Started by a group of nature-loving Glen Ellen residents hoping to permanently preserve a large portion of the Sonoma Developmental Center property as open space, Eldridge For All - Save Our Space began as a grassroots fundraising campaign to benefit the Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC), a nonprofit dedicated to achieving and sustaining ecological health in Sonoma Valley. Eldridge For All - Save Our Space applauds the work of numerous local nonprofits working together to preserve the environmental, historical, and cultural resources that make the SDC such a unique and priceless asset. Eldridge For All - Save Our Space serves as a platform for sharing information regarding development of the SDC Specific Plan and related redevelopment issues.
Three years have passed since the inception of Eldridge For All - Save Our Space. To keep the public apprised of current developments, we have broadened our scope to include information about the land-use planning process as well as links to other organizations working toward the goals of:
1) protecting SDC wild lands in perpetuity
2) advocating for mindful redevelopment of the core campus
3) envisioning a future for the property that best serves the interests of communities adjacent to the site, Sonoma Valley, and Sonoma County as a whole.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will hear an update from County staff on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at 2:30 pm regarding progress on the SDC Specific Plan. This virtual meeting is "informational only." Supervisors are not expected to vote on anything. Access meeting materials by clicking on the SDC Specific Plan graphic to the right. Make sure to read the Draft Vision Statement and Guiding Principles. The Community Profile and Background Report (Attachment 1) is extensive and informative. Since oral comments will be limited to a few minutes per speaker, submit written comments by email (NO LATER THAN FRIDAY, JAN 22) and summarize them orally during the meeting (email@example.com). Meeting details to be posted 72 hours prior on https://sonoma-county.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
As the SDC Specific Plan process moves forward, consider the following:
1. What’s missing?
A key principle included in the 2019 Draft Vision Statement and Guiding Principles (developed by a coalition of community organizations) but omitted from the 2020 Draft Vision Statement and Guiding Principles (drawn up by Dyett and Bhatia and presented to the public during the Nov. 14, 2020 Community Workshop) reads:
Principles of sustainability for the future use of Eldridge: Planners and decision-makers will use recognized principles of land use sustainability to gauge how well proposed land uses protect public trust resources and fit the character and values of the site and surrounding area, as well as benefit local communities and residents. The density, scale and design for new development or redevelopment of Eldridge must be compatible with surrounding communities and Sonoma Valley’s constrained water resources and transportation system, and all development must be supported by sound infrastructure and appropriate public services.
****The first sentence (in bold) of this missing principle was added to the 2021 Draft Vision Statement and Guiding Principles on Jan. 11, 2021 as Guiding Principle #4.
2. Should the second sentence of this missing principle be added to the 2021 Draft Vision Statement and Guiding Principles?
a. The local community has voiced strong support for redeveloping the SDC campus and for affordable and disabled housing at a reasonable scale. This support is reflected in the 2020 Draft Vision Statement and Guiding Principles drawn up by Dyett and Bhatia. However, the fact that the redevelopment site sits in the middle of Glen Ellen, which is not a designated urban growth area, is not fully addressed. Insist that planners and decision-makers be mindful of the surrounding village and existing General Plan policies in regards to density, scale, design, infrastructure, and services.
b. The concept of “community character” is an important one. Share with the Board of Supervisors the elements of Glen Ellen’s community character you want to see incorporated into redevelopment plans. For an interesting article on community character, look for the Community Character pdf near the top of the eldridgeforall.org Downloads page.
c. The concept of "quality of life" is equally important. Share with the Board of Supervisors the ways in which quality of life throughout Sonoma Valley could be enhanced via properly scaled and moderate density redevelopment of SDC, and point out ways quality of life could be negatively impacted by overdevelopment.
3. Do we have enough time?
More time is needed to complete the Specific Plan process. COVID and wildfires have heavily impacted the timeline, yet the State has not extended it. The amount of time allotted for Development and Presentation of Project Alternatives has been compressed from 11 months (original schedule) to 5 months; an alarmingly short amount of time given the complexities of the site, including its location in the middle of Glen Ellen, and the need to fully engage the local community to get buy-in for a preferred alternative. To truly create a community-driven plan, ask the Board of Supervisors to work with the State to obtain a time extension.
4. Is protection of the SDC’s open space guaranteed?
While permanent protection of the SDC’s open space acreage is generally assumed to be a given, the actual legislation from the April 19, 2019 Budget Amendment reads:
The department recognizes the property’s exceptional open space, natural resources, and wildlife habitat. The disposition of the property or property interests shall provide for the permanent protection of the open space and natural resources as a public resource to the greatest extent feasible and shall be upon terms and conditions the director deems to be in the best interest of the state. (Section 2, 1.2 (c))
To protect the SDC open space, urge the Board of Supervisors to work with the State to transfer the open space to Jack London State Park and Sonoma Valley Regional Park.
1. Provide more affordable housing than merely required by State law
2. Provide housing for disabled population
3. Provide some work force housing
4. Ensure that the size, scale, and density does not compromise the wildlife corridor and open space resources and preserves Glen Ellen's community character and quality of life
5. Provide limited commercial uses to serve the site and nearby community
6. Allow some smaller scale institutional uses like SEC and other non-profits
7. Reuse existing buildings to the maximum extent feasible, reducing demolition/construction impacts
8. Create a phased development approach to minimize impacts
9. Maintain the open feel of the property by clustering buildings and avoiding new fencing (similar to the Presidio)
10. Maintain the open spaces along Arnold Drive
11. Use architecture that fits in with the community and historic resources
Investigate potential relocation of Dunbar School to the site to better serve the community and reduce traffic
12. Be mindful of the existing adjacent neighborhoods and rural Glen Ellen Village and the existing G.E. Development/Design Guidelines; ensure continued viability of downtown Glen Ellen
SHOULD NOT INCLUDE:
1. Large lot single family residential
2. Tourism, exclusive resort uses
3. High density development that is not in character with the surrounding area and would impact wildlife corridor
4. Large scale commercial activities
5. Substantially increased vehicle trips on Arnold Drive
6. Close off campus
The Vision Statement and Guiding Principles for the SDC Specific Plan are subject to revision. Follow their evolution by reading the entries below. Check back here for updates.
The Draft Vision Statement and Guiding Principles were updated on Jan. 11, 2021 to include Guiding Principle # 4:
Balance Redevelopment with Existing Land Uses. Use recognized principles of land use planning and sustainability to gauge how well proposed land uses protect public trust resources and fit the character and values of the site and surrounding area, as well as benefit local communities and residents.
Read the latest version updated on Jan. 11, 2021
Click here for the 2020 version of the Draft Vision Statement and Guiding Principles drawn up by Dyett and Bhatia, the land use consultant hired to help craft the SDC Specific Plan.
The 2019 Proposed Vision Statement and Guiding Principles were developed by a coalition of community organizations.
This Proposed Vision Statement and Guiding Principles for Eldridge (former site of the Sonoma Developmental Center) was composed by the leadership team of the SDC Coalition, chaired by Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin. The document was distilled from input gathered over the past five years and is intended to help guide Sonoma County and California officials throughout transition and into the future.
November 14 Workshop participants were able to put their comments on the vision/principles via virtual sticky notes. This exercise was followed by small group discussions creating group vision statement/headline for the SDC site in 2040, with discussion about priorities to achieve the vision. Priorities and tradeoffs could include: Housing: What kind, where, how much? Other uses § Historic preservation: Yes/no, how much? Infrastructure § Natural resources conservation.
Here are some questions/comments on the vision/principles that the Glen Ellen Forum SDC/Eldridge Committee compiled for people to consider during the workshop. These issues were intended to help in forming a vision and setting priorities in the small group discussions. Note: included at the bottom of this email are several key components of the June 2019 vision statement developed by community organizations and reviewed by the public in the June 2019 workshop. These components are missing from the current proposed vision.
Missing from Vision/Principles:
· Ensuring compatibility (e.g., scale, appearance, traffic generation, etc.) with surrounding Glen Ellen, which is adjacent to the site on both the north and south sides.
· Minimizing impacts on the viability of downtown Glen Ellen (by not creating a new downtown area that competes with Glen Ellen village)
· Acknowledging the rural character of the site and area (not within an urban growth area)
· Ensuring consistency with the County General Plan policies regarding protection of the rural village of Glen Ellen
· Creating land uses with designs that are consistent with Glen Ellen Development and Design Guidelines - new buildings should respect village architecture and historic buildings onsite (not urban style housing).
· Shrink the building footprint area to better protect riparian areas and wildlife movement within the campus, which is part of wildlife corridor
· Maintain open unfenced areas for wildlife movement through campus
· Integrate with neighborhoods north and south
· Minimize traffic on Arnold Drive through Glen Ellen (the village and SDC site are currently walkable due to low traffic levels on Arnold Drive)
· Be mindful of fire hazard area, moderating development in the Wildland Urban Interface area, evacuation routes, etc. (using fire-resistant building materials is not sufficient to mitigate the hazard)
· Land uses should also benefit the community.
· Focus on workforce housing demand in the valley.
· Density should be moderate to avoid over-concentration impacts on wildlife corridor and adjacent open spaces that have important biological resources.
Corrections/comments on Vision/Principles:
· The site is not surrounded completely by open space; it is part of Glen Ellen and is adjacent to homes and businesses on the north and south. The vision statement is written as if the site is isolated from the rest of the community.
· Too much emphasis on urban uses and urban design, as if the site is an existing urban area. The existing campus design does not have an urban feel.
· References to the site being a standalone community rather than a neighborhood within an existing community
· What does the reference to “visitation” uses mean? Are these tourism uses? Resorts, hotels, wineries?
KEY COMPONENTS OF JUNE 2019 VISION/PRINCIPLES THAT ARE MISSING FROM CURRENT PROPOSED VISION
• Planners and decision-makers will use recognized principles of land use planning sustainability to gauge how well proposed land uses protect public trust resources and fit the character and values of the site and surrounding area, as well as benefit local communities and residents. The density, scale, and design for new development or redevelopment at Eldridge must be compatible with surrounding communities.
• Stakeholders will create a specific plan for the Eldridge site that factors in the needs and land use priorities of the surrounding communities of Glen Ellen and Sonoma to ensure that future development will be compatible with existing land uses in Sonoma Valley.
• Housing should be based on the needs of Sonoma Valley with a workforce housing emphasis.
• Redevelopment will include replacement of economic and social benefits lost with the closure of the Sonoma Developmental Center. New institutional partners may include universities, colleges, government agencies, tribal entities, and nonprofit organizations, with the goal of expanding educational options, providing job training, and creating economic opportunities close to home.
Click below for a pdf of this list of crucial issues.