We encourage you to also share your comments and ideas with Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin and Dyett and Bhatia, the land use consultant hired by Sonoma County to help create the SDC Specific Plan. Please include them in the conversation by sending an email to 1) Susan.Gorin@sonoma-county.org, and 2) email@example.com or submitting through Dyett and Bhatia's contact portal on sdcspecificplan.com. Please specify if you would like for us to post your comments below as "anonymous."
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)
The SDC Specific Plan alternatives process has begun! Now is the time to let planners and decision-makers know in more detail what you want to see happen on the site. Please submit your ideas to Consultants Dyett and Bhatia by clicking on the button below and to firstname.lastname@example.org. IMPORTANT: Submit to Eldridge For All on our Contact page, and we will post for everyone to read.