Legislators Announce Tentative Agreement For Future Use of Sonoma Development Center
ELDRIDGE, CA – Senators Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, Bill Dodd, D-Napa, and Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar Curry, D-Winters, announced today the tentative agreement on the Sonoma Development Center that will empower neighbors, the community and County of Sonoma to conduct a comprehensive community planning process focused on the potential future uses of the Sonoma Developmental Center, while also protecting the sacred open spaces of the undeveloped land.
The framework is the result of a three and a half year collaborative process between the Sonoma County Legislative Delegation, state agencies, and local stakeholders led by the County.
“We have always committed to an open, transparent and community-driven process on the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center, and this plan will do just that,” Senator Mike McGuire said. “We are grateful for the partnership of Senator Dodd, Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, the County of Sonoma and the Governor’s Office for the collaborative first-of-its-kind approach for the future of this sacred site.”
“This plan ensures a community-driven approach to the reuse of the core campus, while preserving undeveloped land as public parkland and open space,” said Senator Dodd. “I want to thank Senator McGuire, Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry, the Governor’s team and our local partners for all their work to get to this point. We need to leave future generations a vibrant, sustainable world, and this property should come to reflect that vision.”
“I am proud of the many hours that Senator Dodd, Senator McGuire, the Administration, Sonoma County, and the community have put into making sure that the plan for the disposition of the Sonoma Developmental Center results in a safe, respectful, and beautiful property for the long term,” said Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry. “This agreement takes into account the importance of local engagement and County leadership in the development of the scoping plan.”
“The State, County, and Community have worked hard to pull together this agreement, the first of its kind in the State of California. We extend sincere thank yous to our State elected delegation, state agencies and the County to get us to this point. But this is just the beginning of the process for the community to work together to develop a vision for the future of the Sonoma Development Center in recognition of its special place in our Valley,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to hold a special hearing at 9:30 am this Friday, April 5 to hear from legislators and state agency representatives, including state General Services Director, Daniel Kim. The board is expected to vote at the hearing to direct staff to initiate the local planning process set forth in the agreement.
The deal outlines state funding for a County-managed Specific Plan land use process, including a robust community engagement process focused on transition and overall vision and related environmental review. During this time, which is expected to take a few years, the state will continue to control and operate the property. That includes all funding needs encompassing on-going maintenance, security, firefighting, landscaping and fire prevention. The agreement, which will be described in detail at Friday’s Board meeting, will also outline the tentative plan to preserve the open space and woodlands as public parkland and wildlife habitat. This preservation of open space could include a future collaboration with state parks, regional parks, or a combination.
The Sonoma Developmental Center opened in 1891 as a state-run residential care facility dedicated to serving individuals with developmental disabilities. Located in Eldridge near the community of Glen Ellen, the property is comprised of a developed campus covering approximately 180 acres and approximately 700 acres of open space adjacent to the Sonoma Valley Regional Park and the Jack London State Historic Park.
In the October 2015 Plan for the Closure of the Sonoma Developmental Center, the Department of Developmental Services recognized the unique natural and historic resources of the property and acknowledged that it was not the intent of the state to follow the traditional state surplus property process. The Department of Developmental Services concluded residential operations at the Sonoma Developmental Center in December 2018 after relocating all residents to homes in the community.