Leggo my Sono-ma-Lago!
Editor’s note: An earlier version of the following letter by Larry Murphy was printed Aug. 22. It was, however, mistakenly cut off prior to the end during the editorial production process (yes, it even happens at the I-T, folks). Here’s a more complete version of the letter.
EDITOR: According to at least one reader (“Hotel Foes Should Accept Measure B Results,” Aug. 4), now that the EIR for the downtown hotel is finished, we need no longer talk about the project, we simply need to vote it into place. Sort of like an algorithm selecting medical treatment through artificial intelligence – cross the T’s, dot the I’s, deal done. Trouble is the EIR is not the decider in these matters, it is a tool to help. Elected officials make the final decision. The EIR provides much information, but there are many things it cannot provide and only humans can, like wisdom, measure against other more pressing needs and the longtime effect on the character of our town. That’s why we have a City Council, to represent the legitimate goals of the people who elected them, whether or not those are popular views.
To be clear, I do not oppose this hotel project, I object to it at the present location steps from our beloved Plaza. Were it planned for Broadway and MacArthur, I would be in favor of it.
A recent letter inexplicably argued that a residential project at the downtown site would generate too much traffic, but that the hotel project would not. Presumably a local fourth grade teacher or hospital health worker who would be able to walk to their grocery store, pharmacy and doctor appointments is generating bad traffic but a hotel/restaurant with 18-wheel delivery trucks, food and drink suppliers and salesman, 24 hours crews, limos full of bridesmaids and gigantic tour buses is generating good traffic.
Tourism is a good clean and enjoyable industry. However businesses that serve tourism must be careful not to exploit their product so that it damages its very community that visitors expect to see. Have you been to Sausalito or St. Helena lately? Is that where we are headed? Are we already there?
I’m hoping that the final step in this approval process, the one where officials we trusted to call on their wisdom to manage our town with love and respect for our community will not let big money Trump common sense. Please, no Sono-ma-Lago for our Plaza.
EDITOR: I had a dream, I had a dream, but maybe it was more like a nightmare.
I dreamed it was 10 years into the future and I was in my “driverless” car just approved by the Sonoma City Council for daytime use only. Going through the square I noticed the recently opened new hotel and its residential aspect. The occupants were enjoying a perfect Sonoma day on their balconies, barbecuing shirtless in the sun and enjoying the festive music coming from their units. It was truly a family moment as I saw RVs parked with boats attached. As I peered into the hotel it did not seem to be very busy. I was startled by a roaring fire engine who could no longer use their noisy siren. I needed some peace and tranquility so I headed over to the corner of Broadway and MacArthur and parked. The rusty chain link fence was still there with old campaign posters with hollow slogans and promises and the weeds were at amazon level. I relaxed, closed my eyes and was thankful I had another home in another city where the leadership recognized quality growth.