P.O. Box 1045, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, US


Eldridge For All - Save Our Space



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 for the Sonoma Ecology Center (SEC), a nonprofit dedicated to achieving and sustaining ecological health in Sonoma Valley. Eldridge For All - Save Our Space is closely aligned with the SDC/Eldridge Committee of the Glen Ellen Forum as well as other local nonprofits working together to preserve the environmental, historical, and cultural resources that make the SDC such a unique and priceless asset.

A year has passed since the inception of Eldridge For All - Save Our Space, and activity is gearing up on the SDC transition front with the April 5, 2019 agreement between the State of California and Sonoma County regarding disposition of the 900+ acre site. 

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

For latest updates, click on our "Blog" in the menu at the top of this page. For actions you can take to make your voice heard by your elected officials, click  on "Actions You Can Take." For important documents, peruse "Downloads," and for links to local nonprofits and elected officials, visit "Important Links."  Visit "Contact" to drop us a line or ask a question.

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. Your comments and feedback are welcomed and important! Please share your thoughts in the  contact form below.

Proposed Vision Statement & Guiding Principles for EldridgE

Below is a draft version subject to change. For a Spanish translation, go to "Downloads."

Proposed Vision Statement and Guiding Principles for Eldridge

(former site of the Sonoma Developmental Center) 

Proposed Eldridge Vision Statement

Eldridge is a place where people of diverse backgrounds and interests live and work together, where natural resources are conserved and enhanced, concepts of sustainability and resiliency are put into practice, cultural legacies are honored, and compatibility with surrounding communities is preserved.

Proposed Guiding Principles for the Eldridge Specific Plan

Drawing on the expertise and talent in the region, a community-led, public-private partnership will plan the future of Eldridge through the County’s specific plan process to address local challenges and create a higher quality of life in the Sonoma Valley. These principles provide the necessary level of detail to guide a specific planning process. 

  1. Protection of open space on the Eldridge property: Eldridge’s open space and wildlife corridor lands will be permanently protected and managed to ensure environmental stewardship and continued public recreational use.
  2. Principles of sustainability for the future use of Eldridge: 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 and Sonoma Valley’s constrained water resources and transportation system, and all development must be supported by sound infrastructure and appropriate public services.
  3. A community-led specific plan for Eldridge: 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. The planning process will have financial support from the state, and Sonoma County will exercise oversight and management in coordination with a Technical Advisory Committee and a Citizens Advisory Committee.
  4. Development of housing options: Sonoma County faces an acute housing crisis and the SDC site presents an opportunity to accommodate reasonable housing solutions for the area. An appropriate housing footprint on the Eldridge property should be a priority for the specific plan. Housing should be based on the needs of Sonoma Valley with a workforce housing emphasis, inclusion of an affordable housing component (very low, low, and moderate Income), and housing for vulnerable populations. 
  5. Development of new educational and employment opportunities for Sonoma Valley: 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. Important themes include providing green jobs and honoring SDC’s legacy as an institution caring for people with developmental disabilities and other vulnerable populations.
  6. Preservation of historic and cultural sites: The site’s numerous historic, cultural, and Native American resources will be protected following state and local historic preservation guidelines.
  7. Implementation: A governance entity will be considered for implementing the community's vision for Eldridge, embracing the concepts of environmental and economic sustainability and designed to represent state and local interests for the redevelopment process and ongoing operations.


Since 2012, a coalition of nonprofit and community organizations has been working with Sonoma County agencies and departments to plan for the anticipated closure and repurposing of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC). Beginning in 2015, the SDC Coalition launched the “Transform SDC” Project, which has served as an educational and organizing platform to imagine a new future for SDC after its closure as a residential hospital for people with developmental disabilities in December 2018. 

Permit Sonoma will be launching a $3.5 million land use planning process to create a “specific plan” for Eldridge—the place name and census tract for the SDC property. The specific plan is needed to represent the community’s vision and facilitate the site’s redevelopment, and also to meet various statutory priorities for reuse contained in the State of California’s FY 2019–2020 budget, which is funding the County’s planning work. The specific plan process is anticipated to begin in September 2019 and must be completed by December 2021.

A committee made up of representatives from the Glen Ellen Forum, the Sonoma Ecology Center, and the Sonoma Land Trust has drafted this proposal for organizational consideration and endorsement, and public review and discussion. The draft vision statement and guiding principles emerged from the many public meetings, workshops, and interviews conducted between 2015 and 2018, and we hope this document will inform the next phase of our community’s conversation about the future of SDC.


  1. February 2019 “Land and Water Protection Proposal” developed by the Land Committee of the SDC Coalition, (linked to principle #1)
  2. February 2017 Sustainability Principles for Changes at Sonoma Developmental Center by Sonoma Ecology Center (linked to principle #2)
  3. August 2018 WRT “Existing Conditions Assessment” establishes different zones for the SDC property that are recommended for specific land use designations and uses. These zones should be used to ensure transfer of the “Land Protection Zones” (Zones A and B) into state and county park ownership, and to focus redevelopment and specific planning efforts in Zone C (linked to principles #1-4)
  4. Sonoma Institute model under development by Sonoma Ecology Center (linked to principle #5)
  5. The Glen Ellen Historical Society’s 2018 planning document. (linked to principle #6)
  6. The vision for the Eldridge Cemetery conceived by the Parent Hospital Association. (linked to principle #6)
  7. Transform SDC Project. (linked to Background)
  8. Sonoma County’s Request for Proposals: Sonoma Developmental Center Site. (linked to Background)
  9. State of California’s trailer bill language for Fiscal Year Budget 2019–2020. (linked to Background)

Link to SDC Specific Plan RFP

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Working Together to Save Our Space

Our Local Nonprofit Partners



In light of the April 5 agreement between Sonoma County and the State of California concerning disposition of the 1,000-acre Sonoma Developmental Center property, we would like to thank everyone who signed a petition, wrote a letter, made a donation, spoke a word of encouragement, or uttered a prayer on behalf of this priceless public treasure. Without your support, this deal could easily have gone the way of every other shuttered developmental center—surplussed and sold to the highest bidder. Thanks to the combined efforts of county and state staff, elected officials, and pressure exerted by the community, we now have three more years to do something truly historic. We have three years to creatively plan for a future that meets pressing needs for housing and jobs, addresses issues of climate change and sustainability, and respects and preserves the environmental, historical, and cultural resources that make this property such a unique and valuable asset. 

Yes, we have some breathing room, but a difficult road lies ahead. Crafting a community-driven specific land-use plan for Eldridge is a monumental task that will require tremendous time, effort, and expense. Now is not the time to sit back and let others do all the heavy lifting. Now is the time to double down on our commitment to ensuring an outcome that benefits our community, our wildlife, and future generations seeking recreation, inspiration, and healing in the property’s open spaces. Now is the time to get more involved, share your wealth and/or talents, attend a meeting, voice your opinion. In the upcoming months, the community will be asked, at workshops and in public meetings, to define a vision for the site. We will be asked to develop and review land use alternatives and provide input on design guidelines, as well as quantities and types of housing, commercial space, etc. Your input is required.

Participation in the grassroots effort to shape the future of the SDC has opened our eyes to the fact that, like an intricate spiderweb, the strength of our community lies in our interconnectivity. While frame threads connect multiple anchor points and give the spiderweb its shape, it is the radius threads, from center to frame, that hold the web together, give it strength, and make it a home. Like radius threads, every heartfelt action you have taken to further the cause of protecting the SDC, no matter how small, has made this movement that much stronger and helped define a vision for a future Eldridge that, if realized, we can all be proud of. 

We often don’t notice spiderwebs until something forces us to see them, such as dewdrops clinging to seemingly delicate threads or the frantic movements of an insect as it desperately tries to free itself, the threads not so delicate after all. Similarly, the firestorm of 2017 and closure of the SDC have forced us all to take greater notice of the many ties that bind us together as a community. Some of these ties are in dire need of repair, but—as evidenced by the April 5 agreement on the future of the SDC—a great web of interconnectivity continues to hold us aloft as the winds of changes shift. Thank you for doing your part.

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

For an excellent summary of the 4/5/19 plan forward for SDC, click on the Transform SDC link below. At the bottom of the page, you will find links to the Budgetary Resolution, Transition Proposal, etc.

Transform SDC


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