BACKGROUND - WHAT IS CEQA AND WHY DO AN EIR?
CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT (CEQA) objectives:
An ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT (EIR) is required when the lead agency determines the project would potentially have one or more significant impacts* on the environment.
An EIR includes:
EIR PROCESS: (in a nutshell)
The PURPOSE of scoping is to solicit comments regarding the scope or content of the EIR – what needs to be analyzed in the EIR and how should it be analyzed, what alternatives and what potential environmental impacts should be studied? Also, YOU can recommend methodologies, mitigation measures, and environmental thresholds to use in the EIR analysis.
Public scoping serves to include agencies, stakeholders, and interested public in the decision-making process and to allow full environmental disclosure.
WHAT IS A NOTICE OF PREPARATION?
The NOP is a document stating that an EIR will be prepared for a project. It is the first step in the EIR process. The primary focus is on notifying public agencies about the project. Issuance of the NOP and responses to the NOP (known as scoping comments) mark the beginning of the Administrative Record for the EIR. Comments submitted prior to this step are not included or addressed – that’s why it’s important to respond to the NOP and submit scoping comments.
WHO RECEIVES THE NOP?
The NOP is sent to:
There is no requirement for individual members of the public to receive the NOP but it will be posted on the County sdcspecificplan.com website.
WHAT INFORMATION NEEDS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE NOTICE OF PREPARATION?
The minimum content requirements for a NOP are:
The purpose of submitting scoping comments is to inform the County of environmental concerns and alternatives that should be addressed in the EIR.
NOTE: CEQA does not require the County to respond to individual scoping comment letters but it does require the County/Consultant to consider scoping comments in preparing the EIR.
*What is a Significant IMPACT?
A “substantial, or potentially substantial, adverse change in any of the physical conditions within the area affected by the project.”
Written comments can be emailed to Brian Oh:
NOTE: WE ARE KEEPING THE INFORMATION BELOW AVAILABLE AS REFERENCE MATERIAL. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT ENTIRELY APPLICABLE NOW THAT THE SCOPING AND EIR PHASE OF THE SDC SPECIFIC PLAN PROCESS HAS BEGUN.
If you object to the recently released Permit Sonoma SDC Project Description Framework, here is the latest round of Talking Points for your comments to County and State officials. Please submit your comments before the Jan. 25 Board of Supervisors meeting (click here for meeting details and agenda). Click here for an extensive contact list and suggestions for submitting your comments.
Important things to remember:
For a deeper dive: Scroll down the page and click on headings to read talking points for each of these categories:
SDC Redevelopment Planning Community Survey
Fire and Emergency Preparedness
Housing and Scale
Land Use Planning
Traffic and Transportation
Wildlife Corridor, Open Space, and Water
The Glen Ellen Forum, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Mountain Preservation, North Sonoma Valley Municipal Advisory Council, and other organizations and individuals are working together to create an effective response to the recently released SDC Alternatives Report and Project Description Framework.
The talking point categories listed above were extracted from the Nov. 8 Glen Ellen Forum meeting. Click here to read a summary of public comments shared during the meeting. You can also contact the individuals listed under each category heading if you'd like more information. If you don’t see your interest represented, please send us a note so we can learn about it.
Bonnie Brown, SDC Campus Project
Larry Davis is initiating a study and research group to analyze the financial feasibility of SDC proposals. If you are interested in collaborating with this group, contact Larry Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Land use plans such as the three alternatives that have been presented by the consultants need to be financially driven by development, which brings income (property taxes or sales taxes) to the county and the developers, in order to build affordable housing and other projects that are not as financially producing.
In 2018 the county and state were presented with the option to initiate a Trust, similar to the Presidio Trust, to plan development at SDC. A trust allows for community planning and a combination of financial streams. They were concerned about the time needed to accomplish a trust and the county did not want to run one. They decided on having an urban land use planning group make three alternatives that are before the public now, developer-driven.
Through private philanthropy, government, and foundation funding, perhaps either a trust can be formed for the entire site, or a portion of it. This provides for the features that are beneficial to people on this public land with less quantity of development.
For a deep dive into background information, read this document: Sonoma Developmental Center: Site Transformation Study (2015), prepared by The Potrero Group for Transform SDC.
Mark Newhouser, Chair, NSVMAC Emergency Preparedness Ad Hoc Committee
Nick Brown, Chair, Glen Ellen Forum Steering Committee
Teresa Murphy, Board of Directors, Glen Ellen Historical Society
The property was zoned H-4 (Historic District) in the 1970’s. Zoning change proposals could disregard the need for maintaining cultural and historic integrity of the property. Any future building needs to be reviewed by the County to assure compatibility with Glen Ellen and its history.
Susan Oldroyd, NSVMAC Councilmember
The housing prioritization as described in the Vision Statement and Guiding Principles came from state mandates, as well as the research and community engagement completed by the project team. A variety of housing types is being promoted to address Sonoma County’s housing needs and the State’s objectives for the site. The alternatives show a range of housing opportunities, including affordable housing, workforce housing, mid-income housing, housing for individuals with developmental disabilities, senior housing, and market rate housing.
Other Talking Points:
Vicki Hill, Planning Advisory Team Member
The SDC Alternatives Report published by Sonoma County includes three alternatives with high density residential and commercial development. None of the alternatives are acceptable for many reasons, including the following land use, planning, and policy issues:
Kathleen Miller, Advocate for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities
Howard Sapper, Sonoma County Commission on Human Rights member, Executive Director, Everybody Is A Star
RE- Housing for IDD (Individuals with Developmental Disabilities) on the former site of Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC): There are a number of key elements community homes for IDD need to include as follows:
1-They are single family homes that must be able to house three to four individuals with adequate room for staff. This most often means a four bedroom home with an additional office space. In the case of those with challenging behaviors this may also need to include a room where an individual experiencing difficulty may go to have quiet away from other residents.
2-In the case of a home housing those with challenging behaviors, the most likely case due to increasing need in this area, there needs to be an ample fenced backyard where residents can go to spend time outside safely. This was proven to be critical during lockdown recently. In addition, housing in areas where there are opportunities for walking is also very important. For many IDD with challenging behaviors walking is an important part of their day.
3- Parking for multiple cars needs to be part of the picture since at any given time there are multiple staff working in care homes. Most homes also include Vans for transporting residents. There are also frequent visitors including family or outside consultants.
4 -While large single family housing sites may not be the dominant option being created for the SDC site they are an important option for homes for the IDD population.
5- The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on July 24, 2018, passed a Gold Resolution urging all homeowners, builders, and architects to include at least basic visitability standards in all new housing construction.
Visitability is an inclusive design approach that integrates some accessibility features required under Universal Design principles:
Visitability standards are less extensive than Universal Design, but can still enable current and future residents to age-in-place and adjust to temporary or permanent mobility issues, and accommodate visitors with disabilities.
Kate Eagles, Chair, NSVMAC Traffic and Safety Ad Hoc Committee
Traffic / Transportation topic includes traffic and transportation impacts and related infrastructure created, implied or required under the alternative plans. Pedestrian crossings, multi-use and bike paths within the SDC footprint are also included in this topic.
A few points to consider from alternative plans regarding TRAFFIC impacts to Sonoma Valley:
John McCaull, Sonoma Land Trust: Land Acquisition Director, Planning Advisory Team Member
Nancy Kirwan, Board of Directors, Sonoma Mountain Preservation
1. It's critically important that any development proposal for the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) property protects the wildlife corridor located there.
2. None of the currently proposed SDC development alternatives describes in any detail how the wildlife corridor will be protected nor do they support the SDC Specific Plan’s guiding principles (see the full list of guiding principles below).
3. It’s clear that, this point in time, that public planning processes are inadequate to address today’s challenges. We need to start over and create a new model for how we plan SDC’s future. This can serve as a go-forward model for the County. We seek a new development plan that focuses on the wildlife corridor and meets the vision for creating a community in partnership with that corridor.
4. SDC includes over 750 acres of open space that are legislatively mandated for conservation and permanent protection for public parklands. Any reuse alternatives for the campus must also ensure protection of these natural areas.
5. SDC has abundant water resources that are critical to the survival of salmon and steelhead in Sonoma Creek, and that support the ecological health of the entire Sonoma Mountain watershed.
This photo tracks the path of a mountain lion wearing collar #37473 through the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor. Photo courtesy of Dr. Quinton Martins, Audubon Canyon Ranch Mountain Lion Research and Education Project.
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!!!