City Welcomes Comments on Draft UGB Ballot Measure

Posted on April 24, 2020

In November 2000, the voters of the City of Sonoma passed Measure “S” which amended the then-existing City of Sonoma General Plan to incorporate into that General Plan an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). It was established to prevent urban development beyond the boundary, except under certain circumstances.

The stated purpose of the voter-approved initiative was to promote “stability in long-term planning for the City of Sonoma by setting a cornerstone policy within the General Plan establishing the geographic limits of long-term development while allowing sufficient flexibility within those limits to respond to the City’s changing needs over time.”  Further, the Measure created “a line beyond which urban development will not be allowed, except for public schools and public parks.”

Only uses consistent with the General Plan “agricultural” land use designation as it existed on February 25, 2000, and the definition of “open space lands” as set forth in Government Code section 65560(b) as of February 25, 2000, were to be allowed beyond the UGB. With certain exceptions, the UGB could not be amended until December 31, 2020, except by a vote of the people.

City Council direction to place a new Measure on the November 3, 2020 Ballot
The City Council met and discussed the UGB a couple of occasions including a joint City Council and Planning Commission Study Session held on January 27, 2020.  See the staff report and PowerPoint presentation from the joint meeting.

At this meeting, the City Council directed staff to prepare a new Measure to re-establish and renew the UGB in the same location as the City’s sphere of influence line (“SOI”) as it has existed historically with no boundary changes and to prepare this for the November 3, 2020 ballot. The general feedback from the Study Session was to explore the following language changes to the UGB measure:

  • Allow for the development of housing which is “100% affordable” and to have a minimum of 51% affordable to those with “low” and “very low” incomes.
  • To recognize properties that are outside the UGB that have a vested right or contractual right (based on an enforceable contract with the City) to receive water service (e.g. the Thornsberry Road Area Water Assessment District, et al.)
  • Provide clearer language for the development of the 5-acre maximum that can be brought in to the UGB in any given year, to remove from that acreage calculation, riparian corridors and other natural resources.

At its meeting on February 3, 2020, the City Council created an Ad Hoc City Council Subcommittee of Vice Mayor Hundley and City Council Member David Cook to work with staff to draft the necessary language to extend the UGB to 2040 and have that language presented to the full City Council. On March 11, 2020, the City Council Ad Hoc Subcommittee invited Planning Commissioners Steve Barbose and Larry Barnett to join in the review of a draft that was prepared by staff.  Additional feedback was provided and staff was asked to prepare an updated draft. The Sub-Committee has reviewed the updated language and is supportive of this current draft.  At this time, the City Council Ad Hoc Subcommittee would like public input on Draft UGB Ballot Measure for November 2020 Election. View and/or download the Draft UGB Ballot Measure.

Requests for comments on Draft UGB Ballot Measure
The City is now accepting comments on the Draft UGB Ballot Measure for November 2020 Election. Email comments and questions to by May 15th, 2020, by 5:00 pm. The City Council will consider the draft Measure at a future meeting to be determined.

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