Resilient Infrastructure​

Enhance services to the community by investing in County facilities and infrastructure; including roads, buildings, communications, and flood protection.

Goal 4, Objective 2

Leverage existing fiber optic infrastructure and grant opportunities to expand wireless and broadband access across County.

Updated: January 2024

Summary of objective implementation status (achievements or progress over last year; significant delays or issues, etc.)

In late Spring 2023, the EDB’s broadband team analyzed the high-level designs produced by Golden State Connect Authority’s (GSCA) contracted engineers, Tilson, and selected 23 proposed priority project areas to bring to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on August 1, 2023. The 23 project areas were prioritized based on: 1) median household income of project area, as a proxy for disadvantaged communities; 2) connection to the statewide middle mile infrastructure; and 3) estimated subsidy need per unserved household. Based on the criteria, the Board of Supervisors selected the following priority areas:

  • Jenner – 4.87 miles
  • East Santa Rosa – 24.96 miles
  • Walsh Landing – 12.18 miles
  • East Cloverdale / Preston – 44.42 miles
  • West Cloverdale – 41.75 miles
  • Mark West / Shiloh – 49.24 miles
  • Annapolis – 36.18 miles

The Board also approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Golden State Connect Authority (GSCA) which will allow GSCA to finance, build, own, and operate open access broadband infrastructure in Sonoma County right of ways; connecting those who are currently unserved; and adopted a uncodified ordinance that authorizes the Director of Public Infrastructure to grant licenses and permits to the state, or to any county, city, district, or public utility corporation, for use of any County real property for purposes of any broadband infrastructure network or project.

In September 2023, with the direction from the Board of Supervisors, the EDB broadband team and GSCA applied to the CPUC for last mile Infrastructure funding through the Federal Funding Account for the following project areas: East Cloverdale/Preston, East Santa Rosa, Jenner, and Walsh Landing. Looking ahead, major opportunities for infrastructure funding include the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Infrastructure Grant Account through the CPUC.

Key milestone update (include relevant metrics, if applicable)

The Sonoma County Economic Development Board was awarded $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) enhance broadband availability and adoption. In August 2023, staff received approval from the Board of Supervisors to allocate $1.5 million of those funds to develop low-level shovel ready engineering designs for priority project areas. The remaining balance has been allocated to support broadband equity and adoption and support infrastructure needs. Staff will be returning to the Board of Supervisors in Spring 2024 with an update on updated project priority areas and uses of ARPA funding and other funding opportunities.

Coordination and partnership update

In 2023, Staff met with stakeholders including community groups, regional partners, and internet service providers throughout the year to communicate plans and surface opportunities for collaboration. Staff has also connected with city managers and key staff to discuss urban connectivity needs and opportunities for partnership. Staff is also exploring how to best utilize their membership with Golden State Connect Authority to take advantage of the different funding opportunities and deployment resources available.

Community, equity and climate update

Equity is a primary driver of a couple of EDB’s broadband grants. A key component of the Local Agency Technical Assistance (LATA) Grant program is the application of census data to determine the demographics of each of the respective locations in the final provided designs. Once the high-level design process is complete, demographic census data will be overlayed to help determine select priority areas within the County. As part of this process, the County will also determine if data from the Portrait of Sonoma can be used to provide additional demographic information. In addition, the Affordable Connectivity Program is a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that helps connect families and households struggling to afford internet service. The benefit provides a $30 monthly discount on internet services for eligible households, and a onetime rebate of up to $100 for a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet purchased through a participating provider.

Funding narrative (If this objective received Strategic Plan funding in year 1 or year 2, please provide a status of expenditures to date.)

The Board of Supervisors directed EDB staff to pursue funding opportunities to support broadband access. As a result, EDB has received several grants and continues to pursue new opportunities to support an open access network in Sonoma County. Below is a summary of the current grants:

  • American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Grant – $3 million to enhance broadband availability and adoption.
  • FCC Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Outreach Grant – $300,000 grant awarded in Spring 2023 and runs for two years (through Spring 2025). This grant workplan includes outreach and marketing campaigns to promote ACP, tabling at community events, and hosting enrollment events throughout the county.
  • CETF Regional Broadband Consortia (RBC) Grant – $100,000 grant from T-Mobile in February 2023 and runs for 1 year with possibility of extension and additional $25,000. This grant workplan includes activities related to broadband infrastructure planning, permit streamlining, collaboration with cities and counties and affordable connectivity/adoption.
  • Local Agency Technical Assistance (LATA) Grant – $500,000 grant from California Public Utilities Commission to fund the completion of the County’s high-level design and 40 miles of low-level design for broadband infrastructure for unincorporated Sonoma County.
  • California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Consortia Grant – $600,000 awarded to the NBNCBC in 2022 for regional collaboration on activities to advance broadband deployment in our 4 counties.