Quantcast

Sonoma City Council eyes leaf blower ban, dogs at Montini Preserve

By

A double-header could fill the grandstands, if there were grandstands, in the Community Meeting Room Monday night, when the Sonoma City Council takes up two controversial issues in which a large number of Sonomans are deeply invested.

First up will be discussion, consideration and possible action on the introduction of an ordinance banning gas-powered leaf blowers in the city.

Details of the ordinance were not available at press time, but sentiment following a Sept. 4 City Council meeting – during which a parade of speakers vented their dislike for the noisy machines – seemed to favor limiting new rules to gasoline-powered blowers, although some members of the public urged a ban on both gas and electric models.

If such an ordinance is adopted, Sonoma would become the first city in the county to take such a step. Statewide, at least 20 cities have banned the devices.

Four council members indicated support for the ban Sept. 4, with only Mayor Pro Tem Tom Rouse objecting, saying he wanted to hear from more people before making a decision, and might even prefer a ballot measure requiring a public vote.

The second agenda item is at least equally controversial, extending directly to the heart of Sonoma’s collective canine constituency, namely, whether leashed dogs should be allowed inside the newly acquired Montini Open Space Preserve.

The 98-acre tract of hillside land, fronting the northern boundary of Sonoma, was purchased by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District for nearly $14 million, with a $1.15 million contribution from the City of Sonoma.

Original plans for the property called for State Parks to take over ownership, but the state’s budget crisis blocked that option and earlier this year the city took possession from the Open Space District, which included in its management plan a ban on dogs.

That ban threatened to undo the title transfer when a number of vocal dog owners insisted the property should be open to responsible canine visitation.

The council declined to delay acquisition of the property until the dog access issue was settled, but promised to consider amending the management plan after it had legal possession of the property.

That issue will be before the council Monday night and city staff make no recommendation on desired action, simply suggesting “council discretion.”

On the parallel issue of a possible fenced dog park, within the boundaries of the Montini Preserve, where dogs could run free, city staff have advised, “do not pursue.”

The City Council will meet, as stated, at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 7, in the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W.

The public is invited to attend.