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Letters to the Editor, July 4 - 6


Healthcare district still needs dialogue

EDITOR: Thank goodness that Meaure E passed! However, the slim margins point out the need to improve community understanding of how our hospital operates. For example:

How are employee salaries set?

What dictates the organizational structure of our hospital?

Why does the hospital experience a revenue gap and why do we need a parcel tax?

Are there opportunities to cut costs and enhance the revenue of the hospital to minimize the reliance on the parcel tax?

Are there ways to increase the use of the hospital for services that generate revenue above their costs?

Jane Hirsch, chair of the Sonoma Valley Health Care District Board, has begun to address these and other questions with a guest blog on the Sonoma Valley Hospital website – svh.com. I suggest you check it out.

There is an opportunity here, as Jane suggests, to provide a civilized informative dialogue to clear up the many questions that were raised during the campaign and improve our understanding of our hospital and our health care. She extends an open invitation for anyone to attend a future district board meeting to share your questions or concerns.

Gerry Brinton

Glen Ellen

Sometimes a tree is more than a tree

EDITOR: Given the state of the climate, perhaps we ought to give primary consideration to the natural world in all of our planning decisions. We don’t, of course. We all still want what we want, and we don’t think too seriously about long-term consequences.

For example, a mere tree, even an ancient, fruit-bearing, bird-hosting tree, isn’t even a road bump in our thinking (“Who Gives a Fig?” June 9). Ownership of land remains the right to do pretty much anything with whatever is on or under that land. The birds, the animals, the children learning from and eating from that tree, and certainly the air affected by the removal of CO2 and addition of oxygen or the effect of the shade and water-retaining gifts of the tree, well, they cannot compete with whatever it is we think we want.

And of course potential tourist income outweighs environmental concerns from increased traffic including those coming to the proposed development, those delivering to it, and those working there who cannot afford to live nearby.

Our children are watching. What messages are we giving them by such choices? It is appalling how even high school students make no connection between their personal decisions and the condition of the world, beyond putting pretty much everything into recycling. We educate them far more through our actions than through any posters we put on the wall.

Tarney Baldinger

Sonoma

EDITOR: Walk Score rates cities, neighborhoods and addresses on proximity to amenities useful to residences. It is a 100-point system, with anything over 80 being good. (See walkscore.com.) Walk Score correlates to greenhouse gas emissions.

The location of Hotel Project Sonoma on West Napa Street has a “walk score” of 91; “daily errands do not require a car,” which Walk Score calls a “walker’s paradise.” Note that the affordable housing development on Broadway and Clay, across from Train Town, has a walk score of 58!! And the First Street East project has a walk score of 63!

So, one of the best places in Sonoma to put new homes to limit GHGs is right on the property where the hotel is planned.

Here are the walk scores for the housing opportunity sites (listed in the city’s Housing Element document) in the city of Sonoma, which are not already under construction:

216 First St. E: 64

226 First St. E: 58

254 First St. E: 64

19910 Fifth St. W: 57

700 Curtin Lane: 67

45 and 69 Napa Road: 50

20269 Broadway: 58

477 W. Napa St. (Safeway property): 84

19320 and 19330 Sonoma Highway: 69

As you can see, the only one with a score greater than 70 is the Safeway property. In their expansion plans presented to the city last year, Safeway did not include any housing.

Dave Eichar

Sonoma Valley

Let’s talk infill

EDITOR: After attending the hearing on the appeal of the certification of the EIR for the proposed Hotel Project Sonoma (“Council Puts Off Decision on Hotel EIR,” June 27), I think it’s important to clarify the concept of infill, city centered development as it relates to environmental impacts. The two benefits of infill development are 1) the preservation of open space, reinforced by community separators and urban growth boundaries, and 2) reduction in vehicle miles traveled by creating mixed use walkable communities, near public transit, with businesses that serve local residents. Large tourist venues to serve a global market clearly don’t reduce vehicle miles traveled, not if you count the vehicle miles traveled from Europe, Asia, out of state in the U.S., etc.

Now that we are in the later stages of the struggle to avoid reaching “tipping points” for irreversible warming, reducing vehicle miles traveled is crucial. We will not transition to renewable fuel sources for all vehicle travel in time avert point of no return. There is ongoing investment in oil and gas infrastructure, e.g. oil exploration, pipelines. Increased supply of natural gas and oil from hydrological fracturing (fracking) has lowered gas prices, creating a resurgence of market share for larger, less fuel efficient vehicles. The growing interest in electric vehicles and renewable sources for electric power are positive trends, but it’s a mixed scenario for fossil fuel versus renewable energy sources. Reduction of demand for energy, including reducing vehicle miles traveled, has to be a part of the mix if there is any credible hope of avoiding irreversible warming. This means we need to get real when we evaluate the environmental effects of our local economy. We need to ask ourselves whether continued growth in facilities to serve the global tourist trade is sustainable, even if the venues are within city boundaries.

Jerry Bernhaut

Santa Rosa