Preserving Sonoma County's greenbelt

Sonoma County, known for being one of the more rural and environmentally friendly parts of California, will see more of its open spaces and agriculture lands areas between cities protected if voters approve Measure K on Nov. 8.  

The Community Separators Protection Ordinance, also known as Measure K, seeks to protect certain portions of Sonoma County designated for scenic purposes and safe from sprawl for the next 20 years. 

The purpose of this is to protect these greenbelts from urbanization. Local cities apart of the greenbelt include Santa Rosa, Penngrove, Sebastopol and Rohnert Park.

This is not the first time a measure like this has been on the ballot. Since 1989, Sonoma County’s General Plan, as well as local voters, have upheld ordinances that would preserve the local greenbelt. During that time, voters have unanimously approved ordinances that would require voter approval for an urban expansion.

In present day, the issue resurfaces as Measure K. Measure K assures a mix of communities and open space, in contrast with many parts of northern California with large areas of urban and suburban sprawl.

This measure particularly affects the ecosystem of Sonoma County such as the water and food supply, as well as the surrounding native habitat of plants and animals.

“Sonoma County has a vibrant collection of communities, and, at the same time, it has open space between communities,” said Environmental Studies Professor John Isom. 

Having open space between major cities assures enough farmland for locally grown food. Open space means healthy ecosystems and proper groundwater drainage.

“I’m in favor of Measure K because I love all the local hiking areas we have in Sonoma County,” said Sonoma County resident Jessica Pacheco. “If this area was to be more urbanized then I wouldn’t have access to these great places.

There are several local open grand spaces including Annadel State Park, Sonoma Coast State Park, Crane Farm, Buckeye Forest, as well as several other open spaces that would be protected under this ordinance.

“I’m from a big city, but I appreciate the refreshing escape of Sonoma County,” said Rohnert Park resident Kyle Johnson. 

The Bay Area is known for having a diverse mix of urban space as well as natural space.

According to a Sonoma countywide voter survey on community separators conducted by the Greenbelt Alliance, 75 percent of voters support preserving Sonoma County’s Greenspace.