Revived: plans for three huge luxury homes on Sonoma’s Schocken Hill, the town’s scenic backdrop at Brazil and Fourth Street East. The backstory is a bit of a soap opera. Landowner Bill Jasper proposed the three hillside homes (the biggest at 11k sq. ft.) in 2016. It was approved 3-2 by the Planning Commission in 2017, a vote that was then appealed by appalled neighbors. The appeal was upheld by the City Council in 2018. Jasper then teamed with a pair of ‘renters advocacy groups’ and sued the city for excessive oversight. The suit was settled, seemingly in Jasper’s favor, in 2021; He was then free to submit a revised application straight to the Council, bypassing the PC. Per standard procedure, the City hired a consulting firm, Dudek, to prepare an environmental report. But the city attorney said Jasper appeared to have improperly “attempted to influence” the consultants. That’s a no-no. The contract was canceled. And here we are, finally, in the present tense. The project on the hill is very much back on the table. The city has hired a different firm to handle the Environmental Impact Report. The lawyers, presumably, are on stand-by.
Sonoma County is altering its strategy on sheltering the homeless. Supervisors voted to close the Emergency Shelter Site, established in March, in Santa Rosa, and phase out the pallet shelters at Los Guilicos Village. That campus, near Oakmont, was pressed into service nearly four years ago. Now the County plans refurbished dormitories there, and a 2.4-acre site on Russell Avenue that can accommodate a mix of RV and trailer parking with tiny homes… The plan is informed by the County’s much-hyped 2023 Point-in-Time Count, a one-day – and from here, totally unscientific and nearly random – census “that showed the number of homeless individuals in Sonoma County decreased by 22 percent from last year.”
The Board of Supervisors has been busy, and not just actively ignoring how it got played in the Sonoma Developmental Center debacle, where commercial developers added 50% more housing units (to total 900+) to what had been a ‘final’ plan. The supes voted to place on the March 2024 ballot a half-cent sales tax for enhanced fire protection, paramedic services and disaster response. If approved by a majority of voters in the March 5 primary, the initiative would raise about $60 million annually, divided by 31 Sonoma County fire agencies. It would also push your overall sales tax to 9%.
The Bear Moon boutique off Sonoma Plaza is closed, but the prominent storefront on East Napa Street won’t be dark for long, apparently. A Napa outfit called Monday Bakery is “coming soon.” Sally Geftakys, trained at the Culinary Institute of America’s Napa campus, specializes in sweet and savory baked goods… The restaurant Oso, down the way at 9 East Napa, is expanding into the neighboring space. More positive news: the outfit behind Valley Bar + Bottle team is (finally) opening a new restaurant in the Arnold Drive space last occupied by the late, lamented Delicious Dish. Name: Valley Swim Club, styled as “an East Coast-style clam shack, but with West Coast seafood and cuisine.” The coffee cart is coming back, too.
SonomaPlazaHistory.com is up and online. The collaborative effort features a user-friendly map with short, informal videos telling the Plaza’s natural history, remembering disappeared people, major events, online exhibits, and themes like winemaking, explains Jim Silverman. “It’s been nearly three years in the making. Thank you for joining us on this exciting journey through time.”
One of Sonoma County’s three new vehicle charging stations is coming to North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve in Sonoma Valley. Similar solar-powered units, each with two chargers, will be deployed at Ragle Ranch Regional Park in Sebastopol, and Taylor Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve in Santa Rosa. The charging stations are free to the public (with park parking fee where applicable). The mobile units could be relocated over time, depending on use rate, or as a backup power supply in the event of an emergency… You may be gassed after your long hike, but at least your car will be fully charged.
Springs John has been getting mired in that commute-time traffic jam on Arnold Drive, a product of the Highway 12 detour, but takes it in stride. “In San Francisco, this would be the line to get into the line.”
– Val Robichaud, [email protected]