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Background and Description

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Goals and Purpose

The Specific Plan is intended to foster a vibrant, attractive, multimodal community with increased opportunities for housing and improved circulation for pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit. The Plan will also designate a location for a community plaza and promote other public spaces while preserving the community’s character and scale.

The Springs Specific Plan will be the primary planning document and reference guide for future development in the Springs. The Specific Plan is intended to be an expression of the community’s vision for the Springs and constitutes the policy and regulatory framework by which future development projects will be reviewed and public improvements will be implemented. The County will implement the Specific Plan by requiring development, infrastructure improvements, and other projects to be consistent with the policies and design guidelines of this plan.

Public Participation and Public Notice

We encourage and invite your participation throughout this process. Notice will typically include mailers to all properties within the Springs Plan Area as well as those properties within 1000 feet of the plan area, notices in a local newspaper, an update through this website, and emails to those on our newsletter list. We encourage all interested parties to sign up for this email list using the link on this webpage.

The current discussion draft version of the Springs Specific Plan (SSP) was published in 2019 following more than two years of community outreach, including workshops, community advisory team (CAT) and technical advisory team (TAC) meetings. The SSP is informed by this community involvement along with a series of technical reports (existing conditions report, market study, issues and opportunities summary and alternatives report).

Another draft version of the SSP will be released at a later date and will incorporate feedback that we have received from the community. This will be released at the same time as the Draft Environmental Impact Report which provides an opportunity for the public and responsible agencies to comment and respond to environmental topics concerning the SSP. There will be several more opportunities to review and comment these documents:

  • Draft EIR review period – at least 60 days to review and comment
  • Planning Commission Hearings – one to present the draft SSP and draft EIR, and one to present the final EIR and SSP
  • Board of Supervisor Hearing – to present final SSP for adoption and final EIR for certification

For a summary of prior public outreach, please see the link below.
Community Outreach / Input Summary (PDF: 88 kB)

Precursors to the Specific Plan

Before it became the Springs Specific Plan Area, this area was part of the Springs Redevelopment Project (formerly known as the Sonoma Valley Redevelopment Project). The plan for this redevelopment project was adopted in 1984, and amended several times, most recently in 2008. While the older Springs Redevelopment Project shares some similarities with the Springs Specific Plan, they are not the same.

Read more about the Springs Redevelopment Project

Priority Development Areas -->

Springs Specific Plan Boundaries

In 2008, the California legislature passed the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act. This requires regional planning organizations, like the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to develop Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCS). These strategies are long range plans intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by coordinating land-use, housing and transportation policies region wide.

The Bay Area’s SCS, “Plan Bay Area,” identifies areas with potential for infill development as well as local support for improved housing options, a mix of residential and commercial uses, and transportation options like bicycling, walking and transit. These areas, called “Priority Development Areas” or PDA’s, are then eligible for transportation and grant funds to support development that is consistent with Plan Bay Area.

In 2012, ABAG created a sub-type of PDA’s called “Rural Community Investment Areas” or RCIA’s. These RCIA’s were created to support planning and development that would be consistent with Plan Bay Area and to expand funding eligibility for communities like the Springs. On July 19, 2012, ABAG designated the Springs as a “Rural Community Investment Area” or RCIA.

The Springs RCIA boundaries largely follow the prior boundaries of the Springs Redevelopment Project, while also including areas east of Highway 12 and to the north of the City of Sonoma including Donald Street, Verano Avenue, Robinson Road, and Lomita Avenue. Historically, this southeastern portion of the Springs area was part of the City of Sonoma’s sphere of influence (SOI). An SOI is a planning boundary outside of a city’s legal boundary that identifies likely areas of future city annexation or expansion of services. Recognizing this SOI and anticipating future annexation of the area into the city limits, the County put certain development limitations on the parcels in this area.

However, in 2000 and again in 2021, City of Sonoma voters approved an urban growth boundary that reduced the City’s sphere to the existing city limits and eliminated the potential for expansion or annexation until 2040. The Springs Specific Plan will now plan for these areas in a manner that better reflects the SOI.

Initial Project Timeline

January 24, 2012
The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution supporting the submittal of applications to the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) for the designation of the Springs Priority Development Area (PDA). PDAs are locally-identified, infill development opportunity areas within exiting communities. The Springs PDA was approximately 1,300 acres in size.
July 2012
ABAG approved the Springs as a Rural Community Investment Area (RCIA). RCIAs are centers and corridors of economic and community activity surrounded by agricultural, resource, or protected conservation lands. In addition to a diversity of land uses and an inviting public realm, strong pedestrian and bicycle connectivity between the area and surrounding neighborhoods are key components of RCIAs.
October 3, 2012
ABAG released a memo outlining the role of PDAs and RCIAs in Plan Bay Area development and implementation. Plan Bay Area is an integrated land use and transportation plan required per California law, Senate Bill 375. This memo contained criteria for designating PDAs and RCIAs.
April 8, 2013
The Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) released a report focusing on PDA investment and growth strategies. This report also contains a map of the Springs RCIA; this boundary around the Springs RCIA is the basis for the Springs Specific Plan area, and is approximately 160 acres in size.
November 12, 2013
The Board of Supervised passed another resolution that approved the filing of the application for One Bay Area Grant (OBAG) funds for the Springs RCIA for purposes of developing a Springs Specific Plan. The Permit and Resource Management Department (Permit Sonoma) was appointed as the agent to compile and file this application.
January 13, 2014
During the SCTA and Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) Board of Directors meeting, SCTA staff and the Planning Advisory Committee (PAC) recommended that the Springs Specific Plan be approved for funding of $450,000.
February 25, 2014
The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution of local support and matching funds ($100,000) for the Springs Specific Plan and the Airport Area Specific Plan.
February 17, 2015
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) notified the County that the request for OBAG funding had been approved.
July 8, 2015
Permit Sonoma submitted a request to ABAG for a minor expansion of the Springs Specific Plan boundary to include a small area to the north of Verano Avenue and Maxwell Farms Regional Parks.
July 21, 2015
A request for proposals (RFP) was released to solicit proposals from planning and environmental consultants for the preparation of the Springs Specific Plan and environmental impact report (EIR). Proposals were submitted by three consultants in August. On November 10, the Board of Supervisors authorized Permit Sonoma to execute an agreement with De Novo Planning Group. Work on the Springs Specific Plan officially began in January 2016.