Sonoma Valley Sun


Jack London’s dream, re-stated

Posted on January 17, 2024 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Sonoma Valley readers are encouraged to read Will Shonbrun’s essay in the Sonoma Valley Sun (January 1, 2024) entitled, “Sonoma Mountain and the urbanization of wildlands.”

Shonbrun takes us back to the dream of Jack London to preserve, enjoy, and admire Sonoma Mountain and its environs that encompass the Sonoma Developmental Center. 

Recently 655 acres of forestland were transferred to Jack London State Park. This is commendable. However, the balance of property remains ostensibly to be developed into housing, a hotel, additional roads, and an overflow population.

This writer attended the first community meeting held at the SDC where a full house of residents voiced opposition to commercial development. In turn, citizens demanded the property be preserved and remain minimally developed.

Over the years there have been many additional meetings where the same message has been expressed repeatedly, “Keep SDC developed ONLY to the extent that it enhances the current community, preserves forestlands and wildlife, and keep the acreage for public use.” 

The proposal to build 1,000 homes, a hotel, and business spaces runs counter to the community’s goal. Shonbrun asks us to imagine what a development of this character would be like. What was once a place of care for the developmentally disabled would be transformed into a city with markets, pharmacies, restaurants, schools, sewage treatment and other facilities a city requires.

A tranquil region will grow into an urban center where the Jack London dream will have been destroyed. Traffic would increase to a point where should a fire occur as in 2017 the SDC and surrounding communities would be consumed in a major fire trap.  

Sonomans must not give up. Keep our demands for protection of the SDC constantly before elected officials from local to state officers. State Senator Mike McGuire is Senate Majority leader and Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry is Assembly Majority leader. Together they should wield influence to obtain the clear publicized goals of Sonoma citizens.

“Keep SDC development minimal.” Let us say we listened to Jack London’s message and acted accordingly.

— Tom Martin, Sonoma


Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA