SDC plans add to county’s mental health crisis

Posted on May 24, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Responding to Susan Gorin’s piece “Disparity of Public Health Services” Supervisor may want to take a look at her negative impact on the mental health of families that will be affected by your SDC plans. Those suffering mental health issues are not just our county children.  Parents of the children are suffering too. Their children see and feel their parents’ stress, increasing the strain on families. Gorin plays a major role in the negative impact on local families’ mental health with life threatening projects like those at the Sonoma Developmental Center.

For years, hundreds of families have been trying to get the message through to you, Permit Sonoma, Sonoma County management and developers, that your SDC plans threaten their family’s lives. Yet, you and these decision makers continue pursuing plans that have no rational or reasonable wildfire evacuation possibilities. You apparently have completely ignored lessons of past wildfires.

Families saw Arnold Drive stopped up and become a three-hour crawl during a minimal evacuation in the 2017 fires. Altimira Middle School on Arnold was closed due to smoke, meaning 568 students and staff were not being evacuated by panicked parents on the single lane road.  Arnold Drive was trafficked lightly relative to the population of the area.  Still, the single lane road was not adequate to evacuate the area. And you continue to propose SDC projects that add thousands of vehicles to the area.

Investing in mental health programs to support the community is admirable and the right thing to do. Countering that good decision, exacerbating county mental health problems, you are choosing to be decision makers with plans that thousands know are irrational from a safety point of view. You are causing direct damage to public mental health by creating such an unsettling scenario. Parents know your plans threaten their lives, their homes, their futures.  

Sonoma County needs leaders that can be trusted for our safety and mental health. For whatever political or financial reasons are driving county decision makers, it’s obvious in the SDC plans that leadership can’t be trusted by the public to look at wildfire safety above all else at SDC.  

Wildfire survivability is a low priority to the decision makers. So, when you want to know about major sources of emotional stress for thousands in Sonoma County, one big issue on their minds is the threat of your reckless plans at the SDC.

— Stewart Saunders, Sonoma


Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA