The Kenwood Press
News: 09/01/2019

Members sought for SDC advisory body

Applications due online by Oct. 4



People are needed for a group that will advise a consulting firm (to be picked next month) charged with developing a workable and community-oriented plan for the disposition of the now abandoned Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC). A draft Specific Plan to realize those ideas will be created over the next two and a half years.

“Community input is essential to creating a strong and viable vision for the site,” Maggie Fleming said. Fleming is communications manager for the county agency overseeing the process. “Permit Sonoma is recruiting community members for a Planning Advisory Team to advise staff and consultants during the process, review Specific Plan materials, and serve as ambassadors to the public.”

The SDC was one of the oldest state-run developmental centers in California, serving people with developmental disabilities from 1891 until it was closed by the State at the end of 2018. Following several months of negotiations, the state agreed to work with Sonoma County and local residents to make sure the property was put to community supported uses, such as open space, wildlife habitat, historic preservation and the like.

Sonoma County agreed to develop a Specific Plan for the property, with the state providing enough funds for a three-year development process with the expectation of having a clear vision of what will be done, including balanced mixed uses, economic development opportunities, affordable housing, open space and resource conservation, as well as cultural and historical preservation on the property.

“There has been a tremendous amount of community engagement in the Sonoma Developmental Center,” said County Supervisor Susan Gorin, whose district includes the SDC. “The Planning Advisory Team is a great opportunity for community members to build on this work to create the vision for the future of this special place.”

According to Fleming, the 13-member group will hold an advisory role as an extension of the planning team. Membership will be made up of two representatives from community organizations active in the Glen Ellen-SDC area, three community members with technical expertise relevant to planning for the SDC site, and eight community members at large with at least five members residing/working within two miles of the SDC. Members will be expected to attend monthly meetings and commit to serving for the full length of the three-year planning process.

For more information and to apply online, visit www.sonomacounty.ca.gov/permit/sdc.

All applications must be received online by Friday, Oct. 4.