Contain the Growth (Growth Management Policies/ Accountable Development/ Environmental Standards in Building and Policy)
One of our primary organizing principals is to support development policies that reflect the needs and protect the quality of life for those who live here now. Through our work in Accountable Development with our coalition organizations, we have advanced an agenda of smart growth with equity. We have prevented sprawl development patterns and guided growth back into the exisiting urban infrastructure. We have worked to find solutions that promoted sustainability for development projects, planning processes, and other public policy forums.
Establish the Transportation Backbone for Sonoma County (SMART Rail and Trail)
Conservation Action was an early leader in the fight to reestablish passenger rail service in the North Bay. Our door to door canvassers knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors educating the public about the benefits of rail and infill development and in shaping the public debate to sway opinion towards SMART as a multi-modal solution for the region.
Promote livable, walkable, vibrant communities around SMART Rail depots
By encouraging and streamlining growth around rail depots, we:
- Build ridership for the train
- Maximize economic return for the areas around depots for both cities and SMART
- Reduce the demand for sprawl housing on the fringe of municipal borders.
Plastic Bag Ban in all Sonoma County municipalities
Conservation Action works to promote policy solutions that government can use to protect natural resources. We also actively support candidates for public office that we feel will be strong for the environment. Our Sonoma County Waste Management Agency, controlled with equal vote among all 10 Sonoma County jurisdictions, passed a county-wide ban on single use plastic carryout bags. This was a 6 year campaign with a strong and even result across Sonoma County city’s boarders.
Urban Growth Boundaries around all 9 Sonoma County cities
Voters in every city in Sonoma County have passed Urban Growth Boundaries around their cities- lines that prevent extension of city services beyond them and that lock in sprawl and encourage infill development.
Protection of greenbelts between cities and our Sonoma County Community Seperator Policy
In 1996, Sonoma County voters passed a 20 year Community Separator policy to protect the lands on the edge of urban growth boundaries and to encourage cities to adopt UGB’s. This is a major campaign focus area for Conservation Action in the coming year(s). With the voter protections expiring in 2016, it is critical for us to build the political will and community support to reauthorize and potentially expand upon the initial grouping of separator lands identified in 1996.
Reauthorization of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
Conservation Action led the field campaign to successfully reauthorize the quarter cent sales tax that funds the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. Reaffirmed with a 75% voter approval, we have have saved over 100,000 acres of land in Sonoma County!
Creation of affordable housing
With our allies in labor and social justice organizations, we Conservation Action has advocated for inclusionary housing policies which require that developers build units affordable to a range of income levels.
Over a 7 year period, Conservation Action staff and canvassers have advocated for streamside setbacks to protect water quality and supply, and to enhance riparian vegetation, function, and habitat. Endangered Salmon and Steelhead need our help, and we’ve worked hard for sensible regulations to protect both farmer, fish, and people in our watersheds.
Santa Rosa waste water reuse
Conservation Action canvassers generated 1,200 letters to the Santa Rosa Board of Public Utilities, forcing them to stop dumping poorly treated wastewater into the Russian River, the drinking water supply for 600,000 people in Sonoma and Marin Counties. Our successful and persistent lobbying and advocacy resulted in the Geyser’s Pipeline solution. The Geyser’s, a clean energy and wastewater disposal solution, is the largest geothermal energy field in the world, generating over 835 megawatts of power.
Elimination of gravel mining in the Russian River
Conservation Action has worked to educate the public about the dangers of gravel mining in our drinking water supply, and has successfully lobbied to virtually eliminate terrace pit mining through the Sonoma County Aggregate Resources Management Plan.
Saving redwood and coastal forests from vineyards and other conversions
From fighting back heinous clear-cut proposals like Preservation Ranch (1,800 acres of ridgetop development) to working for sane policy through the Vineyard Erosion and Sediment Control Ordinance, Conservation Action is standing up for the trees. Our Sonoma County Open Space District has added thousands of acres into the “protected” category since it’s beginnings in 1990, protecting valuable coastal zone habitat and forest ecosystems.
Endorsement and election of candidates with strong environmental positions
Arguably our greatest accomplishments are in the work to create and maintain city council and board of supervisor majorities for the environment. Each election cycle our canvassers, staff and board are interviewing candidates for public office, making endorsements of those that we feel will be strong voices for the local environment, and then actively campaigning to help get these endorsements elected by the local constituency.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of Conservation Action’s incredible accomplishments since its founding, it is indicative of the large role we’ve played in protecting the Sonoma County environment. Many of these successes require ongoing maintenance and renewal – the fight is never truly over. Future initiatives include establishing a regional park at Sonoma Mountain, ensuring strong marine protection and public access in the Local Coastal Plan, campaigning for a stronger Tree Ordinance to protect our forests, renewal of the greenbelt protecting Community Separators policy in 2016, creating Climate Action Plans for every city in the county, and more. Join us today to become a vital part of our future victories!