The Kenwood Press
News: 02/15/2017

Glen Ellen Town Forum fleshes out ideas for the community

Alec Peters

A group of Glen Ellenites, known as the Glen Ellen Town Forum, are continuing their discussions on how to have more of an influence on issues that affect the town of Glen Ellen.

The most recent meeting was Feb. 6 at Dunbar School, the fourth such get-together, this one attended by around 60 hearty souls who braved bad weather.

The Glen Ellen Town Forum has broken up into various committees to zero in on topics such as potential organizational structures for the town, tourism impacts, community projects, environmental issues, traffic concerns, developing a community garden, and the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center.

At the Feb. 6 meeting, Glen Ellen resident and business owner Arthur Dawson talked about his committee’s research into different possible ways for Glen Ellen to organize and have more self-determination.

One idea is the citizen advisory concept, modeled after the existing Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission, and a similar body in the Dry Creek area. Such panels review development issues and proposals, and make recommendations to county planning officials. Dawson said this kind of commission would act as a bridge between the residents and businesses of Glen Ellen, and county government.

Another concept is the creation of a Community Improvement District, where the community would agree to tax itself (through a parcel tax for example) in order to collect money for designated community needs. The existence of such a district would also require partnering with some specific county agency.

More possibilities presented include creating a dues paying Homeowners Association of some kind, and the formation of a nonprofit organization.

At the next meeting, on March 6, it is hoped that the group can decide which options to pursue.

The committee looking at tourism impacts said there is need to collect data on this issue from both residents and businesses. The county’s Transient Occupancy Tax (bed tax) is being looked at to see whether the Glen Ellen area could get more funds, especially to deal with the lack of parking in the downtown area. Vacation rentals came up as well, with data indicating that Glen Ellen has 174 permitted legal rentals. There are a total of 1,671 properties in Glen Ellen.

Community projects that were presented involved items such as general town cleanup, a sprucing up of the Post Office building, what to do with a patch of land known as the “Triangle” across from the fire station, and methods to co-exist with the homeless population, such as providing a mobile shower.

Marty Winter, who owns a number of buildings in downtown Glen Ellen, including the Post Office, said he would pay for painting the exterior of the Post Office, as well as the repaving and restriping of the parking lot.

The Glen Ellen Town Forum meets the first Monday of the month, 7 p.m., at Dunbar School. Anyone is invited to attend and participate.

The group has a website at glenellenca.org, with an email of forum@glenellenca.org. There is also a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/glenellenCA/.