At almost 1,000 acres the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC) property is the largest and most significant unprotected land in the Sonoma Valley. In addition to providing services for developmentally disabled individuals, this property is situated at the heart of the Sonoma Valley wildlife corridor, a crucial passage for wildlife that extends over 5 miles from Sonoma Mountain to the Mayacamas Mountains and is at risk of being developed.
- Retain the Sonoma Developmental Services on the property, and explore other complementary and appropriate uses within the footprint of the facilities.
- Advocate for the permanent protection of the open land on the SDC property and the essential services it provides, such as habitat and movement corridors for wildlife, clean and ample drinking water, a place of beauty for us to enjoy, and carbon sequestration.
- Expand public access and recreation opportunities compatible with the protection of the property’s conservation values, including the development of new trails and connections to existing trails on Sonoma Mountain, and potentially across Sonoma Valley to the complex of protected lands within the Mayacamas Mountains.
Coalition members include: Audubon Canyon Ranch, Parent Hospital Association, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Sonoma County Regional Parks Department, Sonoma County Water District, Sonoma Ecology Center, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Mountain Preservation, Valley of the Moon Natural History Association, Supervisor Susan Gorin, Congressman Mike Thompson, Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada and State Senator Noreen Evans.
What Is at Risk:
The loss of the SDC facilities and open space to incompatible development would have far-reaching consequences, affecting hundreds of patients and their families, 1200 employees, support services in the local community, critical habitat for fish and wildlife, and the potential for recreation and public access.
Sustainable SDC Services
The property is home to a state facility that is served developmentally disabled people for more than 120 years and occupies up approximately 20% of the property (200 acres). The Parent Hospital Association was established in the 1950s by parents, family members, and friends of patients living at SDC to improve conditions, and advocate on behalf of all people who need the specialized care that the center provides period the campus provides clients with access to the outdoors in the safe and beautiful setting. The SDC is the largest employer in the Valley and is an integral part of the Sonoma Valley community and its economic vitality.
Diverse Habitat and Connected Corridors for Wildlife
The SDC property contains oak woodlands, Douglas fir forests, redwoods, grasslands, lakes, wetlands, and streams. Deer, mountain lion, coyote, bobcat, and rare species such as steelhead trout, northern spotted owl, and California red-legged frog live here. Sonoma Creek, which runs through SDC for about three quarters of a mile, is one of the county’s most significant streams for steelhead. In addition the property provides significant water resources for the surrounding community.
Permanent protection of the undeveloped portions of the SDC will link over 9000 acres of protected land home to many rare native plants and animals. The property is recognized as a regionally significant linkage connecting the Marin coast to the interior coast ranges of California. SDC is the last large undeveloped property in Sonoma Valley, and the loss of its exceptional habit to incompatible development will likely have devastating effects on wildlife movement across the Valley.
SDC is the single large property in Sonoma Valley poised to recreationally connect Sonoma Mountain and Jack London State Park to Sonoma Valley Regional Park, with its network of publicly accessible lands, bikeways, and transit operations that link to Sonoma and Santa Rosa.
There is substantial existing public investment in the land: over 12 miles of trails, equestrian, group and camp facilities, and scenic lakes are enjoyed every day by the public. The general topography supports accessible trails that appeal to all segments of the population. This property can provide access to nature and healthy lifestyles in a way that no other Sonoma Valley facility can.
Thanks to first District supervisor Susan Gorin’s office for this information.