This and that, chit and chat…
The city of Sonoma has taken a move toward banning time-shares, including the fractional ownership model employed by Pacaso, with a unanimous agreement by the Planning Commission at a January 13 study session. There was consideration of allowing time-shares in Mixed Use and Commercial zones, but after a vigorous discussion, the commission concluded that the risks of losing potential housing stock, the absence of any housing impact fees, the rush that existing and new hotels might convert units to time-shares, and that time-shares are not subject to TOT (hotel tax) were sufficient reasons to not allow them. Next step: the drafting of an ordinance for formal approval…The Pacaso stratagem has been to acquire luxury properties in getaway-worthy spots like the Napa and Sonoma Valleys, then selling 1/8th shares in an LLC arrangement. The company argues (in a lawsuit against St. Helena, for example) that the result is not a timeshare, but home ownership – and not subject to time-share bans. The language in a new Sonoma ordinance would seem to close that loophole.
What might come first, the end of winter or the Winter Shelter promised last year by Homeless Action Sonoma for an empty lot on Highway 12 in the Springs? The plan has been to buy 18 units, tiny houses that are built off site and then moved onto the property. Though the nonprofit received $400,000 in county funding, the permits allowing construction (grading, fencing, pads for the houses, etc.) have yet to be granted. Director Anna Falandes is a tireless advocate and fundraiser but, she admits, the total price tag was “underestimated” with the addition of permits, studies, appraisal fees, rising material costs and so on. “I had no idea they would be so expensive,” she says. The budget goal is $800,000, and HAS has raised about $200k from local grants and donations; a private donor has offered a matching grant of up to the $100k. Major grants are key to closing the gap, and Falandes says she’s looking for an experienced grant writer. Could on-site activity begin as soon as February? “This all can be done in two weeks,” she says. “Amazing but possible.”
The Omicron surge is hitting the front lines. At least one pop-up clinic was canceled because of staff shortages: workers out with Covid or awaiting test results. And both Sonoma Valley Hospital and Sonoma Valley Unified School District are calling for help due to Covid-related staff shortages and record hospitalization levels. Mask up and find out more: Sonomavalleyvolunteers.org.
The Special Education Advisory Council, an all-volunteer group that spoke to the needs of students with disabilities in the Sonoma Valley, has withdrawn its affiliation with the Sonoma Valley Unified School District. There had been a history of acrimony. The SEAC posted that it had worked “to repair the broken relationship and was open to a restorative process. Unfortunately the administration declined to meet and work to do so, leaving the council to make the decision as a whole to withdraw.” Final shot: “It is sad to see that again SVUSD does not value the voices and labor of parents and our special education community as a whole.” There is no legal provision that a school district have a SEAC, but the District indicated it would reconstitute the entity with new members.
The biggest name-drop for the upcoming Sonoma International Film Festival comes not from cinema circles, but the culinary world. Say bonjour and bon appetit to master chef Jacques Pepin, who’ll receive the fest’s Culinary Excellence Award at a March 24 special event. The 25th annual festival runs March 23-27.
For 50 years, folk songsmith John McCutcheon toured the world, including an annual stop in Sonoma — with the exception of the past year and a half, due the pandemic. So he stayed home and wrote the album Cabin Fever: Songs from the Quarantine. He was looking forward to hitting the road in 2021, but his January 10 concert at the Sebastiani Theatre was postponed. Due to Covid.
– Val Robichaud, [email protected]