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Letters to the Editor, March 27 - 29


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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?

Doreen Proctor


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.

Will Shonbrun


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

Tickled pink over building green

EDITOR: The health community applauds Sonoma Clean Power and local agency efforts to promote healthy rebuilding in the aftermath of the devastating wildfires (“Eco-Friendly Rebuilds Get ‘Green Light,’” March 2). Sonoma Clean Power last week adopted an ambitious incentive program to rebuild super-efficient, low-carbon homes in areas burned by wildfires in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. These efforts to promote energy efficiency, electric vehicles and clean energy will improve our health and environment, and fight climate change.

Our residents face greater risks from the impacts of climate change driven by fossil-fuel combustion, including risks from extreme weather events such as wildfires, heat waves and floods. The American Lung Association and other leading health organizations support policies to transition to healthier, clean renewable energy and zero emission transportation options that will reduce our health risks from air pollution and climate change, and protect the environment for future generations. As physicians and health professionals responding to disasters, we support these outstanding efforts to create a more sustainable future.

Tara Scott

Santa Rosa Family Medicine Residency

Authors Festival, next chapter

EDITOR: Ads for the ritzy Sonoma Valley Author’s Festival have been popping up on just about every media platform. This looks like quite a production. The New York Times best-sellers A-list will be at that party.

After reading a letter about the festival from a local Sonoma resident, Jette Franks (“Authors Festival, a Closed Book to Locals,” March 16), I went to the website to check the claim that the minimum package is $750 and that there was no public evening event. All true.

The first face to pop up on the author’s web page was… David Brooks, America’s leading conservative intellectual and pernicious public apologist for Republican misrule. I recoiled at seeing progressive public enemy #1 as the top featured author. No thank you!

I am amazed that the event sponsors think that reactionary figures like David Brooks and Niall Ferguson are just the kind of warmed-over faux Tory intellectuals that the literati of wine country in Northern California are clamoring for.

These folks obviously don’t operate anywhere near my Left Coast circles. We regard these intellectual enablers of the rise of the modern right as more culpable than the actual Republican base.

This is one of those tony plutocratic gatherings that use price point as a handy instrument for class segregation. Fine, that’s their right. Less excusable is the fact that they are not even using our one beloved local bookstore, Readers Books. This is the kind of cultural appropriation we endure from moneyed interests who just use Sonoma as a scenic backdrop. Should have been held in Napa.

Got low self-esteem? Volunteer for a mandatory training to work for free as a valet, pourer, registrar. “Unfortunately... due to the size and limitations of the meeting rooms at the Lodge, our wonderful volunteers will not have access to the author or speaker sessions.”

The fact that they don’t even have one public night scheduled for one of the marquee authors is proof that the sponsors for this gala don’t want to rub elbows with the plebes unless they are serving them a drink.

Ben Boyce


Don’t text and drive

EDITOR: Prom and graduation plans can easily derail if dangerous choices are made.

In 1992, I was 16 and an athlete at Tracy High School. My eventful life as a junior ended when a drunken driver hit me.

My teenage life was then filled with surgeries and therapy. With my condition, I was unable to study at any college, like Empire College, independently.

My hearing, talking and walking are damaged, and I cannot drive. I never imagined living like this.

I am thankful people are slowly learning to not drive drunk. Please, continue that.

We are in the age of technology. A new driving threat comes: cellphones.

As a teenager, I only saw them in science fiction films. I see them everywhere now!

Driving drunk and cellphones both cause distraction and impair driving. Each can cause drivers to follow too closely, not brake on time or weave into traffic.

Texting is common. You could be driving in a neighborhood checking your e-mail and run into a car or even a pedestrian.

If your phone rings when driving, do not check the message. The speed and location does not matter. Taking one look could be your last.

People kill people, phones do not. Drivers must police themselves and avoid the cellphone and drinking when driving.

Lori Martin