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Sonoma Valley Sun


Plaza protest; petition drive for SDC; changes at The Haven; and more

Posted on February 2, 2024 by Sonoma Valley Sun

When Ken Mattson and his Sonoma Cheese Factory (one of his some 80+ real estate holdings in Sonoma Valley) threw an open house schmoozer for Plaza business neighbors, the protestors outnumbered the guests. The January 30th action was organized by Wake Up Sonoma, a community group very suspicious of Mattson’s master plan for the area. Lisa Stroment, speaking for the group on Facebook, said the police were summoned, three times, to break up the rally. Protestors were threatened with removal and arrest. “Even though we were quite intentional in being orderly and respectful, we were accused of pushing one of their guests, absolutely untrue, and blocking the sidewalk and entrance and egress to the building – also not true.” The group was heartened by the turnout. “We made our voices heard tonight. This is not the end.” … By the way, what’s the right cheese choice for peaceful assembly?

With numbers this concerning, maybe you’d rather not be so good at math. According to an official state tally, 61% percent of Sonoma Valley High School graduates are unprepared for college or a career. That’s up from 57% several years ago. (The state average is 44%). The only category showing an improvement is chronic absenteeism, which has indeed dipped. But those math and reading lessons aren’t sinking in. “Does this mean we’re graduating students who aren’t able to function in the real world?” asked a School Board trustee when confronted with the report compiled at California Dashboard. “I feel like we’re not having an honest conversation about this.” 



The community group Sonoma Valley Next 100 has organized a campaign to lead the Sonoma Developmental Center project if and when the current, commercial developer fails to reach a deal with the state. Proposed is the formation of a local Independent Special District to step in and guide the disposition of the 950-acre campus. The Sonoma Mountain Community Services District would “be able to creatively finance a smaller, more rural footprint for development,” be more sensitive to the environment, and give people a real active voice in the process. But such a District needs a ballot measure, and that means signatures. The Next 100 Years Proposal team is looking for dedicated volunteers who believe in a smaller development footprint at SDC to its signature drive to registered voters living in the new District area. To sign up, or to find out more and see the map, go to the

Should the Springs area of Sonoma Valley become part of the City of Sonoma? The concept of annexation is very much top of mind lately (page 7). But what about a Springsville on its own? Any study should also explore the possibility/practicality that the Springs might achieve many annexation benefits by becoming its own city, poses Bob Edwards. “If the most recent decision of City of Sonoma voters to resoundingly reject expansion of its Urban Growth Boundary (80% opposed) is any indication, annexation of the Springs by the City has little chance of succeeding, particularly if similar social media sentiment of Springs commenters is any indication.”… And say, Glen Ellen, why not incorporate in advance of the tax dollars, and TOT, generated by the big Sonoma Development Center project? 

Sonoma Overnight Support, the nonprofit that has been operating as a service center for the homeless for 17 years, has moved out of its First Street West location. (More like evicted, says Kathy King of SOS). The house-like structure, known as The Haven (above), is owned by the City of Sonoma, which terminated its contract with SOS. Last month, SOS began food service out of its new Unity Kitchen in the Springs. That operation is unaffected by The Haven changeover. SOS has not been operating the Haven as an overnight shelter, according to Sarah Tracy, Sonoma’s public information officer. In November 2023, the Sonoma City Council voted to terminate the agreement with SOS and have the Haven revert to its original use as an Emergency Shelter, as per the original 2014 agreement. Going forward, the City has contracted with a service provider, FSGlobal, to operate the facility only as an Emergency Warming Center in the event of extreme weather conditions. Does rain count? Not so far. 


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