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General Plan Update

Sonoma County's General Plan 2020 Update

Sonoma County is currently updating its old General Plan. The County is responsible for regulating development within the unincorporated areas of the county. The County's principal means for accomplishing this is the General Plan, which prescribes the policies and guidelines for making land use decisions.



Attend Important Hearings on the General Plan Update!

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will be holding hearings on the General Plan Update from August 20 through September 20. These hearings are the final opportunity to speak out about the policies that will be in effect in the county for the next 15-20 years. Your presence is essential. Come speak on the issues or hold up your hand and be counted. Click for a schedule of hearing dates, places and times. Note: Climate protection will be covered during the Open Space and Resource Conservation Element sessions.


Open Space and Resource Conservation (OSRC) Element

The Sonoma Group has submitted comments on three specific areas of the OSRC Element: Riparian Corridors, Timber Resources, and Energy.

Join us at the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisor hearings and add an environmental voice to the debate. This is the public's opportunity to weigh in on this very important section of the General Plan.

Full text of the Draft General Plan 2020
General Plan Hearing Schedule


OSRC Element: Riparian Corridors / Stream Protection

Most of the natural water cleaning, recharge and flood controlling functions of a watershed occur in the riparian or streamside area. Because living creatures need water, the riparian zone is where plant diversity is greatest; 70% of all animals either live in the riparian corridor or are frequent visitors. Loss of native vegetation leads to erosion, water pollution, faster water flow and flooding and less water seeping into the ground for natural storage. Increasing population in Sonoma County means that more natural stream sides are being cleared for human uses and stronger regulations are needed.

Questions & Answers about Riparian Protection in Sonoma County

During the General Plan Update process, County staff and the Citizen's Advisory Committee that worked on the draft recommended:

  • Increasing the number of county streams protected
  • Widening the protected area around each stream to 100' on each side, and 200' for the Russian River
  • Decreasing the uses - like buildings, roads or crops - allowed within the corridor

To send the message to the Board of Supervisors that you agree with these increased protections, please click on the link below, fill out the 'postcard' and send it to the Sierra Club at PO Box 466, Santa Rosa CA 95402. For more information, call 544-7651. We'll take the postcards to the Supervisors.

Riparian Protection postcard

The Sonoma Group has submitted the following comments to the Planning Commission:


OSRC Element: Timber Resources
Forest Protection


OSRC Element: Energy

In 2005, Sonoma County's Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% below 1990 levels by 2015. In order to meet this goal, the County must incorporate greenhouse gas emission reduction planning into many areas of the General Plan, either by adding a separate Energy Element as many communities are doing, or by strengthening and adding language to what already exists.

Write to the Supervisors to push for action on the GHG reduction goal.

The Sonoma Group has submitted a letter on Energy issues in the General Plan, and supports the inclusion of an Energy Element like the draft sample posted here. For more information about the activities of the Sonoma Group Climate & Energy Committee, click below.



Water Element

The General Plan Update includes an all-new Water Element. However, provisions within the Element for dealing with groundwater depletion, watershed management, water supply and quality, are not adequate to deal with the upcoming problems that Sonoma County faces with our water supply. The Sonoma Group has been working closely with the Sonoma County Water Coalition on pushing for stronger policies in the Water Element. Sonoma County Water Coalition






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