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Elnoka senior housing DEIR pending

ByJayGamel // t all boils down to traffic,” Wally Schilpp said about the pending publication of a long-anticipated Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). Schilpp has taken the lead on behalf of the Oakmont Property Development Committee of the Oakmont Village Association (OVA) since the Elnoka project was first proposed over 15 years ago. Happily retired from the position four years ago, he stepped back in upon the death of his successor. Traffic has been a big sticking point in getting the DEIR ready, according to Santa Rosa Senior Planner Susie Murray. “There were significant changes to CEQA transportation requirements in 2020,” she said. “We have to change that to meet the current guidelines. We’re hoping to have it available in mid-February.” When the 250+ page document is available, Murray said three printed copies will be delivered to the OVA for residents to consult. It will also be available to access online.

Oakmont residents have struggled, successfully, with a series of projects proposed by Oakmont Senior Living (OSL) owner Bill Gallagher since he acquired the property in 2005. The battles culminated in 2010, with Santa Rosa City Council’s unanimous rejection of a 209-

Continuedon page 16 unit project, in spite of the city planning department’s recommendation to approve.

Since then, Oakmont Senior Living (no relation to Sonoma Valley’s Oakmont), has tried several times to revive the project in one form or another, finally bringing the current 664-unit continuing care retirement community proposal to the table in 2017.

According to Schilpp, the major objection to developing the Elnoka property is the location a quarter mile from Highway 12 and Melita Road.

OSL and OVA signed a letter of agreement in 2012 that sets out minimum standards to secure Oakmont’s support of the project, including restricting it to seniors 55 years old and over and reducing the number of building units from 676 to 619.

Once the DEIR is released, “We will have 40 days to digest and comment,” said Schilpp. “If there are no problems, the project and the EIR go to the Planning Commission. If they approve, we can file an appeal if necessary,” he said, adding that the process could take many months.

The 68-acre site is named after the first two letters of the names of the original owner’s three daughters, Elenore, Noreen, and Katie, who lived on the property. Gallagher purchased it in 2005 from a Japanese retirement consortium.

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