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A meaningful repurpose of the Sonoma Developmental Center

Posted on October 2, 2021 by Josette Brose-Eichar

I recently found out about a plan submitted for the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC).  This plan is the Campus Project.  It proposes to use many of the smaller existing buildings for cooperative housing.  Think of the small buildings that look very much like homes.  The idea is to repurpose these buildings instead of tearing down and starting over.  I liked the plan, as this is how I live my life, trying to use what I have and make as little impact as possible

I went ahead and posted the link to the Springs Community Facebook page, as I thought it would be of interest, especially since affordable housing seems to be the number one topic in the valley these days.  I got some feedback that it sounded like a good idea, but I also got some feedback from those that totally hated the plan. Here are some of the comments: Parking poor people in the middle of nowhere, the buildings can never be cleaned up or be habitable, they are not earthquake safe, housing equals cars and traffic, there is no affordable grocery store for these new residents, what about fire evacuation and more.

Now keep in mind that this plan is not for the totality for SDC planning, only for some of the existing structures.  This plan is a little bit outside the box.  I would urge you to read it and think about it.  We often think of redevelopment of any space or spot as being one big master plan where everything looks the same and has the same architecture.  We also often think bigger is better and that we cannot do things in steps or phases.  

Why can’t SDC be many different things in one spot?  Open space, affordable housing, some commercial and services, growing organic food crops, non-profit community services, educational institutions and more. But, please no giant one-percenter “world class” tourist resort.  I think we already have enough of those, along with no affordable housing for their employees.  

Why is it that people cannot think of this piece of land being diverse and supporting many different uses that are beneficial to the entire Sonoma Valley community?  There is no reason the already developed area cannot support this, while keeping the existing open space for hiking trails and a viable wildlife corridor. I have been hiking the undeveloped area for years, and having people in the existing developed area should in no way change that experience.

A great source of ideas for SDC is Eldridge for All/ Save our Space (SOS) https://eldridgeforall.org/.  Be sure to click on the more tab, and view all the proposals.

Too often we let our individual prejudices or preconceived ideas close our minds to innovation or new ideas. SDC is going to change, and we need to make sure the change is for the greater good.  The SOS website has what I consider a comprehensive list of what we should and should not do.  To those who say there should be no affordable housing on the existing campus, let me ask you this question. If you were a worker at one of our stores, wineries or restaurants, would you think living in a beautiful location, having the opportunity to live with like-minded people and growing your own food would be parking you in the middle of nowhere and as being a miserable life? 

 



2 thoughts on “A meaningful repurpose of the Sonoma Developmental Center

  1. Love the idea of a coop garden to support the community & would love to see some portion of it turned into housing for homeless linked to Habitat for Humanity concept

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