Sonoma Ecology Center’s Vision for the
Former SDC Campus
“If Sonoma Ecology Center has learned anything from 30 years helping our community care for its environment, it’s that everything is connected.” — Sonoma Ecology Center Executive Director, Richard Dale
Our comments on the draft SDC Specific Plan’s Environmental Impact Report, September 26, 2022
Our comments on the draft SDC Specific Plan, September 26, 2022
Our comments on the SDC Specific Plan Alternatives, November 27, 2021
Our policy recommendations regarding SDC Specific Plan, April 3, 2022
SDC is a place where holistic solutions can come together for the property, our Valley community, and perhaps for life on earth. If we want to succeed at solving the most pressing environmental issues, including climate change and the biodiversity crisis, we must find solutions that address multiple challenges simultaneously: environmental, social, and economic.
That’s why SEC is so invested in the SDC Specific Plan process.
Protecting the SDC’s Wild Spaces
SDC’s redevelopment needs to protect the site’s wild spaces, especially its wildlife corridor. We have documented how SDC is home to an incredible array of species—read about them here. We want to see the wildlife corridor expanded at its narrowest point along the north and northeast side of the campus, by pulling the boundary of the developed area inward. Setbacks along Sonoma and Hill Creeks should be larger—100 feet—to make room for a reestablished floodplain, riparian habitat, steelhead recovery, and groundwater recharge. The wetlands in the eastern meadows should be protected and restored. The site’s many water features—reservoirs, springs, streams, wetlands—should be managed holistically to produce multiple benefits to the entire Valley’s people and ecosystems. Developed areas should have foot trails connecting to natural spaces, for all the benefits that occur from human connection with them, while assuring that they retain their ecological function. Paths and recreational areas are good, but they should stay away from the wildlife corridor and Sonoma Creek. Built areas and paths should use Dark Sky standards.
Housing for Current and Future Generations
We want to see housing that serves the needs of current and future generations, with homes for people of diverse economic and developmental capacities. Any housing plan for SDC must go beyond market-driven factors that are driving people—up to and including the middle class—out of the Sonoma Valley. Housing at SDC should be a model for reversing this trend, not exacerbating it. SEC calls for 75% of the site’s housing to be affordable to below-AMI residents, including a mix of rental and owner-occupied units, whether via subsidy or affordable “by design”. Community land trusts are an excellent tool for creating permanently affordable housing. Frequent flexible transit is key for reducing driving and pollution.
Economic Engine for a Resilient Future
Third, we would like to see an economic engine, at the right scale for the wildlife corridor, the land, and the community, that serves current and future community residents with work that is meaningful and that provides a pathway for those who grow up here to stay. Combining work with housing reduces vehicle trips and creates a sense of place. For example, to tackle our planetary crisis, we propose a climate innovation center at SDC that designs and develops products and processes that mitigate and adapt to climate change. It can be funded by a partnership of public, private and social sectors– including the state of California, which recently pledged $15 billion to climate efforts–and governed using community-driven guiding principles. The center would offer higher-paying jobs plus educational opportunities, from internships to vocational training. Meeting and classroom space could be shared by several institutions. A nonprofit hub could house local organizations–including SEC–and interpret the site’s natural resources to students of all ages.
Sonoma Ecology Center is participating in several conversations to create better options for the SDC campus. By centering both ecological health and benefits for a wide spectrum of communities, SEC is helping shape a future for the SDC campus that stands at the intersection of human and environmental needs. We believe there is a creative and collaborative option possible that brings to life a beneficial future for all who make their home here.
SDC’s planning offers a vanishingly rare opportunity to protect an irreplaceable ecological legacy, while also providing housing and jobs for generations to come. Sonoma Ecology Center embraces this vision and invites you to join us.
Sign up to get news from the government planning process, including opportunities to make public comment, on the SDC Specific Plan website.