A Pledge to the Community: Transform SDC Project Prepares Advocacy Strategy for 2016

December 23, 2015:

The Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) has touched so many lives. A mention of SDC invariably prompts a story of how this incredible facility has been a source of inspiration to our community for generations. 2015 has undoubtedly been a very challenging year for the residents, staff and families of SDC. The state’s announcement in May that they intend to close the Center by the end of 2018 is a life changing decision that will impact hundreds of families and SDC employees. As the Center readies for its 125 year anniversary in 2016, there are many who wonder what the future will bring.

When we publicly launched the Transform SDC Project in early 2015, we did not anticipate the pending closure announcement in May. Based on a January 2014 Report issued by the California Department of Health and Human Services, we knew that the state intended to “transition” away from being the operator of historically large residential living facilities for people with developmental disabilities. When the federal government rejected the state’s appeal of a decision to decertify seven patient units at SDC and strip their Medicaid funding over findings that care for hundreds of disabled patients was deficient, the closure process was put on the fast track. The 2018 closure timeline was formalized in a July settlement agreement between the State of California and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the state subsequently submitted a draft closure plan to the California Legislature in October. If you need a refresher for what is in the closure plan vis-à-vis community input, please review the comparison chart on our blog site.

The closure plan makes a commitment that the state will “work with the SDC Coalition, Sonoma County and other interested parties to identify potential options for the future use of the SDC campus… and to explore future services that could perhaps be provided at SDC.” This is a promising opening on the part of the state, but there are some critical, unresolved issues that need detailed answers:

  • What existing health care operations will continue past closure?
  • What new health care programs is the state willing to consider and possibly implement concurrent with the closure process?
  • What is the mechanism (both interim and permanent) to protect the open space and natural resource lands of SDC?
  • What is the state’s role in the formation of an SDC Advisory Council and a potential “trust” organization to govern the transformation/reuse process after closure?
  • What strategy will ensure the long-term financial sustainability of a transformed SDC?

As we prepare for 2016, the first order of business is the Legislature’s consideration and approval of the draft closure plan. The plan is not “official” until endorsed by the Legislature, and this will likely happen as part of the approval process for the 2016-2017 state budget. The Legislature reconvenes in early January, and our local coalition will be working closely with our state elected officials to develop a cohesive, unified set of priorities that will guide our advocacy and community organizing. Expect to see a summary of our advocacy strategy in early January.

It’s been a tough year, but the Sonoma Land Trust is committed to continuing the Transform SDC Project in close coordination with our many partners. The Project Steering Committee is made up of Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin, Kathleen Miller of the Parent Hospital Association, Richard Dale of the Sonoma Ecology Center, and John McCaull from Sonoma Land Trust. There are many community groups and individuals too numerous to mention who have volunteered, attended and testified at hearings and educated their friends, families and community about the importance of SDC. We are all stronger together, and please know that the support of each and every one of you is making a difference.

Finally, we would like to give some special thanks during this holiday season. The Transform SDC Project would not exist without the generous financial support of Impact100 Sonoma, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Resources Legacy Fund, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, Sonoma County Regional Parks Department, the Sonoma County Water Agency, and several donors from the community who have made major gifts to the Sonoma Land Trust on behalf of our Project. The Parent Hospital Association has also made significant contributions from its internal budget to the overall effort. With this funding, we have been able to retain the services of the following top-notch professionals and consulting firms:

  • Baseline Consulting
  • Center for Collaborative Policy
  • Conservation Strategy Group
  • Greenberg Traurig, LLP
  • Potrero Group
  • Prunuske Chatham, Inc.
  • Tom Origer & Associates
  • UC Berkeley- Hopland Research and Extension Center (Adina Merenlander and Morgan Gray)
  • Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger

Happy Holidays to all of you, and we will be back strong in the New Year!

John McCaull                                                                                         Samantha Thomas
Land Acquisition Program Manager                                                 Community Planning Coordinator
Sonoma Land Trust                                                                                  Sonoma Land Trust

 

Senator McGuire to Host SDC Town Hall Follow-up Meeting this Saturday, December 19th

December 16, 2015:

Correction:This meeting is only for families and members of the Parent Hospital Association and SDC employees. Apologies for any confusion.

This Saturday, December 19th, Senator Mike McGuire will host a public meeting at the Sonoma Developmental Center’s Gymnasium located at 15000 Arnold Drive, Eldridge, CA 95431 at 10 a.m. This gathering is a follow up meeting to the Senator’s Town Hall Meeting that he hosted back in August, and he and his staff have prepared a response to many of the questions and concerns raised at that meeting.

Please come out for an update on the current situation related to the SDC closure plan, and anticipated next steps for 2016.

Decreasing Aid For People With Developmental Disabilities

December 15, 2015:

“The Arc is a national nonprofit with chapters across the country that offer programs and services for people with developmental disabilities. “It means a lot to me,” Palone says. “It gets me out of the house, and it helps me interact with people.”

But in California, aid for people with developmental disabilities is decreasing due to lack of funding for these programs. Please click on the link below to read more about this developing issue.

In California, Aid Withers For People With Developmental Disabilities

Provide courtesy of NPR from KQED, by Melissa Hellmann.

Articles: Proposed Plans for the Future of SDC

November 9, 2015:

Close to Home: Transform, don’t close, the Sonoma Developmental Center
Provided courtesy of the Press Democrat, by Kathleen Miller (PHA).

“The coalition, known as Transform SDC, offers a unified vision that serves the needs of the community, residents, families and employees and honors the land. A cohesive plan for the SDC campus must come first and not as an afterthought.”

Sonoma Developmental Center closure plan goes to legislature
Provided courtesy of the Sonoma Index-Tribune, by Christian Kallen.

“The report characterized those additional comments as “reflecting” earlier public comment on the issues surrounding the facility’s closure. These include “the need for services to be established at SDC in perpetuity, further concerns that the proposed closure timeline is too short, requests that the plan needs to include safety-net services and a better description of what happens if individuals ‘fail’ in the community, [and] requests that the Department address the emotional and spiritual needs of individuals in transition.”

California health secretary defends closure plan for Sonoma Developmental Center
Provided courtesy of the Press Democrat, by Derek Moore.

“Dooley said she is “very aware of the specific targeted challenges that exist” with community-based programs and said she is “committed to doing what we can to address them.” At the same time, she said, for every community-based program that goes out of business another one opens, so that the number of providers is “relatively constant.”

Plans discussed for new Sonoma Valley Regional Park lands
Provided courtesy of the Kenwood Press, by Alec Peters.

“The SDC41 piece was once part of the state-run Sonoma Developmental Center, but declared surplus property in the 1990s. Open Space bought the property for $600,000 in 2007. The land was then transferred to Regional Parks. The 41 acres consists of oak woodlands and grasslands, some wetland areas, and also provides some panoramic views of the valley.”

Protecting green places between towns and cities
Provided courtesy of the Sonoma Valley Sun, by Teri Shore (Greenbelt Alliance).

“The green heart of Sonoma Valley is shielded from sprawl and subdivisions by the Glen Ellen-Agua Caliente Community Separator. It stretches across both sides of Highway 12 from Arnold Drive at Glen Ellen to just south of Madrone Road. It contains 1,400 acres of oak woodlands, vineyards, organic farms, parks and nature preserves and overlaps part of the Sonoma Valley wildlife corridor and the Sonoma Developmental Center.”

Update on Transform SDC: What happened at the workshop?

November 3, 2015:

It’s been awhile since there has been a post from Transform SDC. For those who attended the workshop October 17th, it provided an informative look at the Potrero Group’s work on the SDC Site Transformation Study as well as some background on the SDC Closure Plan.

In addition, we provided the Transform SDC Community Vision Statement to those in attendance as well as a chart that laid out the comparison between the community’s recommendation for SDC to the DDS Closure Plan.

If you’d like to view the Potrero Group’s slideshow from the workshop, please feel free to browse it here.

Thank you again to those who attend any and all of the SDC meetings and to those who have continued to follow the Transform SDC Project. We couldn’t be where we are now in the process without all of your support!

Register for this Saturday, October 17 Transform SDC Community Workshop!

October 15, 2015:

Register Now!

The second Transform SDC Community Workshop is set for this Saturday, October 17 at the Hanna Boys Center, 17000 Arnold Drive in Sonoma, from 9am to around 1pm.

If you haven’t already done so, please mark this date on your calendar and RSVP here as we hope all concerned with the future of the Sonoma Developmental Center can make it to this workshop.

In addition, please take a look at the Sonoma Developmental Center: Site Transformation Study available here that will be covered at Saturday’s workshop, along with the SDC Closure Plan submitted by the state provided here.

If you have any pressing concerns or questions, please email Samantha at samantha@sonomalandtrust.org or call (707) 526-6930 ext. 137.

Thank you and we hope to see you there!

DDS: Plan for the Closure of Sonoma Developmental Center

October 2, 2015:

The Department of Developmental Services’ Plan for the Closure of Sonoma Developmental Center and a transmittal letter can be found at http://www.dds.ca.gov/Sonomanews/index.cfm.

Also online: Attachments 3A includes Comments from Organizations and Associations submitted via email and U.S. Mail;  and Attachment 3-B includes Comments from Individuals, Families and Online submissions.  Hard copies of the Plan and all attachments were delivered to legislative offices yesterday afternoon, October 1.

There is also a PDF version of the Closure Plan provided below for your convenience.

Plan for the Closure of Sonoma Developmental Center

Timeline of the Sonoma Developmental Center

October 1, 2015:

If you’ve ever wondered how the Sonoma Developmental Center has progressed since its establishment in 1891, take a look at this rather information timeline provided courtesy of the Press Democrat.

TIMELINE: Sonoma Developmental Center, 1891-2018

Slated to close in 2018 after 124 years of service, SDC is the oldest facility in California established specifically for serving the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities. Gliding through this timeline, the Sonoma Developmental Center’s history stops at 2018, but it doesn’t have to end up this way.

With governance and collaborative decision-making, we can find a way to work with the state as a community to identify how the property can best be utilized, with possibilities demonstrated in the Sonoma Developmental Center: Site Transformation Study from the Potrero Group provided here.

Sonoma Developmental Center: Site Transformation Study

September 30, 2015:

Sonoma Land Trust took on the task of hiring a firm called the Potrero Group to study transformation stories of other large institutions and to identify key principles and lessons learned that could inform the process at SDC. The Potrero Group have released their final report, and we are sharing it with you!

This report isn’t so much focused on exactly what uses should occur at a “transformed” SDC, but more “to examine existing partnership models and frameworks that can support a collaborative transformation process, as well as strategies to ensure that future site uses are financially self-sustaining.”  In other words, it’s about governance and collaborative decision-making.

With the news from the state that they do not intend to declare the property surplus, but instead that they will “work with the community to identify how the property can best be utilized,” the Potrero recommendations are going to be very relevant.

Please take a look at the final report below and let us know what your thoughts and comments are!

SDC Site Transformation Study – Final Report
Prepared for Transform SDC, by Potrero Group.

And don’t forget to RSVP here for the next Transform SDC Community Workshop set for Saturday, October 17 at the Hanna Boys Center, 17000 Arnold Drive in Sonoma, from 9am to 1pm. Space is limited, so please RSVP to ensure you have a spot at the workshop.

Hope to see you there!

Stories aired of SDC residents and their families

September 28, 2015:

For those who were unable to view the Brian Heap interview that aired last Thursday, please click on the link below to view it on KCRA’s website.

NorCal families fight closure of developmental centers

In addition, there was also a taping done of Kathleen Miller and Brien Farrell by KPIX with their children, seen below.

Caregivers For Disabled Fight Proposed Shutdown Of Sonoma Developmental Center

Provided courtesy of KCRA news and KPIX, Channel 5 SF Bay Area news.