Sonoma Developmental Center

Trails Open but Doors Closed at Sonoma Developmental Center

Last year we were thrilled to learn that more than 700 acres of open space and wildlife habitat at the now-closed Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC), near Glen Ellen in Sonoma Valley, were being prioritized as open space in a new $40 million planning agreement between state and county officials! 

Since then, Greenbelt Alliance joined several hundred people to share visions for the future of the beautiful oak-studded lands and campus at a large community gathering (the only one held to date). 

Today most of the trails remain open for locals to use, but Public Advisory Team meetings to plan for the reuse of the developed campus have been closed to the public.

The County of Sonoma recently selected a Public Advisory Team (PAT) to kick start the planning process. Its mission is to:

  • Advise County Staff and Consultants
  • Review Specific Plan Materials
  • Serve as Ambassadors to the Public.

But so far, the public has been blocked from getting any information about the PAT meetings or how to contact the members.

Greenbelt Alliance is eager to help craft the future of these spectacular lands and redevelop the built area. We also believe that every person in the State of California has an interest in the Sonoma Developmental Center since it is state property owned by all of us. This is not just a local issue! That is why these meetings need to be open to the public and the agenda and minutes posted for everyone to see.

Greenbelt Alliance is interested in ensuring a low-profile, low-impact climate-resilient community with ample low-emissions public transit, as well as limiting any new pavement or roads in order to preserve the wildlife corridor and the long-term habitat values of the SDC lands. And any housing needs to be fully affordable and designed in innovative ways that enhance the environment and reduces climate impacts.

The Sonoma Valley Housing Group and Everybody Is A Star are joining us in seeking a more transparent process. Firstly, we’d like to see a focused effort on affordable housing on the campus. Second, we want to ensure that the developmentally disabled people who the facility was built for are served and respected as key players in the planning process. Lastly, it is essential that the open space and wildlife corridor be protected as the campus is carefully developed.

We have less than three years to develop a specific plan that will meet the requirements of the State of California.

Recently, another round of large community meetings were announced for May and a new website has gone live! You can find details about these meetings here.

Contact North Bay Regional Director, Teri Shore, with any questions you may have about the Sonoma Developmental Center.

Photo: Wayne Hsieh via Flickr

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