The Sonoma City Council will be considering a proposal to eliminate donor recognition at city property. The issue has come before the council as a consequence of donor bricks having been sold by the Sonoma Sister Cities, Penglai Committee to raise money to construct and maintain the ting, a Chinese-style pavilion that was unanimously authorized by the council in 2014. Since the approval of the construction plans by the council did not include the bricks, City officials refused to issue a construction permit pending approval by the council of the placement of donor bricks at the site of the ting in Depot Park.
There currently is no city policy against the sale of donor bricks to recognize the contributions of people and organizations that have been instrumental in contributing to a project that is located on city property. Donor recognition exists at the Community Center, the Hospital, Quarry Hill, the bike path, and at various other locations throughout Sonoma Valley.
Some members of the Council have publicly expressed personal concerns about the proliferation of donor recognition on City property. What those members don’t seem to realize is that funding for projects such as the ting would be difficult and likely impossible to accomplish without the benefit of means to recognize the contributions of the public. Personal considerations should not be legislated into official public policy.
Community organizations have been active in developing projects on city property that are subject to approval by the council. Legislating against a long-standing practice of donor recognition will diminish the public-private partnerships that have enriched the fabric of Sonoma. This issue is critical to the survival of those partnerships and the council should not stand in the way of worthwhile projects being funded by private contributions.
— David Katz, Sonoma