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Springs Splash - December 2014


Springs Splash - December 2014

by Tom Martin

What if….

  • You knew the lives and future of 430 people in Sonoma were in jeopardy? 
  • You knew 900 acres of public land and property between Sonoma and Glen Ellen were endangered?

                                 Would you act?

A Coalition to Save the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) is acting! They want everyone to know the possibility that SDC might close. At stake is the future of 430 clients and 900 acres of parkland and structures.

After election as Supervisor, Susan Gorin was named Chair of the Coalition. Ms. Gorin shares leadership with Parent Hospital Association President Kathleen Miller, Richard Dale, Sonoma Ecology Center, and John Mc Caull of the Sonoma Land Trust. The Coalition includes community groups and County departments and agencies. Their goal is   advocating for continuing service to SDC clients and preserving the surrounding land.

The California Department of Developmentally Disabled (DDS) that administers the SDC has been closing and/or reducing services at Developmental Centers statewide for several years. Clients are relocated into “homes” where agencies called Regional Centers monitor their well being.  

Of the seven developmental centers in California, the State has closed three (Camarillo, Agnews/Sacramento, and Lanterman 12/31/14). As a result the number of clients served has been severely reduced. For example, in 1994 Sonoma cared for nearly 1,200 clients. As of September, 2014, there were 430 on site.

Sonoma Developmental Center  © Nate GThe Parent Hospital Association speaks for clients!

Parents of SDC clients formed the Parent Hospital Association (PHA) to protect their children. President Kathleen Miller, a Santa Rosa resident, says if change is coming the parents want to have a voice and impact on the decisions. PHA sponsored November’s Coalition meeting. In attendance were parents, former employees, psych techs, environmentalists, and interested citizens. People who attended the meeting left committed to protecting the SDC. Already ministries in Sonoma have been enlisted for support.

PHA Legislative Meeting – Second Saturday In March – At SDC President Miller stresses the need for new protective legislation. To that end she asks community members to mark their calendars for a meeting the second Saturday of March. Three bills supporting SDC were introduced last year by Sen. Noreen Evans and Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada. They died in committee.

The Future For the Sonoma Developmental Center….

People have many ideas how to utilize the SDC in the future. However, there is a need to clarify the status of the property though legislation. PHA President Miller envisions the creation of a model community center as a standard to which other agencies might aspire. She recommends making SDC a showcase for providing disabled people medical services and education.

Mental and Physical Health Center?

Committee participants presented a variety of ideas for utilizing the SDC property and land. Among them were suggestions that the SDC might be transformed into a mental health center like that proposed for the San Francisco presidio for arts and non-profits. Another person commented that the facilities might serve as a foundation for the study of mental illness, and diseases such as Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

Possibilities abound. Outcomes favorable to SDC clients and the community at large require the involvement of the citizens of Sonoma. Watch for meeting announcements. Join the Coalition. See you there!

Seven Committees Set Goals

Springs Community Alliance Organizes For Action

The Springs Community Alliance got down to business at its November meeting. Seven Committees were created. Action agendas were identified. Committee membership is open - volunteers are welcome to join. Next Meeting: Thursday, Dec. 10 – 7 p.m. – Sonoma Community Health Center!

Committees & Members:

Economic Development: Rich Lee, Ellen Conlon

Community Outreach: Maricarmen Reyes, Catalina Chavez, Tom Martin

Public Arts: Ryan Lely, Michael Acker, Patricia Bradley

Beautification: Denise Long, Anna Pier, Ryan Lely, Tom Martin

Health: Catalina Chavez, Patricia Bradley, Celia

Infrastructure-Traffic/Roads/Bicycle Trail: Ellen Conlon Patricia Bradley

Political Liaison: Rich Lee 


CORRECTION – RE., Springs Trailhead

Last month this column stated, “From there (Agua Caliente Road) no plans exist to link the Valley Trail with the City Trail. The Park Department’s jurisdiction ends at Agua Caliente.” 

Mr. Ken Tam, County Parks Dept., wrote that the trail alignment from Agua Caliente to Verano Avenue was studied at an earlier date. It is a combination of on and off-street alignments. Some right of way barriers still exist.  Thank you, Mr. Tam. See attachment.