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Sustainable Sonoma changes name to Sonoma Valley Collaborative

Affordable housing discussed at August meeting

By Tracy Salcedo

Sustainable Sonoma has changed its name to Sonoma Valley Collaborative (Colaborativa de Valle de Sonoma), which staff believes better describes the organization’s mission.

The new name, along with a new logo, were unveiled at the Collaborative’s August forum. Conducted via Zoom, the forum focused on affordable housing in Sonoma Valley and featured speakers from Generation Housing and the Housing Land Trust of Sonoma County.

The impetus for the name change was the need to stem confusion about the forum’s mission. Kim Jones, the Collaborative’s coordinator, explained it this way in an email: “From the beginning, the word ‘sustainable’ in our name has confused people about what we do, because that word means different things to different people. Our original name, Sustainable Sonoma, was based on defining a ‘sustainable’ community, one that prioritized a “healthy environment, a strong economy, and the well-being of the people living in the community.”

The new name, according to Jones and Project Director Caitlin Cornwall, better reflects the “core functions” of the Collaborative’s work, which has included building a council of representatives from a broad spectrum of community interests to “identify and tackle complex community problems.” Other goals include facilitating diplomacy among groups with different priorities, as well as “[building] a shared understanding of complex community problems and [shifting] public opinion toward agreed-upon solutions.”

The rebranding also includes brightening the logo, which features three interconnected circles symbolizing equity, environment, and economy, which organizers call “Sonoma Valley’s triple bottom line.”

The bulk of the August meeting was dedicated to discussion of one of the most urgent challenges facing Sonoma Valley — the dearth of affordable housing. The first speaker was Jen Klose, executive director of Generation Housing (GenH), a nonprofit housing advocacy organization based in Santa Rosa. Her presentation included a slideshow documenting the affordability challenges faced by both renters and aspiring homeowners throughout Sonoma County, and how quality of life is affected by the high cost of housing. “If you’re paying too much for rent, what aren’t you paying for?” she asked.

According to GenH, a deficit of 38,000 homes has accrued in Sonoma County since 2000, and 78% of that deficit falls into the affordable category. The group forecasts the need to provide an additional 20,000 homes over the next decade. While the prospect of adding 58,000 homes in the county is daunting, Klose maintained the goal could be reached through up-zoning; reducing development hurdles, such as fees; and using “innovative financing and development solutions,” such as housing land trusts. For more information about GenH, visit www. generationhousing.org.

To learn more about Sonoma Valley Collaborative, which is a project of the Sonoma Ecology Center, visit the new website at www. sonomavalleycollaborative.org.

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