‘Toothless, vague, limited to hopeful intentions’: Judge upends Sonoma Developmental Center plans

Phil Barber, PRESS DEMOCRAT

A judge delivered a stunning setback to Sonoma County planners Friday, upending the approval of plans for the redevelopment of Sonoma Developmental Center.

It’s a decision that could stall, at least temporarily, a proposal to turn the 133-year-old campus into a residential and commercial community.

Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Bradford DeMeo, weighing a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Sonoma Valley citizens groups, ruled the county violated the California Environmental Quality Act by failing to clearly define the number of housing units allowed; address the cumulative impacts of a pending project at neighboring Hanna Center; respond to community concerns in the draft environmental impact report; and adequately gauge impacts on biological resources and wildfire evacuation.

Glen Ellen residents have been voicing those concerns loudly and frequently for several years. However, they have found little traction in convincing the county or the California Department of General Services, which is overseeing the sale of the state-owned site, which at 945 acres is one of the largest redevelopment projects in Sonoma County.

DeMeo’s ruling now resets the conversation and gives hope to community members who have been advocating for a scaled-down project at SDC, rather than the 1,000-housing-unit plan put forth by developers Keith Rogal and the Grupe Company.

Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/news/sonoma-developmental-center-judge-overturns/