Sonoma County has a laudable record of curbing sprawl and preserving farmland and open space by concentrating development in its incorporated cities and rural towns. Voters approved (and reaffirmed) a sales tax to raise money for open space purchases; a network of community separators comes up for renewal on the Nov. 8; and all nine local cities have urban growth boundaries that can only be extended with voter approval.
Cotati’s growth boundary, which was overwhelmingly approved by local voters in 1998, is intended to ensure that Sonoma County’s smallest city remains distinct from its neighbors, Rohnert Park and Penngrove. But the UGB is set to expire at the end of 2018. Measure Q on the November ballot would extend its life by 30 years.
Cotati’s growth boundaries would be unchanged under Measure Q, and so would the short list of exemptions, primarily for affordable housing. However, language in the measure clarifies that any change in the UGB approved by the City Council for affordable housing must be limited exclusively to affordable units.
Cotati is the fourth local city to take up a UGB extension, following Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Healdsburg, where voters approved extensions of no longer than 20 years. Given the region’s chronic housing shortage and the ever-rising cost of real estate, we would have recommended a 20-year extension in Cotati as well. But our support for the protections afforded by urban growth boundaries outweigh any reservations, and The Press Democrat recommends a yes vote on Measure Q.