Opinion: Once again the supervisors and Permit Sonoma are prioritizing wealthy investors over the safety of the residents living in the fire prone area under the cover of the virus lock down despite voters resoundingly voting for community separators.
“The County of Sonoma is bypassing voters and flouting open space protections to push forward a new luxury resort and major event center in the heart of a key community separator between Santa Rosa and Windsor at 3890 Old Redwood Highway! “
DEADLINE July 5 for Public Comment; Public Hearing July 9
Greenbelt Alert – Defend Community Separator from Luxury Resort in Burn Zone
Dear Friends of Community Separators,
When we endorsed and passed Measure K with 81 percent of the vote in Sonoma County in 2016, we were thrilled to triple the acreage of greenbelt buffers between our cities and towns for the next generation.
Now I am sorry to need to ask you in these very difficult times to help defend our community separators! A luxury resort and event center is currently proposed in the heart of a protected community separator greenbelt between Santa Rosa and Windsor that undermines the will of the voters and violates longstanding open space protections.
PLEASE SEE BELOW AND SEND IN A EMAIL LETTER TO THE COUNTY BEFORE July 5. Join us for a Zoom meeting June 24. Details below.
Please share far and wide!
June 12, 2020
URGENT GREENBELT ALERT
Help Defend Sonoma County Community Separators!
STOP NEW LUXURY RESORT AND EVENT CENTER
IN VOTER-PROTECTED GREENBELT
Stand up for protected community separator greenbelts and help us stop the luxury resort and event center or put it to a vote of the people to decide!
DEADLINE July 5 for Public Comment; Public Hearing July 9. See details, actions, sample letter below. Fact sheet attached. For all documents, go to county website and scroll down to Solstice: http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/PRMD/Planning/Environmental-Notices/
The County of Sonoma is bypassing voters and flouting open space protections to push forward a new luxury resort and major event center in the heart of a key community separator between Santa Rosa and Windsor at 3890 Old Redwood Highway!
– Even worse, it is in the middle of the Tubb’s burn zone and will put more people at wildfire risk!
– The environmental review finds “no significant impacts.” The luxury resort and event center needs a full EIR.
-It is the old Buzzard’s Gulch property now renamed “Sonoma Solstice” for high-end visitors.
More details below.
- TAKE QUICK ACTION AND READ BACKGROUND HERE: https://www.greenbelt.org/blog/solstice-sonoma-luxury-resort-slated-for-burned-zone-in-greenbelt/
- Send a Personal Email Letter Directly to County of Sonoma Officials – SEE DRAFT LETTER AND CONTACT EMAILS BELOW.
- Join our Greenbelt Alliance Community Separator Town Hall – 5 pm to 6 pm, Wednesday, June 24 via ZOOM. Sign up with Teri at firstname.lastname@example.org to get Zoom details.
FINAL ACTION – Thursday, July 9 Make your voice heard at the Public Hearing, Board of Zoning Adjustments, 1 pm via Zoom. Agenda will be posted here: https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/Board-of-Zoning-Adjustments/Calendar/Board-of-Zoning-Adjustments-Meeting-July-9-2020/
VIOLATES MEASURE K: In 2016, we voted by 81% to protect community separator greenbelts, the rural lands between our towns and cities, from more sprawl and intensified development. Now unelected county planners are ready to run roughshod over our open space legacy and the 173,309 voters who supported community separators for the benefit of one luxury developer.
]Remember the good old days of Measure K on our campaign website with everyone in support! http://keepcommunityseparators.com/]
It is unlawful and betrays the public trust for the county to approve this luxury resort and event center under Community Separators, the General Plan and Zoning Codes. Before it can be approved it must be put on the ballot for a vote or be offset with equal lands elsewhere.
NOT NOW! We think you’ll agree that it is simply wrong for county officials to move forward now on a totally non-essential luxury resort and event center in the protected greenbelt that will compete with struggling small businesses as we are all facing the COVID crisis, a dangerous wildfire season, economic uncertainly and political unrest when most voters are not able to participate in the public process, which is reduced to one Zoom meeting.
LUXURY RESORT AND EVENT CENTER OVERVIEW
LOCATION: The proposed luxury resort in the burned zone is located at 3890 Old Redwood Highway in the Windsor-Larkfield-Santa Rosa community separator once called Buzzards Gulch, but now renamed Sonoma Solstice by the developer.
LUXURY SUBDIVISION: The plan is to subdivide the land to construct a dozen 1-3 bedroom party houses, warehouse-sized event buildings, wedding chapel, and huge party tents for 100 events, with up to 300 people drinking, dining, dancing year round, up to 10 pm at night every night of the year. If the visitors don’t come, is it really for housing, which is not allowed in community separators?
HISTORY: This property WAS NEVER a resort or event center but had one residence and the remainder left as open space for decades. The remainders of old rundown buildings from an abandoned use was burned in the Tubbs fires. See photo below from our 2017 tour before the wildfire. It is directly next door to the existing Cloverleaf Ranch, where children ride horses and sleep out during summer months. They will be directly impacted by a luxury resort with drinking, dining, music, noise and lighting until late at night.
DRAFT LETTER AND CONTACTS
Dear Sonoma County Supervisors, BZA Commissioners and Permit Sonoma,
Please vote to deny or delay any action on the proposed luxury resort and event center at Buzzard’s Gulch/Sonoma Solstice in a community separator protected with 81 percent of the vote that is also on the edge of voter-approved City of Santa Rosa Urban Growth Boundary.
Before it can be approved it must be put on the ballot for a vote of the people and/or or be offset with equal or greater community separator lands elsewhere as required in the General Plan and Community Separators ballot measure. It also violates the Zoning Code.
The environmental review finding “no significant impacts” is inadequate and needs to have a full EIR.
I voted for and strongly endorsed Measure K in 2016 and am outraged that the County of Sonoma is considering such a project in the middle of the community separator, particularly at this challenging time when public participation is extremely difficult.
This is a discretionary action for a new use permit for a project of countywide interest that undermines longstanding open space and climate-smart growth policies. It intensifies the use of a key greenbelt buffer and put’s more people in the wildfire zone that burned in the Tubb’s fire.
If allowed to proceed, it should go to vote of the people or offset with new community separator lands of equal acreage per Measure K.
- The land is inside the voter- protected (81 percent Measure K 2016) Santa Rosa-Larkfield-Windsor community separator, a stretch of greenbelt along Old Redwood Highway between Santa Rosa and Windsor.
- The project is located outside of Santa Rosa’s voter-protected urban growth boundary, where urban development is supposed to end, as determined by voters of Santa Rosa twice (1996, 2010).
- Violates General Plan policy and Zoning Code by changing land use from residential and open space to luxury resort and event center all year round.
- It is in the heart of the wildfire burned areas of Fountaingrove and Larkfield Wikiup, and has not had proper fire escape planning implemented, which will put more people in harm’s way in future wildfire events.
- It is next door to the historic Cloverleaf Ranch, an agricultural preserve and summer riding camp for children and teenagers, which is struggling to rebuild after the fires and COVID.
- A dozen luxury 1, 2, and 3-bedroom wine country party houses on rural land and when the county has failed to adopt any standards for event centers countywide.
- Hundreds of weddings and high-end events all year with wine and music until late at night, taking away from the scenic and agrarian feel of the area.
- Threatens the creek, groundwater, mature oaks, air, and climate with increased pollution.
- Will bring more low-paying tourist-serving jobs that will exacerbate the housing crisis, with no solutions offered by the developer for housing of employees.
- The developer already violated grading permits and was issued a stop work order- eroding confidence that this applicant is a good actor who will add to our community.
Delay: This controversial project is in the voter approved community separators that had 81 percent of the vote.
It is of countywide interest inappropriate to move forward at this time with a public hearing and vote on the environmental review and project during COVID shutdown, political unrest, and economic uncertainty when voters are unable to fully participate.
Name, Title, Organization
SEND BY July 5, 2020 TO:
Board of Zoning Adjustments
Todd Tamura, Chair – District 2 – Todd.Tamura@gmail.com
Richard Fogg, District 1 – email@example.com
John Lowry, District 5 (the project is in District 5) – JohnLowryCA@gmail.com
Cameron Mauritson – District 4 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Paula Cook – District 3 – email@example.com
Permit Sonoma Deputy Director Scott Orr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Planner Tricia Stevens <email@example.com>
Supervisor James Gore James Gore District4@sonoma-county.org
COPY: Teri Shore firstname.lastname@example.org