Debriefer: April 22, 2015

Save the Sonoma Developmental Center

The Sonoma Developmental Center Coalition was created to provide alternatives to the state’s plans to close Glen Ellen’s 120-year-old Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC); the facility is home to more than 400 people with developmental disabilities. The SDC is also the largest employer in Sonoma Valley, and the 950-acre property is home to 750 acres of undeveloped wild lands that provide critical habitat and passage for North Bay wildlife.

The Sonoma Land Trust is working with the Center for Collaborative Policy to facilitate an 18-month planning process to give the community a voice in shaping the CDC’s future. The first of several community meetings will be held May 2, 9am–1pm, at Vintage House, 264 First St. E., Sonoma. The goal of the meeting is to provide information on healthcare services at the CDC, as well as the history, natural resources and reuse opportunities at the facility and surrounding lands. The goal is to provide the state with a set of recommendations for what a “transformed” SDC could look like and how to fund it.

The coalition believes the best hope for saving the center is to create a new vision designed to meet a variety of community needs while still serving those with disabilities. The coalition has been chaired by Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin and includes the Parent Hospital Association, Sonoma Ecology Center, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Mountain Preservation and a variety of county agencies and districts. By launching a community dialogue with a wide audience, the groups is hoping to get ahead of the closure process and to influence decisions made by the state.

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—Stett Holbrook