Westside Area Home

Our Communities -  The Westside Area is a set of rural agricultural neighborhoods - many of our homes are along Westside, Wohler, and access roads to watershed areas Mill, Felta and Palmer Ridge roads.

Westside Road is a scenic corridor and a County designated bikeway (our road is often used for charity and international bicycle competitions). Westside's rural ambiance, natural beauty, and historic buildings showcase Sonoma County’s rural character. In short, the Westside Area is a county-wide asset deserving of both stewardship and protection. 

From 2014 to the present, this website - the Westside Area infoZone - has been the Westside Area's Document Repository and Communication Tool. The infoZone provides links to County or State information sources and to Reports relating to the concerns of residents in our diverse community. Communications are sent to all interested members of the community groups listed at the bottom of this page.  

Westside Area infoZone tracks various issues of concern to our members.


UPDATES on 4 COUNTY ORDINANCES initiated in 2020 that impact the Westside Area are below:
Mid-2023 Summary Report with Links to Letters and Reports.   

COPE FIRE SAFETY AND RESILIENCE: Annual Meeting was held on Sunday, June 11, 2023 – please review the COPE Meeting Notes and take all the actions requested by our COPE Leaders, including the short-term requests below:

  • If anyone in your family is hard of hearing, we have a NOAA Weather Radio Emergency Alerting device The kit includes radio, strobe light, and bed shaker. Please contact Brenda if interested. 650-787-3236.

  • Time to update your questionnaire – Every year, we need to update this questionnaire. Things change and it is important to let us know. COPE will send a separate email that will allow you to re-enter your information.

  • Be a Neighborhood Leader – as well as encourage your neighbors to be a part of your group. We are in desperate need of Neighborhood leaders especially in the north areas from Madrona Manor to Felta Road. Please let us know if you can join us and help your neighbors and community! For those of us who currently serve in this role, re-confirm with Brenda for the 2023-24 service.

FIRE RESILIENCE AND REBUILDING RESOURCES: The County's website has up-to-date information on Fire Recovery resources available to fire survivors. The Westside infoZone has summarized information shared during emergency situations as well as useful information on Fire Resilient Landscaping.  
         For Emergency Services Contact Information go to: Take Action > Emergency Resources 

          For Fire Prevention or Resiliency Workshop information go to:
Resource Materials 

WATERSHED PROTECTION: Mill Creek has been designated a water-impaired watershed - it is one of five priority watersheds in Sonoma County. See NOAA Letter - Impacts. Also, see the map of Groundwater Availability at https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Administration/GIS/Map-Gallery/

FOREST RECOVERY MILL CREEK'S focus is on the protection of Mill Creek, a designated water-impaired watershed. In 2022, we assembled an impressive team of forestry, stream restoration, and wildlife biology professionals and applied for, yet did not receive, a grant to remediate fire damage to multiple properties and stream beds and to study post-fire wildlife repopulation.

FRIENDS OF FELTA CREEK: Friday, July 16, 2023, hearing at the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board for an Administrative Civil Liability (ACL) Complaint against Ken Bareilles, with a recommended $250,000 fine. This timber operator was aware of Felta’s critical habitat given the Friends of Felta Creek had negotiated, for several years, to purchase and then place the property in a conservation easement. To learn more GO TO > https://friendsoffeltacreek.org/news

          Forest Recovery Mill Creek, Forest Unlimited, Preserve Rural Sonoma County, and a number of independent biologists prepared a letter commending the NCRWQCB Board and its Prosecution Team for holding timber operator Ken Bareilles accountable for the Fox Meadows Timber Operation’s irreparable damage to the critical habitat of Felta Creek and its watershed. The operator used a salvage logging exemption to bypass environmental review, even though the Board of Forestry and Fish and Wildlife Department had previously denied timber harvest permits for this property. 

PALMER CREEK NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION hired a law firm to oppose the permit for a highly impactful cannabis operation in this sensitive watershed: A special thank you to the neighbors who put in considerable time on technical analyses, money for legal representation, and networking to gain county-wide community group support, for setting an important precedent relative to the protection of water sources and compliance with State standards for safe fire evacuation.

          On December 6, 2022, the Board of Supervisors denied the UPC18-0046 permit for a commercial cannabis operation, To learn more about cannabis operations in Sonoma County, GO TO >https://www.neighborhoodcoalitionsonomacounty.com 

: In August 2022, SAFRR prevailed at the Board of Forestry gaining a decision to retain the protective fire-safe road standards designed to ensure safe evacuations and protect lives, despite considerable lobbying to gut the regulations by development interests, including Sonoma County Supervisors’ who actively participated via the Rural County Representatives of California.

          The standards apply to all new residential and commercial development in high-fire-risk areas, yet not to post-fire rebuilds. SAFRR continues its participation in local land use proceedings, objecting to project applications that violate fire-safe road standards.  Sadly, both Sonoma and Napa’s supervisors continue to approve large-scale developments, ignoring State requirements for adequate road access as well as the California Environmental Quality Act’s wildfire and public safety provisions.

The intent of fire-safe road standards is to provide access to large fire-fighting equipment with simultaneous evacuation by residents and workers.          

To learn more GO TO > https://preserveruralsonomacounty.org/safrr/  

WINERY EVENT ORDINANCE: In March 2023, which I’ve assigned the moniker of “too much, too late,” the Board of Supervisors overrode the Planning Commission’s recommendations and adopted a Winery Event Ordinance that parroted the wine industry’s 2015 position. The ordinance with Definitions and Standards is on the County Website. 

          Given a decade of effective public advocacy, the Board’s willingness to allow industry self-regulation was a disappointment. However, the current reality is that pandemic-related loss of sales - compounded by the change in tastes /values of millennials - has dampened the magnitude and frequency of winery events. Also, for the 1st time, the Westside Area has no winery applications pending.

          For context, Judith’s February 2022 letter to the Planning Commissioners laid out the history, issues, needed protections for adjacent landowners, and expert information on the changing demographics. In 2015, Preserve Rural Sonoma County used wine industry-based research and data compiled by Silicon Valley Bank to warn the County that issuing twice the number of winery and tasting room permits than studied in the 2020 General Plan (over 450 vs 239) would lead to destructive competition, especially as related to winey tasting rooms competing with restaurants. Our Supervisors’ ignored generally accepted economic principles and expert advice and now the industry is coping with financial dislocations.  

2022 Background Below: Several government initiatives that impact our neighborhood are moving forward.  In 2020, Sonoma County prepared three Ordinances with hearings scheduled for 2021 to 2023:

     1) State Fire Safe Road Regulations and Sonoma County Ordinance: State rejected the County's Ordinance in 2020 and on August 17, 2022: the Natural Resources Agency/ Board of Forestry and Fire Prevention approved protective Statewide fire safe road regulations for all new development.

     2) Winery Event Ordinance: On November 1, 2022, the BOSupervisors sent the Planning Commission recommendations back to Staff: The BOS hearing and Ordinance adoption was in March 2023. 

           Winery Use Permits> Go to TAKE ACTION > Project Info Land Use > Project Posts Projects of Concern page to read more about Westside Road pending projects, including supporting documents.  Please continue to be ready to write letters and attend key meetings and hearings, until the Event Ordinance is in place, including Guidelines for areas of over-concentration.

     3) Cannabis Ordinance: The flawed Mitigated Negative Declaration was abandoned by BOSupervisors in 2021. This MND advocated for decision-making by the Ag Commissioner with ministerial permits requiring no public input of project-specific CEQA review.   And, in 2022, an Environmental Impact Report Consultant was chosen - Scoping sessions are expected in 2023.

     4) Fox Meadow Timber Harvest - Felta Creek - Although Friends of Felta Creek won a court order setting aside the  Timber Harvest Permit for this 60-acre parcel, the 2020 Walbridge fire exposed a loophole in the regulations allowing the Owner to remove trees under a CALFire emergency permit. Large redwood trees are being cut, and the logging trucks are using Felta Creek road, causing sedimentation of Felta Creek and public safety concerns at the elementary school.

Go to Pre-2022 History document for background on the above issues