8/22/22: As this website continues to grow in terms of pages to routinely update, we are no longer posting individual comments. The comments below are being retained for archival purposes. However, we wholeheartedly encourage you to send your comments via email to Brian.Oh@sonoma-county.org or addressed in writing to:
Brian Oh, Comprehensive
County of Sonoma
2550 Ventura Avenue Santa Rosa, CA 95403
As questions have emerged about affordable, I thought it might be helpful to point anyone interested to a great resource for learning more about the legal definitions of "affordable housing," "special needs housing" (which would include the required carve-out for developmental disabled folks), Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA), Housing Elements, state funding opportunities for affordable housing, and much, much more, I strongly recommend spending some time exploring the web site for the State of California Department of Housing & Community Development: www.hcd.ca.gov
(Debbie Nitasaka, MA)
The Sonoma Developmental Center’s land belongs to the state. But isn’t “the state” all of us who live in it and pay the taxes that keep it going? Are we, the public, not also equal stakeholders, and should we also not have as much say in the final decisions as state representatives, as to its use? In my view, yes, but that’s not the state’s view.
The state’s position, I suppose that means the state legislature, is that it alone has the final say. It’s also been decreed by the state that it alone decides the criteria for what the land use must be. These conditions are: that it must produce revenue; it must include housing; and (some of it) must be open for public use or preservation. Thus the state, not the public, dictated the rules of the game and how it must be played.
I maintain that the SDC land belongs to no one entity but to all in common that live and reside in this area of Sonoma County, including its wildlife. We are the ones that live here, see it all the time, and have gratefully taken its bounty – clean air, fresh water, and diverse nature – and our voices should have as much standing as those of the state legislature and its administrators. Those voices should not take precedence over ours, and we all should be considered the holders (not the owners) of this land. (Will Shonbrun, Boyes Springs)
Right now I’m finding it extremely difficult to put into words how I’m feeling about the three alternatives that were dumped into our laps by Dyett & Bhatia and Permit Sonoma. To say I was shocked or disappointed would be an understatement. I can only characterize it as being blindsided, or better yet, a feeling of absolute betrayal. All three of these alternatives are, without question, unacceptable. So, this is a community driven plan?? It’s more like an early Christmas gift to all major developers. It certainly appears that the County and their consultants have willfully ignored the wishes of the local communities.
This is not a plan. This is an assault! An assault on the wildlife corridor; an assault on affordable housing; an assault on the historic Legacy of Care and an assault on the goodwill of a community that has worked tirelessly in preserving the character of this very special place. A rural village and the magnificent Sonoma Mountain that cradles it, and all that we have shared together. This is our home. We had put faith in this Specific Plan and they have failed us miserably. (Gregg Montgomery, worked at the SDC for 40 years)
Section 14670.10.5 of the California Governmental Code was a law passed by our California legislature that outlined the guiding principles for the planning process that is purportedly being followed by Sonoma County for the redevelopment of the SDC. It focused broadly on the need for preservation of natural resources and the need for affordable housing. In subsection (c)(4) it states in part: "...any housing proposal determined to be appropriate for the property shall include affordable housing." Here, the large scale housing developments proposed by the County (be it 900 units or 1,200) acts at cross purposes with subsection (a)(7) of the Code wherein the state declares the State "...recognizes the exceptional open space, natural resources, and wildlife habitat characteristics of the [SDC]." The three alternative plans DO NOT begin to reconcile these two incompatible declaration in the code. While at Santa Cruz, I studied Ian McHarg's "Design with Nature" wherein he posits a planning process that takes into consideration social values placed on natural resources (such as the value of the wildlife corridor unique to the SDC) and other competing uses in determining an appropriate plan for a given development such as the SDC. The underlying science that governs the natural resource must be compatible with the development. Unfortunately, the County's planning simply doesn't consider the science. I'm attaching a link to the Governmental Code at the end of this post. AT THIS POINT, it is important that we let our state and county elected officials know we are not happy with their proposals and to STOP the process NOW. It is important to point out that Subsection (a)(8) of the code states in part "The planning and disposition process is expected to be of a three-year duration." It DOES NOT state it "shall be completed" or it "must be completed." The word "expected" gives the County flexibility on the timeline. Trying to rush this process forward in the middle of a pandemic is reason enough to reassess the timeline. I urge all to write their representatives to stop this process NOW before it's too late. (Jim Price, Fetters Hot Springs)
I have a degree in Planning and Public Policy from the University of California, Santa Cruz. I agree that the premises for the County's plans are hopelessly flawed regardless of whatever plan you adopt for a slightly more significant reason: The basic problem is that once an "alternative plan" is adopted, the core of the SDC will be sold to a private developer with whom we will have limited or no control. That developer will have deep pockets to re-litigate whatever "alternative plan" is adopted by the County. We all saw what happened to Jill Ravitch, our District Attorney when she enforced a law against a wealthy local developer. You can expect any developer who purchases this property to seek variances to the plan and ultimately threaten our elected officials with recalls or worse if they don't get their way. Expect any plan to suffer death by a thousand cuts. We cannot really rely upon the County Planning Department or Board of Supervisors to protect the SDC once the core campus passes to private ownership. There are only two solutions in my view: 1) The County Board of Supervisors needs to reconsider their rejection of creating a separate Land Trust for the Development of the SDC who can oversee the orderly development of the core campus (similar to what was done with the Presidio of San Francisco), or 2) admit the obvious that none of these plans meet the letter or intent of the main declarations of Section 14670.10.5 and get our state representatives involved in creating a solution consistent with their declarations. In short, a "good" alternative plan (regardless of good intent) cannot save the SDC. (Jim Price, Fetters Hot Springs)
ISSUE: Make sure the housing actually helps alleviate the housing problem we have with low and middle income workers. I have seen our Valley become a place where VRBOs, vacation rental homes and 2nd homes are dominating the housing market. This makes homes for working people unaffordable as the rentals are for profit and the people buying 2 million dollar second homes obviously can out bid our regular wage-earning friends, neighbors, children and grandchildren who want to buy a home.
Without controls on who the SDC lots and houses go to, we will see it proliferate with 4,000 square foot vacation homes for the rich, taking housing off the market fort those who live here and want to buy a home here. We need to create obstacles so that homes that are build go to residents - not weekenders.
ISSUE: Preserve as much open space as possibleThe State or county should donate all the hill area west of Arnold drive and the existing buildings to the Sonoma Land Trust or make it a further addition to Jack London State Park, or make it a Regional Park. This will preserve the land for us and future generations. A wide wildlife corridor to accommodate wildlife movement along the creek and the known travel routes of wildlife, plus the state should build some kind of an traffic-free passage under Highway 12 to allow the animals to cross safely and not get hit by cars and to protect drivers from injury or death from hitting deer, etc... Some of the land where the housing is proposed, east of Arnold drive should be reserved as open space, a park for children and citizens and as a fire buffer zone.
ISSUE: Lobby and put pressure on the State to fund the destruction or rehabilitation of existing SDC buildingsThe state should not be able to just walk away from the years of neglect and decay that they left here. They have a responsibility to pay for this - not dump it on the taxpayers or require that we ruin Glen Ellen by making it an urban scape. All concerned with the fate of Glen Ellen should contact their State elected Assembly and Senate officials and ask them to sponsor and support funding for SDC rehabilitation and conversion. The Press Democrat issue of 11/18/21 had a front page article that the State "could have $32Billion surplus". We need to move fast and lobby our representatives to get this money set aside before everyone else gets their hands on it.
ISSUE: Don't sell the land to a single developerThe deep pocket companies like the Las Vegas company that bought Chanate will try to low ball a bid and get control over the whole property. The number of homes shown on the three proposals are all way too high and would dwarf what we know and love as Glen Ellen and turn it into a version of San Jose.
ISSUE: Facilitate a learning center for jobs by offering the warehouses and shops to the North Bay Building Trades Council.We are leaning as a society that we need plumbers, electricians, sheet metal workers etc... We could use the SDC site to cultivate trades people and crafts men and women to learn the skills that we all need to keep our homes and businesses going. The Council could start by their apprentices learning by fixing up those warehouses and shops.
ISSUE: Turn the Historic Original Administration Building into a Community CenterThe Sonoma Community Center in downtown Sonoma is a great example of a local resource being turned into a community center that benefits everyone. I know it is expected to cost millions, but the state let it fall into ruin and they can fund the historic restoration of that beautiful old building. Thanks for taking the time to read these ideas. (Charlie Estudillo, Sonoma)
SDC – A Fantasy Future Based on A Falsehood
In mathematics, to create a problem that has no solution you need to begin with a statement that is always false. By dictating that future use of SDC must both be acceptable to the community and be financially self-sufficient, the state --- in the guise of enabling and respecting local control --- has doomed this process. On this site, in this community, those two conditions are mutually exclusive. It is no different than insisting that 2 plus 2 equal 5. That statement is always false.
The illogical justifications put forth by the planners, in support of the current proposals, make perfect sense when you consider that it is impossible to justify a false statement with logic.
The dismay and disbelief welling up in the community makes perfect sense. We are being asked to state preferences, and ultimately to accept, farcical alternatives based on flawed reasoning.
The planners are not at fault. The community is not at fault. It is the false premise at the heart of this process that is the problem.
Unless the state is willing to accept some ongoing responsibility for this public resource, and to set realistic expectations for its future use, we will spin our wheels trying to prove that 2 plus 2 equals 5. Unless the state is willing to start again, and to base the process on a premise that is NOT false --- what we will be left with, rather than a solution, is an abomination. (Ed Davis)
Ed Davis is the author of In All Things, a Return to the Drooling Ward --- detailing his experiences at what was then Sonoma State Hospital in the 1970’s.
In the 1870s, Colonel Armstrong set aside an area for a natural park. In 1917, Sonoma County purchased the property for $80,000. The State of California opened Armstrong Redwoods State Park in 1936. THANK GOODNESS.
Local activism in the 1960s stopped the Bodega Bay Nuclear Power Plant from being built two miles west of the San Andreas Fault. THANK GOODNESS.
In the 1990s, a North Bay International Airport was proposed to be built on Highway 37. Supervisor Mike Kerns believed the bayside area was best suited for restoration of wetlands habitat. No airport was built and wetlands are being restored. THANK GOODNESS.
In the early 2000’s, Graton Rancheria proposed a casino on an ecological jewel at the gateway to the Sonoma Valley. Local residents rallied with the “Cows Not Casinos” campaign. Residents and land use organizations prevailed and saved the land. THANK GOODNESS.
In 2021, Sonoma County residents, land use, and ecology organizations rejected three proposed SDC redevelopment alternatives and created a community-driven fourth alternative to protect the wildlife corridor, character and safety of the Sonoma Valley, ecological health of the North Bay, while providing affordable housing in scale to the surrounding environment. This alternative became a model for visionary planning in the era of climate change. THANK GOODNESS. (Sharon Church)
Too often low-income housing means living spaces priced lower only than the highest extreme; low-density housing means numbers just at the lower half of high-density. How will the influx of population to live at the SDC site relieve housing shortages in the Valley if it will raises the numbers of people from outside competing for Valley housing? If houses must be built, low density would be limited to one or two houses per acre. I don't expect any plan that purports to compensate the State for loss of hundreds of acres of land would include space for very low-income people. I'd wonder how SDC's rebirth would fit into wider programs and related monies with regard to environmental preservation, water conservation, traffic relief, etc.? (James Galindo)
There will be some housing, but maybe we can require that half of the affordable housing be for first time home buyers and some "sweat equity" homes. The Ricos in SF and Silicon Valley are buying up our homes as vacation homes, so just saying "affordable housing" does not prevent this nor will it necessarily provide homes for our children/grandchildren. These need to be for full time residents only, no second homes or vacation rentals.
Why don't we find out if the union North Bay building trades council is interested in getting some of the many warehouses and using them for an apprentice training center? We could even see if the union sponsored programs would want to build some of the affordable housing for those who don't have the money to out-bid the Bay Area Ricos who will bid $150,000 over asking price for a house. This could be a good partnership as Biden's plan includes union jobs, and we need trained trades people right here. Also, the trade unions may have political muscle in furthering the SOS agenda. Hopefully they won't go rouge and want more building than SOS wants. Just an idea. I know there are many empty warehouses right there on the property. (Charlie Estudillo)
I have reviewed the three alternatives for SDC and I see very little difference in each one. The main difference is that C will tear down almost all the buildings and replace them with modern structures. While on the surface this has the appeal of building back better, if you look deeper you would have realized that demolition releases embedded carbon and is self-defeating.
All three are based on the premise that in order to be feasible, you must fill the campus site with housing and have a large hotel complex. I wonder why this is the only premise that was considered? In the meetings I have attended and input I have viewed, that is not something the majority of us want or need in the valley. A luxury resort will require a large number of employees. We cannot house our hospitality workers now, so these employees will be driving here from other locations. There is no actual data on the pricing of this housing that is proposed. But, I see a large number of single family homes. While these are money makers, what is to insure they are not just more second homes for the wealthy? This in no way solves our housing shortage. You may say second home owners contribute financially and use less or our services, but how does that help our lower wage workers find realistic, affordable housing?
All three plans have what I would call a heavy footprint. Why were other more efficient plans for housing considered? It would seem to be a no-brainer to cluster multi-unit buildings on a smaller foot print and impinge less on the land and leave more open space, as there now is in the campus area. The offset of living in more concentrated housing could have been community gardens and more open space outside of the homes for residents to share and enjoy. Is this not what community is, and not a bunch of single family homes with fences around them?
I see no mention of climate sensitive requirements such as: Heat pumps, graywater in all buildings, or creation of a solar mini grid. I know you say wait for an environmental impact study, but you should be mandating this up front and make this part of your financial projections.
And last, it is written as if we had massive input from the community. Over the last few years, even I, a person who is active an on top of what is going on, was left out of the loop. Meetings and surveys are not well publicized. And the ones I did participate in were totally lacking in getting real input. Virtual sticky notes and small groups asked to create a sound bite are not input. If the 11-13 meeting is like the last one, let me tell you it is useless. People need to be able to speak up and ask the big questions. It seems your process was created to achieve a preconceived outcome, the one you wanted. I would suggest you do another survey. This time blast it all over social media and have someone with a background in sociology write it, so that it gets real data, not a preconceived outcome. And to be a valid survey, you need thousands of responses, not a few hundred.
I will be writing again, and again, as this project will seal the fate of our valley. Will we destroy what we have, while creating no benefit for the environment or our community? (Josette Brose-Eichar)
Absent from the conversation is comment from legitimate organizations like Habitat for Humanity who have rehabbed buildings for family & low income housing. Shouldn't they have been at the table from the beginning ? In addition there is a lot of needless chatter about how people of lesser income will be in a food and supply scarcity zone. Nonsense, the County bus rolls through and you can attach your bike. I believe that the Food Bank and Farmers Markets will quickly fill in any gaps as well. Before reducing any of the buildings to rubble a 2nd opinion should be sought. I have friends who rebuilt after the 2017 fires and FEMA tried to steer them into unnecessary slab foundation removals that would have raised the rebuild costs when an engineering consult resulted in it being up to code. In addition they were being steered to use
costly contractors who were later found to not be compliant with CSLB Licensing.
We're being given the vaguest details. Most of the buildings are ADA compliant, the grounds
are lovely and deserve as much preservation and as light a footprint as possible. (T. Barnett)
As a long time neighbor of the SDC on Marty Drive, I am very concerned that the SDC property is at risk of being overdeveloped. This property is unique, and it is not a typical site where you maximize development potential and thus profits as you would in other parts of the State. This is a rare, rural, scenic, and sensitive environment and should not be treated as a generic infill project, tasked with solving the myriad of problems the County faces. It is more akin to parkland than developable land. As you develop the three sample plans, I urge you to consider the following vision:
· The property is a campus which celebrates the amazing natural location and is not densely developed--an example of the restraint needed to preserve and accentuate such an irreplaceable asset. The total building square footage does not exceed 50% of the SDC building square footage—recognizing that vehicle parking, etc. take up more space than currently developed and such parking placed out of general view. Large setbacks and retention of scenic vistas are maintained, walking paths meander throughout the property and utilities remain underground. The quaint single-family residences on Arnold Drive remain.
· The large open space on Arnold Drive with the baseball field is retained for the scenic vistas, sports and impromptu picnics that occur there.
· The campus is part of Glen Ellen and compliments the neighborhoods to the South and the Village to the North, encouraging movement between the three areas. It is a unique part of Glen Ellen, not a separate entity. A pedestrian/bicycle route meanders from Madrone Road through the neighborhood, campus and regional park through to Carmel Avenue in the Village, providing a scenic non-vehicular link for ease of travel.
· It remains a campus—open without being fenced off. It continues to be a stunning and welcoming place, causing people to stop and explore.
· Services for autistic, developmentally disabled, visually impaired, veteran rehabilitation, pet rescue and other groups are encouraged to continue the site’s history of caregiving. The Ecology Center remains at SDC as stewards of the land and environment. The Glen Ellen Historical Society maintains an office, archives and museum on the campus.
· No new grocery store is needed—there are already 2 grocery stores (Glen Ellen Village Market in the Village and Rancho Market and Deli on Madrone) and two convenience markets (Pic ‘n Pay on Arnold, South of the SDC and Glen Ellen Grocery adjacent to the post office). The campus supports the current businesses and attracts a few more businesses to Jack London Village and Downtown Glen Ellen so current space is fully leased. Additional space is provided on campus to fill demand gaps without hollowing out the existing businesses.
· A fire station at the campus continues to provide critical protection with prompt response times. The wildfire risk surrounding the campus is high and restrained development acknowledges the losses to the campus from the 2017 Nuns Fire. Design, low density, and materials are used to minimize future loss, since wildfire risk remains a significant issue. The campus is not suitable as an “Evacuate TO” location and traffic studies addressing evacuation from the entire Highway 12 corridor helped to ensure the site was not overdeveloped to ensure Valley and Highway 12 corridor residents can evacuate THROUGH safely. The historic Jim Berkland bridge remains on Arnold Drive.
· Dunbar School has been relocated to the campus and is now centrally located to most students. The school provides state of the art classrooms and outdoor learning for vegetable gardening, beekeeping and ecology with room to grow for future educational requirements. The students learn about hiking and wildlife with lessons in the adjacent Sonoma Valley Regional Park and Jack London State Park.
· Crops are grown to be sold at the farmer’s market on the campus; however, NO COMMERCIAL MARIJUANA is grown here. The odor and the necessary security are contrary to the open campus we choose to retain and there are other grow locations in the Valley already. Beautiful vineyards and wineries are abundant nearby.
· Some of the original buildings have been adapted and provide working/retail destinations for artists of various mediums, woodworkers, and other creative artisans. The historic brick Administration building, Victorian home, cemetery and stonework at the main entrance are preserved.
· Different levels of intermixed housing are provided. All terms such as “affordable”, “market rate,” and “low income” housing are clearly explained with target income levels and price points provided for each. Deed restrictions are placed on each unit to ensure no short-term rentals thereby protecting workforce housing for the community. No more than 100 residential units in total are constructed, with a goal of adding fewer than 350 people to the Glen Ellen population.
· Exterior Lighting is designed to be low voltage and focused downward, protecting the night sky in the heart of the Valley of the Moon. Our wildlife friends are very appreciative.
· The daily 5 p.m. horn is back by popular demand!
The items above are provided randomly and are not ranked by order. This is by no means an exhaustive list.
Thank you for your attention,
As a Glen Ellen resident, I’m submitting these ideas for The SDC campus project:
- There should be a connector to HWY 12, if temporary, for large construction trucks and other dedicated activity. This can be accommodated by utilizing the already existing Dairy Rd and John Messa Rd.
- Speed limits in and around the SDC for such traffic should be strictly enforced, as is currently throughout SDC.
- Rebuilds should adhere to the architectural aesthetics of what is being replaced as well as adhering to a similar foundational footprint.
- The area should retain its designation as The SDC Campus, such as The Presidio has.
- Open space around The SDC Campus shall not be impeded. (Jason Oldham)
We understand the need for affordable housing in Sonoma Valley. We are “all” very much aware that the two main roadways (Hwy 12 & Arnold) are two lane roads that are at capacity for the current population. Please tell us what the plan is to address the increase in traffic, particularly as it impacts forced evacuations. (anonymous)
Mark Speer, from Glen Ellen. I would love to see the entire SDC area made into a park, including access to Lake Suttonfield for recreational purposes. It would benefit all of Sonoma County.
We have a golden opportunity here to create a community of beauty. At this time in the history of our country and the world we need to think of how we can help reign in the new era of (wo)man; how we live and view our future. We can do this in a fashion that would enhance the lives of all those who come in contact with this extremely well thought out community in the heart of this wonderful place.
This should be a community that uplifts others rather than preys on them. Design this campus with a kind and compassionate vision for all living kind. We can do it! Save it from those who would wish to destroy it.
Let us create a community devoted to the wellbeing of all living creatures. Promote the calm and tranquility that already exists. Build upon it, this foundation of care and love and respect for nature and mankind.
Promote sustainability. Let us find common ground upon which to stand. Do this that we may find and create peace among diversity. We need to do this with grace and wisdom. (Laurie Pile)
We are very concerned that the Specific Plan for the core campus doesn’t seem to focus on, or validate, the rural setting and the surrounding community of Glen Ellen. Development of a completely new community in a rural setting should not be allowed. However, we do support development of a moderate amount of housing and associated amenities within the existing campus to address the needs for affordable, workforce, and disabled residential uses. (Greg & Mary Guerrazzi)
The Vital Land Initiative that was unanimously adopted by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Jan. 25, 2021 should be factored into the conversation when discussing preserving the 700 acres of SDC open space and redevelopment of the 180 acre campus. The Ag+Open Space Goals and Objectives on page 56 clearly state the many reasons why SDC’s open space should have been permanently preserved yesterday, while the very same trends impacting land conservation as discussed on page 50 of the Initiative are at play when it comes to redevelopment of the campus.
Most importantly, using the Vital Lands Initiative as a guide, planners and decision-makers must fully consider the property’s multiple assets - open space, wildlife corridor, high visibility landscapes, water resources, historic and cultural resources - and accept them as what they are; constraints on development. With determination and creativity, surely we can craft an economically feasible Specific Plan that addresses housing needs, as mandated by the State, and land use compatibility, as specified in the General Plan. (Sandy Horowitz)
Preserve the Open Space Now
I would ask the county to raise its voice alongside the community's to ask that the state act immediately to set aside and preserve the more than 700 acres of open space surrounding the Eldridge campus. While the intent, as stated in the enabling legislation, is for the open space to be transferred to state and local park agencies, the language is slippery. This wildlands should be retained in the public trust, and protected under a conservation easement and/or transferred to state and county parks outside the specific planning process and ahead of the property's disposition. Immediate transfer and preservation will benefit DGS, which won't have the burden or liability associated with maintaining what's increasingly used as parkland; will benefit a potential master developer, who won't have the cost burden of doing that work themselves; will benefit users, because trails and facilities will be properly managed and maintained; and will benefit the land itself, protecting a critical wildlife corridor and the last, best pocket of wildness in Sonoma Valley. We also all know how quickly things can change—fire, pandemic, insurrection. We all want this; let's join forces to get it done. (Tracy Salcedo)
Why are the words compatible and compatibility nowhere to be found in the Draft Vision Statement and Guiding Principles drawn up by Dyett and Bhatia? I'm no planner, but I do know that land use compatibility is at the core of sound land use planning and is reflected in General Plans and Specific Plans. Land use compatibility is an important issue addressed recently by the Board regarding vacation rentals conflicts and cannabis farms, and it should be addressed where high density development is proposed in designated rural areas. Yet, it is excluded from the SDC Vision Statement and Guiding Principles. Is this because the County is contemplating redevelopment that is not compatible with the onsite and surrounding open space resources, wildlife corridor, and residential neighborhoods? To outright ignore land use compatibility is to ignore the General Plan, existing land uses, and the quality of life of residents in the community. (Alice Horowitz)
1/ That the environmental care be between the hands of the American Indians, who this land was stolen from. Time for retribution! They are the only people who have the knowledge and can be trusted to care for the earth in a decent manner. The Ecology Center in partnership.
2/ The historical building is to be preserved and maintained.
3/ An educational center: workshops for young adults to learn important and needed trades such as carpentry, electricity, plumbing, etc. Ecological & environmental science studies, languages, etc.
4/ An Art center with performances, outdoor theater, art classes and exhibits. Public hiking trails preserved. (Yannick & Don Pont)
I'd love to see some food and flowers grown on SDC land, professional growers for a fee, and individual growers to have a plot there. No grapes, just good food grown on "our" land. I think that restaurants, schools, and stores would take advantage of the gardens. (Jane Brier)
Some residential housing is fine, but exiting during a fire or other emergency needs to be studied, considering the entire valley. Highway 12 and Arnold Drive have limited capacity and could easily be inundated, especially during emergency events. If a tree or an accident would block one of these escape routes, we would be in a mess. In September, my wife and I had a horrifying experience trying to return from Oregon when Highway 5 was closed due to fire and we were routed onto Highway 99. We quickly found ourselves in gridlock with nowhere to go and it took 4 hours to go several miles. Suddenly a helicopter was dropping water to our immediate left--we were separated only by the two lanes of gridlocked traffic heading north. We were lucky in that instance. We were in Talent/Phoenix OR and those areas were ultimately destroyed. The same thing could happen here. Please be mindful since fire has been an issue in our County the past 4 years! The SDC is located in a wildland-urban interface and as such, is at greater risk of catastrophic wildfire, as we have seen. Yes, there is a State mandate to build more housing, but LOCATION needs to be considered. Consider denser projects along the 101 corridor and perhaps it is time to ask why we allow the conversion of residential homes to short term rentals, thus reducing housing inventory? (Sharon Church)
Very important decision for the SDC Specific Plan and the absolute necessity to consider community character of Glen Ellen and the California Native leadership and many local voices. WE can do this properly, but please listen to all voices and arrive at an improved consensus of open space and future uses both commercial and non profit - while not destroying this precious and important resource . Listen and modify. ( Richard Schindler )
Comments for the January 26 SDC update
Are there plans for increased traffic in terms of additional access to Highway 12 or Arnold Drive or Warm Springs Road or even new roads out of Sonoma Valley as the population increases?
Reduce plans for any multi-acreage single family homes in favor of affordable worker and low income complexes.
Prioritize locally owned or worker owned retail or other businesses.
Plan for centrally located non profit district with homeless, senior, indigenous, teen, disabled and LatinX representation. (Maria Solarez)
I live in the neighborhood south of the SDC on Marty Drive. I don't like the constant referral to us as "Eldridge"--we are a part of Glen Ellen. "Eldridge" has always been the SDC campus and they had their own post office. Our legal address is Glen Ellen. I feel like we are being erased from Glen Ellen and I hope that is not the intention. "Eldridge" should become a part of Glen Ellen, not a separate community. (Sharon Church)
The Glen Ellen Forum SDC/Eldridge Committee supports addition of the following as a Guiding Principle to the SDC Specific Plan: Balance redevelopment with existing land uses. 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. For an analysis of the concept of Community Character, I recommend reading "How Do You Define Community Character?" by Gary Pivo. You can find a pdf of this article (Community Character) at the top of the Downloads page. (Alice Horowitz)
I'm not seeing any participation or even mention of California Native leadership and agency within this project even though several people have consistently lobbied for this. We can not discuss land use and reform in this valley without the Pomo, Wappo and Miwok. Please tell me how you intend to address this. We can do this, but the willpower needs to be there and the platform needs to be open and shared. (Dmitra Smith)
Click on the button below to read all the docs. For a concise description of the project, be sure to read the SDC Development Plan Application Cover Letter.
CLICK HERE to read Phil Barber’s article in the February 22, 2024 online Press Democrat..