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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: dajenkins@rpcity.org
Mayor Gina Belforte: gbelforte@rpcity.org
Vice Mayor Joseph Callinan: jcallinan@rpcity.org
Councilmember Susan Hollingsworth Adams: sadams@rpcity.org
Councilmember Jake Mackenzie: jmackenzie@rpcity.org
Councilmember Pam Stafford: pstafford@rpcity.org

 

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

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SCCA is very happy to announce the 2019 GrassRoots Gala Award Winners. These esteemed people have shown great passion, fortitude, ability, and leadership in the field of Environmental Politics. We salute their ongoing efforts to ensure Sonoma County has a bright and sustainable future for all!

 

Reserve Your Tickets Today!

 

    Leader in Environmental Justice and Equity Award – OMAR GALLARDO, Landpaths –

     Presenter: Algería de la Cruz

Honoring distinguished leadership in environmental justice and equity in our community. Gallardo is the oldest child of immigrant farm workers from Mexico, and the first one to pursue college. He is passionate about connecting people both to the land and to each other, while building community and staying true to his roots. With humanity and grace, he has excelled at community organizing, expanded the diversity and relevance of Landpaths’ programs and led countless youth to share his love of the land.

 

     Upstream Swimmer Award – RACHEL HUNDLEY, Sonoma City Council –

     Presenter: Chris Coursey

For a Sonoma County elected or appointed representative who has shown resolve in the face of adversity in standing for environmental principles despite opposition. In the face of intense retribution for an environmental vote, Hundley stood her ground and had a national impact on how women in politics can overcome a misogynistic smear campaign.

 

     Dick Day Community Activist Award – RICHARD CHARTER, Senior Fellow, The Ocean Foundation –

     Presenter: Neal Fishman

Honoring the activist spirit who goes the extra mile and shows outstanding organization in support of the protection and enhancement of our environment. Charter is a local and national hero in ocean protection. He helped to establish and maintain a 27-year congressional ban on offshore drilling along the Pacific, Atlantic and Florida Gulf coastlines. He worked with tens-of-thousands of people to create a network of five National Marine Sanctuaries to make coastal protection off of a large portion of the California Coast permanent, plus worked with indigenous people from Alaska and the conservation community to achieve a permanent drilling prohibition in Alaska’s fishery-rich Bristol Bay.

 

     Bill Kortum Innovative Leader Award – LISA MICHELI , Ph.D. –

     Presenter: Dennis Rosatti

Honoring ingenuity, creativity, and innovation in environmental activism and policy. Micheli is an internationally acclaimed expert on climate change. As the executive director of Pepperwood Preserve, a 3,200-acre ecological research center, she and her team of scientists are doing extraordinary work on climate adaptive land management. Notably, she is integrating indigenous perspectives and biocultural knowledge into the land management, habitat restoration work and educational programming.

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Urgent Action Alert:

Please join us at the Board of Supervisors Meeting Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 8:30am

Location: Board of Supervisors Chambers 575 Administration Drive, Room 102A, Santa Rosa

Agenda Item to be Discussed: Toxic Free Future in and around Sonoma County Public Areas

The Board of Supervisors will be voting on a resolution to adopt an Integrated Pest Management system and prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, including herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides, in sensitive areas.

Let your voice be heard! We urge you to show up at the meeting and let Board of Supervisors know that our county’s residents are unified in opposition to the use of dangerous synthetic pesticides in our public spaces! Show them that their constituents demand they make the responsible decision!

Over the past three years SCCA has worked diligently to ban Toxic Pesticides, such as Glyphosate (Round-Up) and neonicotinoids, in Sonoma County public areas. SCCA has led the way in advocating for and achieving restricted use of these dangerous chemicals in various cities in the County, such as Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sonoma and Petaluma;. These cities are now safer and greener for all residents. We are currently engaged in organizing bans in the remaining cities through our Canvass, spreading the word through community discussions and educational events in Rohnert Park and Cotati, as well as helping organize local activists in Cloverdale.

For too long the solution to pest control and weed abatement has been to spray more harmful chemicals on the problem, with little regard for the direct effects of these chemicals on our community members and the environment. We now know the terrible health hazards associated with not only Round-Up but many other pesticides used by city and county workers, all in the name of controlling weeds in our parks and open spaces. We have non toxic alternatives that can be a part of a more responsible Integrated Pest Management System. SCCA is dedicated to lead the way through education, canvassing and advocacy, aiding Sonoma County to realize the goal of a true toxic free future for our families, neighbors and communities.

Help us fund this critical work with $5, $15, $55, or $150 now!

Support Now

The County has already:

✔️ Stopped spraying on the County Complex

✔️ Worked on integrated pest management plans to reduce pesticide use by Transportation & Public Works, Sonoma Water and Regional Parks

✔️ Started testing OMRI (certified organic) and mechanical alternatives to synthetic pesticides.

On Tuesday when the resolution passes we will:

✔️ Establish official NO SPRAY ZONES to include playgrounds, plazas, playing fields, sidewalks, libraries and county campuses;

✔️ Direct staff to formally map and publish a list of all no-spray zones by the end of the year (which will include the areas mentioned above, and more);

✔️Commit to annual public reporting of pesticide use to ensure transparency and accountability to our policies;

✔️ Establish County policy to eliminate the use of synthetic pesticides in highly trafficked areas, eliminate routine synthetic pesticide use in our parks and open space, and prioritize organic and mechanical alternatives.

SCCA is member funded and can not do this important work without the support of our community. Please consider becoming a sustaining member and donate monthly or quarterly to enable SCCA’s fight for a healthy and green Sonoma County!

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As Conservation Action moves toward the future, we know we’ll need a strong board and staffing presence to implement our plans and goals. In this era of Trumpian breaking-of-norms, we aim to be a solid base to grow grassroots policy and leaders.

 

Two New Board Members.

To that end, we’re happy to announce Blake Hooper, aide to Congressman Jared Huffman, and Miles Burgin, member of Wine Country Young Democrats have joined the Board. These two active community members bring important insights to our Board table from the national and local perspective. We are committed to growing Conservation Action through this transition time, and we are grateful for the continued support of our community in helping to ensure that SCCA remains our County’s watchdog and environmental steward as our community faces the growing pressures of development, social and environmental injustice, and climate change.

Dedicated and Talented Staff.

On the staffing front, we are lucky to have dedicated staff working daily for Conservation Action. Erica Buonasissi, Operations Manager, and Matt Callaway, Canvass Director, will be keeping our campaigns moving forward, with Board direction and participation.  Both Matt and Erica are seasoned in Conservation Action operations and management, and we’re confident in the role they will play going forward. We are preparing for the coming election season in 2020, and have a number of important issue campaigns to press forward in the coming months.

Interim Executive Management.

Additionally, our former longtime Executive Director, Dennis Rosatti, has agreed to a short term role in helping guide our internal and external affairs while the Board takes a breath and prepares to search for new permanent staffing, and we as an organization work full steam ahead on campaigns and our Gala. Dennis has a strong knowledge of what it takes to make Conservation Action go, and has expanded his service offerings since leaving Conservation Action to include non-profit executive support, as well as public relations and campaign management.

Chief Financial Officer consultant.

Also, the Board is pleased to announce a financial consultant arrangement with City of Sebastopol Councilwoman Una Glass, a  longtime former SCCA Board Member and former Coastwalk CA Executive Director. Ms Glass has a growing clientele of non-profits under her guidance, and we look forward to a continued partnership with her oversight.

Open Executive Director role.

We will release an announcement in the months ahead about the process to fill this role. We also are aiming to announce some new additions to our Board of Directors in the coming months, as we still have some space for a variety of input at our Board table.

Celebrate with us!

We look forward to seeing many of you at our Grassroots Gala on July 13th, where we celebrate 28 years of success in the face of environmental challenges. Congressman Jared Huffman will discuss “Environmentalism in the Age of Trump,”  and we also have a special video message from renowned climate change activist Bill McKibben. More information on tickets and sponsorships are available at: www.conservationaction.org/Gala2019.

Sincerely,

Neal Fishman, Board President

Michael Allen, Board Chairman

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We wish to share the news that our Executive Director, Daisy Pistey-Lyhne, has completed her tenure at SCCA. We have been grateful for her return to Sonoma County to take the helm of the organization at a moment of transition, and we are grateful for the work accomplished under her leadership in the past year, including:

  • Bringing back our door-to-door canvass, and bolstering the success of the Measure M “Parks for All” campaign
  • Reaching 55,000 households with SCCA’s candidate endorsements, achieving a 75% success rate overall for our endorsed candidates
  • Helping to elect environmental candidates despite the influence of big money
  • Moving forward our Toxic Free Future campaign to ban synthetic pesticides in public spaces
  • Bringing forth a local neighborhood’s need for a safe train crossing, gaining the attention of SMART officials and the City of Santa Rosa
  • Successfully pressuring Rohnert Park to place the renewal of its Urban Growth Boundary on the March 2020 ballot

Daisy came into her advocacy as a protégé of SCCA’s founder Bill Kortum, and continued Bill’s commitment to the “never give up, never back down” philosophy of SCCA, along with his passion for community organizing. As SCCA moves forward and charts a course toward the future, we appreciate Daisy’s dedication to the continuing success of the organization and our involvement with the broader community.

In Daisy’s absence, we will be keeping our campaigns moving forward through the work of our Board and community members, and looking forward to the coming election season in 2020. We will release an announcement in the months ahead about the process to fill this open role.

We are committed to supporting SCCA through this transition as we prepare for our annual Grassroots Gala on July 13th. We look forward to seeing Daisy’s success with her next endeavors, and are grateful for the continued support of our community in helping to ensure that SCCA remains our County’s watchdog and environmental steward as our community faces the growing pressures of development, social and environmental injustice, and climate change.

We look forward to seeing many of you on July 13th as we celebrate our 28 years of success in the face of challenges, and as we discuss our theme: “Environmentalism in the Age of Trump,” with Congressman Jared Huffman as our keynote speaker, and a special video message from Bill McKibben. More information on tickets and sponsorships are available at: www.conservationaction.org/Gala2019

Sincerely,

The Board of Directors
Sonoma County Conservation Action

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We accomplished an incredible amount of work this year, thanks to the support and involvement of our members across the county. Following on months of hard labor protecting waterways after last year’s Firestorm and helping to coordinate rapid response funding for fire-impacted neighbors, here are some of our major accomplishments over the last 6 months:

 

Measure M – Parks for All – Victory!

 

In the November election, Sonoma County voters overwhelmingly supported providing money for the maintenance, repair and opening of parks in our cities and the county. SCCA played a big role in making this happen – we knocked on 10,000 doors and spoke with voters at their homes about the benefits of this funding measure. 72.6% of voters countywide supported the measure, giving a strong mandate to our elected officials to continue support for parks. The success of the measure will translate into a projected $12 million+ annually in dedicated parks funding to county and city parks. These funds will be used to beautify and maintain our precious parklands and provide the funding to keep them pristine for future generations.

 

Election 2018

 

When our members vote, we win! In this November’s election, 75% of the candidates endorsed by SCCA were elected into local office. This was even higher than our historic average of 71% over the last 28 years. By getting environmental champions elected to office, we help to ensure that the environment has a seat at the table, and that the community is heard in local decision making. These candidates enter into office knowing that we will support them, AND that we will also hold them accountable to their promises to our community.
SCCA does not stop once the election is won. We will be here with you over the years to hold their proverbial feet to the fire, ensuring that our City Councils and Board of Supervisors continue to protect our natural resources and protect the needs of our community.

 

Toxic Free Future Campaign

 

We have succeeded in passing bans on glyphosate products (RoundUp, RangerPro, etc.) and other synthetic pesticides in several cities in the county so far, and we are are continuing forward to others to ensure that public spaces are safe for our children and residents to play, picnic, walk, and breathe. So far, Santa Rosa, Windsor and Sebastopol have adopted bans. Petaluma and Healdsburg are close to eliminated, with glyphosate in median strips currently. Next up, we will focus on Rohnert Park, Cotati, the County unincorporated areas, and neighborhoods in Cloverdale. As scientific concerns grow, the urgency of this campaign grows.

 

Smart Growth

 

Over the years, SCCA has worked to pass Urban Growth Boundaries around 9 out of 9 cities in the county. We will continue to protect these lines as they come up for re-election, and defend the lands outside the line from development. Meanwhile in the wake of the Firestorm, we are actively engaging with cities to ensure that the Rebuild process is resilient and the construction of new housing focuses this development in downtown areas near to transit. This will create vibrant urban cores in our cities, while reducing cars on the road and the Greenhouse Gases that fuel climate change.

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Measure M, Sonoma County Parks for All, won with over 72% of the vote! This was achieved through support of the SCCA canvass knocking on over 10,000 doors around the county. Also, SCCA-endorsed candidates for City Councils and SRJC Board of Trustees had a 75% success rate in the November election! Additionally, of our few candidates who lost, all but 2 lost to incumbents (which is a higher hurdle). We are very pleased with the local make-up of our Councils and expect stronger environmental action from them in the coming years.

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After many weeks of reviewing applications, conducting interviews and research, SCCA is excited to announce our endorsements for the 2018 November election! The names below represent forward thinking leadership on conservation and broader environmental policy in Sonoma County. We hope that you will take our endorsement under consideration as you make your voting decisions this November, and vote for the environment and better communities. (more…)

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On Wednesday night, September 5 2018 the Town Council of Windsor voted unanimously to ban the use of all synthetic pesticides, effective immediately. This decision is the result of over a year of work initiated by a local Windsor resident, Rosa Gray. Rosa noticed the Town spraying a walking trail across from her house and was worried about possible exposure to her small children. She reached out to Sonoma County Conservation Action for help in convincing Windsor to use a less toxic approach.

 

Pesticides including weed killers (herbicides) are commonly used in public spaces in Sonoma County for routine weed control. Synthetic or man-made pesticides are long-lasting toxicants in the environment, linked to many human health problems. Children are particularly vulnerable to toxicants like pesticides. Many are known carcinogens (cancer-causing) and endocrine disruptors, which affect development and reproductive health in both males and females.

 

Early support of this effort came from Council Member Deb Fudge. The first step Windsor Public Works took toward protecting residents from accidental exposure to the pesticides being used was to put up signs before and after spray events. The signs helped residents avoid recently treated areas and also spread awareness around pesticide use in the community.

 

This awareness created public support for a formal discussion at the September 5th council meeting. Conservation Action joined forces with many Windsor residents including members of the local Windsor Wellness Group, and representatives from a variety of local non-profit organizations including Daily Acts and Families Advocating for Chemical and Toxics Safety (FACTS). There were over a dozen testimonies from area residents, some scientific and fact-based, others emotional, all encouraging the Town to not only ban RoundUp (glyphosate) but to ban ALL synthetic pesticides.

 

We applaud the Town of Windsor for doing what they can to protect people, pets, and the environment.

 

Contact us if you want to learn more about how you can help your City or School become toxic free!