Letters to the Editor
Re: Kenwood Farmers Market
I was surprised to read a letter to the editor recently [June 15 Kenwood Press] where I and others were referred to as people who are “mired down in negative thinking” just because we have a different opinion from the author. This is not the way to have constructive dialog about how Plaza Park is utilized.
Who are we “negative thinking” people who are against having the farmers market at Plaza Park and what is our agenda? We are a group of neighbors who live across from the park or in close proximity. Some have lived near the park for 35 years and some for only 4 years, but what does that matter? We are people who are involved in our community, volunteering at our state parks, local film festivals and food banks. We all live here because we love living in a rural environment.
Why are we against the market? We are not against the farmers market and never have been; we have only questioned its location, believing that this type of commercial activity is not appropriate for this quiet, residential park. Running for 16 weeks it will impact the neighbors every single weekend of the summer. We support public celebrations at the park, including the annual Fourth of July Parade and the large fundraiser that was held last year, but the repetitive nature of a weekly event is too much.
Why? Because we feel it goes against the Sonoma Valley General Plan that states that all commercial activity in Kenwood should be conducted in the existing Hwy. 12 commercial core. We also feel that since the park is not zoned “commercial” there should be no commercial activity in the park. What we learned, however, is that the County Regional Parks department is not bound by the general plan nor any zoning regulations. Through email and meetings with Bert Whitaker of the parks department and Supervisor Susan Gorin we discussed the many issues we had with the placing of the farmers market in the park. These issues included added signage on Hwy. 12, traffic congestion and public safety on Warm Springs Road, and added noise and parking issues for both vendors and the public.
Whitaker addressed most of our concerns in the Special Use Permit for the farmers market for the trial period of this summer. Agricultural Community Events (ACE) read, agreed to abide by, and signed this agreement knowing that failure to follow the guidelines could cause the permit to be revoked at any time during the summer.
In the first week of the farmers market there were signs placed along Hwy. 12 (which violated #7 of the conditions of the permit). On the second week in addition to three signs along Hwy. 12, they also had vendor vehicles parked adjacent to the park instead of off-site (violating #5) and had customers parking in areas that were not designated in their parking plan (violating the Traffic and Parking Plan). On the third week, again vendors were parking adjacent to the park instead of at the Marshalls garage vendor parking area (violating #5).
If ACE planned on being a good neighbor they would abide by the rules that were put in place. This they have not done. If they continue to disregard the use permit they signed, then the parks department should revoke the use permit immediately.
I hope that in the future, ACE can find a permanent location within the Hwy. 12 commercial corridor so that we all can give it our full support.
Thank you, farmers
I just came back from my second visit to the new Kenwood Farmers Market. I am so happy to finally have a place to go to meet with the community. It has been many years already since my son graduated from the Kenwood School, so I don't have a chance to see many people that live around Kenwood any more. I don't have a religious preference, so attending a place of worship is not for me.
Historically the farmers' markets have been a strong part of the community… an informal meeting place where one can run into people that one hasn't seen in awhile. I grew up going to the farmers' markets when I was a kid. My mother would take me and we would buy potatoes from Aunt Virgie whose beautiful strong, earth blackened hands would fill up the bag with her produce.
I have lived in the Glen Ellen/ Kenwood area for 40 years now. This is one of the best community services that I have seen in a very long time.
I love being able to buy my healthy organic produce from my neighbors. I feel proud that my money is going to help the farmers earn a living instead of putting it in the hands of the big corporations.
This is a sweet slice of the American way of life.
Thank you, farmers, for coming to my community.
What future for SDC?
The takeaway here from the Kenwood Press article (June 15), for me, is that [Sonoma Developmental Center] SDC will for all intents and purposes cease to be a facility for the patient population it has served for many decades. It may house and care for five individuals (yes, 5!), assumably the most profoundly ill, in some tiny little unit, a token gesture of how the state cares about its most vulnerable people. The rest of the land will be up for grabs.
The state wants, requires, fair market value for all SDC lands. The county and all the well-meaning non-profits and land/open space conservation groups haven't a prayer of a hope to fork up that kind of money. These lands abutting Arnold Dr. and close to Highway 12 are some of the most choice in all of the Sonoma Valley. Also among the most expensive real estate in the wine country. Almost priceless. Unless you're a wealthy developer, with wealthy friends and high level lobbying connections in Sacramento. There may be token parcels given to assuage an ecology group or a citizen's association, perhaps even an addition or two added to a state or regional park, but rest assured most of this most highly prized lands will go to private commercial development.
The governor and his minions want the money for the land. That's been the case for decades, and now the opportunity is at hand and the wheels are in motion. All the palaver about “nothing happening for quite a while” is the standard political smoke. This was a done deal as soon as the state appointed a “task force” to “study” the situation. Their findings and recommendations - to shut down developmental centers, “save” the money on their housing and care for patients and shunt them off to private facilities, and sell the lands to the highest bidders - was, in my opinion, a foregone conclusion.
Boyes Hot Springs
County fell asleep on Hwy. 12 project
The County has shut down the large 8,400 sq. ft. project on Hwy. 12 and Moon Mt. Road. Here are the reasons: 1) Unlicensed general contractor. 2) Red tag stop work order on Feb. 6, 2014, which was ignored and torn down. 3) Red tag stop work order on Feb. 20, 2014, and finally work stopped. 4) All permits suspended on Feb. 20, 2014, because of unlicensed contractor. 5) Lawsuit filed by County against owners of project for building code and fire code violations. In the June 15, 2014, Kenwood Press there was a short article on the project “still under construction.” In fact all work stopped in February 2014. The article noted that the Scenic Corridor was to be extended and projects like this one would be inappropriate. Apparently the County is now meeting with the owners to see where the project goes in the future, if at all. Neighbors on Moon Mt. Road and Hwy. 12 have organized to oppose the project going forward. 35 families have formed the opposition. To review, when the permits were issued in September 2013, the County plan checker did not verify that the contractor was licensed. The first red tag was issued Feb. 6 and ignored. Two weeks went by before the County inspector returned and issued the second red tag on Feb. 20. On Feb. 20 the County Code Enforcement official finally “became aware” the contractor was unlicensed and suspended all permits. The county filed its lawsuit on May 14, 2014. In my opinion the County let this project fall through the cracks.
The irony of Arnold Drive
I find it interesting that the go-round at the entrance to the Hanna Boys Center is to be named for General Hap Arnold. Upon his retirement, the Arnolds purchased the 40 acres belonging to the Hill sisters up a long lane on the back side of the Morris property in the late 1940s. The Catholic Church at the time was considering the property for a live-in school for troubled teenage boys and there was public input. Hap Arnold was not opposed to the concept in principle, only NIMBY and was very, very vocal. There exist other high ranking military officers living in the Valley along with individuals and businesses who had and have contributed to the well being of the Valley over the years. There has been no recognition for them. Hap Arnold lived in the Valley for a very, very short period of time and after having suffered numerous heart attacks, passed away in 1950. He never saw any part of the evolution of the Hanna Center.
A country road connecting Glen Ellen with Schellville now bears his name, as does the athletic field in the town of Sonoma. So now there is to be a large edifice bearing his name at the front door of a facility he strongly opposed.