Reader Opinion: (The advocate group) Protect Sonoma is disappointed, but not surprised, that Bill Jasper is suing our City of Sonoma to revive his Schocken Hill estates project. This lawsuit is just the latest of the Jasper Gang’s shenanigans.
The lawsuit claims denial of Jasper’s project violates the Housing Accountability Act, a state law created to streamline approval of new housing projects in an effort to stop “discrimination against low-income and minority households.” Supporting Jasper as plaintiffs are Bay Area housing activists, Sonia Trauss and Victoria Fierce. They claim their right to rent these multi-million dollar hillside compounds has been violated. Trauss is running for San Francisco supervisor, so her claimed desire to live in Sonoma is suspect. The proposed estate homes were never intended to be rentals.
Another aspect of this lawsuit is the specious claim that an undisclosed communication by a City Council member with an opponent of the project violated Mr. Jasper’s due process rights. Not mentioned is that this “communication” was a form of constituent service and took place long before the projects and subsequent appeals were heard.
What, you say, that’s all they’ve got? Yes. It’s that shallow.
We are saddened that precious City resources will be spent responding to this latest round of bullying by Jasper’s Gang, but our City won’t be intimidated.
We’re surprised the California Renters Legal Advocacy and Education Fund has joined this lawsuit, considering Ed Routhier, developer of two of these properties, is under investigation by the Sonoma County D.A. (as of 2/18) for rent-gouging after the October firestorm.
Routhier, Jasper, and others in their gang, have a history of questionable tactics. Frivolous cease and desist letters have been sent to several Sonomans. Jasper tried to get a Protect Sonoma member fired from her employer for the crime of opposing his project. Are these the people we want making permanent changes to our precious hillsides and exploiting Sonoma’s future?
Protect Sonoma will continue to ensure Sonoma’s Hillside Ordinance is honored and development adheres to the City’s development guidelines. We recognize Jasper has the right to develop his land. However, he must comply with the rules, just like everyone else.
In 2012, Jasper made a $250,000 donation to the Sonoma Land Trust to, in his words, “protect the land we love.” If Jasper wants to make his mark on Sonoma, perhaps he will explore options for preserving the hillside as open space and connect to the Overlook and Montini Trails.
What can our community do? Vote! City Council elections are coming up in November. We will be carefully interviewing candidates to select our endorsements. While this lawsuit will certainly fail, Jasper would like to stack our City Council with allies. James Cribb, former Planning Commission Chair, who helped push through these hillside projects, is expected to run for City Council. Is he another member of the Jasper Gang?
We will continue to shine a light on their connections and connections with other candidates to present an informed decision for Sonoma’s future.
– Members of Protect Sonoma