The Sonoma Plaza is considered by many to be hallowed ground, consecrated in the minds of many citizens by the generations of residents and visitors who have found peace and pleasure in its leafy eight acres, never mind that no one is known to be buried there and no ecclesiastical authority has ever, to anyone’s knowledge, bestowed an official blessing.
Nonetheless, it represents the heart and communal soul of the city and its social sanctity is guarded carefully by both official and unofficial caretakers.
Chief among the official caretakers are the nine members of the city’s Community Services and Environment Commission, who are charged with the responsibility to advise the City Council “on matters related to the preservation and enhancement of parks, recreational facilities, open space and the natural environment” and to “review major Plaza use applications,” according to the city website.
The commission is composed of uniformly capable, thoughtful and intelligent people who have the best interests of the Plaza in mind, and we generally respect the fine work they do. Recently, however, the CSEC seems to have taken a left turn down a dubious path of public policy, the logic of which defies our understanding, and the consequences of which, we believe, could be either dangerous or disastrous to the success of two iconic and profoundly important Plaza-related events.
The proposed policy would, among other things, prohibit any kind of sign or banner on the Plaza horseshoe in order to preserve “at all times” an unobstructed view of City Hall, “which is a National Historic Landmark.”