The Kenwood Press
News: 11/01/2013

SVCAC may expand its horizons

Supervisor Susan Gorin agreed with a suggestion of the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission (SVCAC) to expand the area they cover by including land north of Adobe Canyon Road up to Pythian Road. The commission offers an open forum for the public to meet with developers and raise potential issues before the approval process gets too far along on projects within their defined area.

The expanded area would encompass the North Valley watershed region, which begins at Pythian Road. All water flowing off the mountains east of Pythian Road moves south through the Sonoma Creek. Water falling on the northwest side of Pythian Road wends its way to the sea through the Laguna de Santa Rosa and Russian River.

The Joint Powers Agreement between the City of Sonoma and the county that created the SVCAC 20 years ago will expire this year, providing a good opportunity to make adjustments going forward.

Two areas were deliberately left out of the expansion by the SVCAC in spite of public urging to include them: the stretch of unincorporated lands from Pythian to Melita Road across from Oakmont, and the area around Sears Point that sits in Supervisorial District 2.

In spite of the urgings by Kathleen Connelly and Susan Millar of the Oakmont Community Development Committee, the commissioners rejected adding the extra mile or so to Melita, with Commissioner Rochelle Campana noting that the projects along that strip have already been approved. Oakmont residents continue to be concerned with the concentration of new winery development directly across from them and the impact it will have on Hwy. 12 traffic.

“We are very concerned about the ability to evacuate Oakmont in case of a major fire,” Millar said.

After meeting with Chair Mark Bramfitt, Commissioners Rochelle Campana and Sean Bellach, and Planning Commissioner Greg Carr, Gorin expressed interest in adding some of the District 2 projects into the fold, but has not yet discussed it with David Rabbit, the District 2 supervisor.

The possibility of adding another commissioner to represent District 2 is also of concern to most SVCAC commissioners; it would affect the current balance in uncertain ways.

Roundabout discussion

The commissioners had a lively discussion about a possible future meeting to discuss the roundabout at Arnold Dr. and Agua Caliente Road at Hanna Boys Center. While the decision to build a roundabout was controversial from the beginning, the addition of the large center structure caught everyone by surprise.

In addition to esthetic questions about the structure, it blocks oncoming traffic from view, making it even more problematic for people who don’t understand or who are not used to comfortably negotiating the roundabout.

While the SVCAC is generally restricted to hearing development projects that go through the county Permit and Resource Management Department (PRMD), the roundabout is a project of the county’s Public Works Department, which did bring it before the SVCAC. According to Commissioner Kirsten Lindquist, however, at no time did the Public Works presentation include anything about the center monument.

Commissioner Clarence Jenkins said it is hard for large trucks to negotiate the roundabout.