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Sonoma County Gazette
Springs Specific Plan

New Hotel—More Affordable Housing

County Springs Specific Plan Meeting Reveals Surprises!


Aug 1, 2018
by Thomas Martin


On July 10 County Planning conducted an Environmental Review Report (EIR) as Step 6 in the development of the Springs Specific Plan. Once the final EIR and financing is set, the County will move toward final plan adoption. Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the SSP or submit recommendations may do so by contacting Yolanda Solano (707-565-7387) or

The meeting’s surprise announcement was a deal based on the sale of Paul’s Resort property by Splash, an organization known as the Sonoma Valley Health and Recreation Association (SVHRA). The agreement includes the following.

The Hotel: Norman Krug, a developer and owner of the Sonoma Valley Inn on 2nd Street West, proposes to build a 120 room mid-range priced hotel on the Verano property.

Affordable Housing:Mid-Pen housing announced its intention to construct 82 additional affordable housing units on Paul’s property. Mid-Pen built the 60 Fetters units on Hwy 12 with an additional 40 senior units on the way.   

SVHS Pool: The third part of the sale is that SVHRA will use the sale proceeds to negotiate with Sonoma Valley Unified for a student/community pool at the High School.

Resident Involvement Needed! 

Springs residents need to study the Springs Specific Plan proposals to see how it may affect you. See the proposals on line at This is a huge project stretching two blocks on both sides of Highway 12 from Agua Caliente Road to Verano and east to 5th. Street West. Contact the project planner at PRMD (Yolanda Solano above) for maps, questions and calendar issues. How will the developments on Verano affect traffic? Planned bicycle rails? Will proposals change your neighborhood? What is planned for pedestrian walkways? Is the Mission Inn involved? Where will people park to visit new stores, markets, and restaurants?

Springs Residents—Study, plan, and learn. The best ideas will come from current residents. In addition, plan to attend a meeting of the Citizens Advisory Team on Monday, August 13, 6 p.m. at La Luz (17560 Greger St.).

Bring your ideas and observations to the Springs Community Alliance meeting on Thursday, August 16, 7 p.m. at the Springs Community Hall. There will be an analysis and critique of the Springs Specific Plan, the adopted EIR, and Advisory Team’s actions. Add your ideas.

Walking The Dog—Watch your Step!—Manhole Cover!

When walking the dog it’s nearly impossible not to cross man-hole covers. Questions arise! When were these placed here? Where were they made? Who manufactured these essential contributions to hygiene and health? Which company has the most aesthetic designs? 

In the Springs the two names most often molded into the iron covers beneath our feet are Empire Iron Works and thePhoenix Iron Works both of Oakland, CA. Covers with these identifications will be found in most of the older areas of the Springs. In newer areas a cover will simply have an inscription, “Sanitary Sewer.”

The Phoenix Iron Works was founded in Oakland in 1901. At one time it was a major producer of equipment castings, street and sewer castings, including covers for Western Union lines. The Works originally was located at 1st. Street and Castro from 1901 to 1968. It then moved to West Oakland until 1989, and is now at its current location, the Fifth Avenue Marina.

The Empire Foundry started in 1905. It was a major producer of covers for the Western Union Company and its predecessor the Alta California Telegraph Company. Alta built a telegraph line that extended in Oakland along Telegraph Avenue, up Claremont Canyon, and over the hills. By 1861 Alta was bought by Western Union. According to sources Empire seems to be nearly out of business today.

There’s an Empire cover at Riverside Drive and San Gabriel as well as on Calle del Arroyo and other hillside streets. There are Phoenix covers around the Springs on Highlands, Calle del Monte, Mountain, and Lichtenberg. A beautiful cover sits without a name of origin on Riverside Drive near San Gabriel Avenue. FYI.

Avoid Sonoma Creek! Some local residents recently escaped the heat by dipping in Sonoma Creek. Be advised that septic lines, pesticides, and fertilizers leach into the Creek.

Springs Splash by Thomas Martin


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