Former publisher/editor of the Sonoma Index-Tribune, Bill Lynch, thinks it a wonderful idea that the Sonoma Developmental Center become a new village, a new town in the heart of Sonoma Valley. I do not, for the following reasons.
Perhaps Mr. Lynch, who often waxes nostalgic on Sonoma’s history has overlooked the two villages just north of Sonoma, the Springs, and Glen Ellen, Jack London’s watering hole and recognized garden spot. Does Sonoma Valley really need another paved over town, replete with commercial businesses, real estate offices, hotels, another school, pocket parks and thousands more cars?
Will this idea solve the affordable housing crisis? Hardly. Most of the new housing proposed for SDC, by state and county, is market-rate; not remotely affordable for most. The SDC mountainside land, like most of the Valley is extremely vulnerable to wildfires. How will these prospective village people evacuate on the one-way out Arnold Drive? People couldn’t even get out of Oakmont during the last fire emergency on State Highway 12.
Affordable housing needs to be built in established towns and cities where people’s needs are readily met. Cities like Sonoma can easily change zoning regulations from commercial to residential for this need. There are ample lots of varying sizes in Sonoma that potentially can be built for affordable housing. Yes, such land is very expensive and affordable housing developers require needed funding, i.e., money for this endeavor. This is where politics or political will, if you will, comes in. But that’s for another letter.
Just as Mr. Lynch has somehow bypassed the existing towns in the Valley, he has not seen, or refused to, what’s right in front of him and always was, build affordable housing in Sonoma. To do this requires funding and creative thinking, but both these things are available.
— Will Shonbrun, Boyes Springs