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of the planning. Our state legislators chose not to do anything to improve the situation. This will have a massive impact upon our valley, and it is wasting a great opportunity to make things better if it were not solely driven by what a developer would want.

I have contacted Governor Newsom about this with hopes that he can intervene. After all, the state has a huge surplus and using some of this would greatly improve the outcome of the plan. Let’s think out of the box, please.

With the understanding that we should not be confined to the boundaries of the present plan, here are some of my comments.

To the Editor, Bennett Valley traffic increases are on the horizon.

One thousand new residential units in Glen Ellen? How will this impact Bennett Valley?

Bennett Valley Road is already a busy conduit between Glen Ellen and Santa Rosa, and is becoming busier every year. Since 2020, numerous accidents have happened on this road, our main transit artery. Drivers in a hurry feel at liberty to speed, without care or concern given to the tortuous nature of the road system here.

Imagine daily traffic escalating due to the proposed development at the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC, or Eldridge, as we called it growing up) in Glen Ellen. It will affect us all — because of more commuters traveling to Santa Rosa for work, but also because of the legions of construction crews and equipment that will try to circumvent the Highway 12 bottlenecks by using Bennett Valley as a shortcut. It may eventually trigger installation of traffic lights at several intersections, such as Grange Road and Sonoma Mountain Road.

Permit Sonoma itself has declared that increased traffic is “a significant and unavoidable impact” of this development. The county has embraced this expanded plan in its draft environmental impact report issued in late August.

The best way to reduce impacts is to adopt a smaller project. The “Historic Preservation Alternative” is the smallest alternative, with 450 homes. This smaller, more reasonable footprint would also allow more open space, and allow for wildlife movement and reduced wildfire risk.

What you can do: An excellent website for more information and calls to action is

The draft environmental impact report and preferred specific plan for the SDC can be found at https://www.sdcspecificplan. com/documents.

Public comments on the preferred specific plan and draft environmental impact report will be accepted until Sept. 23—I urge all to contribute your opinions about this to Brian Oh at Permit Sonoma: [email protected]

On Sept. 8, the Sonoma Land Trust presented a program on how we citizens can approach the comment process: view the recording at watch?v=bCbCErq-T68. To learn more, please also visit

Chris Gralapp Bennett Valley Community Association Board To the Editor,

Almost without exception, the plan [presented by Permit Sonoma for the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC)] is opposed by individuals and organizations. This should be a sign that something is wrong.

The county keeps pointing to the state as the one who is controlling the direction Look at this as a wonderful opportunity to do something great, rather than sticking to the general formula of developing a plan that would be appealing to a developer. Perhaps set up a nonprofit that would handle the project, similar to what was done at San Francisco’s Presidio. If we had spent the last three years developing such an entity, we would not be in the present situation.

All new housing should be “affordable,” as there is such a huge need for this not only in Sonoma Valley, but in the entire state. The numbers of units should be dictated by what the area can broadly, comfortably absorb (water capacity, sewer capacity, road capacity, fire safety, and so on).

This should be seen as a opportunity to solve other problems such as training people for good-paying jobs. Perhaps the Santa Rosa Junior College, or some other educational organization, could set up a satellite campus for this purpose?

Perhaps there could be some high-tech businesses set up to bring in good paying jobs?

Some of the state’s huge budget surplus should be used to make the SDC responsive to the community’s needs and the needs of average people who cannot afford to live here.

This can also be a means of addressing homelessness, as it is caused by the lack of affordable housing in this area. Let’s take a bigger picture approach and, again, the SDC is a gift in this regard.

Joe Lieber Sonoma