The state today announced a tentative agreement to maintain the closed-down Sonoma Developmental Center facility while plans are developed for the 180-acre campus.
The process will “take a few years,” according to Senator Mike McGuire, and include “a robust community engagement process focused on transition and overall vision and related environmental review.”
Meanwhile the state, which owns the facility, has agreed to pay for on-going maintenance, security, firefighting, landscaping and fire prevention.
A sale of part or all of the property is not imminent, nor is any commercial development, state legislators and officials told the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on April 5. They outlined the tentative plan to preserve the adjacent open space as public parkland and wildlife habitat.
Preservation of open space could include a future collaboration with state parks, regional parks, or a combination. The SDC borders Sonoma Valley Regional Park and the Jack London State Historic Park.
Plans to close the facility were announced in 2015. The Department of Developmental Services concluded residential operations in December 2018 after relocating all residents.
The agreement is the result of a three-and-a-half year collaborative process. “But this is just the beginning for the community to work together to develop a vision for the SDC in recognition of its special place in our Valley,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin.
The tentative agreement was jointly announced by Senators Mike McGuire and Bill Dodd, and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry.
“This plan ensures a community-driven approach to the reuse of the core campus, while preserving undeveloped land as public parkland and open space,” said Senator Dodd. “We need to leave future generations a vibrant, sustainable world, and this property should come to reflect that vision.”
Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry said the long-developing plan exemplifies the importance of local engagement, and “results in a safe, respectful, and beautiful property for the long term.”
Senator Mike McGuire thanked his colleagues “for the collaborative first-of-its-kind approach for the future of this sacred site.”
The Center opened in 1891 as a state-run residential care facility dedicated to serving individuals with developmental disabilities.
In October 2015, the state declared it would close the facility by 2019, but recognized the unique natural and historic resources of the property and acknowledged that it was not the intent of the state to follow the traditional state surplus property process.