Report offers snapshot of Valley

Policymakers and others interested in comparing the well being of Sonoma Valley residents neighborhood-by-neighborhood, now have an easy tool to do so: “A Portrait of Sonoma County.”

That’s the name of a larger report, commissioned by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, which can be broken down regionally or by census tract using the metrics of life expectancy, education and income.

A number of local leaders, including 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin, Juan Hernandez of La Luz Center and Sonoma Valley Unified School District Superintendent Louann Carlomagno, are scheduled to discuss the report’s findings at a community meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 24 at the Sonoma Valley Grange.

The report describes itself as “an in-depth look at how residents of Sonoma County are faring in three fundamental areas of life: health, access to knowledge, and living standards.”

In the area of health, for example, the report finds that “Sonoma County residents have an average life expectancy of 81.0 – two years longer than the national average of 79.0 but just under California’s life expectancy of 81.2.” But it adds, “An entire decade separates the life expectancies in the top and bottom census tracts.”

Where are these top and bottom tracts? The report lists high-end communities such as Bennett Valley and Sea Ranch as places where average life expectancy, for example, hovers in the mid-80s. At the other end of the scale, in places like downtown Santa Rosa and Kenwood/Glen Ellen, life expectancy is in the mid-70s.

Education and earnings follow a similar pattern, the report finds. In Sonoma Valley alone, downtown Sonoma tops the “median earnings” list at $42,835, while Fetters Springs/Agua Caliente West shows a median earnings of $19,444 by comparison.

“To be great, a community has to be exceptional for everyone. Not just pockets of people, but everyone,” said Gorin in a statement.

The community forum is co-hosted by the Sonoma Valley Fund and La Luz Center and will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 24. Sonoma Valley Grange is located at 18627 Highway 12, Sonoma. The event is free and all are invited, although space is limited. To sign up, send an email to or call Joshua Rymer at 570-9652 before Saturday, Sept. 20.

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