For our readers who don’t know you, can you provide a bit of background about yourself and what led you to serve on the Planning Commission?
An attorney by training, Ariel has spent her career as a community organizer and government relations professional. She received both her MBA and Doctor of Jurisprudence degrees from Golden Gate University in San Francisco and after law school, Ariel worked in government relations for the America's Cup in San Francisco. Her passion for land use led her to become immersed in the world of community and urban planning from a very young age. Originally from Eugene, Oregon, Ariel is an alumna of the University of Oregon where she studied business. Growing up on the McKenzie River, Ariel has early memories of observing her parents form a river alliance network to prevent pollution and fight to preserve water quality in for their rural neighbors. Ariel resides in Healdsburg with her husband and two young children ages 5 and 3.
Is the Planning Commission your first position of service to the community?
Ariel spent over a decade as an active community leader in San Francisco. She served as the president of her neighborhood association, often appearing before the City’s planning commission fighting both for and against development projects. Ariel was an active director of the Golden Gate University Alumni Association, Rooms that Rock 4 Chemo Ambassador Board member, and a member of the board of Collective Impact, a non-profit aimed at reducing cycles of poverty for African American youth and families in San Francisco. Today, Ariel serves as the board president of Corazón Healdsburg, a non-profit dedicated to bridging the racial and economic divide in northern Sonoma County.
Can you name a few highlights of your time on the commission?
It has been an interesting time to sit as a planning commissioner. Ariel was appointed by Supervisor Gore after the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires. While many of her first hearings were regarding winery use permits and events, she has had the opportunity to discuss resiliency, the post-fire rebuild, and our housing crisis. The commission is currently turning its focus on cannabis and Ariel is looking forward to learning more about the intersection of land use planning and cannabis in the coming months.
20 years from now, how do you envision Sonoma County?
In 20 years I envision Sonoma County as a safe and prosperous community that has achieved a balance between agriculture, industry, and thoughtful resilient development. This won’t happen overnight and it won’t be easy but we have the will of our community and the knowledge to get there.
What is your favorite spot in Sonoma County?
It’s so hard to pick just one place. But one of my favorite spots in Sonoma County is the Healdsburg Ridge hiking trail overlooking the Russian River.
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