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Policy: Community Separators

The Commission shall disapprove any proposal to the extent that such proposal proposes any of the following for any territory having a community separator designation in the Sonoma County General Plan:

  1. Annexation to a city.
  2. Annexation to a special district providing sewer or domestic water service.
  3. Inclusion within the sphere of influence for a city.
  4. Inclusion within the sphere of influence for a special district providing sewer or domestic water service.

Legal Authority

The Legislature provided each LAFCO with the authority to “establish written policies and procedures and exercise its a manner consistent with those policies and procedures and that encourages and provides planned, well-ordered, efficient urban development patterns with appropriate consideration of preserving open-space and agricultural lands within those patterns.” (Government Code Section §56300) This policy implements the intended goal of well-ordered growth.

Background and Discussion

Community identity is an important aspect of the quality of life for many of the county's residents. Large, continuous areas of urban development where one city or community merges with another without visual relief may detract from this identity. Containment of urban areas is also important in maintaining compact city and community boundaries. On the other hand, property owners often consider areas between and around cities and communities to be prime land for development. The County General Plan 2020 Land Use Element designates these important lands and establishes policies consistent with the Open Space and Resource Conservation Element to reserve them between and around cities and communities. These designations and policies have been strongly supported by County and City decision makers and have been reinforced by the passage of two ballot measures that require voter approval prior to any significant change in their status.

There are eight areas that have been designated as community separators. These areas are as follows:

Petaluma/ Novato
Petaluma/ Rohnert Park
Rohnert Park/Santa Rosa
Santa Rosa/ Sebastopol
Windsor/Larkfield/Santa Rosa
Northeast Santa Rosa
Glen Ellen/Aqua Caliente

Sonoma LAFCO supports creation and continuation of these community separators.

Adopted: 2006
Amended: June 5, 2013