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No parking for homeless, $12 million home for others; hair in the soup; and more

Posted on June 1, 2023 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Sonoma Overnight Support has opted to end its Safe Parking Program for the homeless, which allowed folks to sleep in their cars in the First Street West parking lot near the Police Station. Security staffing was expensive; total annual cost of the program was over $140,000. Because the City (which just announced its long-promised Plan to End Homelessness) and County chose not to contribute, SOS took the entire hit. And usage was not all that high, 3-4 cars a night. ED Kathy King says the decision allows SOS to concentrate on “feeding the food deprived, homeless and hungry,” and building out its new kitchen in the Springs.   

Food insecurity keeps getting worse. In March, 24,000 Sonoma County families lost their CalFresh emergency benefits – a key resource that helped keep food on their tables each month. The impact has been predictably grim, and many are finding themselves in Redwood Empire Food Bank distribution lines. In March, more than 1,900 new households received food assistance for the very first time. In Sonoma Valley specifically, teams (largely volunteers) fed over 8,300 people per month – a 95% increase from the same time last year. At the current pace, REFB will serve more people this year than at any point in its 36-year history. Anyone who would like to help can do so by volunteering time, donating funds, or donating food. Visit to learn more

According to the annual point-in-time survey undertaken by Sonoma County, there was an overall 22 percent decrease in the area’s homeless population. A summary of the one-day count, conducted on Jan. 27, 2023, was released last week by the County’s Department of Health Services (DHS). It found 2,266 individuals experiencing some form of homelessness, down from the 2,893 counted in 2022. Then again, the methodology was a bit flat earth. The single-day tally is based on visual observations of unsheltered individuals and a census of people in shelters. As a result it provides only an hours-long snapshot of homelessness. That number is then extrapolated into a glowing conclusion. “It is a valuable count,” officials admit, “but it may not adequately reflect the total number of people experiencing homelessness throughout the year.”

There’s been lots of heavy equipment and road work for a couple of months near Cavedale Road on Highway 12 – tree removal and utility work, mainly. Now CalTrans is getting serious. The underlying Hooker Creek Bridge, built in 1900 and crumbling away ever since, must be completely replaced. Crews are drilling support piles now, but the serious construction starts June 15 when flaggers implement 24/7 one-way traffic control for about 45 days. Also slowing your roll this summer: a similar project – and lane closure – for the 90-year-old Sonoma Creek Bridge near Kenwood… And then there’s the mystery project on Watmaugh Road, between Broadway and Arnold, where a stretch of road is coned-down to one lane with (as yet) no flagger or traffic control. A test of patience, good manners and strong headlights.

First built in 1906, the stately stone structure at 301 First St. W. in Sonoma was originally known as the Ruby Stone Building and was one of the first ice-producing facilities in Sonoma County. Over the next 117 years, the building has been a cooperage, brewery, World War II-era armory, artist studio, and a bed and breakfast. Now, after a major renovation, the four-bedroom, five-bathroom house is for sale for an ice-house-cool $12 million

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is a college-prep curriculum for kids with potential who need a little guidance. Crediting the grit of the students themselves, the guidance of their teachers/counselors (Pre K – 12th Grade), the love of their families, the support of the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, and by extension the community at large, the School District shares these notes:

– 100% of the 57 AVID grads of the Class of 2023 have been accepted into a 4-year college/university. Many will be the first person in their family to attend college. 

– 45% of the AVID Seniors come from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

– 91% of our AVID Seniors students are Latinx.

“Huge thanks to the amazing and talented Mr. Gibson and Mr. Tierney for being the current 12th Grade AVID teachers at SVHS.”

“In June, as rainbow flags ripple in the Sonoma breeze, remember the essence of Pride.” So reminds the ever-eloquent Roger Coryell. “It’s a call to action, a call to empathy, and a call to love. Stand in solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community, using this moment to reinforce your commitment to justice. Extend that spirit throughout the year, continuously learning, growing, and advocating. Our collective actions can create a Sonoma County where everyone feels at home, regardless of gender, belief, or sexual preference.”

The Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn is hosting a Drag Brunch as part of the Pride festivities. Springs John imagines a testy moment. “Waiter,” complains the patron, “there’s big hair in my soup.”


2 thoughts on “No parking for homeless, $12 million home for others; hair in the soup; and more

  1. If “SOS” (Sonoma Overnight Shelter) is moving away from sheltering our neighbors who will nonetheless remain without the benefit of a safe, decent place to live (Shelter: A recognized human right), shouldn’t they rename themselves? Maybe something suggesting soup? Just thinking…

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