The Future of Sonoma Developmental Center
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THE SONOMA DEVELOPMENTAL CENTER IS A UNIQUE COMMUNITY ASSET: PROTECT A CRITICAL WILDLIFE CORRIDOR AND FULFILL STATE PROMISES TO INCLUDE THE COMMUNITY IN LAND USE PLANNING
The almost 1,000-acre Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) is preparing for final closure after 127 years of operation. It includes more than 700 acres of diverse natural habitat and important clean water resources, and serves as a critical wildlife corridor in the heart of Sonoma Valley. The state of California has acknowledged the unique natural values of the property and the central role SDC has played as the largest employer in the Valley. The state has repeatedly promised “robust and collaborative” community participation in the land use planning process to guide the site’s future.
As SDC nears closure, no agreement is in place between the state and Sonoma County to protect this special place. We are very concerned about increased risks to public safety, wildfire danger, and the threat of vandalism and other damage to what will suddenly be a mostly vacant property. We ask the state to keep its promises to our community, and take the following actions to protect SDC before Governor Brown leaves office:
1. Transfer governance authority and provide sufficient funding to a local agency or newly created institution (i.e., a trust or joint powers authority) to manage and steward SDC and develop a long-term plan for reuse of the property.
2. Execute an agreement and timeline for the permanent preservation of SDC’s 700+ acres of open space lands, water resources, and diverse natural habitats through transfer to our state and/or county park systems. We request that the state adopt the “Land Protection Proposal” developed by the SDC Coalition, which presents a plan to protect the ecologically significant wildlife corridor and natural areas of SDC.
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