State will pay to maintain Sonoma Developmental Center after closure

Posted on April 2, 2019 by Sonoma Valley Sun

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.


8 thoughts on “State will pay to maintain Sonoma Developmental Center after closure

  1. I am so very happy this beautiful property will be maintained and not sold for overdevelopment by
    those who have not the affection many of us have
    for SDC. Thank you.

  2. Thank God. Sure hope you leave the beauty & peace of this special property!
    I worked there in 70’s & 80’s.
    I would hate to see the beauty decay.
    It shoukd be a park and historical landmark

  3. The acreages in this article are wrong. The SDC lands are 945 acres, and including the parks around it, are part of an area of over 8000 acres of contiguous mostly undeveloped land.

  4. I worked here for 2 years and I loved it. The facility and its environment is awesome. The deer the turkeys the rabbits it’s just awesome.

  5. That’s good news. I worked there for 19 months until we shuttered on 12/28/2018. I worked in housekeeping for 3.5 months, and the rest in Motorpool as a driver. Even though my tenure was brief,(especially compared to 30-38 years for some folks), I went through the firestorm of 2017, and working closely with clients, and staff; all of whom I will miss dearly, and look forward to running into in the future! #SDC Strong!

  6. Not mentioned in all the good news about the future of SDC is all the bad news about what happens to the vast developmentally disabled population – present and future — that it formerly served. Did someone just bury the good news that no more developmentally disabled people are being born, or created by car accidents, drug overdoes, football head injuries, wearing MAGA hats, etc? If any developmentally disabled are still around, no doubt they are getting first class care by skilled and trained SDC professionals in ‘community settings.’
    Sure. That’s it. That must be it.

  7. What a waste of money I worked there for 13 yrs. It was a pile of broken crap. It will never get better.

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