Rohnert Park permanently prevents construction of all new gas stations

Published on March 22, 2022

On Tuesday, March 22, the Rohnert Park City Council voted unanimously to give final approval for land use policies that will effectively and permanently prohibit construction of new gas stations. The ordinance will take effect in April.

Enacting the ordinance will make Rohnert Park the third city in California – and the third in the U.S. – to permanently prohibit construction of new gas stations. Rohnert Park has 13 stations currently, and City Councilmembers said earlier this year that is more than enough to serve the needs of the community. The ordinance also prohibits existing stations from adding gasoline or diesel pumps and storage, and stations that cease operations for more than 180 days cannot reopen.

“This is one small step in abiding by the climate emergency resolution that we adopted last year,” said Rohnert Park Mayor Jackie Elward. “We have enough gas stations and we need to work toward a future free of fossil fuels and all the harms that come with drilling for them and using them.”

“The thought here is to take the lead from Petaluma and other jurisdictions,” said Councilmember Gerard Giudice at a meeting in January 2022, when he first proposed the ordinance. “We’re not talking about existing gas stations. There are plenty of opportunities to fill your tank here in Rohnert Park. I don’t think we should be creating new ones. The emphasis should be on creating EV charging stations and really doing that segue from fossil fuels to electricity.”

“Here in the North Bay we have experienced successive years of unprecedented wildfire, clearly the consequence of the larger climate crisis. Along with extended drought, extreme heat episodes, and other anomalous disruptions, it makes no sense to continue with the obsolete and dangerous 20th century energy systems,” said Woody Hastings, Co-coordinator for the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations. “We also recognize the one-hundred-plus year legacy of devastation and destruction to communities and the environment around the world due to oil extraction, transportation, storage, and refining. These almost always disproportionately impact lower income communities, communities of color, and indigenous communities. The clean energy economy of the future offers an opportunity to end this longstanding racial, social and environmental injustice.”

“Communities in Sonoma County do not need any more gas stations,” said Matt Krogh, SAFE Cities Campaign Director for “Demand for gasoline and diesel will continue to dry up as we switch to electric cars and truck fleets. We have all the tools we need to switch our economy and transportation systems off of fossil fuels. Leaders like Rohnert Park and Petaluma are providing clear examples of what this transition should look like. More Bay Area cities will soon join them. This wave of community-based climate action preventing new gas stations is rapidly becoming a movement.”

Petaluma became the first city in the U.S. to adopt this policy in March 2021. Calistoga adopted a citywide prohibition in December 2021. Numerous other jurisdictions in Napa and Sonoma counties have these policies in progress, including the city of Santa Rosa. Sebastopol is in the process of adopting this prohibition, and its City Council will vote on the first reading of the ordinance during a meeting on April 5.

The city’s proposed permanent ordinance will apply to almost the entirety of Rohnert Park, but city staff need additional time to amend a development agreement the city approved in 2021 for one section of a planned development called Sonoma Mountain Village. According to city staff, the developers do not intend to construct new fueling stations and cannot do so while an emergency moratorium is in effect for the next two years. However, the City Council cannot unilaterally impose the permanent prohibition on Sonoma Mountain Village. The city is required to amend the development agreement first, which it will do in upcoming months. Once that task is completed, the permanent prohibition will expand to cover the entire city.

BACKGROUND: Since Petaluma garnered national and international attention for adoption of its first-in-the-nation policy last year, momentum has grown substantially in the San Francisco Bay Area to prevent construction of new gas stations. San Francisco-based environmental advocacy group and its SAFE Cities movement have worked with local groups in Sonoma County such as the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations to build public support for these policies.

The transportation sector is by far the leading source of carbon emissions in California. This is also true in Rohnert Park, which is located on the Highway 101 corridor in Sonoma County — transportation accounts for 67 percent of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions. Across Sonoma County on an average weekday, more than 1.6 million vehicle trips occur, including many commuting trips on Highway 101, according to a study commissioned by the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. This includes an average of more than 6,000 commercial truck trips daily through Rohnert Park, according to data from Caltrans.

As a result, people who live near highways and major roads are exposed to higher levels of air pollution and will suffer disproportionately worse health impacts. An October 2021 study of 52 U.S. cities found that low-income neighborhoods and communities of color are exposed to 28 percent higher levels of nitrogen dioxide, which is primarily due to their proximity to highways, major roads, and diesel truck traffic. This disparity exists in Rohnert Park and Sonoma County, as it does throughout California and the U.S. In nearby Santa Rosa, a recent analysis published in the Press Democrat newspaper found that 44 of the city’s 46 gas stations are located in neighborhoods that feature greater numbers of lower-income residents and people of color. Despite an overall downward trend in the amount of retail gas sales in the U.S. over the past decade, the U.S. still has twice the number of gasoline stations per capita as Europe.

The following cities across Napa and Sonoma counties have taken or are in the process of taking action to prevent construction of new gas stations:

  • Petaluma (Sonoma Co.) – Ordinance adopted in March 2021;
  • Calistoga (Napa Co.) – Ordinance adopted in December 2021;
  • Rohnert Park (Sonoma Co.) – City Council approved final adoption of ordinance March 22;
  • Sebastopol (Sonoma Co.) – City Council will vote on ordinance April 5;
  • Santa Rosa (Sonoma Co.) – City’s climate action subcommittee recommended approval on Feb. 9, which moves ordinance onto the Planning Commission and then City Council;
  • Windsor (Sonoma Co.) – Directed staff to draft an ordinance in November 2021; draft ordinance is expected to be presented in May;
  • Cotati (Sonoma Co.) – City staff is developing ordinance, planning for a first review by the City Council in June;
  • Napa (Napa Co.) – City Councilmembers have spoken favorably of crafting an ordinance;
  • American Canyon (Napa Co.) – Moratorium in place;
  • On September 13, 2021, the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority adopted a resolution urging the county and cities to adopt the prohibition.


Media contacts: 

Peter Jensen, SAFE Cities Communications Coordinator,, +1 415 532 3817 (Pacific Time)
Woody Hastings, Co-coordinator for the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations, (Pacific Time)