Open Mic

Yes on I

By Mark Green

IT IS A SAD TRUTH that in 13 years of working professionally to advance environmental protection, I have never seen as nakedly dishonest a campaign as the one being conducted by the opposition to Measure I, the Rural Heritage Initiative.

The No on I campaign is led by the Sonoma County Farm Bureau, which has fought strenuously against the creation of parks in the lands affected by Measure I for over 30 years. Yet it has erected signs throughout the county reading “Save Our Parks.” Measure I is, of course, supported by every major parks group and parks advocate in the county.

Measure I, which would impose a 30-year limit on sprawl, exempts farm family and farmworker housing, and it allows farmers to change crops, build structures, and do all the things they need to do to continue farming. If economic conditions changed, Measure I allows the Board of Supervisors to change the permitted activities within the land-use categories affected by Measure I to permit new uses and keep the land in farming–just not to allow increased development and subdivision. Yet the Farm Bureau’s campaign has asserted that these uses would not be allowed and has claimed that Measure I “would destroy farming in Sonoma County” . . . just as the bureau claimed four years ago that urban growth boundaries would “destroy farming.”

Measure I is supported by every environmental organization in Sonoma County and crafted by local citizens who have led the fight against sprawl. Yet the opposition campaign has claimed, quixotically, that the measure would “increase sprawl.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of Yes on I signs have been systematically stolen by teams of people working by night out of a pickup truck. In many cases, No on I signs have been put in exactly the same places that the Yes on I signs used to be–and they go up the same night that our signs disappear.

So voting for Measure I is now about more than protecting Sonoma County from the voracious economic pressures that have destroyed so many other wonderful places in the American West. Voting for Measure I is a statement that you believe that truth in politics means something, that the kind of cynical tactics that the leaders of the No on I campaign have embraced have no place in our local politics.

Vote for our future. Vote for the qualities we love about Sonoma County. Vote for integrity. Vote yes on Measure I.

Mark Green is executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action, the county’s largest environmental organization.

From the November 2-8, 2000 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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