Ire surging over competing visions for huge Sonoma Valley property
Written by Marc Albert
Now abandoned, Sonoma Developmental Center once housed the mentally and physically challenged. photo credit: (Credit: Marc Albert/KRCB)
Despite plans to narrow alternatives, sparring development concepts emerged Tuesday as county supervisors weigh the future of a near-thousand-acre Sonoma Valley property. Broadly, the Sonoma Developmental Center's campus will re-emerge as a sustainable home for housing, jobs and some kind of hotel or conference center.
Officials say one hundred million dollars in infrastructure repairs requires a certain scale for it to pencil out. That's raising hackles.
Tracy Salcedo, of Glen Ellen said the plans are just too ambitious. "It doubles the number of people in Glen Ellen, It doubles the number of homes. What's important here is that you recognize that, and this is tough to say, the community no longer trusts the county to hear us when we speak our truth."
Supervisor Susan Gorin, who represents the area, urged officials to yield to such comments. She said she wanted something, "That will work for the scale of the community and still provide desperately needed housing and workforce housing. I'd like to recommend 450 to 700 units for analysis. I understand why the PermitSonoma team want to build in flexibility, to shoot for the moon, and then scale it back. Do we really want to continue the community upset that we've experienced over the last six months?"
photo credit: (Credit: Marc Albert/KRCB)
Others, like David Bergot, said the need for affordable housing is paramount.
"This plan tells the working families of Sonoma Valley, 'you're good enough to pick the grapes, cook the food, wash the floors of our houses, but not good enough to live anywhere near us. This phony process has been deliberately manipulated to exclude affordable housing discussion and create a take-it-or-leave-it scenario. This is just a sham."
Other concepts, including a climate change research campus, were floated, along with a satellite university campus. Several speakers argued the site's remoteness from urban jobs and services would add to road congestion and undermine sustainability claims.
A draft environmental impact report and specific plan are due for release in June.
A weekday early morning podcast that offers a first look at the top local news stories and weather forecast you need to start your day.
Sonoma County news stories featuring the latest in breaking news, county government, elections, environment, cultural happenings, and updates on your communities, from Petaluma to Cloverdale, and from Sonoma to Bodega Bay, and everyplace in between.