Kenwood Press

Serving the communities of Kenwood, Glen Ellen and Oakmont

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Forum Oakmont: 08/01/2015

Time Traveling to 2025

A look at Oakmont 10 years in the future

Ten years ago, in 2015, we were all asked to submit our vision for Oakmont. Then I was too shy to submit my vision even though I had often been vocal about my outlook for Oakmont. I am grateful to live my leisure years in a most wonderful community in the most beautiful county of the greatest state of the greatest country. I am also pleased with our leadership and structure. Board members and planners have been faithful to the objectives of Oakmont, aiding the fulfillment of my vision. I will briefly comment on the tenets that have so enhanced Oakmont life for me and likely for many of the other 4,799 residents.


A safe community has remained a top priority of the association. Oakmont’s aging population is home to 1,600 single residents, a considerable elder abuse target. But lectures and training programs by the District Attorney’s office, Santa Rosa Police Department, and COPE have made us aware and vigilant. Physical safety is also managed through traffic ordinance enforcement, smooth sidewalks and convenient entry and egress of our facilities.

Transportation and Parking

The debate 10 years ago concerning too much traffic along Hwy. 12 caused by winery events has been mitigated. Effective negotiation by former Board presidents Sue Millar and Pat Amadeo resulted in a reduced number of events permitted annually. But of greater significance was Sue’s and Pat’s negotiation with Sonoma County Transit and Santa Rosa City-Bus, which led to vast improvements in public transportation and reduced traffic along Hwy. 12.

The 30 now runs every 30 minutes – instead of the previous 2-hour interval – with key stops at Safeway, Summerfield, Montgomery Village, Memorial, Downtown, SMART, SRJC, the County Administration, Kaiser and Coddingtown. Instead of just one 16-bus, we now have three that operate continuously, including on weekends. The results are impressive: 1) Traffic on Hwy 12 has been mitigated to an acceptable level, 2) residents are proud to use public transportation – it’s popular and some even brag, 3) many have sold their cars, and 4) the shortage of parking at Berger has been mitigated. The latter was resolved by the aforementioned continuous operation of the 16s.

On a personal note I am indeed grateful to Sue and Pat. Last fall, my daughter Elizabeth and I were driving to the Villa when I nearly hit a pedestrian crossing Montgomery. As we drank our margarita, she looked me straight in the face and without uttering a word she communicated, “Dad, please don’t drive anymore. You can’t see!” I agreed and thanked her for her love and concern. Two weeks later my garage was like a dance hall with only my bike parked. Now I’m saving automobile expenses, and I remain independent owing to Sue’s and Pat’s electric 16s and 30s.

For the real busy boomers, there is more good news: The drone-taxies are coming to Sonoma County!

Facilities Maintenance

In the last five years I have been pleasantly surprised at the overall look of our community. The gardeners are doing a better job with pruning and plant maintenance. The days of pruning roses with a weed whacker are over. Our facilities are again shining jewels. They are clean, hospitable, and well maintained. Even the audio/visual systems work. And the pools and spas are inviting and warm.

Berger Center

The 2015 Board was swift in evaluating numerous recommendations to improve Berger. They ranged from doing nothing, to a complete tear-down and rebuild. When the dust settled, the Board voted to spend $1 million to repair and restore our main facility to its former grandeur. Here the Berger subcommittee of the board proved a crucial unifier and creator of a sound compromise. A major obstacle voiced by the community was, “How can we exist without the Berger Center for 12 months?” That question was answered by the rental of an enormous tent erected on the lawn.

The X Pavilion

The old saying “See Rome and die” is a well-known quote. For me the new saying is “Experience and enjoy the X Pavilion and die!” While it took much prodding and heavy lifting, this wonder is now a reality. Long Range Planning considered a Performing Arts Center as early as 2011, but it was dropped as a priority owing to opposition and other priorities. Two Oakmonters deserve the overwhelming credit they have been given for shepherding the creation of the new performing art center. They are Bob and Nancy Giddings.

The new pavilion, built on OVA land adjacent to Berger, is a fabulous facility for concerts, musicals, movies, theater productions, opera from the Met and La Scala, Life Long Learning classes, Community Church services, cabarets and other performances. The stage is large, the orchestra pit is spacious, the 290 seats are comfortable, the acoustics are second to none, and there is not one bad seat in the house. The connection to Berger has been cleverly designed and acts as an art gallery. It’s truly a marvel, thanks to Bob and Nancy. I almost forgot to say that this marvel has cost Oakmont residents zero dollars. Mrs. X graciously funded the entire construction. Thank you, Ma’am.

The opening ceremony last fall was a spectacle and the largest event in Oakmont history. I was so proud watching tuxedoed Bob Giddings introduce the Santa Rosa Symphony and its program of Mozart, Beethoven and Bernstein. 290 excited residents occupied every seat in the pavilion. At the same time, 300 residents were seated at Berger listening and viewing the performance on the large screen. During the intermission the festive and grateful audience enjoyed 80 bottles of Gloria Ferrer brut; it was a real celebration. The receipts of $105,000 were donated to Santa Rosa schools in support of their music programs.

Last but not least, realtors claim that prices in Oakmont are up 10% owing to our new crown jewel.

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