We’ve got so much news to cover that we can’t fit it all into one edition! Starting this month, we will be publishing Sonoma County Correspondent twice a month. Look for the next installment on Sept. 15, and continue reading for updates on the imminent heat event, the drought, COVID-19, improvements to local parks, an important initiative to combat poverty, the latest on the county’s effort to regulate vacation rentals, and a preview of the popular fall conference sponsored by the Economic Development Board.


As always, we encourage you to share with friends, colleagues and family members so they can sign up for the SoCo Correspondent and receive it directly the first week of each month.


¿Está interesado en leer sobre lo que hace el Condado de Sonoma cada mes? Este boletín estará disponible en español. Regístrese aquí para suscribirse a nuestro boletín, el SoCo Correspondent.

Heat Alert

The next few days are set to be extremely hot throughout Sonoma County, with temperatures expected to be in the high 90s and 100s. The Sonoma County Department of Public Health has issued a Heat Alert in response to the National Weather Service's Excessive Heat Warning for the Bay Area, which is expected to last from 11 a.m. on Saturday until Tuesday, Sept. 6.

Cooling centers, where people can escape the heat, are planned for several locations in the county. They include the Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa, 2060 W. College Ave.; the Windsor Senior Recreation Center in Windsor, 9231 Foxwood Dr., off Los Amigos Road; and the Grange Hall in The Springs north of Sonoma, 18627 Highway 12. A complete list of cooling centers can be found at socoemergency.org.

Take steps to protect yourself and your family during this heat event:

  • Never leave anyone including children or pets in a parked car, even briefly. Temperatures in the car can become dangerous within a few minutes.
  • Use air-conditioning to cool down or go to an air-conditioned building such as a mall or movie theater.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Don't wait until you're thirsty to drink more fluids. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks. If your doctor generally limits the amount of fluid you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Beat the heat with cool showers and baths.
  • Stay out of the sun as much as possible.
  • When possible, avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day (between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.) and take regular breaks from physical activity.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing to help keep cool.
  • Wear sunscreen and a ventilated hat (e.g., straw or mesh) when in the sun and even if it is cloudy.
  • Be aware that some medicines affect the body's ability to sweat and stay cool, including antihistamines, antidepressants, over-the-counter sleeping pills, anti-diarrhea pills, beta blockers, and psychiatric drugs. Do NOT stop taking medication unless instructed to do so by your doctor.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially the elderly or those in poor health to see if they need assistance.

For more information about keeping cool in the summer heat, visit the county emergency information website, socoemergency.org/emergency/extreme-heat/ or call 211. Updates on heat conditions are available from the National Weather Service.

Drought update

Though summer officially ends with the arrival of autumn on Sept. 22, a new forecast from the National Weather Service concludes that Sonoma County and the vast majority of California are likely to remain in drought for at least the next three months, and possibly longer. Conserving water is critical: water saved now is water we can use later, particularly if we don’t get enough rain this winter to replenish our reservoirs.


There is good news to share: Your efforts to save water are working. Sonoma Water customers have reduced water use by 22 percent this summer, compared to 2020, exceeding state orders to cut water use by 15 percent. As a result, Sonoma Water has reduced its diversions from the Russian River by 31 percent since July 1, compared to the same period in 2020. That’s equivalent to more than 1 billion gallons saved in the Russian River. Nice job, people! Learn more about simple things that you can do to conserve water at the Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership.


County officials will present an update on the drought and its impacts on Sonoma County during a virtual town hall meeting at 4 p.m. today (Thursday, Sept. 1). The webinar, which will be moderated by Supervisor Chris Coursey, is the fifth in the county’s series of monthly public forums on the drought. View the live briefing on the county’s Facebook page and register to attend future town halls.

Learn more about the drought

COVID-19 update

For the first time since the spring BA.5 variant surge, Sonoma County advanced in mid-August into the “low” COVID-19 community level, as defined by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of new daily cases in Sonoma County has dropped 21 percent over the last two weeks, reaching their lowest level since April. The county reported 15 new daily cases per 100,000 residents last week, down from 19 cases in mid-August. 


The figures understate the actual level of COVID in our community. Some people are asymptomatic, while others are testing at home and their results are not being reported. Click here to report the results of an at-home COVID-19 antigen test. Reporting your results is confidential. Once the form is submitted, you will receive links to isolation and quarantine guidelines and available resources.

Find a vaccination. Get tested.

County launches guaranteed minimum income program

The County of Sonoma is teaming up with three cities and a coalition of community groups to launch a two-year pilot program that will provide a guaranteed minimum income of $500 a month to more than 300 low-income families while studying the impacts of this innovative approach to reducing poverty and promoting economic stability and mobility.


The Pathway to Income Equity program began accepting applications today. Visit www.pathwaysonoma.org to apply.


The project is a collaborative effort by the Sonoma County Guaranteed Basic Income Coalition, a group of community-based organizations led by First 5 Sonoma County. The $5.4 million effort is funded by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, the City Councils of Santa Rosa, Petaluma and Healdsburg, as well as Corazón Healdsburg and First 5 Sonoma County. More than 90 percent of the pilot project funding is from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), intended to help the county recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.


“Many in our community continue to struggle to afford their basic needs,” said Supervisor James Gore, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “This Guaranteed Income pilot will ensure that participating families can cover expenses not covered by other benefits like rental assistance and food stamps, which are insufficient especially for families with young children.”


Guaranteed minimum income programs, sometimes referred to as universal basic income programs, provide unconditional, guaranteed monthly payments to support recipients’ fundamental needs. The concept has been tested in multiple jurisdictions in California and across the United States, including Stockton, Oakland, San Francisco and Marin County.

Learn more about the Pathway to Income Equity program

County makes key additions to senior leadership team

The county welcomed two accomplished public servants to its senior leadership team in August: John Alden, Director of the Independent Office of Law Enforcement Review and Outreach (IOLERO), and Dan Fruchey, Director of the Department of Information Systems.


Alden, a former deputy district attorney for the county, has more than 13 years of experience leading civilian oversight agencies. Most recently, he served as executive director at the Oakland Community Police Review Agency, where he led staff in independent investigations of allegations of police misconduct. Now, he will lead IOLERO, which strives to strengthen the relationship between the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and the community it serves by providing independent audits of complaints and proposing policy recommendations.


“I am honored that the members of the Board of Supervisors have placed their trust in me, and I’ve been inspired by Sonoma County’s work to create oversight for the Sheriff’s Office,” said Alden. “I am looking forward to working with the community and the Sheriff’s Office to foster accountability, transparency, and communication.”


Fruchey has worked for the county Information Systems department since 1997 and served as the department’s interim director since January. In the coming year, Fruchey will oversee initiatives to improve the county’s capability to work remotely and deliver services from alternative locations during emergencies; reduce the use of paper records and increase the use of electronic web-based forms; and expand cybersecurity protections and backup systems for the county’s enterprise resources.


“Government must adapt to the needs of an online and mobile world at every level,” Fruchey said. “I am excited to be entrusted with this important mission as we work to improve the county’s responsiveness and transparency, protect against privacy and security risks, and ensure consistent service delivery.” 

Board of Supervisors updates vacation rental rules

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors last month approved updates to the Vacation Rental Ordinance, including a prohibition on new vacation rentals in areas zoned for low-density residential uses.


The new ordinance allows for caps to be placed on vacation rentals in areas of concentration and establishes restrictions on corporate ownership of vacation rentals in Sonoma County. Existing vacation rentals will not be affected by the ownership or zoning changes. 


A moratorium on new vacation rental permit applications that has been in place since May 10 is set to continue, potentially through May 9, 2023. The Board of Supervisors asked staff to come back with a separate ordinance addressing licensing procedures for new vacation rentals, including increasing penalties for property owners who violate the vacation rental guidelines. 


On May 5, 2022, the Sonoma County Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the Board of Supervisors adopt Permit Sonoma’s proposed Sonoma County Code amendments for vacation rentals, most of which were adopted.  

Learn more about rules on vacation rentals

County shares housing strategy

Permit Sonoma has published a draft of its Housing Strategy, the policy and implementation framework for addressing objectives in the Housing Element of the county’s General Plan.


The strategy outlines programs and policies to achieve the county’s housing goals and address concerns raised by the public, including barriers to development, the habitability of housing, and fairness issues, such as ensuring that housing is used by full-time residents.


The draft is the result of the most extensive and equitable public participation program for any housing plan in Sonoma County history. Permit Sonoma conducted three public surveys over the last year, drawing feedback from nearly 6,400 participants on the county’s housing needs, opportunities, values and policies. The work was shaped by input from a Housing Advisory Committee, composed of housing service providers, for-profit and nonprofit developers, and representatives of the agricultural, farmworker, faith and homelessness communities.


In October, Permit Sonoma will release a draft of the Housing Element.

Learn more about the Housing Element of the county’s General Plan

Supervisors approve plan to renovate Maxwell Farms Regional Park

The Board of Supervisors allocated an additional $3.35 million needed to complete $7.2 million in renovations and improvements to Maxwell Farms Regional Park, a popular park in Boyes Hot Springs adjacent to the city of Sonoma.


The funding will allow the completion of the first phase of Maxwell Farms Master Plan, which includes construction of a new all-weather baseball field, a new all-weather soccer field and expanded parking including improvements for ADA accessibility.


“The renovation and improvements at Maxwell Farms has been a long-awaited project that we are proud to support,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin, whose District 1 encompasses the park. “I’m excited for this first phase of the project that will expand park facilities that Sonoma Valley residents can enjoy for generations.”


Maxwell Farms Regional Park was developed in 1988. Over the years the 85-acre park has provided residents of Sonoma Valley and the city of Sonoma with a variety of recreation opportunities within one of the densest urbanized unincorporated areas in the county.


The new fields are designed to decrease Maxwell’s overall water consumption footprint, with the conversion of the sports fields to artificial turf and the addition of a modern irrigation system and stormwater catchment system. Work will also focus heavily on parking lot improvements in the form of parking capacity expansion, ADA accessible parking and pathways, pedestrian crosswalks on Verano Avenue, improving community safety in that area.


Construction began in August and is expected to run through summer of 2023.

Learn about the improvements at Maxwell Farms Regional Park

County approves Penngrove traffic study

The Board of Supervisors approved a $500,000 agreement with the Sonoma County Transportation Authority to study traffic on the Railroad Avenue corridor in Penngrove.


Once complete, the study will provide analysis of existing traffic conditions in Penngrove and make recommendations for intersection improvements, congestion relief, and traffic calming solutions.


“We have heard our constituents' significant concerns over increased traffic disturbance in the Penngrove area,” said District 2 Supervisor David Rabbitt, who represents Penngrove. “This traffic study is the first step to a lasting solution for the community.”


Once the effort to analyze traffic conditions in Penngrove is completed, recommendations for traffic calming solutions that are consistent with the county’s goal of creating resilient infrastructure will be presented.

Learn more about the Sonoma County Transportation Authority

Feedback sought on plan for Sonoma Developmental Center site

Sept. 23 is the deadline to submit public comment on a proposed specific plan and environmental impact report for the Sonoma Developmental Center property.


If enacted, the specific plan drafted by Permit Sonoma would permanently protect more than 700 acres of open space on the sprawling 945-acre property west of Sonoma. It envisions a walkable, mixed-use development with 1,000 housing units and more than 900 jobs. To help with emergency response and evacuation, the proposed plan would build a staffed fire station and a new connection to Highway 12.


The State of California owns the site and has forged a unique partnership with Sonoma County that allows the County, together with the community, to chart the future of the property. The specific plan creates a vision for potential land uses, transportation, economic viability, historic preservation and conservation of natural resources on the property.


The environmental impact report evaluated 16 key areas of the proposed specific plan, a lower-density alternative, a historic preservation alternative, and two alternatives where the County does not adopt a plan and the State leads development of the site.

View the specific plan and environmental report for the SDC site

County opens public boat launch, new Russian River access in Guerneville

Sonoma County Regional Parks has opened the first public boat launch in Guerneville, part of the county’s plan to improve river access and public recreation opportunities on the Russian River.


The new launch area, located at Guerneville River Park, is designed for canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and other non-motorized watercraft. Other new park enhancements include a second vehicle entrance off Highway 116 and parking lot, ADA accessible trails, family picnic sites, a small group picnic site, and native riparian habitat replanting.


“These improvements increase equitable river access and recreation opportunities for residents and visitors to the Russian River,” said Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, whose 5th District encompasses the lower Russian River. “This is a wonderful example of our tax dollars being used to prioritize park amenities that balance the economic benefits of tourism with improving the quality of life within a community.”


Regional Parks has managed the 5.3-acre park, located across the river from downtown Guerneville, for more than a decade. The property was deeded to the county by Caltrans after the construction of a new bridge over Highway 116. The historic bridge remains as a bicycle and pedestrian crossing between the park and the downtown area.


With the opening of the new facilities, Guerneville River Park becomes one of Regional Parks’ nine public access points on the Russian River, and another point on the Russian River Water Trail, a coordinated system of river access sites running 68 miles from the Mendocino County line to the Pacific Ocean. 

Learn more about Guerneville River Park

Learn how to navigate the county’s hiring process

Registrations are now being accepted for the next Start Here! class, which provides an overview of the County of Sonoma’s job application, examination and selection processes. The two-hour virtual class will be held at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8.


The free class is intended for the public – whether you are looking for a new position now or planning for a future employment opportunity. Participants will learn how to submit a thorough application, best practices for the interview and examination, and much more.


Click here to register for the Sept. 8 class.To be notified of future classes, contact us at careers@sonoma-county.org and we will add you to our mailing list.

Sign up for the Sept. 8 Start Here! class

County to measure greenhouse gas emissions

To help the county move toward its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, the Board of Supervisors has authorized an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions from all county government facilities and operations.


The audit will allow the county to create a baseline and measure its progress toward achieving the goal, which was outlined in the county’s Five-Year Strategic Plan for Climate Action and Resiliency.


“This board has made the climate crisis a top priority by joining cities, counties, and countries around the world in declaring a climate emergency and making a $10 million commitment to action on adaptation and resiliency strategies,” said James Gore, chair of the Board of Supervisors. “We are already making progress on carbon accounting of internal operations, but we have ambitious goals and more work to do. A baseline understanding of our current impact is essential to meeting the 2030 targets with accuracy and efficiency.”  


The audit will be conducted by Oakland-based Cascadia Consulting Group, Inc., which won the $142,330 contract following a competitive bid process.

Learn more about the Climate Action and Resiliency Division

Fall Economic Perspective

Learn how the Sonoma County economy will be impacted by state, national and international trends at the Economic Development Board’s annual Fall Economic Perspective on Sept. 30.


Claudia Sahm, an economist who created a widely-used recession indicator and advised the Federal Reserve, White House and Congress on monetary and fiscal policy, will be the keynote speaker at the conference, titled “Navigating an Uncertain Economy.”


The breakfast conference, which runs from 7:30-9 a.m., will be held at the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa. Tickets are $70 and advance registration is required.

Reserve a seat at the Fall Economic Perspective

Regional Parks’ Caminitos Al Parque program earns industry recognition

Sonoma County Regional Parks has garnered state and national recognition for its Caminitos Al Parque program, which introduces low-income Latino families with preschool-aged children to the wonders of nature.


The innovative program, which is led entirely in Spanish by Regional Parks staff, earned the Creating Community award from the California Park & Recreation Society and the National Association of County Parks and Recreation.


“We’re honored these prestigious industry organizations recognize the importance of this program and its outreach to our Latinx community,” said Bert Whitaker, director of Sonoma County Regional Parks. “Our goal is to share the value of the outdoors for promoting healthy, inquisitive child development, strong family connections and better mental and physical health.”


Caminitos Al Parque was born from a creative collaboration with the nonprofit Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County (CAP). All participants in Caminitos are referred from CAP’s Pasitos playgroups, an educational playgroup created for Spanish-speaking parents and their 3- to 4-year-olds who are not able to attend preschool.

Connect with Regional Parks

Board vacancies

Get Involved.jpg

Get involved with local government

Government is only as good as the people who step forward to serve others. There are many ways you can become involved in local government by serving on local boards, commissions and committees.


Current vacancies include:

  • Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County: To partner with low income families and individuals to help them achieve economic and social stability. Learn more: https://www.capsonoma.org/


Check out the list of current vacancies and discover how you can help shape the future of Sonoma County.

To apply and to learn more

Adopt the pet of the month

My name is Fiona. I am a spayed female black-and-tan German shepherd who’s been at the shelter since June 20. I weigh about 90 pounds and I’m 7 years old. Are you 55 or older? If so, Animal Services will waive adoption fees under the Silver Paws for Love program, which encourages seniors to adopt pets 6 years and older. To learn if you qualify, call (707) 565-7100 or visit Sonoma County Animal Services.


Fiona is one of dozens of cats, dogs, rabbits and other animals at Sonoma County Animal Services in need of adoption.

Learn more

Upcoming events

A megaphone against the backdrop of a blackboard with chalk writing that says, "Save the Date!"

Sept. 5 - Labor Day Holiday (county offices closed)

Sept. 13 - Board of Supervisors

Sept. 8 - Board of Zoning Adjustments

Sept. 8 - Commission on the Status of Women

Sept. 12 - IOLERO Community Advisory Council

Sept. 14 - Springs Municipal Advisory Council

Sept. 15 - Planning Commission

Sept. 15 - Coast Municipal Advisory Council

Sept. 15 - Fish and Wildlife Commission

Sept. 20 - Board of Supervisors

Sept. 20 - Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Council

Sept. 20 - Mental Health Board

Sept. 21 - North Sonoma Valley Municipal Advisory Council

Sept. 21 - Community Development Committee

Sept. 22 - Board of Zoning Adjustments

Sept. 22 - Ag + Open Space District Advisory Committee

Sept. 27 - Human Rights Commission

Sept. 28 - Continuum of Care Board

Sept. 27 - Board of Supervisors

Sept. 28 - Economic Development Board

Sept. 29 - Planning Commission

Oct. 3 - IOLERO Community Advisory Council

Oct. 4 - Board of Supervisors

Oct. 6 - Planning Commission

Getting outside and enjoying the county

Interested in getting outside with Sonoma County Regional Parks?


Sept. 3 - Nuestros Parques - Vamos a la Playa

Sept. 6 - Senior Saunters - Helen Putnum

Sept. 10 - Energize with Green Exercise


Visit https://reserve.sonomacountycamping.org/registration to see more activities.

Volunteer and employment opportunities

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Volunteer opportunities

Make a difference in your community. Find out how you can give back here.

A person in a white shirt and blue tie holds up a blackboard with the words "Employment Opportunity" spelled out very neatly in chalk.

Employment opportunities

Take your next career step with the County of Sonoma. Explore employment opportunities here.

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A publication of the County Administrator’s Office – Communications Staff