Strategic progress on Climate Action & Resiliency

Supervisors Gorin and Hopkins host virtual town hall

on Climate Resilience

On Nov. 1, Supervisor Susan Gorin and Supervisor Lynda Hopkins moderated a series of panel discussions at a virtual town hall to update the community on the county’s efforts to adapt to our changing climate and become more resilient to climate impacts. For the opening panel, Regional & Local Efforts Supporting Climate Resilience in Communities, Supervisor Hopkins led a conversation examining ways that regional and local governments are collaborating to increase energy resilience in the buildings where we live and work. Hopkins was joined by Director of Energy Programs at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Program Administrator for the Bay Area Regional Energy Network, Jane Elias; Director of Climate Programs at the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority, Tanya Narath; and Director of Climate Action and Resiliency for the County of Sonoma, Barbara Lee. The panelists discussed initiatives their agencies are undertaking as well as climate resilience gaps and opportunities they see in Sonoma County and throughout the Bay Area. 

Following the first panel, Climate Action & Resiliency Division staff provided an overview of key studies and assessments that will form the foundation for a Climate Resilience Comprehensive Action Plan to respond to the impacts of climate change (see article below). Staff provided an overview of the timeline for the action plan and opportunities for public engagement. In addition, staff shared quick summaries of the many services and resources offered by the county to help residents and businesses prepare for and adapt to climate change.

Supervisor Gorin moderated the second panel, Working Together - Local Partners in Climate Resilience. She was joined by President & CEO of FireSafe Sonoma, Roberta MacIntyre; Bilingual Program Director with Sonoma Ecology Center, Alma Shaw; Senior Technical Lead for the Building Decarbonization Coalition, Ted Tiffany; Executive Director of the Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District, Brittany Jensen; and Executive Director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, Eris Weaver. The panelists discussed concerns they are hearing in their communities and the gaps they see in creating a climate resilient community. The panel also offered advice on opportunities to partner with the County on climate resilience.

Nearly 100 people participated in the town hall, which generated more than 90 questions and comments. A live polling exercise gathered and shared participants’ priorities and concerns. In addition, staff collected questions and comments submitted via email to [email protected]. Input from the community will inform development of the upcoming Climate Resilience Comprehensive Action Plan.

View a video recording of the Climate Resilience town hall and the slideshow presentation

Climate Resilience Comprehensive Action Plan takes shape

On Dec. 11, the Board of Supervisors held a half-day workshop on climate resilience. Climate Action & Resiliency Division staff shared the outlines of a new plan to achieve the Board’s goals for the county government to become carbon neutral, zero waste, and resilient by 2030. The Climate Resilience Comprehensive Action Plan will build on findings from the Municipal Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the Zero Waste Audit and Characterization Study, the Carbon Inventory and Sequestration Potential Study (see article below), and a Municipal Energy Plan

Staff proposed a structure for the Comprehensive Action Plan that would lay out distinct actions to reduce GHG emissions from county operations. The proposed actions are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound. These actions would address energy, transportation, resilient lands, waste, water and wildfire resilience. Staff presented examples of actions in each of the sectors, including preliminary recommendations for comprehensive energy upgrades to county facilities.

Staff also laid out plans to address climate resilience with an equity-centered process. The process would engage communities to identify barriers they face to becoming carbon neutral and resilient and would develop actions to reduce those barriers. The collaborative process is designed to build partnerships and foster community leadership in coordination with cities, the Regional Climate Protection Authority, Sonoma Clean Power, Resource Conservation Districts, and others. 

The structure and content of the Comprehensive Action Plan will be shaped by input from county departments and agencies, government partners, nonprofits, residents and businesses. Outreach and engagement on the development of the Comprehensive Action Plan began last summer with a staff survey, individual interviews, and a Board workshop that included public input. A public survey was conducted in the fall of 2023, along with a virtual Climate Resilience Town Hall (see article above). Interviews and focus group meetings are ongoing. Key input is summarized in the table below.

Table 1: Key input

County staff input

Community member input

Identify high-priority climate resilience actions and streamline processes for approval and implementation

Increase collaboration opportunities with County elected officials and department leaders

Assess economic impacts to inform objectives and actions

Expand availability of online materials and resources

Consider funding mechanisms other than grants, like public-private partnerships

Strengthen and leverage partnerships with community-based organizations

Foster opportunities for staff to serve in internal leadership roles on climate resilience actions

Broaden virtual education opportunities

Provide more rebate programs, cost incentives and cash assistance

The Board of Supervisors supported the proposed structure and content for the Comprehensive Action Plan. In particular, the Board made it a priority to place equity at the center of the plan and to identify mechanisms that uplift environmental justice communities using partnerships and economic opportunities. Regarding energy upgrades at county facilities, the Board encouraged staff to prioritize work that could be accomplished within existing expenditure plans, to avoid upgrades at any locations that could be altered through construction of the new County Center, and to articulate all expected costs and savings with clearly defined and documented supporting information. A final set of proposed upgrades will be presented to the Board in April.

View a video of the Climate Resilience workshop and review reports presented to the Board of Supervisors

Climate resilient buildings

Green building training and certification

for real estate professionals

On Oct. 24 and 25, the Climate Action & Resiliency Division co-hosted a training session for real estate professionals seeking to specialize in marketing energy-efficient and sustainable homes. The Green designation, awarded by the National Association of Realtors, recognizes that 94 percent of homebuyers rate energy efficiency as an important part of their home-buying decision.

On the first day, training focused on resource-efficient home retrofits, remodels, renovations and new home construction. Participants explored why consumer demand for resource-efficient homes is increasing and how both the homes and the consumer expectations impact the market. The course prepared real estate professionals to provide advice and sources of information to help homeowners improve the resource efficiency of their homes, and covered low-cost fixes and DIY projects, retrofitting and replacing systems, and big-budget remodeling projects. It also covered constructing a new, resource-efficient home and the value that real estate professionals can bring to the design and build team.

The second day of training took a closer look at representing buyers and sellers of resource-efficient homes. Participants focused on applying the knowledge from the first day of training and adapting core real estate skills to build business success in the niche market for resource-efficient homes. The day ended with a two-hour demonstration of cooking with an induction cooktop with the Building Decarb Coalition and a special guest chef (tasty treats included!).

Visit the National Association of Realtors website to learn more or to find a certified Green Designated Realtor

Climate resilient lands

Board of Supervisors approves Carbon Inventory

& Potential Sequestration study

On Nov. 7, the Board of Supervisors accepted a new study that establishes an inventory of current carbon stocks in Sonoma County. A carbon stock is a system that has the capacity to store or release carbon. The Carbon Inventory & Potential Sequestration study evaluates the potential for Sonoma County’s landscape to sustainably store more carbon. Developed in partnership with local governments, Resource Conservation Districts and nonprofits, the study quantifies existing carbon stocks throughout the county. It presents recommendations for protecting significant carbon stocks and identifies available practices that can increase carbon sequestration.

In 2022, Sonoma County’s diverse landscapes held more than 105 million metric tons of carbon, measured as carbon dioxide equivalents (MT CO2e), providing critical co-benefits like healthy ecosystems and watersheds, recreation areas and local food production. This is equivalent to the amount of carbon emitted to supply electricity to the population of the entire Bay Area for more than two years. The land-based carbon inventory quantifies the amount of carbon stored in different land cover classes, such as forests, grasslands, rangelands and others. It does not include carbon stored in near shore seascapes. The study captures carbon stock changes based on vegetation type, cover and height. The land cover data and trends over time were combined with soils data to calculate carbon stocks. The study found that forests hold the most carbon storage per acre followed by developed land (due to urban forests), and then by shrublands.

The amount of carbon stored in the landscape can change over time, with some land types changing more, and others changing very little. Between 2013 and 2022, there was a decline in carbon storage per acre in the county’s forests (-21 percent) and wetlands (-20 percent), likely due to wildfires and drought. The study evaluated opportunities to increase carbon storage and estimated the maximum capacity of Sonoma County’s landscape to store carbon, also known as the landscape’s “carbon sequestration potential.” It included a prioritized list of practices that enhance carbon sequestration and protect carbon stored in soils and vegetation. The action with the greatest potential to store additional carbon is through urban forestry – more than 700,000 metric tons of CO2e per year could be stored in Sonoma County if urban forestry were fully implemented on all suitable areas throughout the county. The Climate Action & Resiliency Division will work with partners and stakeholders to better understand the feasibility and costs of the actions identified in the study. Expanded engagement will focus on landowners and land managers, tribes, and underserved and under-resourced communities to identify high-priority actions to increase carbon sequestration in Sonoma County. Staff will recommend a series of proposals to the Board of Supervisors in the Climate Resilience Comprehensive Action Plan next spring.  

Learn more about the Carbon Inventory & Potential Sequestration study

Water stream

Wastewater focus of informative and lively community

meeting for Monte Rio and Villa Grande residents

Residents learn more about efforts to improve water quality in the Russian River

at a community meeting on Nov. 29 at the Monte Rio Community Center

On Nov. 29, the Climate Action & Resiliency Division coordinated a community meeting at the Monte Rio Community Center to update residents on efforts to reduce wastewater pollution in Monte Rio and Villa Grande. The meeting was a joint initiative by Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, Sonoma Water, County of Sonoma Administrator’s Office, Permit Sonoma, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Lower Russian River Wastewater Citizens’ Advisory Group. Panelists discussed new and changing septic regulations, re-introduced the Monte Rio/Villa Grande Wastewater Feasibility Study, and offered community members an opportunity to ask questions and learn about wastewater resources available to them.

Supervisor Hopkins opened the meeting virtually and underscored the critical role of the Russian River to community’s health, social identity and economy. Former Assistant General Manager for Sonoma Water, Mike Thompson, discussed the history of the Wastewater Solutions Pilot Project and provided an overview of water quality concerns along the Russian River, including the connection to human and animal waste. Thompson also outlined the emerging state plan to reduce pathogens in the river and how actions proposed by the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board are shaping septic regulations at Permit Sonoma. He noted that the citizens’ advisory group plays a critical role in the process, both by identifying compliance challenges for local residents and businesses and by advocating for regulatory and policy changes to address those challenges. Thompson also updated participants on a feasibility study led by Sonoma Water, with grant funding from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, to evaluate wastewater solutions in the Monte Rio/Villa Grande area.

Brelje & Race, a Santa Rosa engineering firm contracted to perform the feasibility study, shared their findings to date. They include an analysis of the study area and information such as the distribution of different lot types and geography, septic system types, and other features that may affect the feasibility of the various alternatives under consideration. They explained how septic systems operate and why different geographic and other features affect their performance. They also shared a description of the issues their study will evaluate, a timeline for completing the study, and how the study can inform future decisions and funding for local wastewater solutions.

At the conclusion of the panel discussion, the Clean Water Ombudsman for the Climate Action & Resiliency Division shared resource information and announced the start of regular office hours in the Monte Rio/Vila Grande area, including the availability for one-on-one appointments. 

View a recording of the community meeting, access the materials shared with participants, and find office hours with the Clean Water Ombudsman

Partnerships for climate resilience progress

Sonoma County partners with community-based organizations

on Climate Resilience for underserved communities

Nuestra Comunidad staff leading a workshop in Larkfield/Wikiup.

The Climate Action & Resiliency Division partnered with Sonoma Ecology Center, Los Cien, La Luz Center, Nuestra Comunidad, Latino Alliance, Greenbelt Alliance and community advocates Yvette Minor and Hugo Mata, to submit a funding application to support climate resilience work in four underserved communities in Sonoma County.

Community Partners for Resilience in Sonoma County envisions a new era of shared decision-making between local governments and community members in four of Sonoma County’s most under-resourced communities. In this vision, each of these communities has a thriving Community Leadership Group that improves community understanding of climate and resilience challenges where they live and work.

These groups identify community priorities for a climate-resilient future and build community agency for the solutions that matter to them. Community Leadership Groups grow their understanding of how to prioritize opportunities, develop consensus and deepen relationships with local public, private, and nonprofit partners. Preliminary community profiles have identified climate-related issues such as the presence of heat islands, increased pollution from idling freight trucks, the lack of heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems in older apartment buildings, a lack of community cooling centers, and the opportunity to create greenspaces for climate resiliency and recreational use. We are a proud partner in this grant opportunity, which proposes to bring $1.75 million into the local climate action and resiliency system. Finalists will be contacted in this month for interviews.

Learn more about the Strategic Growth Council’s Regional Climate Collaboratives grant program

The County’s Clean Commute Program

As directed by the county’s five-year Strategic Plan, Sonoma County has been investing in its Clean Commute Program to promote our employees’ use of alternate modes of transportation, including bike and carpool incentives, and last-mile solutions connecting bus and train stations to county worksites. This quarter, county staff saved 116 metric tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere by clean commuting. Check out the impact of the Clean Commute Program below.

Upcoming workshops and events




Sign-up link

Your Energy Efficient and Resilient Home


Jan. 6

2-3:30 p.m.


Regional Library

Link to registration

Your Energy Efficient and Resilient Home


Jan. 10

6-7:30 p.m.


Santa Rosa Regional Library (Coddingtown)

Link to registration

North Bay Induction Cooking Expo


Jan. 27

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Premier Bath and Kitchen

Link to registration

Your Energy Efficient and Resilient Home


Feb. 10

2-3:30 p.m.


Regional Library

Link to registration

Your Energy Efficient and Resilient Home


March 23

2-3:30 p.m.


Regional Library

Link to registration

Staffing updates

We've grown!

The Climate Action & Resiliency Division has grown! The team welcomed Jaida Nabayan at the end of November as the new Principal Climate and Resiliency Analyst.

Jaida (she/her) has extensive experience working at the nexus of environmental justice, climate policy and urban planning. Previously, she worked at an urban planning and development consulting firm to help local governments, foundations and nonprofits build out climate resilience, economic development and equity-focused strategies. Jaida completed the inaugural Climate Policy Fellowship with the Aspen Institute and engaged with Bay Area community members to address sea-level rise concerns in Marin County, while co-developing a toolkit for the equitable implementation of bus priority lanes for Los Angeles Metro. She is excited to join the county’s Climate Action & Resiliency Division and build a more resilient, equitable, and fun place for Sonoma County community members to live, work and play!

Jaida completed her bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Urban Studies as National Questbridge Scholar at the University of Chicago and completed her master’s degree in Urban Planning as a Presidential Scholar at Harvard University.

We're growing!

The Climate Action & Resiliency Division is currently reviewing candidates for Climate Resilience Project Analyst. The division anticipates a new Energy & Sustainability Program Manager will join the team in early 2024.

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The Climate Action and Resiliency Division (CARD), within the County Administrator’s Office,

is dedicated to helping the County and the community address the climate crisis

and achieve its climate-related goals and objectives.