For Release Thursday, August 10, 2000

Six environmental, housing and labor organizations in Sonoma County announced an agreement today to work together to promote affordable housing, oppose urban sprawl, and protect the environment.

The organizations are: Greenbelt Alliance; Sonoma County Housing Advocacy Group; Sonoma County Conservation Action; the Sonoma County Faith Based Coalition; the Sonoma County Group of the Sierra Club; and the Service Employees International Union, Local 707 AFL-CIO. The groups will also seek endorsements of the agreement by other organizations, businesses, and politicians.

Stephen Harper, spokesperson for the Sonoma County Faith Based Coalition, a housing advocacy group, said the agreement represents a milestone for housing advocates and environmentalists. "We share the common goal of working towards a better environment for people. This agreement recognizes that decent affordable housing for lower income households is essential to our environment, and that protecting the environment, open space and agriculture is also essential to maintaining viable livable communities.

Susan Bryer, spokesperson for Sonoma County Conservation Action, said "we are thrilled to sign on to this statement which calls for prioritizing greener, low-impact affordable housing. Now that urban growth boundaries are in place in most Sonoma County cities, we've got to be creative and focused on city-centered development."

Paul Carrol, spokesperson for S.E.I.U. Local 707, the largest union in the County, applauded the agreement. "Organized labor strongly supports programs to increase the amount of affordable housing. Development must be steered toward existing urban areas to avoid sprawl, and to provide housing close to jobs."

Peter Ashcroft, speaking for the Sonoma County Group of the Sierra Club, said "the agreement will facilitate collaboration between environmentalists and housing developers and advocates to protect important plant and animal habitat, and natural open spaces in Sonoma County."

Margo Merck, spokesperson for the Sonoma County Housing Advocacy Group, said the agreement was the result of several months of discussions between the groups. "It was a collaborative process where we all listened to each other, and realized that we shared many goals about our communities and our environment. Working together, we can promote social justice for lower income households and persons with special needs."

AnnaLis Dalrymple, spokesperson for Greenbelt Alliance, said "stopping urban sprawl is a high priority for environmentalists, and this requires that existing communities be made more livable for people of all economic backgrounds."

Further Information: Annalis Dalrymple (Greenbelt Alliance) 575 3661; Margo Merck (Sonoma County Housing Adv. Group) 433 5533; Peter Ashcroft (Sierra Club) 544 7651; Stephen Harper (Faith Based Coalition) 539 2532; Susan Bryer (Conservation Action) 539-2532; Paul Carrol (S.E.I.U. Local 707) 545 7349 x14