February 14, 2018.
As the state prepares to close the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) at the end of this year, there are a host of unanswered questions about the condition of the property, and potential reuse options. The October 2017 Nuns Fire had a dramatic impact on SDC, necessitating a mandatory evacuation of hundreds of residents and staff, and burning the eastern third of the property along Highway 12. SDC withstood the fires, and the remaining residents have all moved back in, but the other toll was a major interruption of the state’s site assessment process.
In May 2017, the state hired Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) to provide architectural and engineering services to prepare “a comprehensive existing conditions study and an opportunities and constraints summary and analysis for SDC.” This $2 million assessment process is complicated: SDC is housed on approximately 860 acres of State land, including a core campus with an estimated 1.3 million square feet of buildings on 180 acres.
To their credit, the state incorporated a strong community engagement plan as part of the WRT contract. In order to ensure that the site assessment is based on the best available data — and that the analysis is designed to answer the most pressing concerns of the local community —WRT created an SDC Community Advisory Committee (CAC). This Committee is comprised of a broad range of local stakeholders, and our purpose is “to provide comments to the WRT team on the Site Assessment findings and to offer input regarding the opportunities and constraints for the SDC site.”
The first meeting of the CAC was September 28th. Ten days later, the fires raged through the North Bay, and the WRT goal of producing their reports and holding a series of community meetings by the end of 2017 was lost in the tumult of wildlife disaster response. We have stayed in touch with the WRT over the past few months, and they have made every effort to get the planning process back online with the state. After what essentially turned into a three month delay, the next CAC meeting has been scheduled for March 22nd. Here are links to the September 28th CAC meeting summary, and WRT’s presentation which documented their work to date on the site assessment:
After the September CAC meeting, WRT was planning on finishing the site assessment, presenting the findings one more time to our committee, and then holding a public meeting in Sonoma where the whole community would be briefed on this critical information. According to the new timeline, after the CAC meets in March, the public meeting is likely to happen in mid-April. Once the site assessment is completed, we will reach a critical juncture: will WRT continue to lead the effort to develop reuse alternatives for SDC, and can we act quickly enough to have a plan in place before SDC closes in December?
The Transform SDC Blog site was set up in 2014 to provide the Sonoma Valley community — and those interested in the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) — a forum and information source for news related to the closure of SDC. For more information, please post a response on the blog site, or email John McCaull at firstname.lastname@example.org.