To the Editor:
Until Sonoma’s voters approve an Initiative to control the growth of large hotels, residents face a threat from developers that would ruin the unique small-town place we call home. Residents can’t afford to sit back and follow ‘the process in place,’ as one Councilmember asks.
The reason is simple: Under Sonoma’s existing General Plan process, any conforming large hotel that passes environmental muster (not hard to do) and satisfies cosmetic objections can be built, regardless of how it affects the character of our town.
The Initiative will change that by putting the Quality of Life for residents ahead of the financial interests of powerful hotel developers.
The change is simple: No new hotel larger than 25 rooms could be considered unless the annual occupancy rate for all existing hotels and B & B’s in town hits 80%; i.e., until Sonoma needs big hotels to meet tourist demand, which is now less than 65%.
The Initiative won’t stop new small hotels in Sonoma or the jobs and taxes they generate. It will, however, tighten the General Plan that now virtually forces Council to allow all hotels of any size, regardless of need or impact on our town, or risk a lawsuit.
That’s why people are coming to Vintage House in Sonoma on Sunday, April 21, from 2:30 to 5:30 PM to sign & support the petition to put the Initiative to a vote. That, too, is a ‘process in place,’ and it’s called ‘democracy.’
Note: Sonoma's Bob Edwards is a member of the Preserving Sonoma Committee. This was sent to Patch and local other media outlets as a "Letter to the Editor."