Letters to the Editor
VOTMA weighs in on development near Oakmont
The following letter was sent to Supervisor Susan Gorin by Valley of the Moon Alliance president Kathy Pons.
The Valley of the Moon Alliance (VOTMA) wishes to call your attention to the current and future traffic on Highway 12 between Melita and Pythian roads. This stretch, like most of Highway 12, is a two lane road, has no median, some places have substantial shoulders, with signal lights at Melita, Oakmont Drive, and Pythian Road. A peculiarity of this stretch is that the south side of Highway 12 is within the City of Santa Rosa’s jurisdiction and the north side is county jurisdiction.
The county parcels are primarily zoned Rural Residential (RR, RRD) and Agricultural (AR, DA, LIA). The owners of these parcels, their families, and visitors have to negotiate the continuous flow of highway traffic to enter or exit their properties. Oakmont residents enter and exit only at the signal lights. Development projects proposed within Oakmont and Santa Rosa city limits may have adequate access to the highway with the signaled lights but they directly and negatively impact the number of cars the county residents have to deal with.
At a BZA meeting regarding an expanded kennel at the corner of Richards Road and Hwy. 12, a traffic consultant said over 20,000 cars a day travel this stretch of highway. The applicant even agreed to encourage her clients to only turn right into and out of that road and has a sign on her gate to that effect. Most EVERY resident that lives on or near Richards Road testified that they have had some type of car accident at the intersection — from getting rear ended to near-death experiences. This is an assault on the rural character of the Valley and in direct contradiction to the Green Belt concept, a green buffer between city and country.
This stretch is particularly aggravating in accident conditions, since there is only one possible alternative to detour if the jam is caused close enough to Santa Rosa (Melita). Otherwise, in a major accident, traffic has had to be re-routed over Warm Springs Road as the only through road. This is not good for residents and certainly not good for tourists. And while tourists are a definite boon to some parts of the local economy, the county is spending millions of dollars in hotel tax money to attract tourism to the county, but is not taking into consideration the impact their presence has on Highway 12 and other fragile infrastructure (water, sewage, emergency services...), infrastructure that is old, not being well maintained and which is likely to fail if further overburdened.
VOTMA proposes that a fully independent traffic count and project mapping be done for this section of roadway. Data should be collected over a credible length of time and at the peak usage throughout the year. Projects such as Elnoka, the entrance property to Oakmont, and the continued additions to the housing development at Pythian Road are some of the city-side projects. Across the street, three wineries have been approved but not built across from the Oakmont entrance, and a dog kennel. In one instance, production limits were set nearly 20 years ago with no concept of current conditions. These all need to be considered for their cumulative impact.
We believe some kind of operating agreement should be reached between the city of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County that includes consideration of the cumulative effect of projects on this section of Hwy. 12. An independent traffic count and mapping information on approved and proposed projects not yet built would give decision makers the information they need to understand the full effect of new projects, whether city or county, on this section of Hwy. 12. We believe these considerations are essential to maintain a manageable traffic condition on this vital transportation corridor.
We welcome discussion with you on this issue and also ways in which Valley of The Moon Alliance can assist your office. Thank you for considering this issue.
Kathy Pons, President
Valley of The Moon Alliance Board
Keep Developmental Center open
The Sonoma City Council on Wed., Sept. 4, will consider a resolution calling for keeping the Sonoma Developmental Center open. Mayor Ken Brown is placing the resolution on the agenda in response to a request I, Beth Hadley and Joanne Hurley made to the council in June. Hadley is a retired special education teacher and Hurley has a developmentally disabled nephew.
The state’s Department of Developmental Services is on a “one size fits all” path trying to force all developmentally disabled individuals into community care homes. While this is a model that works well for many, it’s a situation that has ended tragically for others. There is evidence that because of medical frailty, or emotional, mental and behavior issues, not all developmentally disabled individuals can function and survive in group homes. Furthermore, there are many special services at SDC, not necessarily found in communities that, if allowed to be used by disabled individuals from the community would help SDC be financially viable.
SDC has been a member of our Sonoma Valley community for 122 years. If you haven’t worked there yourself, you likely know many people who have. The Sonoma City Council is providing a local voice for us to show support for one of our treasured neighbors. Please attend the Sept. 4 meeting. It begins at 6 p.m. in the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. West.