s
s
Sections
Sections
Subscribe
You've read 3 of 10 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month!
Already a subscriber?
You've read 6 of 10 free articles this month.
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month!
Already a subscriber?
You've read all of your free articles this month.
Continue reading with unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month!
Already a subscriber?
We've got a special deal for readers like you.
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?
Thanks for reading! Why not subscribe?
Get unlimited access to SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile app for just $5.25 per month, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?
Want to keep reading? Subscribe today!
For just $5.25 per month, you can keep reading SonomaNews.com, the Sonoma Index-Tribune eEdition and our mobile, and support community journalism!
Already a subscriber?

Letters to the Editor, July 14 - 17

Tasting rooms by the hour

EDITOR: OMG – breaking news – June 30, 2017 – another tasting room on the Plaza – the Hooker House (“Hooker House Procures Tasting Room Tenant,” June 30)! I really wish this was “fake news” since our little town/city has been over run by tasting rooms. Sonoma is quickly losing its quaintness and will soon break the Guinness Book of World Records for being the host of the most tasting rooms within city limits. Is this really what we want for Sonoma? I believe this issue needs to be addressed and rectified (as Healdsburg has done) by our city leaders now – not tomorrow, not next week or next month but now! Enough already.

Audrey Chapman

Sonoma

Editor’s note: Thanks for writing Audrey. I think many would agree that there is a healthy allotment of tasting rooms on the Plaza – and your prediction that Sonoma will soon enter the Guinness Book of World Records for its pinot plethora piqued our interest. While the Guinness folk don’t seem to have tabulated a record for tasting rooms within a city limit, they have named the town with the single most abundant cellar: the Milestii Mici winemaking plant in Moldova apparently boasts more than 1.5 million bottles stored underground in excavated lime mines. Perhaps they’ll open a Milestii Merlot tasting room on a corner of the Plaza one day. – J.W.

Council should approve hotel EIR

EDITOR: The review process for development projects mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) is detailed, rigorous and complex. It is intended to give local policy makers a clear picture of a project’s potential impacts, and the ways those impacts can be mitigated, so they can render a fully informed judgment on behalf of the community at large. Unfortunately, CEQA also invites abuse by opponents who seek to kill projects not on their merits, but by filing interminable challenges to the environmental review so the process never reaches its intended conclusion.

The proponents of the Hotel Project Sonoma have devoted the time and resources over several years to seek out and incorporate community input and to produce an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) that gives us all a detailed view of the project’s effects. When legitimate issues were raised, they have gone back and funded the necessary additions to ensure their review was complete and correct. Both the letter and the spirit of the CEQA process have been satisfied and it is time to move forward with a decision on the actual project. However, as one might predict, the opponents of the hotel have invented a new reason to extend the environmental review… affordable housing.

There is no question that the lack of affordable housing in our community and the Bay Area at large is approaching a crisis point. It affects workers, employers, seniors and our children who hope to build lives in this wonderful community where they were raised. The causes are complex and the solutions will require commitment and creativity from the entire community. What is also clear is that this latest challenge to the hotel project’s EIR is not a legitimate attempt to address or solve that crisis.

EIRs are mandated to study project alternatives that would have fewer impacts than the one proposed. As it turns out, data shows that the inclusion of housing at this West Napa location would have a greater impact on traffic, water and parking. One of the distinct advantages of a hotel on this site is the opportunity for visitors to tour the Plaza and surrounding attractions on foot, rather than contributing to the existing traffic congestion.

The proposed hotel is not in a location designated for housing in the City’s general plan. It is within the Urban Growth Boundary, a policy that mandates commercial projects are concentrated in the downtown area. A hotel at this site is the best use of the land and will bring the greatest benefits to the city.

The environmental review has been complete and thorough and it is time to move forward to a decision on the project itself. I urge the City Council to approve the EIR of the Hotel Project Sonoma.

Steve Page

Sonoma

Council should reject hotel EIR

EDITOR: For the Hotel Project Sonoma developers to claim that the hotel will have no appreciable traffic impacts on West Napa and First Street West is on its face absurd. No one believes this utter nonsense except the Planning Director and the Planning Commission. This inanity speaks volumes.

Even more ridiculous is waiving the project’s obligation to provide the housing required for Hotel Traffic Jam when everyone in Sonoma knows we desperately need affordable and workforce housing. The only people who “need” a large, luxury hotel are the ones who stand to profit mightily from it.

Speaking of such and speaking for the No-Name Hotel (apparently the geniuses behind this investment opportunity, Kenwood Investments, can’t come up with a name for the thing) was the project’s affable and avuncular architect. In a calm and reasonable manner he insisted that the public’s concerns about traffic, water use and a waiver for supplying some housing as per the project’s general plan requirement were unwarranted and unnecessary. In his dissertation he quoted numerous charts, graphs and numbers by hired experts to prove his case. In other words, folks, don’t believe your eyes and the dictates of common sense and the blatantly obvious, we, the experts in these matters know best.

Well, according to my experts from the Bureau of Common Sense and Plain Perception, a 60-room hotel plus 80-seat restaurant directly adjacent the Plaza, with dozens of employees and countless deliveries every day, will increase traffic. How much? According to their charts, graphs and numbers, a hell of a lot. When queried about the project’s requested housing waiver our experts, bolstered by charts, graphs, etc., concluded that housing would be far more beneficial to Sonoma than additional tourists. Why? In the course of a year or years, residents will spend more money in town than people on a few days visit. Also, they insisted, people need housing, not more hotels.

The City Council now has an opportunity to politely inform the project people to modify and correct its EIR and make the necessary changes and mitigations that will serve the residents of Sonoma and their needs, not to satisfy the developers’ desires for greater profits. Will this happen? Stay tuned.

Will Shonbrun

Boyes Springs