ROHNERT PARK -- The developer of Sonoma Mountain Village and a coalition of labor, housing and environmental groups have reached an agreement to cooperate on labor standards, housing, regional impact of development and green building standards for the innovative project on the 200-acre former Agilent Technologies site.
In the works for more than two years, the "Community Benefits Agreement" is the first of its kind between a developer and the Accountable Development Coalition.
"When we originally came up with the concept of Sonoma Mountain Village, we wanted it to be something special and unique and be a mixed-use project and be green and sustainable. But we didn’t know what that meant specifically," said Brad Baker, president and chief executive officer of Codding Enterprises. "By entering into these agreements, we are not just talking about it — we are doing it."
The agreement lays out a number of terms.
Codding Enterprises agreed to comply with living wage ordinances and "union neutrality" on hiring. There is to be 15 percent inclusionary housing onsite, which will include a mix of "extremely" low-income, very low-income and low-income units. The developer has agreed to meet with the cities of Cotati and Rohnert Park to discuss any community opportunities and concerns. The development will comply with Rohnert Park’s Green Building Ordinance.
There are other policies having to do with transportation, Environmental Impact Report review, land use, water use, open space protection, sewage and water treatment and commitment to the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit rail and trail project.
Sonoma Mountain Village is a community being developed by Codding Enterprises on more than 200 acres in Rohnert Park and will be the first in North America, and the fourth in the world, to be endorsed by One Planet Communities, which enables the entire community to live within a sensitive ecological footprint. The $1 billion sustainable, mixed-use community calls for 1,900 homes and will be the largest development in Sonoma County.
Michael Allen, a labor attorney, Santa Rosa Planning commissioner and the chair of the coalition, said they believe over time there will be a series of “smart-growth” developments along the entire rail line, and they want Sonoma Mountain Village to be a model.
“We feel like this could be a template for future developments,” he said.
Kirstie Moore, development manager for Codding Enterprises, has worked alongside Mr. Baker during the negotiation process.
“To have for-profit development, environmental groups and activists on the same page, there to give back to the community, is unprecedented,” she said.
“It was a really interesting process, and it worked out well,” she added.
She said the collaboration with the coalition was about more than green building. “It all touches on social equity,” she said.
The typically anti-growth Sonoma County Conservation Action, which is part of the coalition, has never before endorsed a development, she said, but were part of and signed the agreement.
“After two and a half years of negotiation and intense scrutiny, SCCA is proud of the community benefits that are included in the CBA at Sonoma Mountain Village,” said Dennis Rosatti, executive director of Sonoma County Conservation Action. “In addition to the One Planet Living agreement that Codding has struck with World Wildlife Fund International, the implementation of the Accountable Development Coalition’s CBA will result in a development that will be a model for environmental stewardship in the built environment.”