‘Yes’ on B stops big hotels - Yes on Measure B position statement

By Larry Barnett


There’s a lot of money to be made in tourism and, without some sensible limitations in place, it’s only a matter of time before Sonoma suffers the over-developed fate of other formerly-charming small towns popular with tourists. Those towns all had city councils, commissions, planning directors, general plans and a “process in place,” which raises the question: how do we prevent it from happening to Sonoma?

Ironically, Sonoma’s small-scale charm and character is what big-hotel developers seek to employ as the key to their success; in the process, however, they can destroy it. If we lose the character residents so appreciate, we will also lose the tourists and end up in a hotel-room price war with other over-built wine country towns. It’s our small-town sense of place that makes Sonoma an attractive destination, not our big hotels, as nice as they are.

Small hotels best suit our scale and character. Two successful hotels under 25 rooms built during the past 10 years joined the older, small Sonoma and Swiss Hotels. The Eldorado Hotel has only 27 rooms. Small hotels often include a restaurant, but lack the high-intensity multiple uses of conference and meeting facilities, spas, health clubs, wedding and event centers. Thus they are quieter, less hurried and have lower impacts on neighborhoods, traffic and residents than do big hotels.

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