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Springs Splash - April 2016 - Thomas Martin


Springs Splash - April 2016 - Thomas Martin

by Tom Martin

Boulevard Saint-Germain or Greenwich Village?

Springs Community Alliance learns about Plaza and Planning!

Lois Fisher, Town Designer, recently addressed the Springs Community Alliance about design principles when imagining changes in the Springs . Ms. Fisher served on the Windsor Planning Commission helping to guide that community’s early development. She participated in restructuring areas of Petaluma, Ukiah, and Cotati.   

The fifty Springs residents in attendance were dazzled with descriptions of community land use, plaza construction, walkable streets, zoning and meeting resident’s needs. 

This writer tried to imagine applying these concepts in the narrow Verano-Agua Caliente corridor. Fisher’s presentation stressed the need for a public realm with walkable streets, bicycle paths, and mixed use. Six basic needs for mixed use, are places to live, gather, work, pray, school, and play. Mixed use requires vertical and horizontal structures that catch the eye.

A Plaza defined…When Hwy 12 is completed sidewalk will block off the area between the Churchmouse and old Uncle Pattie’s. This is considered the prime location for a community plaza. Fisher noted a plaza must be central, a location known to all. Other considerations include angled parking, simple landscaping and buildings in proportion space, retail space at ground level, and varied shops to prevent repetition. Offices should be upstairs. Use tall awnings with ground floor spaces; also no plantings between buildings and sidewalks.

A bold experiment in community planning…Springs residents and the County have embarked on a grand experiment. Over the next two years a Community Advisory Team of 15 residents will advise a firm hired to plan restoration of the Springs corridor. Send your ideas and suggestions to Rich Lee, Chair of the Springs Community Alliance (, or Ryan Lely, Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission ( Both Lee and Lely are members of the CAT of 15. 

“There’s no there there.” – Gertrude Stein…Stein’s reference to her hometown might readily apply today to the Springs. The hope is that resident ingenuity and smart development with County investment will make the Springs once again the center of attraction in Sonoma Valley.  Watch for meeting notices. Ask what would I like to see along the Springs corridor? What to keep? What’s needed? How to make people say, “Let’s go there, to the springs!”


Where to get answers: Public and private organizations gathered at Altimira Middle School in March to describe services they provide. The meeting was sponsored by Supervisor Susan Gorin, La Luz Center of Boyes Springs, and the Springs Community Alliance. Below are agencies, their services, contact numbers, and addresses.

“In time of need, who do I contact?”

Catholic Charities: 600 Morgan Street, Santa Rosa, 707-542-5426 -  Families in need of food, rental assistance, referrals, housing, homelessness, and more.

FISH (Friends In Sonoma Helping): 707-996-0111, Provides food, clothing, medical transportation, other….

Sonoma County Housing Authority: 1440 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa, 707-565-7500 – Promotes decent and affordable housing, provides housing vouchers and rental assistance.

Sonoma County Fair Housing: 1500 Petaluma Blvd South, Petaluma, 707-765-8488,, a private, non-profit agency devoted to education, counseling, and guidance regarding housing discrimination.

Sonoma County In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS): 3725 Westwind Blvd., Ste. 101, Santa Rosa, 707-565-5900, In-home services to seniors 65 years or older, the blind, permanently disabled, or children with special needs. 

La Luz Bilingual Center: 17560 Greger St., 707-938-5131, agency providing community assistance to Spring’s residents, and others. La Luz will sponsor a Tenant Community Meeting at El Verano School, April 6. Contact Mario Castillo (707-935-6025).

Legal Aid of Sonoma County: 144 So. E Street, #100, Santa Rosa, Provides answers to questions about YOUR rights as a tenant. Wednesdays, LaLuz Center (938-5131) and Housing Forum at El Verano School, April 6, 6 p.m.

SOS-Sonoma Overnight Support: The Haven, 151 First Street West, Sonoma, 707-939-6777, 10 bed emergency shelter for men, women, and families, hot meals, and drop-in services.  

Sonoma County Area Agency On Aging: Part of Sonoma County Human Services, 3725 Westwind Blvd., Ste. 101, Santa Rosa, 707-565-5950, Also Petaluma (765-8488), Guerneville/River Area (869-0618), other County areas (525-0143/800-510-2020), Provides multiple services to the aged of Sonoma County. Ask for “Senior Resource Guide” 50+ pages of resources for senior assistance.