Editor: It’s certainly ironic that the no-regulations, Chamber of Commerce, anti-government, no taxes crowd all of a sudden wants to trust city government and laud the benefits of planning, taxation and social welfare. Why the apparent about-face? Republicans want no oversight, no taxes, no government and no regulation, right? The only answer that makes sense is that the City of Sonoma and the Chamber crowd are in bed together. Shoot, the Chamber is practically a branch of city government, look on the city website.
How is it that a clearly Republican outfit, the Chamber of Commerce, synonymous with predictable positions regarding growth, development, regulation etc, how are these guys involved with supposedly non-partisan local government that can’t take any positions on anything? The Chamber and a neutral position don’t go together, you can hear them now: “just let the market do what it will…” The hand is already tipped for everyone to see, the city and the Chamber are on the same team, the positions clear enough. What kind of facts does anybody need more?
Therefore, letting the process in place take care of big development issues is tantamount to letting the Chamber et al run the show. Especially when there are three transparent votes in favor of the hotel. Given that Sonoma has a very high level of college grads, we can do the math: 3 votes = the Chamber hotel position prevails. No wonder they want the “process in place”; they have the votes. No other facts necessary.
It would be one thing if Sonoma wasn’t already booming and raking in the tourist money, but that’s not the case. If residents can’t even drive through their own town to get anywhere maybe enough is enough. A 60 room hotel would create an even more massive clusterfcuk on the Plaza. Even tourists won’t like not having any room or parking. By any measure, Plaza traffic is out of control, no amount of spin can change that.
An upside: Now, with the initiative, there is way better local reading than who went to the last wine and cheese tasting or who gave so and so $10,000. Strange bedfellows are popping up, showing that this hotel issue is for winning, not consistency of principle. Joanne Sanders and the Living Wage Coalition? North Bay Labor Council/ Ben Boyce and the Chamber? The Chamber liking taxes and planning? Why the wholesale abandoning of principle?
Future development: The current wine glut has already resulted in a town where inflated rents and overall prices are unaffordable to the working class. Wages have not kept pace. What Sonoma really needs instead of a new 60 room luxury hotel, is a Grocery Outlet, Trader Joes, Wal-Mart, low income housing complex and dedicated bus all on 8th Street East or on the Springs strip. This is the kind of development that would save a lot of gas money for people driving to Napa or the 101 corridor to find decent prices. This plan, in addition to serving the middle and working classes, would have the added effect of creating more strange bed fellows to be for and against things here in town and make for much more compelling news than if we have a swimming pool or what the latest $100 a pound cheese is.