Facts versus feelings

Larry Barnett, the sometimes improbable Pied Piper of Measure B, summed up the contradictory duality of Sonoma’s current identity crisis when he told the City Council during a public hearing July 15 that, fundamentally, the Hotel Limitation Measure wasn’t about facts, it was about “how we feel about Sonoma.”

Barnett’s judgment was remarkably prescient, given the mystifying measurements employed in this ballot measure and the singular absence of reliable facts, a particular surprise given the man’s impressive record as a three-term City Council member and mayor.

Let’s get to the point: Measure B’s underlying premise – that “one of the biggest development pressures facing the City of Sonoma … has been large hotel developments” – is patently untrue on two counts.

By every definition except Barnett’s, a 59-room hotel, as has been proposed behind and around the Index-Tribune building, is not large, it’s actually small, or “boutique.” So say all the industry analysts we could find on the subject.

Barnett, in lauding the allure of small hotels, cited a quote by famed travel writer Rick Steves, who stated that small hotels “offer a warmth and intimacy that you won’t find in larger establishments.”

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