Sonoma Developmental Center plan approved by planning commission, final vote is next

Posted on November 8, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun


With a 4-1 vote Monday, the Sonoma County Planning Commission sent an amended Specific Plan for the Sonoma Developmental Center to the Board of Supervisors for final approval. That hearing is set for December 16.

Greg Carr, whose District 1 includes the SDC, was the dissenting vote.

The Planning Commission recommended changes to the plan that would increase the number of deed-restricted affordable units from 283 to 362, extend setbacks along Sonoma Creek to 100 feet (from 50 feet), reduce development in the northeast corner of campus, and create new restrictions on lot size and allocations between housing types.

The Planning Commission also expressed preference for the route of a new connecting road between Highway 12 and Arnold Drive.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing and consider whether to approve the SDC Specific Plan and certify the Environmental Impact Report on Dec. 16.

“I applaud the efforts of the Planning Commission in continuing to move this project forward,” said District 1 Supervisor Susan Gorin. “I look forward to continuing this work with my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors in service of meeting our housing needs, creating good jobs and making progress on climate adaptation and wildlife preservation in a way that will benefit both the Sonoma Valley and the County as a whole.”

If enacted, the final SDC Specific Plan would include:

  • 1,000 housing units.
  • Open space protection for 700 acres and preservation of Sonoma Creek.
  • More than 900 jobs that would provide diverse living-wage jobs in an economy driven largely by agriculture and hospitality.
  • Walkable core with transit, pedestrian, and bike paths to provide alternatives to automobile use.
  • Institutional uses focusing on research and education driving employment.
  • Commercial, recreational, and civic uses for residents, employees, and the greater Sonoma Valley.

Until its closure in 2018, the Sonoma Developmental Center provided services to people with developmental disabilities for more than 120 years and at one time was the county’s largest employer. The property includes a historic campus, agricultural lands, and vast open space resources but would require an estimated $100 million to pay for rehabilitation and to upgrade infrastructure. State law requires the redevelopment to prioritize housing, especially affordable housing and housing for people with developmental disabilities, and be economically feasible.

To read the Sonoma Developmental Center Specific Plan and the final Environmental Impact Report, visit

One thought on “Sonoma Developmental Center plan approved by planning commission, final vote is next

  1. I watched 3 days of meetings and let me tell you it was not much fun. The meetings were held on 10-27, 11-3 and 11-7. I missed the one on 11-4, as the sun was shining and I decided to take a hike at SDC instead. As the 10-27 meeting was the originally scheduled meeting, public comments were allowed only at this meeting. Each time a less than truthful statement was made by planning staff, consultants, some commissioners, no one could step up at call them out at the continuation meetings,as public comment was over. This did not help, as misconceptions and untruths were simply taken as fact. Only commissioner Carr understood what is at stake. He represented our district 1 community admirably. However, he, North Sonoma Valley MAC, Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission and thousands of us who live in the valley were ignored.

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