on the web are made up.-

  13. Clay says:

    @Jim- While I agree with you that the reason and rationale behind UGB’s is city separation (at least the reason that appeals to most voters), the environmental movement has taken them to an extreme, and wield them as a tool for social engineering.

    When I hear things like this “…..urban-growth boundaries, policy tools that guide development toward urban areas and away from open space.”

    I get really uncomfortable. I am a native of the Los Angeles area- my family got out when I was 5. There are, to use your words, serious “quality of life” issues that accompany urban development. Urban decay is a real issue… of course, if you never build to an urban extreme, the eventual decay is much less extreme.

    Sonoma County has very few truly “urban” areas. People live here because they don’t want to live in the truly urban parts of the Bay Area- they live here because they want suburban, small town or rural settings.

    Growth policies that intentionally urbanize Sonoma County (in the long term) are destructive to our quality of life.

    Not only that, but environmental extremism is, in large part, to blame for the lack of affordable housing. Slavish devotion to urban growth boundaries takes a reasonable idea (city separation) and takes it to an extreme that severely restricts property rights, housing affordability through artificial supply shortages, and frankly creates a severe bias against human enjoyment and use of our land.

    Please don’t run social planning experiments in my town, and with my tax dollars. People function better with elbow room- with space to spread out and enjoy their homestead. I don’t particularly want to live in an urban area- that’s not why I live here.

    I’d actually like to have my own yard- and a neighborhood park doesn’t count.

  14. Jim M says:

    We have Urban Growth Boundaries in this county for one reason and that is because they are popular with voters. The UN has nothing to do with it, the first UGB’s in the country were established in the early 1960′s, well before UN agenda 21 in 1992.

    The argument I remember hearing most was that we didn’t want to have cities that merged together, with no distinct character or open space in between like they have in Southern California. So it is more of a quality of life issue rather a pure enviromental issue.

  15. john bly says:

    “You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
    You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
    You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independence.
    You cannot help men permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves.”
    — Abraham Lincoln

    Freedom of choice comes with responsibility in how you choose. Some of us may not want to live near a SMART train depot. We have no “sprawl” and the fear of sprawl to drive a political agenda is not responsible. Landowners and farmers have rights-they bought the land-let them decide what to put on it.

  16. FedUp says:

    Bradley Miller:
    “The more you know the harder it is to just condense UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development into a short paragraph.”

    No so. The Vice-Chairman of ICLEI, the international association of local governmental bodies tasked with implementing Agenda 21 on a local level himself put it quite succinctly, “Individual rights must take a back seat to the collective”.


    Our own Valerie Brown sits on the board of ICLE. One of the threats to sustainability listed in the Agenda 21 manifesto is paved roads. Who was the driving force behind the Sups decision to let all but 150 miles of paved roads in Sonoma County “return to nature”? Valerie Brown.

    Collectivism = Slavery

  17. Clay says:

    To quote one of the opinionated ones, “By directly approving growth boundaries to preserve the “country in the city””

    I hardly think that if a reasonable person takes this high-density, “transit-oriented development” to it’s logical conclusion that the term “country in the city” comes to mind.

    The areas of high density development will feel like “the city in the city”…. without all the benefits of a true city. In other words, the high density, over-developed, small and tight concrete jungle feeling, without decent public transportation, cultural and sporting events, nightlife, etc. that usually come with a city.

    @Phil- sure, they’ll eventually let you subdivide the ranch- but realize that they define “estate” lots as 9000 sq ft… so they will expect AT LEAST that density.

    I guess by comparison to “walkable” developments, 9000 sq ft FEELS like alot of space…. while in reality it’s not.

  18. Bradley Miller says:

    Sorry, Phil. You’re wrong. They are implementing Agenda 21/Sustainable Development. Yes, they’re incompetent but they make the rules. Code enforcement and land use regulations are a big one. Blocking you from using your land. Taxing you with business improvement taxes.
    Maybe you didn’t notice, Phil, but in 2009 the Santa Rosa City Council tried to pass an ordinance requiring MANDATORY INSPECTIONS of every single building in Santa Rosa, interior inspections. Why? Mandatory green retrofits. The Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition stopped that by putting out 7,000 flyers. The citizens were outraged.
    Phil, it’s easy to sit back and say they’re too stupid or crude to pull it off. Unfortunately they don’t have to be that smart–Just have the power and have people do nothing. That’s all it takes, Phil.
    When you read their propaganda it sounds great. Why shouldn’t it? It’s propaganda. They all get their literature from the same place. Do an internet search on Sustainable Development and add any city name to it. In any country. They’re all the same.
    If all you read is their propaganda then that’s all you know.
    Wake up.
    Stop Agenda 21. Stop these arrogant, smug propagandists with their canned vocabulary and one-size-fits-all rules.

    These groups get people elected. That’s what you need to be concerned about.

  19. Bradley Miller says:

    The more you know the harder it is to just condense UN Agenda 21/Sustainable Development into a short paragraph. On the one hand we just want to say: ‘Take my word for it,’ and on the other hand there are the skeptics who think we’ve made it up since they didn’t read it in the local paper or see it on FoxNewsCNNMSNBCCSPAN.

    Everyone is being impacted by it, but since your government uses different names for all of the programs (it’s alphabet soup), you don’t recognize that there is a connection when you hear, for instance:

    Your 10-year old child won’t be automatically going to the middle school in your neighborhood but has to apply for admission. S/he may end up across town where you’ll never attend parent/teacher night, never become friends with other parents, and not volunteer in the classroom (and hear the lesson) because you can’t make it home from your job in time.

    Your business is being subjected to a Business Improvement Tax by your local government and you have to pay even though your customers now have to put money in the meters, pay huge parking tickets, and can go to the Mall with free parking.

    You inherited a piece of land from your folks but now you find out that it’s impossible to build anything on it because the County has an ordinance that won’t allow you to install a septic system on your 40 acres. And the Biotic Resource Corridor that it’s in won’t allow development anyway. And besides you’re in the ‘viewshed’ so bicyclists can look at your land as they ride a nearby trail, and a building would ruin that.

    You don’t believe that you’re being ‘forced’ out of your private vehicle but then you notice that even though Libya produces only 2% of the world’s oil your gasoline cost just jumped up 15% since Gaddafi started shouting. You also have noticed that there’s talk about a ‘Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax’ in your town council that would charge you for long commutes. You moved there to buy a house but the market has crashed and you’re not going anywhere for a while.

    You, of course, were an avid fan of the Smart Train idea and voted for the 1/4 cent sales tax hike in perpetuity, but now the train is a distant hope since they underestimated costs, and the money went to repair the tracks (for freight) and big pensions for staff. All of those SMART Growth condos by the tracks are now going to hear freight train whistles and smell the fumes 6 feet away.

    You’re sick of being called an “Oil Addict” and can’t understand why innovations for energy efficient vehicles have never been funded by your government. Until now, when you can pay $40,000 for a compact that gets 35 miles to the gallon…

    You came home from work and noticed that your energy company had installed a SMART METER without asking you, and now you’ve heard that they can shut it off remotely, monitor your use, reduce your allotment, and generally mess with you any time.

    You attend your church or civic organization meeting and find out that you’re going to be walking around your neighborhood with an 11-page questionnaire that is so comprehensive that you’ll be embarrassed to ask the neighbors to fill it out, but you have to because you’re a MANDATORY VOLUNTEER. You’ll be reporting back to the organizers of the Neighborhood Summit, the Leadership Institute of Ecology and Economy—it’s a public private partnership that is all about getting as much information about you as possible and then using it to manage you.

    You’ve gone from saying you’d never bother to learn computers to checking your email every half hour, and your kids never look up from their I-whatever when you talk to them. Their classrooms are so crammed with kids that even you think remote learning might be a good idea, and, hey, textbooks on-line should save money—they can update them, change them, change history with a click of the mouse—Great!

    You just came back from a vacation in Mexico and noticed the retina recognition and fingerprint readers at every customs officer’s station, and it made you nervous. Of course they’re not using them on everyone yet, but how long will it be? You’ve also read that they have miniature drone spy hummingbirds that can fly 8 miles, in and out of windows, and record sound and video! Who? Your government. What else do they have? Do they know you’re reading this?

    You go to a neighborhood association meeting out of some sense of civic duty and see that they’re electing officers to the association. You’d like to nominate your neighbor but you can’t because the by-laws say that any candidate has to be okayed by the board first. You try to make a comment but you are boo’d by your ‘neighbors’ in bike helmets and spandex. It’s clear that they have a candidate who will be elected and claim to speak for the entire neighborhood.

    Call it Smart Growth. Call it Sustainable Development. Call it Form Based Zoning. Call it Capacity Building. Call it Consensus Building. Call it Green Building. Call it Wildlands. Call it Homelands. Call it Outcome Based Education. ETC. Hey, it’s not “What is Agenda 21″, it’s “WHAT ISN’T AGENDA 21″ It’s not Republican, and it’s not Democrat. It’s not Libertarian, and it’s not Independent. It’s COMMUNITARIAN.

    Satisfied? Are we making this up? Have you noticed? So? WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT? Listen, no one is holding a gun to your head; you’re not losing your job if you speak out. Will you please go and talk to your neighbor, friend, co-worker, partner, coach, financial advisor, lawyer, clerk, you get the idea…. SPEAK UP. SPEAK OUT. STOP AGENDA 21 NOW.

  20. Rosario Gonzalez says:

    Grey (Lisa), wikipedia won’t post anything that goes counter to the party line on Agenda 21. They remove any entry that doesn’t support it. Surprising, right? Wikipedia isn’t the holy impartial bible of encyclopedists.

    Sustainable Development didn’t just hop out of the box suddenly for no reason. Is it just an odd coincidence that every General Plan in the nation quotes from it? Is it just a coincidence that green is being used to regulate your land rights, your water use, your energy use and your economics?

    The three cornerstones of Agenda 21/Sustainability are Social Equity, Ecology, and Economy. What does that mean?

    The UN Secretary General said it clearly. Americans have too high a standard of living and have to be brought down to a lower level. We have to have our rights ‘balanced’ with those of poorer less free nations.

    But you know all about it, Lisa/Grey, don’t you? Advocating ignorance of the new rules is a way to keep people from protesting. Calling us names is a way to discourage others from speaking out.

    We’re winning.

    People are doing the reading. Connecting the dots. All these regulations? The increased code-enforcement? The new definition of crime? The city council cutting off Public Comments? All Agenda 21/Sustainable Development.

    Read about it.
    Don’t let Lisa/Grey discourage you. It’s more than our right to speak out. It’s our duty. Read Henry David Thoreau’s On The Duty of Civil Disobedience. It is vital to our freedom.

    Democrats Against UN Agenda 21 dot com

  21. To Wit says:

    I think Mr. Whitmore needs to read more.

  22. Phil Maher says:

    I’ll agree that some objectives of Agenda 21 are absolutely sinister and diabolical, while some seem worthy enough at face value. The problem comes from the interpretations to suit regional,local, and individual philosophies.

    Whether you think it’s all real or imagined, consider this:
    1. The local agencies that are going to need to implement LA21 don’t have the money, resources, chutzpah, or the cajones to see it through to the conclusion.
    2. The vast majority of the time, the UN can’t even get their crap off the tarmac or beyond the warehouses of some warlord that lives in a mud hut, and makes millions selling their rice and bottled water on the black market in between genocidal rampages.

    I’ll fear Agenda 21 when an organization that’s better at doing what they do pushes it. In the meantime, we’ll just let them continue pretending to be social engineers and Gods. Silly people, the world is run at the end of an AK-47, not in the City Halls of a bunch of suburban wannabes.

  23. Grey Whitmore says:


    What is Agneda 21?

    A set of guidelines put out by the United Nations with the goal of promoting “the principles of cultural diversity, human rights, intercultural dialogue, participatory democracy, sustainability and peace.”

    Such a diabolical goal!!!!!

    Short History:


    United Nations Site:


  24. Frankly, if you don’t educate yourself to UN Agenda 21 and sustainable development, you are going to be spouting drivel.

    Look around you. Your town council is being directed by mandated programs from Agenda 21.

    Your neighborhood associations are being directed by paid lobbyists (Lung Association, Solar groups, NGO’s, Accountable Development Coalition) who don’t identify their funders.

    Programs that are redesigning your town in order to restrict your mobility and options are being funded by the Feds and private groups (public/private partnerships).

    Asset based community development which is a program that sends ‘volunteers’ around to your door to interview you for what you can do for the community, is a Nazi inspired program designed to identify non-team players. High density urban development glutting your town center with condos and apartments with no parking and high fees, are part of Agenda 21.

    Before you decide how groovy this is, think about not having a car, hanging your laundry up to dry after washing it by hand, doing your ‘mandatory volunteering’, using only 10 gallons of water per day, no private yard space, participating communally in all social activities done out of doors, having your political and personal views and business reviewed by a neighborhood board.

    Think its crazy? It’s happening now. In Sonoma County.

    That article in Mother Jones is a miserable excuse for journalism. Poorly written, completely biased, and extremely short on facts.
    Just what we can expect from Lisa Maldonado.

  25. FedUp says:

    The best way to fight sprawl in an agricultural county like Sonoma is to support policies that allow farmers to make a living. This is apparently a foreign concept to the Planning Commission and board of Sups who seem intent on driving us from our land.

    Farmers need to be free to do the things farmers do. We plow our land, we clear brush, build fences and barns,and we burn lots of diesel. We cut down trees, sometimes for more room to plant, sometimes for firewood, sometimes just because the damn thing’s in our way. We fertilize, we use pesticides so that we and not the pests gain the benefit of our labor. In short, we engage in all manner of activities those who profess a desire to preserve open space find abhorrent. Of course they’ve never farmed a day in their life.

  26. FedUp says:

    @GAJ: No need for head scratching. Just Google The Wildlands Project, part of Agenda 21 you find so bemusing. Their goal isn’t access. Quite the contrary, it’s the creation of human free zones. Make sense now?

  27. Anderson says:

    The authors wrote: Future development should be focused around the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit train depots in mixed-use, walkable neighborhoods.

    So, they want development centered around a Sonoma County and Marin (SCAM) train, which most people will not ride and may well turn out to be the biggest tax boondoggle in county history? If and when it ever gets built? I’m all for open space and walking to shop when it makes sense, but their scenario sounds more like a pipe dream conjured by control freaks than reality.

  28. Greg Karraker says:

    @Lisa: I have reservations about the darker, more extreme motives ascribed to Agenda 21, but I have seen personally what doctrinaire hacks most city planners are. And I have seen how eerily similar their visions of utopia are. Given their lack of imagination, it’s difficult how to see how they could have created this plan on their own. This cookie cutter plan, advocated in 600 different U.S. cities, comes from the same source. Is it an evil plan? No. Is it the only blueprint for human survival? Also, no.

    If you want to live in an urban-infilled, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood like Petaluma’s Theatre District, that’s fine. I find it sort of appealing myself.

    What I do not find appealing is environmental zealots who use words like must in their opinions, as in “We must stop sprawl”, and “We must calm traffic.” What they must do is make their own lifestyle choices, and stop trying to dictate mine.

  29. Geoff Johnson says:

    The Mother Jones article Lisa Maldonado recommended below comments:

    “In the tea partiers’ dystopian vision, the increased density favored by planners to allow for better mass transit become compulsory “human habitation zones.” They warn of Americans being forcibly moved from their suburban dream homes into urban “hobbit homes” and required to give up their cars and instead—gasp!—take the bus to work. The enemies in this fight are hidden behind bland trade-association names like the American Planning Association or ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability).”

    Should we ordinary citizens who aren’t “tea partiers” be concerned about Agenda 21, and groups like ICLEI?

    The PD reported 9/10/06:

    “A decade ago, Sonoma County’s housing market was on the rebound and Ann Hancock was busy selling homes.

    But something was missing for the longtime community activist, who had taken on causes ranging from nuclear weapons to women’s health. …

    Hancock today leads the Climate Protection Campaign, a Graton-based nonprofit group that has successfully pushed the county and all nine of its cities to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and ease global warming.

    The unified effort by Sonoma County and its cities is unparalleled among local governments across the nation, said Susan Ode, U.S. outreach director for the Toronto nonprofit behind the undertaking, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability.”

    You don’t have to be a “tea partier” to see that local government and business are working with ICLEI–and to question their motives.

    The Climate Protection Campaign is here: http://www.climateprotectioncampaign.org/

  30. Michael Sheehan says:

    Well put, FedUp.

    @Greg – Hey there – Having grown up on 3 acres outside Cotati and next door to a dairy farm, I kind of like seeing those old \falling-down, decrepit\ barns surrounded by open fields, But ONLY if the property owners want to keep THEIR private property in that rustic state. If they prefer single family homes on estate-sized lots, that’s their choice.

    In contrast, if some people want to donate their land to greenbelts, good for them too. It’s about freedom of personal choice.

  31. GAJ says:

    To Lisa Maldonado.

    Thx for the link; I had no idea what that gibberish was about!

    One of the reasons to live here is the lack of cement!

    If you want to live in a suburban/semi-rural environment where “anything goes” there are numerous choices around the country.

    That being said, I scratch my head when rural lands are bought at exorbitant prices by the Open Space District, lands that would never see any significant development anyway, and then those providing the money aren’t allowed access.

  32. FedUp says:

    First off, there is no “county’s open space”. Except for parks etc., the open space is _owned_ by private parties. Those parties has a constitutional right to the beneficial use of _their_ property (wherein _they_ get to decide what beneficial means), unencumbered by your collectivist ideology which views all property as being held in common.

    Secondly, I am under no obligation to “act in the best interest of my neighbors”. This is still a free country which means, if nothing else, I get to make rational decisions based on _my_ self interest. My neighbor has no legitimate claim on my property or my labor.

    Finally, you are free to define your ideal lifestyle and take whatever steps you see fit to further your goals, as long as the steps you take do not deny others the right to make different choices.

  33. For those of you not familiar with “Watch Sonoma Crazy’s “UN Agenda 21″ Paranoia, here’s the inside scoop on the big bowl of Tea Party Crazy that these boards are full of:

  34. Dave says:

    I grew up in Western PA, the Greater Pittsburgh area, and in my planned neighborhood, the only reason you had a fence on your yard, was because you had dogs or a pool. Otherwise you had open space, even with backyards that faced each other. Why? Because the smallest lot was about 1/2 an acre. My Dad commuted to downtown Pittsburgh from 1979 to 1984 and from 84-86 to Wilkinsburg, on the other side of the city from our family home. This was done far before the freeways that now exist from the communities north of Pittsburgh to it’s downtown area. It would be the equivalent of leaving Petaluma and driving to San Francisco using only surface streets. And if you know anything about Pittsburgh, PA, if you want to get downtown you usually have to cross a bridge or go through a tunnel or both to get there. My point is this. There was no urban sprawl in the area. There was no need for protected open space. People crated that themselves with their yards, and the parks in the area. There were and still are farms surrounding the housing developments. If you want urban style living you move into the city. If you want open space, you move to the suburbs. Stop piling people on top of one another where you can reach out your window touch your neighbors house and you will eliminate the need for “open space” and protected green belt. I am with an earlier poster, give people some elbow room and stop telling us how to live. If you want to expand, do so intelligently with some planning and forethought.

  35. Chris says:

    I’m sorry, but how is preserving our county’s open space and protecting our community water and air quality a UN conspiracy. I think our county has done a reasonable job of protecting these resources, but that doesn’t mean we can just sit by and hope that everyone is going to act in the best interest of their neighbors.

    I don’t see how anything is preventing folks from living in a traditional suburban home, but there is a serious lack of quality housing for those of us who desire a more walkable location close to services. I spend over two hours a day commuting to work and back. It would be nice and healthy if I could walk to other things like restaurants and shops when I get home…or even better, be able to walk to work.

  36. James Bennett says:

    This is A21 rhetoric/propaganda/advertising.The name of the peice should read;’We must stop Agenda21′.Or,’We must stop fascism.’I know,’We must stop civil oppression’.I moved here to live in the country.I don’t know about you, but I do not wish to be ‘contained’.I want to be free.Go to U-Tube,search Agenda 21 , Wildlands Project and Club of Rome.Get some pop corn and a STIFF DRINK. Less than 5% of our country is ‘developed’.Say it out loud,it’s liberating and very timely.I WANT TO BE FREE.

  37. Frank says:

    jjust another land grab diguised as environmental this or that
    40 years ago my parents lost land thay had close to the beach, Half Moon Bay. proposition # (don’t remember the number)could not build within i think it was 1500 ft of the beach. Now that same property has a hotel on it

  38. Jason Valez says:

    These shills for smartgrowth and the smart train are paid political operatives and are extremely biased. Our population is declining if you don’t count the unmitigated influx of illegals. Add to that the housing bust and nothing is getting built. They want credit for that. B.S.

    Juxtapose this with the article about the Elnoka project, where high-density is being built in the suburbs, far away from mass transit and walkable neighborhoods. Why aren’t they fighting this? These two are hypocrites because they are going along with the improper re-zoning of an area which was supposed to be developed with compatible low-density development. Why did this happen? Because a very wealthy developer took advantage of the HAG lawsuit against Santa Rosa which was settled by the City upzoning certain areas. The selection of these areas was a backroom deal.

    These two are big fans of the rezonings which occurred when the Downtown Station Area Plan was developed. That plan made hundreds, if not thousands of properties non-conforming to their new zoning. That means those property owners can no longer improve or expand their use on their properties. This assault on property owners is being done in the name of smartgrowth which wants urban areas to be demolished and new high-density development to replace it. After the Station Area Plan was approved someone representing the Greenbelt Alliance said to ‘get those non-conforming uses out of there’ at a City Council meeting. Such insensitivity.

    The ideology which claims to want to improve our cities and improve the lives of people is a sham which some use for their own personal gain. Why do they not show any consideration to those who lose businesses and quality of life to high-density redevelopment? Fighting sprawl should include fighting the ‘vertical sprawl’ produced by high-density development that reduces quality of life by overcrowding, increased levels of crime, traffic and pollution.

  39. John G. says:

    Google UN Agenda 21. These control freaks and their advocates (such as Bornstein and Rosatti) believe that the government can best tell private citizens what they are allowed to do with their property. Sickening.

  40. Tensigh says:

    How is building around train stations NOT part of sprawl? That PROMOTES sprawl, because people commute and the areas around stations get hyper developed. I live in Japan (right next to a train station) and everywhere there’s a station there are stores, pachinko parlors, video rental shops, etc.

    How is more mini-marts, chain stores and loud traffic NOT sprawl??

  41. Will says:

    Flooded roads, pot holes, power outages that last for days (residents less than 3 miles away within the city had power restored within a few hours), astronomical fees for building permits even for simple home renovations; fees so ridiculous that honest citizens will bypass the county and build illegally, no businesses, no jobs, no growth…

    I’m starting to think that the mindset of those who are against growth wish to prevent it by making life as uncomfertable as possible, so as to make it unappealing for those who would otherwise want to live here change their minds. Not to mention the blight in unincorporated parts of the county.

    The problem is that I have lived in unincorporated Santa Rosa and have so for 30 years. I remeber the debate over bringing BART to Sonoma County, and the debates over widening the freeways…

    The premise was always to prevent sprawl, but at the cost of making things more difficult for the rest of us.

    Instead of a “just say no” policy with regards to growth, which hurts us all in the long run (and doesn’t work). There needs to be planned communites and creativly designed developments that not only encourage growth in the form of homes, schools, and businesses; but also incorporate farms and green areas.

    It’s time to think outside the box when it comes to being “green” because I am tired of having my rights as a land owner and tax payer taken away.

  42. Geoff Johnson says:

    The 3/11 PD editorial commented,

    \There is no sprawl. As the latest census figures show, there’s barely been any growth.

    Sonoma County’s population grew a mere 5.5 percent from 2000 to 2010 — a total of about 2,500 people a year. Some cities, including Rohnert Park and Sebastopol, actually saw their populations decrease, by 3 percent and 5 percent respectively.

    The local growth booms–and subsequent busts–were in the ’80s and ’90s:

    \This is in sharp contrast to the 18 percent growth that occurred during the previous decade,when Sonoma County led the Bay Area in expanding populations. During the 1980s, the county grew by roughly a third.\

    The PD ignored that previous excessive, largely unmitigated growth for private profit–and the national housing bust and recession–and credited local measures with the building bust of the last decade:

    \Is the slow-down here a reflection of Sonoma County’s surging commitment to urban growth boundaries, open space preservation and other growth-control measures? No question.\

    Yet the PD said there is a housing crisis today–a crisis of oversupply!

    \In fact, one can argue that if those growth measures weren’t in place, the county’s housing crisis today would be far worse. As the census figures show, the number of vacant homes in Sonoma County jumped 74 percent over the past decade. Nearly 19,000 homes were vacant as of this time last year.\

    Few citizens are aware that the City
    Council built today’s urban sprawl into Santa Rosa 2010, the 1991 General Plan.

    That plan called for an \ultimate\ population of 175,000 at buildout last year. But it also pushed out the city boundaries, so that the developers and City Hall could say that continuous urban sprawl was just routine \infill\ development.

    And few citizens are aware that the Labor/Demo \progressives\–like Sonoma County Conservation Action, and its SMART train boondoggle–have become the most effective force for continuous urban growth in Santa Rosa and Sonoma County.

  43. Greg Karraker says:

    Newsflash for Dwimby: If you think sprawl isn’t pretty, take a drive on Stony Point Road, or Petaluma Hill Road, just as two examples.

    You will see more falling-down, decrepit pieces of rural blight than you could imagine.

    Replacing this skanky landscape with clean, freshly built single-family homes and large yards would be a huge improvement over the eyesores that define so much of this county.

  44. Dwimby says:

    Good points. Sprawl can be controlled. So let’s do so. If you think sprawl is pretty consider moving back to Chula Vista.

  45. Skippy says:

    There is no reason why you should be barred from doing so.
    If our betters wish to stop you, let them buy your ranch. Without using my tax dollars.
    And people wonder why revolution ala Egypt or Tunisia is just around the corner for US.
    Minutemen, hear the call!

  46. Steveguy says:

    These folks are just obstructionists that want us all living jammed up against each other. They claim to be green, and want the SMART Train, yet oppose a small gravel quarry that is very local. Same with the asphalt plant and river gravel.

    Their ‘policies’ are driven by a NIMBY attitude, yet it is not very ‘green’ to ship these products from afar, while squelching any real productive local jobs from our local resources.

    These groups want to control not only the more urban areas, they are after control of our open spaces and small farms. They seem to have a big problem with the USA being ‘The Land of the Free’, and would prefer to change it to ‘The Land of the Fees’.

    Too much influence for clearly biased and economy harming groups. Though they do heap praise on the in-fill developers, for favors and $$$$$$$$$.

    Follow the money on these types, and you would very disappointed in what they do.

    I would like a Grand Jury investigation into their practices and benefactors.

  47. Phil Maher says:

    Does this mean I can’t subdivide the ranch into estate parcels?

  48. Josh Stevens says:

    @ PD

    Why do only lefties get to contribute guest opinions?

    Would someone on the PD staff demonstrate some intellectual courage,and address this?

  49. John Hudson says:

    OK, Conservation Action, if you think that Measure L is bankrupting the City of Rohnert Park, how do you explain the financial statement that the City of Rohnert Park published in the November 12, 2010 edition of the Community Voice that showed “excess revenues” of $2,017,432 from public utilities?

    In your eagerness to make MacKenzie happy by opposing Measure L, you got into bed with the other opponents of Measure L: Sonoma County Alliance, Codding Enterprises (recipient of a gift of $880,000 in public funds) 101 Holdings, Vast Oak Properties, Winzler & Kelly, Brookfield Homes, and, of course, Herb Williams.

    Birds of a feather flock together.

  50. Greg Karraker says:

    Taking John Hudson’s advice, I looked up the Greenbelt Alliance’s map of areas at “high-risk” of being developed:


    If you view the map, please note how miniscule the red “high-risk” areas are in relation to the vast open spaces around them.

    But once again, these unelected nanny-state zealots trot out the same tired mantra: Smart growth around train depots, high density mixed-use urban infill with more bikes than cars, and everyone living in a second-floor walkup above a tofu parlor, nail salon, or organic produce shop.

    That’s fine for anyone who wants to choose that lifestyle, but when somebody says I must do this, I invite them to stop dictating how the rest of us must live.

  51. Skippy says:

    What some refer to as sprawl others call elbow room.
    It has long been the goal of progressive land use planners to squash the pesky humans into an ever smaller patch of ground as close to the freeway as possible.
    That way they can be proud of the results; that nobody builds a house that spoils the visionary planners’ pastoral view.
    Let’s be honest. There is no sprawl in Sonoma Co. For evidence, climb to the top of Mt. St. Helena and look west. You will see a few little spots with people, and the rest is all hills, trees and farmland. Or fly in to Schulz Airport in a window seat.
    Private property rights are under assault from many directions. This is one of them.
    What do these enlightened elitists have against the freedom to move on up the country and paint your mailbox blue?
    Let me guess; it’s only a bad thing when the hoi polloi do it.

  52. Beef King says:

    It is unfortunate that Dennis Rosatti and his opinions are tainted by his loyalty and commitment to union/progressive/marxist principles.
    Why should we be asked to read the opinions of someone who has never had any personal success in the field that he is opining about?
    Thanks PD, but I’d rather read the opinions of someone who has actually had success at
    implementing civil matters to the benefit of ALL residents, not just for those who pay union dues.
    How about a valid counter opinion to follow this paid advertisement?

  53. Conservation Action says:

    Jake MacKenzie is NOT on Sonoma County Conservation Action’s Board of Directors, and never has been. Elected officials are traditionally not considered for SCCA Board membership.

    Conservation Action has argued for years that grow has outpaced the ability of the cities/county to keep up with existing infrastructure, and that new growth needs to pay it’s own way towards water/sewer/roads/etc.

    We also don’t want bankrupt cities, which Measure L would have done. Finding economic solutions to complex public infrastructure problems is rarely clean cut or easy to fix at the ballot box. That’s one of the reasons Urban Growth Boundaries are such a great land use tool- simple line, don’t build beyond it, the power’s in the hands of the people. There are few better examples of sprawl-curbing policy to be found in CA.

  54. John Hudson says:

    The greenbelt Alliance, Ms. Bornstein’s employer, published a map showing the location of land endangered by development in Sonoma County. Prominently shown in bright red on that map as land in danger of being paved over are the proposed “University District” and other lands east of Rohnert Park. At the same time the Greenbelt Alliance is bemoaning the paving over of these lands east of RP, Jake MacKenzie, a board member of the Greenbelt Alliance has been promoting the paving over of that land with all his might as a member of the RP city council.

    Dennis Rosati is employed by Sonoma County Conservation Action. Rosatti and his organization opposed the Rohnert Park Measure L sewer rate roll back in 2008 along with the prospective developers of the lands east of RP slated for development. In fact, the campaign against Measure L was financed entirely by developers because Measure L cut off the funding for the eastside sewer line that would serve their developments. Jake MacKenzie is also a board member of SCCA.

    Jake MacKenzie is obviously a pro-developer politician. Just look at the accompanying article about RP being a “city in reverse”. MacKenzie was a leading opponent of Measure L because he knows that the eastside sewer line has to be built before the land east of RP can be turned into houses. MacKenzie also knows that developers do not want to put $15 million of their money at risk building the eastside sewer line. Impact fees are not paid until a building permit is issued after the sewer line is built. MacKenzie, the Greenbelt Alliance and SCCA want to force the people of Rohnert Park to finance the eastside sewer line for developers. With a pro-development politician like MacKenzie on their boards, you know that the Greenbelt Alliance and Sonoma County Conservation Action are false prophets of environmentalism.