The Kenwood Press
News: 11/01/2016

Glen Ellen discusses the future; self-determination

Alec Peters

Man and woman at a table
Leslie Vaughn (left) and Jim Shere facilitated a community meeting on Oct. 21 to discuss the future of the town of Glen Ellen.

About 35 people came to Mayflower Hall in Glen Ellen on Oct. 21 to begin a discussion about how to have a say in the town’s future.

The meeting was prompted by ongoing concerns about changing demographics in Glen Ellen, and about how to achieve a workable balance between the needs of full-time residents and the popularity of the town as a tourist destination.

The discussion was led by Glen Ellen residents Leslie Vaughn, president of the Glen Ellen Fair Association, and Jim Shere, executive director of the Glen Ellen Historical Society, which hosted the event.

Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, who represents Sonoma Valley, attended the meeting, as did Rebecca Hermosillo, an aide to U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson.

The meeting featured a lively discussion hitting a number of issues of concern, and brainstorming about ways, if possible, to exercise local control over issues such as development, traffic and speeding, events, noise, vacation rentals, and the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center.

Supervisor Gorin said it would help her in county issues if she had a sense that there was a coherent voice coming out of Glen Ellen.

The cost of housing has reduced the number of young families living in Glen Ellen fulltime, leading Glen Ellen resident Arthur Dawson to mention that maybe the group can also address possible ways to lure families back to town.

“The community is more than just infrastructure,” said Dawson.

A variety of local control ideas were bandied about, including the possibility of creating a community improvement district, a mechanism where a community would tax itself in order to spend money on something specific.

Other ideas included looking for grant money for specific projects agreed upon by the community, joining up with other nearby unincorporated communities, or redoing the Glen Ellen Development and Design Guidelines, part of the county’s General Plan, that outlines policies and recommendations for preserving and enhancing Glen Ellen.

Vaughn said the goal of this Glen Ellen organizing effort is to focus on a collaborative approach, and bring people from all sections of Glen Ellen into the discussion.

Vaughn and Shere encouraged people to communicate with each other through social media, citing the Glen Ellen Facebook page, www.facebook.com/glenellenCA/, glenellenjournal.com, and the NextDoor social media vehicle, glenellenwarmsprings.nextdoor.com.

The next community meeting is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 7, 7 p.m. in the Dunbar School multi-purpose room. Dunbar School is located at 11700 Dunbar Road in Glen Ellen. Everyone is invited to attend.

For more information, contact Vaughn atleslie_vaughn@att.net, or Shere at jshere@sonic.net.