Problems with existing process?

Letter to the Editor

By I-T letters

Editor, Index-Tribune:

A recurring theme of those who oppose Measure B is, “Let the existing process work.”

The existing planning process – so the argument goes – allows developers to present their projects and hash out differences with irate city residents on a case-by-case basis, all under the supposedly unbiased eye of city planners and City Council who, under the existing General Plan, approve or reject all controversial developments.

Those against Measure B trust this existing process to regulate large hotel development. They’re against Measure B because it asks voters to change the General Plan to limit new hotels to 25 rooms or less, unless and until existing hotel occupancy rates reach 80 percent.

Opponents claim Measure B disrespects the existing process and city officials who, after all, were selected by the voters. In short, they suggest residents can be trusted to choose their officials but aren’t bright enough to decide what sort of town they want to live in. Fathers Know Best.

As to big hotel projects, Measure B opponents say the existing process is more qualified than ordinary residents to decide what’s best, as demonstrated by its competence over the years.

Undoubtedly, those who think the existing process has protected city residents from the tsunami of tasting rooms and traffic, loss of open space, noise from entertainment venues, commercial re-use of historic sites, off-book vacation rentals, invasive formula stores and howling dust-storms from swarms of leaf-blowers, probably believe it will protect us from powerful multi-millionaire hotel developers/investors who regard Sonoma as just another wine-country ATM to be tapped for more cash.

Preventing unnecessary big hotels from destroying the essence of Sonoma is far too important to leave to the existing process. If you agree, vote “yes” on B.

Bob Edwards


  • Robert Piazza


    Edwards you are promoting doing away with our democratic process of elected officials and appointed commissions when the process doesn’t suit you or a minority of the electorate.
    I think that idea may have merit on a national level, Bob! Care to share the thought with the Tea Party?

    I also note you have nothing factual to say about the “developers” so why not just demonize them! Everyone reading your opinion will surely react favorably to your saying they are “bad “guys, won’t they?

    • David Eichar

      A ballot measure is pure direct democracy. One citizen, one vote. The City Council is a representative democracy. In a representative democracy, the citizens need to let their representatives know how they want to be represented. And in California, the citizens have the initiative process, to exercise their right to democracy, when they feel their representatives are not listening to them. Bob is not advocating doing away with the democratic process, but advocating for a direct democracy. Are you saying that the voters of Sonoma cannot be trusted?

      • Robert Piazza

        The initiative process in California is the result of the legislature, who represents the people, abdicating some of their authority and responsibility. That’s very helpful particularly when you have a one party in control as we have today in Sacramento.
        That being said the issue at hand is the City of Sonoma, not the state and Sacramento.
        As those who support Measure B will soon find out, the voters can be trusted to express their choice. The only question is if those that actually vote represent the choice of the majority. Those that choose not to vote certainly cannot be trusted with representative government because they are too lazy or intransigent to have the right to vote!.

        And for Bob’s edification, I didn’t sleep through any classes let alone 8th grade civics, if that’s when it was taught!

    • bob edwards

      Those who slept through 8th grade civics class may think the ballot initiative process does “away with our democratic process of elected officials and appointed commissions when the process doesn’t suit you or a minority of the electorate”

      They’d be right. But they may be shocked to learn that the initiative process is a right guaranteed in the California state constitution. It was put there over a hundred years ago by the people, who wanted to rein in, go around or otherwise over-rule or motivate public officials who ignored the interests of the people because(at the time) they were dominated by wealthy and powerful special interests – railroads, robber barons and company presidents.

      The process has been used countless times over the decades, particularly in Sonoma, which has a long history of it. The Urban Growth Boundary, which has protected Sonoma against urban sprawl that has ruined countless towns, is but one example of Sonoma residents using the initiative process to protect themselves against powerful commercial interests that threatened their quality of life. In that case, while
      Council had the power to enact a UGB or put it on the ballot, they were
      influenced against it by the Chamber of Commerce and others. So the people did it themselves.

      A ballot measure is the ultimate form of pure democracy – one issue, one person, one vote. Those registered to vote in the city limits of Sonoma, even if they are multi-millionaire developers & company presidents, will get to vote on Measure B in the November 19 special election.

      As to whether Measure B backers are a ‘minority’ or not will be decided by a vote of the people. In a democracy, that’s a good thing.

  • Mike Stephens

    VOTE No on Measure B! Enough with this petty nonsense from the yes on Measure B Camp. They are full of contradiction and self serving acts. Measure B is not good for Sonoma period! if you took the time to go to the recent forum it was crystal clear. Let’s move on already..