SDC negotiations in a tizzy


Politics on Tap
I’ve decided it’s OK to talk about the bigger world of my work as a journalist for the Kenwood Press and explore the land I live in as it’s being tossed about — or at least just under a thousand acres of state owned land now being abandoned. The former drooling ward Jack London cast his wry eye upon a century ago is to fade into the sunset, leaving a couple of hundred dilapidated buildings scattered over two hundred acres, with the rest of the land allocated to deer, bobcats, raccoons, birds and wandering neighbors. This jumps you into the middle of the fray. Read my articles at over the past few years to catch up.
An Oct. 28 bulletin from the Glen Ellen Forum noted that, “The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has shelved its agenda item on SDC for the time being. The process continues to be dynamic and fluid. Rather than bombard you with alerts, we invite you to stay up to date on developments by checking the supervisors’ agenda, visiting TransformSDC, EldridgeForAll, or sending an email to”
First District Supervisor Susan Gorin has led negotiations with the State of California since the Sonoma Developmental Center’s (SDC) closure was announced in 2015, advocating for patient safety during the closure process and for local control over the ultimate disposition of the extensive property. Word is the county’s four other supervisors are in no rush to take responsibility for the Sonoma Developmental Center property and buildings, which has thrown the ongoing negotiations between the county and state into some confusion. The county’s negotiating team flatly rejected an earlier offer from the State Department of General Service to hand over the land and buildings with no promises of future funding.
“The county and state are in close conversations on a path forward,” Gorin said on Monday, Oct. 29, “and we need more time to work on several issues that involve multiple parties. This will most likely come back to the Board of Supervisors in open session in December.”
At the local level, the potential liability for the dilapidated buildings and extensive open spaces may be more than the county can chew, especially considering the current state of post-fire finances, and the current slate of issues, including marijuana ordinances, road conditions, health issues and a raft of other pressing problems. It costs money to allocate staff time to the negotiation process, with $150,000 already set aside for it.
On the Legislative side of the SDC’s future are a new governor and a lot of new faces in the Senate and Assembly who will have to agree to whatever is worked out by Sonoma’s representatives, Senators Mike McGuire and Bill Dodd, along with Assembly members Jim Wood and Cecilia Aguierra-Curry.
Supervisors David Rabbit, James Gore, Lynda Hopkins and Shirlee Zane have all heard from the groups working to have the SDC’s open spaces become parkland and its many problematical buildings put to locally approved purposes.
They will hear more at a December public hearing when it is scheduled.