Started by a group of nature-loving Glen Ellen residents, Eldridge For All - Save Our Space began as a grassroots fundraising campaign supporting permanent preservation of a large portion of Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) property as open space. That will only happen through hard work and careful guidance, which is why we’re helping raise money for Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC), a nonprofit dedicated to achieving and sustaining ecological health in Sonoma Valley. 

Almost a year has now passed since the inception of Eldridge For All - Save Our Space, and activity is gearing up on the SDC transition front seeing that the facility officially shut down at the end of 2018. In order to keep the public apprised of current developments, we have broadened our scope to include links to other organizations working towards the goals of 1) protecting SDC wild lands in perpetuity; and 2) envisioning a future for the property that serves the interests of the local community.

Check out some actions you can take right now to weigh in on the subject and make your voice heard by your elected officials by clicking on the "Actions You Can Take" option at the top of this page. And while you're at it, find out more about Sonoma Ecology Center. SEC has been at the forefront of this effort and takes part in several aspects of the SDC transition process. The nonprofit has volunteered hundreds of hours and many resources toward this worthy cause, and needs our help to continue this critical work on behalf of the entire Sonoma Valley.

Find out more about SEC

Our Blog

Eldridge Vision Letter to Governor Gavin Newsom

The SDC/Eldridge Committee of the Glen Ellen Forum recently sent Governor Gavin Newsom and other legislators a letter outlining 1) a vision for the Eldridge property, and 2) a request for financial and administrative resources. To submit your own comments to Governor Newsom, click on the link below.

January 25, 2019

Dear Governor Newsom:

RE: Land Use Planning for Sonoma Developmental Center

For the past five years a broad spectrum of community, nonprofit, and governmental agencies, including the Glen Ellen Forum, have pulled together in a coalition to guide transformation of the Sonoma Developmental Center in Eldridge. 

The Glen Ellen Forum’s vision includes:

  • Redevelopment of the existing campus via a comprehensive, community-driven, site-specific land-use planning process.
  • Interim and long-term uses shall optimize social, economic, and recreational opportunities on the property, be compatible with local infrastructure, and maintain the semi-rural integrity of the surrounding community. Compatible uses include housing, small business, education, light industrial, and community services.
  • Protection of existing open spaces and wildlife corridors. 
  • Preservation of the site’s historic character and healthcare legacy.
  • Provision of recreational opportunities compatible with the property’s open space and wildlife values.
  • Establishment of an Eldridge Trust, a governance structure modeled on the San Francisco’s Presidio Trust, that would guide development of a sustainable economic engine for the property in perpetuity.

These key themes have resonated through time and have been reinforced in countless venues since closure was announced, from small gatherings around kitchen tables to community forums attended by hundreds of people. A petition emphasizing these guiding principles circulated in the summer of 2018, and was signed by more than 3,500 people. This vision has broad-based support both locally and regionally. 

We now seek commitments of financial and administrative resources from Eldridge’s current caretaker, the State of California, to provide a stable foundation for implementation of this vision. These include:

  • Provision of sufficient funding to initiate the land-use planning process.
  • Resources to ensure necessary upkeep of existing buildings and infrastructure, including retention of state employees who best understand the structures and systems on the Eldridge property.
  • Resources to ensure necessary upkeep of campus grounds and existing open spaces and wildlife corridors to mitigate the risk of catastrophic wildfire.
  • Support for interim use on the property that could offset costs of warm shutdown, prevent blight, vandalism, and vagrancy, and provide a framework for potential long-term uses.  

Eldridge, as you may be aware, lies completely within the boundaries of the unincorporated community of Glen Ellen. The SDC/Eldridge Committee of the Glen Ellen Forum has spent the past two years reaching out to the community, gathering input, and forging alliances with numerous nonprofits. The people of Glen Ellen, Eldridge, and the greater Sonoma Valley are galvanized by the opportunity to shape the future of the SDC property. We are ready and eager to move forward and we urge you to support a community-led planning process for this important site. Please let us know how we can help. 


Dr. Alice Horowitz, Co-Chair, SDC/Eldridge Committee of the Glen Ellen Forum

Vicki Hill, Co-Chair, SDC/Eldridge Committee of the Glen Ellen Forum 

Melissa Dowling, President, Glen Ellen Forum Board of Directors

CC Senator Mike McGuire 

Senator Bill Dodd 

Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry

Assemblymember Marc Levine

Assemblymember Jim Wood 

US Congressman Mike Thompson

Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt, Chairman

Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin

US Congressman Mike Thompson

CA Dept. of General Services Director Daniel Kim

Contact Governor Newsom

The Eldridge Portrait Project

Protecting What We Love

Under the theme of Protecting What We Love, the Parent Hospital Association (PHA), Glen Ellen Forum, Sonoma Land Trust and The Eldridge Portraits Project recently served as a host committee to sponsor three events commemorating and honoring the workers, residents and families of SDC. Protecting What We Love captured the true essence of what the services and property represent to Sonoma—a lasting legacy of client care and stewardship of more than 860 acres of land. Each of the event sponsors brought a unique perspective and a history of working together to advocate for the people and the land of SDC. Through the “SDC Coalition” chaired by Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, these groups have partnered with Sonoma County agencies and other nonprofits to advocate for the needs of SDC residents as they move into community living arrangements, and to call for the preservation of SDC’s 700 acres of open space lands—especially those very special places on the property where time was spent with loved ones. The future of the SDC’s open space and wildlife corridor lands has not yet been determined, but the broader community is working together towards Protecting What We Love.

Working Together to Save Our Space

Support Our Local Nonprofits



Sign up to hear from us about SDC news, events, and action alerts. Your information will not be shared or sold.

Contact Us

Send us a message or ask a question.