A bucolic 9-acre pasture grazed by cows on Sonoma’s northwest edge has become an unlikely battleground of late, pitting local government officials who want use it to manage flood and drought concerns against neighbors who say the county promised to preserve it forever in its natural state.
The pasture, protected by what is known as a conservation easement, is the southern point of the 98-acre Montini Preserve, which spans the oak-studded hills above it. The Sonoma County Water Agency is eyeing the pasture for a $4 million detention basin big enough to hold almost 4 million gallons of water.
The proposal has a group of area residents up in arms.
Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire turned down the chairmanship of the board Tuesday, saying the demands on his time are too great.
“The bottom line is that the county and the residents of the fourth district are my priority,” he said after his surprise announcement.
McGuire, 34, is running for an open state senate seat, but he declined to tie his decision directly to that campaign, though he did admit that was a draw on his limited time. He said he reached his decision last week after several weeks of thought.
At Leland Fly Fishing Ranch south of Sonoma, owner Josh Frazier sat on a deck overlooking a pond that he built and stocked with trout, but one that he is barred from casting a line in.
Concerns that the pond could attract birds and pose a threat to pilots taking off and landing at Sonoma Valley Airport, which is adjacent to the Arnold Drive ranch, are at the center of Frazier’s long-running land-use dispute with county officials and the airport owners.
Healdsburg City Councilman Jim Wood announced Friday that his campaign for the state Assembly seat representing the North Coast has been endorsed by the incumbent, 2nd District Assemblyman Wes Chesbro.
Wood’s early entry into the race and strong fundraising have already made him a frontrunner among several Democrats vying for the seat. Chesbro’s endorsement could bolster that status.
Petaluma’s city leaders Monday night dug into the structure and risks of the planned Sonoma Clean Power Authority, an alternative to utility giant PG&E promised to bring a greener product to county residents.
Healdsburg’s financial fortune seems to have reversed overnight Monday. A new look at the city budget shows a $1 million ending balance in this year’s general fund, instead of an anticipated deficit.
The broad smile, a trademark of his 20 years of representing the North Coast in Congress, still flashes across Don Clausen’s face.
Downtown, on the north bank of Santa Rosa Creek, a large mural of a fish graces a concrete retaining wall along the Prince Memorial Greenway.
The colorful artwork is meant to celebrate one of the key goals of the $25 million public works project — the restoration of the creek’s aquatic habitat.
But the health of the creek remains threatened by what lies hidden behind that retaining wall — soil and groundwater contaminated with a toxic brew of oil and other poisonous byproducts left behind at a former manufactured-gas plant.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. closed the plant in 1924 and now is spending tens of millions of dollars to clean the site at First and B streets, now mostly covered by the parking lot of the Westamerica Bank building.
But 26 years after regulators ordered the property cleaned up, it still hasn’t been and won’t be for years.
Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials are seeking $6.6 million in federal funds to buy more train cars, money that otherwise would be used for local pedestrian and bicycle paths.
‘SMART is committed to go to Cloverdale and to Larkspur and as you go farther, you need more vehicles,’ said Farhad Mansourian, SMART’s general manager.
SMART’s request is drawing fire from bicycle advocates because the rail agency would be taking the lion’s share of $9.9 million that Sonoma County is getting for such projects as bike lanes, sidewalk improvements, traffic lights, Safe Routes to Schools programs and even construction of SMART’s own pedestrian and bicycle path.