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SDC – Show me the money

Budget revision doesn’t show funds for SDC disposition

The money needed to maintain the now-shuttered Sonoma Developmental Center and underwrite a three-year planning process to figure out what to do with it didn’t show up in the state’s latest budget planning documents, although the funding proposals included in last month’s agreement between Sonoma County and the California Department of General Services (DGS) were approved by a senate subcommittee on May 9.

A four-member subcommittee hearing was held on May 9, Chaired by Sen. Holly Mitchell (LA-30), to consider 81 separate budget items.

“The proposal was approved with the addition of a reporting requirement on the status of the property, the county meeting goals, and the progress to decommission the site,” Mitchell’s communication director Ray Sotero said. He could not be more specific about those requirements.

Legislators assured Sonoma County officials and others on Friday, May 10, that the requests will be included in the final budgets.

Last April, the DGS requested $43.7 million over the next three fiscal years (FY19-20, FY20-21 and FY21-22) for “operations, maintenance, initial partial decommissioning, and land use planning costs related to the closure of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC).” Sonoma County will receive $3.5 million to conduct land use planning for the 995 acres of open space and buildings over that period.

The transfer of jurisdiction over the property from DDS to DGS is expected to be effective on July 1, 2019.

DGS requested $21.1 million for FY2019-20, of which $17.6 million is requested for property management, utilities, security, fire protection, grounds keeping, repairs, initial decommissioning activities, and other activities. The remaining $3.5 million is requested for Sonoma County to conduct one-time land use planning. The remaining requests are for $11.2 million in 2020-21, and $11.4 million in 2021-22.

DGS anticipates a three-year expedited planning and disposition process to be done by the county. “The $3.5 million will help cover the costs and fees to ensure priority planning and entitlement and provides more certainty about future permitted land uses for the property. DGS will require that the county prioritize affordable housing in the planning process. DGS expects the sale and disposition of the property will recover costs associated with the warm shutdown,” according to the Senate subcommittee agenda.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors submitted a letter of support to this subcommittee for this request, stating that the proposal will “ensure that there is a robust local process that affords ample opportunity for the voices of the community to be heard, and the proposal includes a firm deadline for the county and its consultants to complete this planning process, which will then afford far more reliability and assurance when the property is disposed of through a process managed by DGS,” the agenda stated.


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