Hold your horses!
EDITOR: Friday’s paper came with a disturbing front page article, stating that the Castagnosso farm is up for sale (“Downtown Clydesdale Farm on Sale for $7.6 Million,” March 16). And that it is zoned for seven to 11 houses?!
Everyone I mentioned this to was as upset at the idea as I am. This is a huge important part of downtown Sonoma. How many towns have a horse farm in the middle, a perfect neighbor to the historic Mission? It compliments Sonoma history so well, and tourists love the idea.
When I have out-of-town company that is one of the places we visit, and the horses love it, too, they come eagerly over to say hello and nuzzle you for the possibility of a treat. The horses don’t know there are signs up to not feed them, they are well fed and beautiful. It lifts my spirits every time I see them.
I am sure there will be a lot to say from other locals, I just wanted to get this out, if possible. Who wants to eliminate the farm and replace it with seven houses?
A Sonoma standoff, dag nabbit!
EDITOR: So this fellow, Bill Jasper, wants to build his mega dream house, three houses actually, on Schocken Hill and doesn’t think he should have to abide by some of the building size regulations everyone else does (“Hillside Projects Still in Limbo,” March 6). Then Mr. Jasper hires lawyers and consultants and such to interpret the building codes as he wishes, and so far has two City Council-members, Edwards and Cook, agreeing with him. Councilman Edwards exclaimed with fervent patriotic passion that it was, indeed, Jasper’s Constitutional right to do whatever he wants on his property, dag nabbit!
Mr. Jasper must have some friends in high places, besides our hillsides, because somehow he got space in the Index-Tribune’s “Valley Forum” op-ed column to take his case to the public. But what ‘ol Bill didn’t mention was that the five then-City Council-members who drafted the building ordinance in question, aptly named the Hillside Ordinance (2003), recently stated both in writing and public testimony their exact intent of the language of the building size guidelines (5,000 square feet). This doesn’t remotely fit Bill & Co.’s plans.
So what we’ve got here is a Sonoma standoff. On the one side we’ve got a great deal of wealth and connections, Jasper’s, with what he referred to as the “quality” people. That never hurts. On the other side are the people who think Mr. Jasper is not, or should not be, above the rules as written, and should comply with the building-size requirements and environmental provisions in the Hillside Ordinance.
The one thing this disparate group of commonplace residents has in common is that they care a lot about what gets built on Sonoma’s hillside backdrop and they really don’t like it messed with.
Editor’s note: Thanks for writing Will. I always appreciate your contributions to the letters page. But I can’t let your insinuation that the Index-Tribune’s editorial is influenced by Bill Jasper – who is one of several investors in Sonoma Media Investments, which publishes the I-T and the Press Democrat – pass by without comment and correction. Jasper’s Feb. 23 Valley Talking “op-ed” was a response to a column written earlier that month by our former editor and publisher Bill Lynch, which questioned the size of the Schocken Hill project houses and whether the project should come under greater scrutiny in regards to the Hillside Ordinance. As a general practice, when we print opinion pieces that take a position on an issue of community interest, we’ll consider requests for response from stakeholders of opposing positions. Mr. Jasper’s only “friend in high places” in this case is a community newspaper dedicated, to the best of its ability, to fairness. – Jason Walsh