Posted by & filed under News.

SCCA was hoping to see Rohnert Park become the 8th city in Sonoma County to stop using synthetic pesticides in publicly accessible areas last month but the meeting was cancelled. At the last minute, three of Rohnert Park City Councilors were unfortunately unable to attend. The Rohnert Park Pesticide Vote has been tentatively postponed until September 10th.

A HUGE thank you to the ~100 dedicated residents and concerned citizens who came out to the meeting! Please make plans to come again on Sept. 24th and speak in support of a Toxic Free Rohnert Park.

In the meantime please reach out to the Rohnert Park City Council urging them to vote in support of the health and safety of Rohnert Park’s public spaces.


City Manager Darrin Jenkins:
Mayor Gina Belforte:
Vice Mayor Joseph Callinan:
Councilmember Susan Hollingsworth Adams:
Councilmember Jake Mackenzie:
Councilmember Pam Stafford:


The Staff report put forward by the RP City Manager projects a significant increase in landscaping cost. We believe that it’s absolutely possible for Rohnert Park to make the transition to non-toxic landscaping with minimal cost increases, especially because all of the work is being done in-house. All of the local entities that do their landscape maintenance in-house and switched to all or mostly organic methods have seen very little or no cost increases.


Examples of cities and city agencies that have gone Toxic Free without significant cost increase include:

The Sonoma County Agencies‘ synthetic pesticide “ban” that passed last June that keeps synthetic pesticides out of most publicly accessible areas came with no associated FTE or cost increases. Regional Parks does all of their landscape maintenance in-house and their workers are under the same union as Rohnert Park’s public works employees.
Sebastopol stopped using synthetic pesticides (except in emergency cases) in 2000 and their landscape budget did not increase as a result. Sebastopol does all of their landscaping in-house.
Santa Rosa City Schools does all of their landscape maintenance in-house. They did not ask for a budget increase when the school board voted unanimously to stop using synthetic weedkillers in January 2018.
Cotati estimated that switching to organic weed killers would cost an extra $1,500-2,000/year. Cotati uses a landscape contractor for all of their maintenance. 
Healdsburg stopped using synthetic pesticides in parks and other publicly accessible areas in 2017 and did not ask for a budget increase. Healdsburg uses a landscape contractor. 
The City of Sonoma stopped using glyphosate (the only synthetic weedkiller they were using) in April 2019 with no associated cost increase.
Santa Rosa Water stopped using synthetic pesticides on their urban facilities in 2015 by doing a simple product swap (stopped using RoundUP, started using an OMRI/organic product). This change came with no budget impact.
City Council in Santa Rosa voted unanimously last fall to instruct their landscape contractor to stop using synthetic weedkillers and use only OMRI/organic chemicals. This change came with no budget increase.
The only local example I have of landscape costs going up by large magnification factors when adopting non-toxic practices is in Windsor. This is partially because the city is asking the new contractor to be responsible for more work than the previous contractor, but there must be other factors. Windsor relies heavily on landscape contractors. 
Switching to nontoxic landscaping for Rohnert Park will likely mean more than just swapping out products. It will require taking a fresh look at current practices, eliminating the tasks that don’t make sense, and trying new things. It’s extremely difficult to estimate how much this all will cost, which is mostly likely why some  initial cost estimates come out so high. As synthetic pesticide-free park maintenance becomes more common locally, we’ll get a much better idea of its true cost. For now, we must implore Rohnert Park leadership to see the value in removing synthetic pesticides from public spaces and believe that the Public Works staff is capable of rising to the challenge.


Past Toxic Free Future Successes!

8/13/19 Cotati City Council votes to ban glyphosate and to prepare a plan to ban all synthetic pesticides on city property.
6/4/19 Sonoma County Supervisors ban synthetic weedkillers on publicly accessible County-owned land
1/5/19 City of Sonoma bans glyphosate on city-owned land
9/5/18 Town of Windsor bans all synthetic pesticides
8/22/18 Santa Rosa bans synthetic pesticides in city landscape contract
1/8/18 Santa Rosa City Schools ban synthetic herbicides
5/1/2000 Sebastopol becomes the first city in Sonoma County to ban synthetic pesticides