Open-space measure needs local support
Friday, August 11, 2006
Coming soon to a ballot near you is an opportunity to continue Sonoma County's efforts to protect valuable agricultural and open space.
The county Board of Supervisors approved a measure for the November ballot that would extend the current quarter-cent sales tax in the county to support the purchase of unique and desirable open space and agricultural properties, which otherwise would be developed.
Since county voters approved the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District in 1990, it has preserved more than 68,000 acres of farmland, riparian areas, natural resources and wildlife habitat. Of this, 13,725 acres were acquired for public recreation, of which 2,641 have been added to county parks, 6,240 to state parks and 200 to city parks.
Passage of the measure in November would extend the measure for another 20 years beyond its sunset date, which is now 2010.
Sonoma Valley residents Ted Eliot and Valerie Brown (Brown is also Sonoma Valley's 1st District supervisor), are helping lead the campaign in support of the measure and will be hosting a campaign kickoff meeting next Tuesday, Aug. 15, 7 p.m. at Vintage House senior center in Sonoma.
They are looking for lots of local support, and, if you can help, you are urged to show up at that meeting. If you can't make it, you can also e-mail Brian Bottari, campaign manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Endorsements of this measure represent a broad coalition of citizens, business owners, farmers, environmentalists and community leaders, who believe, as we do, that the open space preservation district is worthy of our continued support for many reasons, including the fact that it helps keep Sonoma County beautiful by protecting working farms, scenic vistas and wildlife habitat, because it provides funds for that purpose, helps protect watersheds and clean water, creates parks and community separators in and near urban areas, and provides areas where our children can be educated about nature and wildlife conservation.
It is also a fair and just way to protect valuable open space and farms because it does not force the sale of land in order to preserve it. Instead it makes it possible for owners to voluntarily sell conservation easements, while retaining the right to farm it and live on it. It is also possible for willing owners to sell their property to the district if they so choose.
We urge local residents to get behind this measure and support its passage in November.
- Bill Lynch, Editor