Folks around the Valley are looking to the City of Sonoma for an indication of how small cities in the future will handle growth. Like Healdsburg, which has experienced traffic and use issues around its small city plaza, Sonoma is faced with preserving not only its unique character, but its future. Tourists come to see something different that represents a part of California history both past and present.
Both merchants and city officials have worked to preserve store fronts and small alleys as they were. When the original hardware store burned down, it was rebuilt in its entirety to be exactly like the original with bricks sponsored by the community. If lost, Sonoma cannot recover this charm by building large complexes and spreading out into the Valley floor.
The planned hotel expansion so near to the Plaza will, by the developer’s own admission, cause traffic problems that will necessitate mitigation. Since the word “mitigation” is never clearly defined, it may take the form of traffic lights and wider roadways. Traffic problems will mount during the three-year construction period, diverting business away from the Plaza. Is this something Sonoma can afford?
Organizations like Sonoma County Conservation Action and the Valley of the Moon Alliance, as well as Preserve Sonoma, have looked at traffic issues and development throughout the valley. We need to plan for a sustainable future that includes growth that adds to the charm and quality of life in Sonoma Valley. The Sonoma City Council has done a good job of stewarding growth and so have the people of Sonoma. Vote “Yes” on Measure B to both protect and preserve Sonoma.