If we are to believe some of its proponents, Measure B – the hotel limitation measure that was narrowly defeated in a November special election – was merely round-one in an emerging battle over the soul of Sonoma, which is currently caught in a tug-of-war between the forces of greed and development and the protectors of our city’s historic, small-town values.
Round-two, some people believe, will be the parallel issue of proliferating wine tasting rooms, of which roughly 30 are now scattered on and around the Plaza.\
Those dens of great and, some say, insufficiently regulated wine consumption, represent a backward slide into a kind of Wine Country Disneyland, in which fantasy replaces reality and tourists displace citizens until the Sonoma we all love disappears in an alcoholic haze.
Among the indicators of that dire and imminent future, some claim, are the high rents tasting rooms pay for Plaza privileges, thus driving out more meaningful, locally-owned, retail businesses that can’t afford the ever-escalating monthly tariff.
That, and the besotted influence of an economy fueled almost exclusively by alcohol, appears to threaten, some seem to think, the ambient lifestyle many move here to enjoy.