What about the lack of accommodation at the SDC?
The Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) question – how this land should be used – includes many conflicting questions. For example: environment vs housing; conservation/preservation vs. growth and development; and green belts and open spaces versus infill and higher density. The main question about what to do with the land, over 900 acres, is a complex mix of environmental, economic, social and equity issues swirling around in search of answers, none of which will please all interests.
So why isn’t there a solution that would satisfy those affected? The answer is that the contrasting aspirations of the parties involved contradict and are incompatible with each other. For example, there is a wildlife corridor that runs through a significant central portion of the land that would undoubtedly be impacted by a significant amount of new housing development. Housing development not only involves construction and land preparation, but also requires new roads and new utility infrastructure. Hundreds of housing units, the plan approved by the Supervisory Board foresees 450 to 700, which means thousands of people and their vehicles accommodated in this space.
In addition, a development of this scale means offering the necessary businesses and services to this population in rural areas. This begs the question: how can this type of growth and development not impact the wildlife corridor that crosses it or is near it? What possible mitigation measures can be applied to offset or insulate the noise, activity and land reconstruction generated by such development over a two to three year period?
The problem, basically, is the government’s mandate of perpetual growth and development – housing and commercial enterprise – in opposition to the popular (and voted) demand for green belts and buffer zones of open space. In addition, a major concern is the inevitable clash of growth, development and population increase with the reality of climate change and the existential question of sustainability. What we have here is a failure of contradictory concepts. In my opinion, these are irreconcilable differences because one cancels out the other.
Because the land of the SDC is primarily a mountainous region of tremendous diversity of flora and fauna, I want it to remain that way…forever, which means it must be protected and preserved through conservation . I advocate the use of the lower, already developed portion of the land for public use and non-profit public service entities, including the renovation and reuse of many existing usable buildings. Affordable housing needs to be built where there are businesses and services, schools, parks and public transit. New market-priced housing should not be built on the sides of the mountains, which was previously decided by most Sonoma County residents, and it should also be relegated to infill in cities and county areas not incorporated.
It is understood that these comments will be seen by some as NIMBY or elitist and anti-fairness. I would agree with the first judgement, but not with the second. I don’t think we humans should have the right to live wherever we please, especially when it comes to wild and wild lands, regardless of wealth or lack thereof.