Sonoma Valley Sun


Sonoma commissioner can’t preserve job; marshmallow money; and other tidbits

Posted on November 1, 2023 by Sonoma Valley Sun

To establish credentials as someone interested in historic preservation, you might want to follow rules to save a 180-year-old edifice – in this case, a majestic oak tree. Not so for Toni Thompson, who recently resigned as a Sonoma Design Review and Historic Preservation Commissioner. Why? A soiled resume item nobody seemed to notice when she was appointed: the drama over the nearly $600,000 fine imposed on her and husband Pete when building on Bennett Valley Road in 2014. When landscaping the 34-acre property – part of which was protected by an easement with the Sonoma Land Trust – workers excavated legacy oak trees. The Trust expressed concern, but, the court found, the Thompsons continued the work anyway, concealing the activity and ignoring the Trust’s restoration plan. So the Trust sued, and eventually won the case. The Thompsons “knowingly and intentionally violated multiple provisions of the easement on numerous occasions,” ruled Judge Patrick Broderick, not a fan of how the Thompsons handled themselves in court. “The vast majority of the testimony […] was misleading, evasive, inconsistent with deposition testimony, or outright false. The Court finds that neither Mr. nor Ms. Thompson were credible or persuasive, nor could they support their version of key events with a single contemporaneous document.” … The property was sold (original price: $8.45 million). The Thompsons then moved to the eastside of Sonoma, where they continued the bad habit of “flouting development codes,” according to an Index-Tribune account. A defensive Toni Thompson then resigned her Historic Commission post. She had been appointed in January, approved by a City Council short on due diligence. Maybe Google was down that month. 

November 11 is Veterans Day, and Veterans take it seriously. For the 64th time, local service groups will mark the occasion with a ceremony at the Veterans Building, at 11am. The Keynote speaker will be Two-Star Marine Corps Major General James M. “Mike” Myatt, speaking on his 32 years in the Corps. A fine occasion to thank everyone for their service. 


Smashmallow, the local confectioner owned by Sonoma Brands, has won a $21 million breach of contract lawsuit against a Dutch food processing company. To manufacture the gourmet likes of root beer, and cinnamon churro, flavored marshmallows, it seems you need an intricate $2 million machine that can produce over 2,200 pounds per hour. (For a treat that’s mostly air, that’s a lot). The resulting contraption was a clunker, constantly breaking and spewing dust and waste product. Worse, the winning suit said the Dutch company faked the demo – the samples it said were produced by the machine were actually made by hand. 

The sign is up on the new home of Sonoma Overnight Support on Hwy 12, which should open for meal service later this month… Down at 18820 Hwy. 12, Homeless Action Sonoma continues improvements to its Home and Safe Village. “We are still under construction much to the dismay of the patient neighbors,” says Annie Falandes.  “We do have bathrooms and sewage now so the Porta Potties will be going away. There is a big improvement. The great news is, the Village is working.” Thirteen homeless have been admitted to the tiny homes so far, she said. But the big concern is that the weather will soon turn cold and the County has no plans for a winter shelter. “Where can they go? It is heartbreaking. As a Community we need to find a solution.”

Shop local, but no vaping. In a mandate that applies to all unincorporated areas of the county, i.e. The Springs and Glen Ellen, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors have banned the sale of flavored tobacco products and e-cigarettes. There are currently 79 licensed tobacco retailers in unincorporated Sonoma County. The new ban does not affect retailers within the City of Sonoma. 

– Val Robichaud, [email protected]

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