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We need more time to make the right decision about the SDC campus

Sonoma Developmental Center: What one hears and reads

Community sentiments are clear. The holidays are over, the articles have been written, open discussions have been aired. The time approaches where Sonoma County must recommend a revised plan to the State of California about the SDC’s future or settle for one of three unpopular and under-imagined plans.

Time is an issue!

The importance of the SDC’s future to the Sonoma Valley should require more time for the Board of Supervisors to make a proposal to the State reflective of Valley citizenry. This puts the monkey on the backs of Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Senator Mike Maguire. They have to know the immense citizen (voter) concern regarding this issue. More time is needed. Let these representatives know they need to contact all parties starting with the governor about the need to extend the decision making time and involve state representatives in the process. There is a need to move forward in a unified manner.

Community viewpoints: Working towards a consensus

Whatever you read, it’s clear the community does NOT want a hotel, multiple dwelling units, large housing tracts, or a major development of any kind. There is some support for housing on a moderate scale as long as there is real affordable housing, not market rate housing.

900 acres of mountainside

It seems like a no-brainer that the 900 acres of SDC forestland and mountainside that border Jack London State Park should be annexed to this State owned wilderness. In a single act the legislature could enlarge a popular state park and reduce the tensions over “What is to be done about a major portion of the SDC?” If Senator Mike Maguire can pass legislation for a hiking-bikeway from Willits to Eureka, he certainly can arrange for 900 acres of State property to be placed in safe keeping away from commercial development.

It’s a campus!

At the community on-line discussion in early December it was stated several times that SDC should remain an educational campus with an emphasis on health care. SDC was created for that purpose, and that is how many believe it should be continued. The goal would be to bring educational-cultural institutions to the SDC grounds. That’s not new! The Sonoma Ecology Center has been on campus for a number of years.

Numerous organizations might find the SDC-Sonoma Valley an ideal location for their headquarters or adjunct facilities. A few examples…

Local conservation organizations

Sierra Club, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma County Conservation Action, Nature Conservancy, and the Sonoma County Resource District to name a few.

Educational-health organization non-profits

Sonoma Valley Educational Foundation, Edutopia: George Lucas Educational Foundation, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Blue Shield,

Santa Rosa and Sonoma Community Health Centers, and our local schools from CSU Sonoma to K-12. What an ideal locale for science, ecology and outdoor recreation classes.

County offices

Supervisor’s regional office, agricultural office, offices currently located in other parts of District One like road naintenance, sustainable water commission, registrar of voters, and many others.

State offices

The State of California has many departments and agencies spread across Sonoma County. Where appropriate, establish them at the SDC campus.

Revenue Questions and the Old Buildings

The State of California allowed the structures to deteriorate and it is estimated that the cost of maintenance and repair is as high as $100 million. Eamon O’Byrne of the Sonoma Land Trust argues in a cogent article in the Kenwood Press (12/15/21) that it is a state responsibility to

Fund the necessary repairs

Improvements…. There is debate over the older buildings on campus. Dave Ransom and the Sonoma Housing Group believe they should be used for affordable housing. The State has had experience utilizing older structures. In 1953 when UC Santa Barbara moved from “in town” to Goleta there were two permanent buildings, Science and the Library. Classes, offices, and administration were housed in WWII barracks and buildings that served the nearby Marine Air Base. The air base became the Santa Barbara Airport. The UCSB campus slowly grew as state budgets allowed. Certainly similar decisions and planning can be applied to the many older SDC structures.

Citizen participation is essential for a good outcome!

Watch for meeting notices in coming days! Express yourself! Call, write letters, attend meetings and communicate your desires to the Board of Supervisors and State Representatives about the most important decision for shaping the future of Sonoma Valley.

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