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Ratna Ling Retreat Center zoning faces court challenge

thumb_2_Ratna Ling book factory-600.jpg

Ratna Ling Retreat Center zoning faces court challenge

Court Appeal Desicion Approaches for Rural Development in Sonoma Coast In advance of August 3rd, 2016 Court of Appeals date in San Francisco

Coastal Hills Rural Preservation (CHRP) is a local citizens group formed to protect our rural coastal hills. CHRP is suing Sonoma County over its approval of a controversial Master Use Permit that establishes a 60,000 square foot industrial printing and warehouse facility on a coastal ridge in one of the most remote and fire prone corners of Sonoma County.

Industrial Park or rural retreat center?

Sonoma County has permitted this printing and warehousing as an “accessory use” to a religious retreat center by explaining that printing books is “integral to their religious practice”. In so doing, Sonoma County has given exclusive preference to a spe- cific religious organization. This clearly violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution that prohibits the government from giving preference to any one religion.

The zoning for this project is Rural and Resource Development (RRD). In general such zoning protects lands for resource and agricultural production and allows for “very low density” occupancy (normally one or two families per parcel). In this case Sonoma County has granted permits for 160,000 square feet of buildings and occupancy of 122 people on a single rural 120-acre parcel. The contested permit also allows new uses of commercial printing, industrial warehousing, commercial manufacturing, and a shipping and handling facility.

Manufacturing and warehousing belong in industrial zones where there is infrastructure to safely accommodate such uses. The local Timber Cove Fire Protection District warned Sonoma County of unmitigated industrial fire risks and asked the county not to approve the project. The County has ignored the Fire Protection District and has ignored public safety by approving the project without an Environmental Impact Report.

Ratna Ling aerial view of retreat center outside Cazadero

Industrial park or religious practice? 

There are three important issues before State Court of Appeals. First, giving exclusive preference to a specific religious group is clearly unconstitutional. Second, Sonoma County’s General Plan and Zoning Codes do not permit industrial manufacturing and warehousing in rural RRD zones for good reason. Third, this permit fails to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act that requires an Environmental Impact Report for new large projects with significant public health and safety risks. We are asking the Court to find Sonoma County’s approval of this permit unconstitutional, non-compliant with it’s own General Plan and zoning codes, and in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act.

The Court of Appeal in San Francisco will hear oral arguments August 3, 2016 at 9:00 am.

Go to for more information 

Ratna Ling Retreat Center,

35755 Hauser Bridge Rd., Cazadero, CA 95421




Ratna Ling Meditation Center faces lawsuit from West Sonoma County resident - July 27, 2014

Dharma Press plans for Cazadero plant meets resistance - April 12, 2014

Residents Appeal Expansion of Printing Factory in Coastal Hills - October 30, 2013

Update on Ratna Ling / Dharma Publishing Land Use - June 12, 2012