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Don Quixote and Measure B

OpEd

By

By Tom Thornley

What disturbs me about the well-intentioned efforts of Measure B proponents is that there is only a marginal connection between the perceived problem, to quote Larry Barnett, “most residents feel Sonoma is getting too hurried, too crowded, too noisy and they don’t like it,” and the proposed solution, essentially banning hotels of more than 25 rooms.

Why hotels? Why not other projects that generate “traffic, people and noise?” That presumably would include all new residential and commercial development.

The traffic generated by the proposed new hotel would include cars driven by tourists who would be contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in much needed TOT directly into the City of Sonoma’s General Fund. You certainly could not say that about an equal amount of traffic being generated by a new residential or commercial development. If, in fact, something needs to be banned in order to magically “fix” the problem, it probably should not be hotels.

Measure B is a cause looking for an enemy, much like Don Quixote fighting windmills to defend his honor. There is simply not much valid evidence that slaying hotels of more than 25 rooms will fix the problem.

To the extent that Sonoma is “too hurried, too crowded, and too noisy,” it is a typical problem that plagues every attractive, small and quaint town in California. The solution to the problem is far more complex than a poorly- thought-out ban on one industry.

I am certain both the proponents and opponents of Measure B share an equal love and passion for our town.

However, Measure B is not some magic panacea that will fix anything and should be defeated.

Perhaps that would then be a good time for city officials to sit down with both sides and pledge a portion of the projected new hotel’s TOT to fund a study that clearly identifies the problem, then proposes some valid and well- thought-out solutions that are based on research and data and not on a poorly crafted, indiscriminate and quixotic ban that falsely promises what it will never deliver – Sonoma’s salvation from being “too hurried, too crowded and too noisy.”

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Tom Thornley is a resident of Temelec.

  • Jim Pacheco

    Mr Thornley, I agree that problem is complex. Addressing the hotel issue is only one of the items that need addressing. Others include big box stores, chain stores, tasting rooms, wine bars, etc.
    By law, a ballot initiative can only cover one item. It cannot cover all of the development issues that the city may have to address. The City Council seems to be addressing some of the issues, but did not address the hotel issue. If the City Council continues to ignore the wishes of the citizens, then other ballot measure may be necessary to address those.