News from Glen Ellen: Feb. 17

That gnashing of teeth you hear is the sound of Glen Ellen community members hashing out the changes and improvements they’d like to see in their tiny village.

A third Glen Ellen Forum was held on Feb. 6 at Dunbar School. A loose coalition of neighbors and friends has formed the Forum to offer solutions to problems, work with County officials, and affect the rapid changes occurring in the town. The mood at the Feb. 6 meeting was jovial. On a rainy, drippy, soggy night, cooperation and hope was evident as citizens came together to help chart the course of the town.

The group has tackled several big issues. One committee has contacted the owner of the post office property to repaint the building in “natural colors” – like lichen, bark, and leaf green – and add lighting to the rear and repave the pot-holed parking lot. These improvements will start in May and be completed soon after. The property owner owns several buildings along Arnold Drive and has agreed to work with a colorist to upgrade and paint the grocery, veterinarian building and dentist office.

Vacation rentals continue to be a divisive issue in Glen Ellen. There are 174 vacation rentals among 1,671 residences, most clustered in specific neighborhoods. The committee is continuing to look at the problems of parking and noise that these rentals pose.

Another committee is investigating the formation of a semi-political entity for our town. Among the suggestions are a citizens advisory committee, a homeowners’ association, and a neighborhood association. Most popular seems to be a citizen’s advisory committee similar to one existing in Boyes Hot Springs.

Speed and traffic continue to be an issue for Glen Ellen. The traffic committee will make recommendations to control speed along Arnold Drive.

Rain-related difficulties such as potholes and downed trees were brought to 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin’s attention. She reminded people to Google “socoreportit” (Sonoma County Report It). That takes you to a county website which enables you to report potholes, downed trees, graffiti, plugged culverts, damaged guardrails – problems that will get the fastest attention from County repair crews.

Marty Winter, owner of the “little blue houses” at the corner of Carquinez and Arnold, presented plans for the area. The wood buildings along Arnold Drive will be removed, and replaced with two mixed-use buildings fronting Arnold. The concept is “Rustic Shops and Apartments” and is planned as six rental units, office and commercial space, and 34 parking spaces provided in the back. He plans to renovate the historic cottage at the base of Carquinez, and replace the next home up the street with four residential units. He welcomes input from community members. Designs are currently in flux.

Check the Forum’s website at glenellenca.com to see what the group is up to. The next Forum will be Monday, March 6 at 7 p.m. at Dunbar, to continue hashing out the future.

On a lighter note, have you noticed the Glen Ellen Market’s interior facelift? There are clean marble tiles behind the butcher, rustic cabinets behind the deli, barn-like wood paneling and a country store-feel at the front check-out area. And a new designated break room for the workers is up in the Crow’s Nest, behind the gigantic new clock.

Rebecca Reichardt, of Glen Ellen Market, says more renovations are planned in the months ahead.