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Comprehensive Planning

The Comprehensive Planning team leads the County of Sonoma’s long-range land use planning and policy efforts. Also known as advance planning, the work is primarily focused on creating a long term vision for the people of Sonoma County, which is directed by the county’s General Plan.

All land in unincorporated Sonoma County is guided by its General Plan, which was last comprehensively updated in 2008. Under the leadership of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, the team delivers a work plan that includes working directly with Permit Sonoma customers and leading a number of County initiatives through an inclusive community engagement strategy.

Customer Service

Lead the Planner of the Day Program (email/phone)

Land Use Planning and Policy Questions: Staff is available during our normal business hours to answer your questions by email or phone.
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All Other Questions can be directed to Permit Sonoma by reaching our general customer service in a number of different ways.
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Support the County’s Emergency Response and Recovery Programs

Staff is regularly trained to be assigned to the county’s Emergency Operations duties in the event of a disaster. Through the Board of Supervisors direction, staff is also responsible for creating county policies in response to emergencies such as wildfire recovery or the COVID-19 pandemic.

Update to the Public Safety Element

The County of Sonoma is updating its Public Safety Element. The update will develop goals and policies to protect the public from unreasonable hazard risks. Most notable, staff will be looking to address wildfire planning and mitigation. 

Next Milestone: Board of Supervisors Workshop, Fall/Winter 2021

Completion Date: Adoption by the Board of Supervisors, June 2023

Create Environmental Justice Policies/Program

Staff will be creating new Environmental Justice policies to incorporate into the current General Plan. The policies and programs will prioritize the needs of environmentally burdened and vulnerable communities. 

Next Milestone: Board of Supervisors Workshop, Fall/Winter 2021

Completion Date: Adoption by the Board of Supervisors, June 2023

Update to the Housing Element

The County of Sonoma is updating its Housing Element to develop new strategies to facilitate building housing that will meet the needs of the community. The County must plan for housing in every income level, such that housing costs are no more than thirty percent of a household’s income.

Next Milestone: Board of Supervisors Workshop, Fall/Winter 2021

Completion Date: Adoption by the Board of Supervisors, June 2023

Update to the Airport Area Specific Plan (2009)

An updated Airport Area Specific Plan will reflect current market conditions and community needs for 810 acres anchored by the Airport and a new SMART station. The plan could potentially provide up to 12,000 jobs by 2040 with additional affordable and workforce housing opportunities to support a local economy focused on industrial and commercial businesses.

Create a Springs Specific Plan

The Springs Specific Plan will help guide future development and land use in a roughly 180-acre area in the central Sonoma Valley. The area includes portions of Agua Caliente, Fetters Hot Springs, Boyes Hot Springs, Donald Street and is currently home to around 1,800 residents and a number of local businesses. The community has identified investments in housing, transportation and public spaces as top goals for the plan. The plan would improve public spaces, enhance walking, bicycling and transit options, support a broader mix of commercial and residential uses, and provide the potential for more than 600 new homes.

Next Milestone: Publish a Draft Environmental Impact Report, Fall 2021

Completion Date: Adoption by the Board of Supervisors, Summer 2022   

Create a Sonoma Development Center Specific Plan

The SDC Specific Plan will create a Sonoma County Board of Supervisors-adopted plan and EIR to redevelop 900 acres in the heart of Sonoma Valley. Once home to a community of people with developmental disabilities and the largest employer in the Sonoma Valley, the site will create a vibrant place to live, work and play for future generations. Directed by a set of Guiding Principles and a community vision for the site, the development program will balance key factors such as market demand and site constraints with input from the community. The process ensures creating a community that respects the site’s history and becomes a critical part of the future of Sonoma Valley.

Next Milestone: Publish a set of development alternatives, November 01, 2021

Completion Date: Adoption by the Board of Supervisors, July 2022

Create a Lower Russian River Area Plan

The Lower Russian River Area Plan will express the community’s vision for the future of the Lower Russian River area through development standards and design guidelines for the plan area boundary which extends from Forestville to Cazadero Hwy and from Monte Rio to Cazadero including the communities of Hacienda, Summerhome Park, Rio Nido, Guerneville, and Vacation Beach.

Next Milestones: Public scoping workshops, September - December 2021

Completion Date: Adoption by the Board of Supervisors

Update to the Local Coastal Plan (2001)

In partnership with the Coastal Commission, the Local Coastal Plan guides development in the Coastal Zone. Similar to a General Plan, the Local Coastal Plan directs development through a series of Sonoma County Board of Supervisors-adopted goals, policies and programs. The current update addresses key issues such as climate change, public access, ecosystem conservation, agriculture preservation, hazard mitigation and wildfire resiliency. Addressing these key issues ensures a long range plan that continues to preserve the County’s coastal heritage for generations to come.

Next Milestones: Public hearing at Planning Commission (continued from July 26, 2021)

Completion Date: Adoption by the Board of Supervisors

Oversee the Zoning Code Modernization Program

The County Zoning Code is the document that implements the General Plan by defining allowable uses, development standards, and permitting requirements. The Comprehensive Planning Division is primarily responsible for the maintenance and improvement of the Zoning Code. The 2021 reformat of the Zoning Code marks the first major update of the Zoning Code since its adoption. This was the first step of the ongoing Zoning Code Modernization program, The Program seeks to make the zoning code easier to understand and use, and to streamline permitting and procedures through revisions of the Zoning Code text.

Next Phases:

  • COVID-19 Business Modifications
  • Create a Zoning Administrator process
  • Administrative Housing Approval Process

Completion Date: On-going

Update to the Vacation Rental Ordinance

Check again soon.

Create a Winery Events Ordinance

The policy will create a new set of standards and definitions for winery events throughout unincorporated Sonoma County. Standards such as hours of operation and food service are two of a number of standards that would apply to new and modified use winery permits upon adoption of the policy. 

Next Milestone: Public hearing at Planning Commission (continued from July 15, 2021), TBD

Completion Date: Adoption by the Board of Supervisors, 2022 

Update Tree Protection Regulations

The Sonoma County General Plan calls for the protection and enhancement of Sonoma County’s diverse plant communities, in part by establishing standards and programs to protect native trees. In recent decades, factors like climate change, Sudden Oak Death, drought and wildfire have created new challenges for protection of this natural resource. In light of these challenges, Staff is now working to identify ways to support and enhance local forests and woodlands while improving the community’s resilience to climate change and natural disasters. Staff is currently working with foresters, ecologists and other subject matter experts to evaluate the health of local forests and develop a range of actions to improve management of county forests and woodlands. 

Next Milestone: Planning Commission workshop, November, 2021

Completion Date: Adoption by the Board of Supervisors, 2022

Updating the County’s Cannabis Program (2021)

The update is a community-driven process to update the County’s Cannabis Program. The update will be informed by an Environmental Impact Report to address a number of concerns such as land use, public safety, water resources and visual impacts.

Completion Date: Board of Supervisors, Summer 2024

Upcoming Work

  • Create a county Vehicle Miles Traveled policy
  • Planning for the southeast Santa Rosa/Santa Rosa Avenue area
  • Update to General Plan 2020