The Sonoma Developmental Center, located in the unincorporated area of Sonoma County, CA known as Eldridge, closed its doors at the end of 2018. Its 900+ acres are comprised of redwood forests, oak woodlands, grasslands, mixed evergreen forests, riparian woodlands, and wetlands in addition to a roughly 200-acre campus with 140+ buildings in various conditions. Scores of Sonoma Valley residents enjoy recreating there on a daily basis, and the property as a whole serves as a pinch point in the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor, allowing wildlife to move between Sonoma Mountain and the Mayacamas range, and between coastal and interior areas. The site is surrounded by about 12,000 acres of protected lands, including state and county parks, private property with permanent conservation easements and private preserves.
On April 5, 2019, the State of California entered into an agreement with Sonoma County to embark on a three-year community-driven transition process. The Transition Proposal "provides time for policymakers and the community to begin the land use planning process to determine appropriate future land uses and development potential for the SDC site, which is currently very limited by the existing County General Plan and zoning of the property only for public uses."
The proposed planning process will facilitate the disposition of the property by amending the County General Plan and zoning, completing environmental review, and addressing the economic feasibility of replacing or repairing the site’s aging infrastructure. Read the Transition Proposal by clicking on the button below.
The April 5, 2019 agreement between the State of California and Sonoma County outlines a tentative plan to preserve the SDC's open space and woodlands as public parkland and wildlife habitat. This preservation of open space could include a future collaboration with state parks, regional parks, or a combination. We want to ensure that public access will continue through the next three years and urge the community to be mindful when using the property. The community should partner with other groups to create a volunteer plan to help the state maintain public access and patrol the lands.
As for redevelopment of the SDC core campus, the community must be closely integrated into the land use planning process, starting at the very first stages and continuing throughout the three years it will take to successfully complete the Specific Plan.
Some important points to keep in mind:
1. Economically viable land uses must be included on the Eldridge site, but at the same time we need to ensure that uses are compatible with the wildlife corridor, Sonoma Valley, and our community, which surrounds the property.
2. This is not the time to be pushing special interests for the site. Further along in the planning process, specific land use alternatives can be suggested.
3. Warm shutdown is the state’s responsibility. As the property transfers from the Department of Developmental Services to the Department of General Services, long-time employees with institutional knowledge are being replaced by staff who are not familiar with the site. What will warm shutdown look like when DGS takes over in July 2019?
4. Interim use of viable buildings and facilities should be considered once the property is transferred to DGS.
5. We need to roll up our sleeves and get to work - three years is not that long!