The battle over B

Posted on October 31, 2013 by Sonoma Valley Sun

What started out as opposition to Darius Anderson’s proposal for a high-end hotel near the Plaza has turned into a local civil war. The two biggest issues appear to be commercial growth and the Transit Occupancy Tax (TOT). This debate has turned our otherwise sophisticated and civilized residents against one another.

Larry Barnett is the sponsor of the Measure B. And while no one thinks it was ever his intention, the law of unintended consequences has raised its ugly head. This has deeply, deeply divided the people throughout Sonoma Valley.

A lot of people who serve on our non-profit boards live outside the City and can’t vote. They donate generously with both their time and money. These people feel disenfranchised. I understand why.

Sonoma currently has 527 hotel rooms. Mr. Anderson’s current proposal will add 59 rooms, or about 10% to the existing numbers. This first class hotel is projected to generate more than $3.5 million in TOT and $1.8 million in property tax revenues over the first five years, along with more than $40 million in additional spending at nearby businesses. The TOT revenues alone would increase by over 20% in the first year. TOT makes up 21% of the City’s total revenue. If we build this hotel, it will dramatically change our city for the better.

No alternative to the hotel will generate the same kind of income a high-end hotel will. Economists will tell you, every dollar spent at the hotel generates another four dollars in the community.

What no one has told me, if not a hotel, then what do they suggest? More tasting rooms, office space, retail? Talk about foot traffic? Speaking of such, the argument a material increase in automobile traffic will occur is so far-fetched it is not worthy of a rebuttal.

Joseph Aaron

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