The County Planning Commission, on a vote of 4 - 1, recommended approval of the proposed SDC Specific Plan on Monday, November 7. Commissioner Greg Carr, representing Sonoma Valley, was the only “no” vote. Commissioner Carr noted practically unanimous public opposition and a highly flawed Final Environmental Impact Report as reasons influencing his vote.
While a few changes were made to the plan, the buildout numbers remain the same - 1,000 homes and 900+ jobs. The Board of Supervisors will consider the Planning Commission recommendations at a hearing on Friday, Dec. 16 (details and links to follow as the date approaches).
The recommendations from the Planning Commission now go to the Board of Supervisors for final adoption/approval. There are 3 possible outcomes at the BOS:
Note: The Board of Supervisors has an agreement with the State to complete the Specific Plan process by the end of the year. Given the timeline, which of the 3 outcomes below do you see as most likely?
1. The BOS certifies the final EIR as being “adequate” and approves the SDC Specific Plan as recommended by 4 of the Planning Commissioners. (likely)
2. The BOS makes changes to the scale of the SDC Specific Plan and/or the policies in the plan, based on public comments. This action would not require changes to the EIR, since the EIR included evaluation of a scaled-down alternative. (possible but not likely, given the Planning Commission recommendation)
3. The BOS requests staff to make changes to the EIR (and possibly changes to the SDC Specific Plan), in which case the BOS would have to wait for those changes to be made before approving the plan. (highly unlikely)
Once the BOS certifies the EIR and adopts/approves the SDC Specific Plan, there is a 30-day time limit for someone or some entity to file a law suit with the County on the inadequacy of the Final EIR. In order to file a lawsuit, the entity or person must have submitted comments on the EIR.
Submit comments to the BOS in advance of the 12/16 hearing, which will be a ZOOM meeting. As mentioned above, details and links will be available on eldridgeforall.org as the date approaches!
Supervisors vote to approve (or not) the final SDC Specific Plan and Environmental Impact Report. Click below for more information as the date approaches.
June 22, 2022: DGS released a revised RFP timeline bringing it more in line with Permit Sonoma's anticipated release of the Draft EIR (Aug 8) and finalization of the EIR and SDC Specific Plan sometime in November of this year.
10/18/22: Permit Sonoma releases the SDC FEIR. Despite hundreds of comments and concerns expressed about the size of the proposed SDC Specific Plan, the size and scale remain unchanged. The FEIR remains inadequate. The County has been unyielding in addressing the myriad of public concerns.
Click on the button below to read changes made to the Draft EIR.
Why - in the face of wide spread community opposition to 1,000 housing units and a boutique hotel - does Permit Sonoma insist on forging ahead with plans for precisely these things? What gives?
Could it have something to do with the California Coastal Conservancy and the $250,000 grant the CCC just awarded to Permit Sonoma to create a plan for a Climate Center at the SDC? Click HERE to read the Climate Center project description. Click HERE to find out more about the CA Coastal Conservancy.
A Climate Center at the SDC might very well be a great idea. Our world - near and far - is being ravaged daily by the effects of climate change, and the SDC could be the perfect place to study how we humans can help to heal our planet. But, as so many people have been saying for so long, IT'S A QUESTION OF SCALE. It's hard to imagine that a Climate Center as outlined in the project description would not be growth-inducing, thus necessitating more homes than called for in the environmentally superior alternative (the Historic Preservation alternative, 450) as well as a hotel for visitors. It's somewhat ironic that a Climate Center built for the purpose of helping the planet might very well cause irreparable damage to the environment in which it is located. Does this sort of center belong in a city as opposed to a semi-rural area?
QUOTING FROM THE PROJECT DESCRIPTION (PAGE 2-3)
Conservancy funds will enable Permit Sonoma, the County's consolidated land use planning and development permitting agency, to develop a plan (Plan) for implementation of the Center. Plan development will build on an existing economic feasibility study prepared by Sonoma Water, the County’s Water Agency (“Economic Impact Analysis of Eldridge Enterprise, Redevelopment of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC), Sonoma County, California” (Economic Forensics & Analytics, Rob Eyler, January 2022)). Click HERE to read the study. The Plan will examine and make recommendations for the following elements:
• Governance and site control of the Center facilities: Determine what part of the existing campus is available for the Center, how the site will be set aside, governed, and managed; analyze how the project purpose will interact and coexist with other activities on the broader campus; make preliminary estimates on the cost of infrastructure and improvements.
• Potential financial partnerships, including state agencies: Research and analyze public and private funds available for providing a concentrated physical presence and focus for climate adaptation innovation.
• Outreach to the private sector to determine which innovators, inventors and investors are available to provide the economic engine of the Center: Develop strategies for approaching potential participants, including an appropriate mix and diversity of adaptation applications.
The Plan for the Center will be completely consistent with the core campus requirements that are being developed through the environmental review and specific planning process, i.e., the Plan will not consider Center development in the proposed park, green, or open spaces.
In developing the Plan, Permit Sonoma will collaborate with Sonoma Water, Sonoma Clean Power, Sonoma Transportation Agency, Sonoma County Regional Parks, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, and various climate advocacy groups. The Plan will be developed in approximately one year. Upon its completion, Permit Sonoma will make the Plan available to the developer selected via the DGS disposition process for use in refining their development plans such that the Center can be used to both study climate action, and demonstrate/implement sustainable community principles and practices in its daily operation.
Open space not included in DGS RFP
This undated statement was sent by Supervisor Susan Gorin's office on June 23 to Arthur Dawson, Chair of the North Sonoma Valley Municipal Advisory Council. While this Joint Statement is reaffirming, local open space advocates contend that it in no way secures in perpetuity the land in question. State law referred to in this statement, Government Code Section 14670.10.5, the legislation that enabled the planning process and provided funding, makes it abundantly clear that final authority for all decisions regarding SDC open space rests with the Director of DGS based on what he/she finds to be in the best interest of the state: "A transfer, sale, or final disposition of any portion of the property or property interest authorized pursuant to this section shall not occur until the director has determined that the county has granted necessary approvals to rezone the property, approved a specific plan or plans for the property, and approved any necessary development agreements needed for disposition of all or any portion of the property, or the director has determined that the transfer, sale, or final disposition is in the best interests of the state. "
WE MUST REMAIN FULLY ENGAGED AND TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED!
Are Our Efforts Having An Effect?
June 22, 2022: DGS has just released a revised RFP timeline bringing it more in line with Permit Sonoma's anticipated release of the Draft EIR (Aug 8) and finalization of the EIR and SDC Specific Plan sometime in November of this year.
Read about the June 6 protest in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat: https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/protest-in-glen-ellen-over-sdc-redevelopment/
June 7: Reasons for Protest
Seeing that 1) the Specific Plan Draft EIR (Environmental Impact Report) hasn’t been released (coming out sometime in late July); and 2) consequently, the public has not had an opportunity to provide input on it (two steps necessary to finalizing the SDC Specific Plan), it is truly shocking that on May 17 the CA Department of General Services (DGS) released its Request For Proposal (RFP). Why? Because DGS is now asking developers to prepare bids to purchase the 180-acre core campus with no concrete project description, no comprehensive site plan (which should have been part of the Notice of Preparation for the required environmental impact report per CEQA), no public comment on the Draft EIR, and no real guarantees that SDC open space will remain in the public trust or even open to the public.
What does this mean? It means developers are left to come up with their own plans with NO PUBLIC INPUT. The state’s Request for Proposals (RFP) outlines expectations from potential buyers and overlapping timelines that undermine Sonoma County’s specific planning process, which remains incomplete. This means public comment received so far by Sonoma County — all of our input into what was touted as a community-driven process — won’t be finalized and incorporated into plans before a developer is chosen by the state prior to adoption of the specific plan. The RFP does not specify how the ~750 acres of open space that surround the core, which elected officials and bureaucrats have always promised would be preserved as public parkland, will be dealt with. The fate of the SDC’s precious natural resources - and public access to those resources - remains in limbo.
In light of this total breakdown in the SDC Specific Plan process, a small group of community activists called for a peaceful Protest In Support of Stopping the Eldridge Disaster! (PISSED!). Having advocated for years to preserve SDC open space and protect the wildlife corridor from being undermined by overdevelopment of the core campus, organizers of the PISSED! Protest have 4 critical demands of County and State officials:
Approximately 75 people attended the PISSED! Protest on Monday, June 6 at 12:30pm on the SDC campus at the main entrance to the SDC (intersection of Arnold Drive and Harney). Protesters gathered on the day DGS had invited interested developers to tour the SDC property.
HOT OFF THE PRESS. READ ALL ABOUT IT!
Tracy Salcedo has written an excellent article, Focus on the SDC: Open space and the public trust, explaining why the DGS Request For Proposal (RFP) constitutes a betrayal of the public trust and paves the way for all of the SDC land - core campus and open space - to forever be removed from public ownership. Christian Kallen further details problems with the RFP in his article, Sonoma Developmental Center up for sale. You'll find these two articles in the Kenwood Press (June 1, 2022). Read them!
BY THE WAY...
The official website for the SDC Specific Plan (www.sdcspecificplan.com) has a page where all official documents are supposed to be posted. According to the website, documents are routinely posted at the TOP of the Documents page in the order they are released to the public. Hence, the most recent docs can, in theory, be found at the top of page. HOWEVER, to date, the DGS RFP (May 17, 2022) has been buried at the very BOTTOM of the sdcspecificplan.com DOCUMENTS page as the last item in Background Documents, which date back to 2015. The RFP has been out for an entire two weeks. Hard to believe that burying it in such an unlikely location could be a simple mistake. Update: As of several days ago, the DGS RFP is now accessible on the sdcspecificplan.com HOME page.
WANT TO KNOW MORE? Listen to THE FATE OF SDC RADIO SHOW: https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/archives.ksvy.org/KSVY_2022-06-03__16_00_01.mp3
Sonoma Developmental Center Specific Plan
This NOP solicits guidance from responsible, trustee, and federal agencies about the scope and content of environmental information to be included in the EIR related to the agencies’ statutory responsibilities. The agencies will use the County’s EIR when considering their permits or other approvals related to the Project. The NOP also provides an opportunity for other interested parties to provide the County information they may possess or comments on environmental issues they see as being germane to the EIR.
Click on the link below to read a summary of the November 14, 2020 virtual community workshop hosted by Dyett and Bhatia and Sonoma County.
Read the Summary Report from the June 15, 2019 Eldridge Visioning Workshop held at Hanna Boys Center and hosted by the SDC Coalition. You can find the full report on our "Downloads" page.
The SDC Planning Advisory Team has been selected. Follow this link to read member bios:
Dyett & Bhatia, a San Francisco-based urban and regional planning consulting firm, has been hired by Sonoma County to help prepare the SDC Specific Plan and Program Environmental Impact Report: http://dyettandbhatia.com
On Monday Nov. 7, the Planning Commission approved the SDC Specific Plan and Final EIR. The final decision on moving forward with this flawed plan that will undoubtedly have huge impacts throughout Sonoma Valley is in the hands of our Board of Supervisors. Please reach out to the entire BOS - even if you have done so already - and let them know you support the SCALED DOWN and environmentally superior Historical Preservation Alternative. What’s the point? We are building a record for the future. Hang in there. This fight is not over!!!