I have great concerns over the three SDC development proposals recently released by Permit Sonoma and available at www.sdcspecificplan. com.
All three proposals presented are of a scale that will have huge negative impacts on the existing town of Glen Ellen, as well as having large negative impacts on this historic property. The current infrastructure of roads, sewer, water and flood management are not even close to adequate to handle a development on the scale of any of the 3 proposed plans.
All of these projects would create unacceptable levels of traffic congestion and dangerous conditions in the event of a needed evacuation such as we have recently endured due to the changing climate and its effects on fires in our area.
Clearly some development will be necessary on the site, but I would suggest that 1/3 to maybe 1/2 the number of buildings currently proposed could be absorbed and benefit both the property, the surrounding community, and Sonoma
All three of these plans show a disrespect for the history of this rare site, the dwindling wildlife corridors in our area and the vocal and often stated wishes and concerns of the local community.
Please work with, listen to and develop a realistic plan that we can support and be proud of in the years to come as we move forward to growing while protecting this valuable local resource in the middle of our small rural community.
I am hopeful we can move forward in a reasonable time frame to satisfy the state along with providing a project that can be embraced and supported locally.
Ritch Foster 46-year resident of Glen Ellen
Sonoma Valley Collaborative (SVC) has views on SDC that could help community members make sense of the choices before us.
SVC members include Sonoma Valley’s Chamber of Commerce, Health Center, School District, La Luz Center, Ministerial Association, Visitors Bureau, Community Center, Ecology Center, Boys & Girls Club/Teen Services, and many others.
Earlier this year, we hammered out objectives for SDC that met stringent criteria. Each objective protects and restores a healthy natural environment, and improves opportunity and security for all by addressing social inequities, and advances a sustainable local economy.
Luckily, SDC is big enough that these criteria can all be met there. Our initial objectives are:
—A redeveloped SDC has the capacity to make substantial, positive, multigenerational contributions to Sonoma Valley and the North Bay.
—The 750 acres of open space, water resources, and wildlife habitat should be protected permanently.
SVC member Richard Dale, executive director of Sonoma Ecology Center, says, “The lands and waters of SDC are incredibly rich. Protecting SDC’s open spaces and creeks, and the corridor for wildlife across Sonoma Valley, is our highest priority. We think this can be achieved if the new developed area is smaller than the old campus, and is designed right.”
—The future SDC should have homes (“housing”) that are accessible to people who cannot afford Sonoma Valley market prices, whether to rent or to own.
SVC member John Hennelly, CEO of Sonoma Valley Hospital, noted that “housing security aligns with health outcomes for everyone. Managing your health takes a back seat when you aren’t sure where you’ll be next month. Housing hits close to home at the hospital. We routinely lose great applicants when they realize they cannot afford to live here. Even more concerning are the notices from existing staff that they may be looking for a new job as they can’t afford to stay. The SDC campus offers a creative opportunity to address this crisis.”
—Housing at SDC should come along with community services: childcare, eldercare, transit, grocery, a fitness facility, playfields, a health clinic, a coffee shop, even a school.
—We support a diversity of home prices and styles focused on ordinary-sized homes for households who will live there full-time.
—Interim use and adaptive reuse of buildings might help with the extreme housing crisis facing Sonoma Valley.
SVC member Mark Bodenhamer, CEO of Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, says, “SDC provides a unique chance to diversify and strengthen our local economy, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attract and invest in new industries. SDC could host sustainable, high paying jobs that are consistent with where
our economies are heading … if the land use plan allows for those uses.”
After we toured the campus with teens, student Jennifer Teliez said she wants to see “centers that help youth and adults with opportunities for jobs and new skills, athletic and recreation areas, and live concerts” — hopes echoed by her peers.
We are refining our consensus about SDC’s future across Sonoma Valley’s communities and interest groups. We will release more findings soon and host a public, in-person meeting about SDC. We encourage readers to submit their wishes for SDC to us at https://sonomavalleycollaborative.org/blog-feed/sdc, to [email protected], and at the county’s meetings.
Subscribe to our newsletter at www.sonomavalley-collaborative. org and follow us at @SonomaValleyCollaborative. SVC is hosted at Sonoma Ecology Center.
Caitlin Cornwall, Project Director Sonoma Valley Collaborative Glen Ellen