Last month, the California State Department of General Services (DGS) and the Grupe/Rogal partnership submitted a Builder’s Remedy (Senate Bill 330) application to Permit Sonoma for the Sonoma Developmental Center. The numbers were significantly higher than proposed: 930 housing units, a 170,000 square foot hotel, a 161,000 square foot “innovation center,” 80,000 square feet of nonresidential construction, and 3,060 parking spaces.
It’s an end-run around the County’s Specific Plan for the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC).
Well, well, well, so much for compromise and trying to please everyone. All the years and years of meetings, all the money and time spent creating a specific plan for SDC, and here is what we get – 930 housing units with only 124 of them in the so-called affordable category. We still get a giant, useless luxury tourist hotel and a ton of commercial space.
The few concessions that Supervisor Gorin was able to eke out, such as some larger setbacks for wildlife corridors, 620 housing units (with a possibility of up to 720 with density bonuses) in the SDC specific plan are gone.
The question is why? If the state-selected developer never had to follow the specific plan that all this time and money was spent on, why were we subjected to all this in the first place?
Why was our community put through this, if it meant nothing? Right now social media is buzzing with misinformation and conspiracy theories. Yet, I cannot help but feel that people deserve to be mad as hell about this. Somehow Sonoma Valley has become the dumping ground for massive development.
There are those in this Valley that are constantly screaming about NIMBYs holding up affordable housing. Well guess what, this latest bit of news has nothing to do with affordable housing. It is simple capitalist greed.
If the state really cared about affordable housing, climate change, and the environment they would have selected the Next 100 Years Proposal instead of selecting Rogel/Grupe. The Next 100 Years plan called for protecting the Valley environmentally, created real affordable housing for those that live and work here, and would have been a progressive model for other areas to follow.
Instead we got some giant development tailored for the wealthy. And to add further insult, the developer wants even more and is poised to get it.
It is time for people to wake up and to tell our elected officials to stand up to us. It is time to demand responsible development that creates only true affordable housing, preserves our wildlife, and takes into account climate change, wildfires, and water usage.
It is not pie in the sky, it can be done. But, it will require new thinking. Instead of allowing the wealthy and well connected to determine our future, we need someone and something new. By the time this is published many of us will have spoken to our elected officials at both the county and state level. The key to our future will be how they react. Will they stand up and fight for this Valley or will they cave in to those whose only interest is profit and greed.