Jason Walsh, SONOMA INDEX-TRIBUNE
Take heed, Sonoma. Don’t let our quirky little community character cross-pollinate with our, how shall we say, “less desirable” neighbors of the North Bay. You know the ones: Napa to the east, Santa Rosa to the west.
Heaven forbid, the land Hap Arnold called home is ever diluted by encroachment from our southern friends in, egad, Novato.
But that’s what’s at stake if the 20-year-old “community separator” designations are allowed to expire in 2016.
Community separators are just that: areas that separate communities. They’re lands zoned to act as open space buffers between neighboring communities – to prevent the type of overdevelopment that, when not held in check, can create suburban sprawl which results in, as Teri Shore of the Greenbelt Alliance describes, “city running into city running into city – like you (see) in San Jose.”
Of course, with all-do respect to our friends in the “Capital of Silicon Valley” it would take a lot of horrific city planning decisions for Sonoma to wind up with anything like San Jose’s 25-plus “neighborhoods,” former towns that the city annexed mid-20th century to increase its tax base. (1960s-ers City Manager “Dutch” Hamann vowed to turn San Jose into “another Los Angeles.”)
Now, Sonoma is nowhere near that level of suburban hegemony (though some have had their eye on a tasty little morsel called the Springs over the years). But that doesn’t mean community separators aren’t still important.