Continued Thomas Fogle
I understand that the need for affordable housing in Sonoma is real. However, I do not feel that the existing plan is anywhere near acceptable for, or considerate of the existing residents in the neighborhood. It is not my opinion that the project should be stopped, it is my opinion that the project is flawed in many ways. Flaws that need to be fixed to minimize the project’s impacts and make it congruent with the surrounding city elements.
First and foremost on my list of concerns is traffic. This is the only topic on which I will write today, as it needs the most space.
There is no doubt that construction of residential units in the density currently proposed will create no less than 125 additional daily automobile trips to the immediate neighborhood. It’s not even out of the question that the project will bring 75 to 100 additional parking place requirements, for which the project only allows approximately 50. The additional vehicles will undoubtedly be parked on Clay Street and Broadway.
Now, in case you haven’t noticed (and I’m sure you haven’t) the truck traffic to The Lodge at Sonoma is heavy and constant. The majority of Sonoma residents never see this traffic because it is exclusively to the side loading area of that property on Clay Street. Regular, daily deliveries from multiple vendors and delivery trucks, some up to six axles in size, park in variously creative arrangements on Clay Street, often times blocking all but one lane of traffic on Clay, assuming that no one is parked along the north side of the street. Imagine now, a driveway immediately across from the loading area of The Lodge, and 20 or more additional parked cars in the immediate area. This will essentially create a road block to the neighborhood that Clay Street connects to Broadway, as well as a significant number of additional trips to Fryer Creek and Newcomb for re-routed residents.
Unless The Lodge agrees to completely move it’s loading area off of Clay Street to a different part of its property, there is no conceivable way to place a driveway on Clay Street for 49 units that will not result in flared tempers, conflict among the neighbors and undue pressure on The Lodge to rearrange it’s property or significantly curtail their delivery hours of operation.
Also of concern should be that Clay Street serves as overflow parking for not only the employees at The Lodge but for Train Town as well. On a typical weekend, it is not unusual to find cars parked along both sides of Clay Street the entire distance between Broadway and Bragg Street. Adding a significant number of residents’ parked cars to Clay Street will only serve to drive the families visiting Train Town further into the neighborhood where they will put additional pressure on a residential neighborhood where children are often found playing in the street.
So, in summary, the density of units and current project plan that is proposed for the project at 20269 Broadway is unrealistic in every way regarding traffic use and parking. If the project is constructed in such a manner it will result in undue pressure on The Lodge to make serious changes to its operations, decrease of access to the neighborhood served by Clay Street, and increased traffic on the other entrances to the neighborhood.
In my opinion, a full Environmental Impact Study needs to be undertaken that includes all of the elements mentioned in this letter, including a current traffic count, a study of the Lodge’s existing commercial vehicle traffic operations on Clay Street, and the number of peak expected parking spaces required to accommodate Train Town before the project proceeds any further. Anything less will not only be an insult to the residents in the neighborhood but a slap to the face of two of Sonoma’s premiere businesses.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to reading your individual responses to this email, and encourage you to contact me regarding this project by phone or email.
275 Pickett St.
Sonoma, CA 95476
Continued Anne Shapiro
We have seen the initial basic design, which has some three-story buildings...an unprecedented height in southeast Sonoma. Solving the severe lack of affordable housing in Sonoma by building "up" would forever change the skyline of this small, historic city...and set a precedent for higher building...thus destroying the unique nature of this preserved 170+ year old town. Indeed, city officials recently claimed that a three-story housing project design just down the street on Broadway was "incompatible with the neighborhood". We feel the project, as it looks now, is created for a larger community where several story buildings are common. The height and density simply are too large for our neighborhoods on or near very busy State Highway 12 at the gateway to Sonoma
The traffic at Broadway (State Hwy 12) and Clay St. is already very congested. The plan to have the ingress/egress to this project be on Clay St. begs the question...where do they go from there? A traffic light on Clay St. would almost be a given if anyone wants to turn left onto Broadway. It is already very difficult to do that. But a light there, in close proximity to Four Corners, a block away to the south, would seriously back up traffic that would actually block Clay St.
A proposal to mitigate this somewhat by exiting onto Broadway would have to be considered, and of course include approval by the Caltrans.
The project driveway proposed is also directly across the street from a very busy loading dock of the Sonoma Lodge...where large jackknifed trucks are present often during the day as they try Y turns there instead of further down the street (where U Turns are prohibited) after they unload or load. It is already a dangerous situation for the current residents who use Clay St. Safely adding the cars from 49 housing units is hard to imagine. Will a traffic study be mandated along with the EIR? Or is this project exempt from those also?
There are NO crosswalks on Broadway between Leveroni Rd./Napa Rd. and the High School, two blocks away to the north. There is a Middle School just across and down the street from this project...where students now have no recourse other than to wait for a break in the traffic to run across the highway on their way to school. The only other alternative is to drive the student from the neighborhood to the nearby school...seriously adding to traffic congestion. A lit crosswalk would have to be approved by the State...perhaps across from Woodworth Lane...to accommodate these young students crossing safely.
The proposed parking location on the housing project would result in nightlong bright lighting, exhaust fumes and vehicle noise for all of the residents on Bragg St. Trees would not buffer this intrusion. Parking could be moved along the north side of the property where there is a business that is closed at night.
We are wondering about the frequency of activities that might occur at the "community building" proposed on the corner of Clay St. Will this center include activities and classes that might require more parking for staff? This neighborhood is frequently "over parked" on the weekends (and daily in the summer) when Train Town is open. There will be little to no overflow street parking available.
We hope that all of these concerns do not overwhelm you on our first communication...but they are real for us and our group.
Please let us know if you have any comments to share with us. We can let you know when our next neighborhood meeting is if you would like to attend...and perhaps see the location issues in person. We look forward to hearing from you
Bob and Phyllis Mosher
Continued Lynn Fiske Watts
A good many people have read the SAHA proposal and studied the drawings of the site. We all feel the document is a first draft; like all thoughtful writing and creating, the plans must undergo several iterations and improvements. No doubt everyone involved knows there will be many revisions before consensus and harmony can exist. We are fortunate to have among us, in our adjoining neighborhoods, individuals who are accustomed to working with plans such as these and understanding the language used to express equations, formulas, and so forth. For those of us involved in other careers, we are experienced in living here and know well its advantages and shortcomings. All together, we are an informed group even as we hurry to catch up with the train that’s already left the station, if you will forgive the tired phrase. There are deep concerns over the proposed project, which have nothing to do with its purpose; rather, we are focused on how the project, in its current form, amplifies and intensifies all the downsides of living in the area bordered, roughly, by Newcomb to Leveroni and the east and west sides of Broadway to Friar Creek
There are major business concerns in this part of town that draw cars to this area from other places. Employees of Chase Receivables, the Nursing Home, and The Lodge at Sonoma park around here each day. There are parking issues here year round, but during the Spring, Summer, and Fall activities spike at the Lodge and Train Town. As a result, people flow into the area and park on all the surrounding streets.
Clay Street is difficult to negotiate on all days because the Lodge at Sonoma receives its deliveries at its dock, which is located on Clay Street. This dock is situated across the street from where the proposed project plan shows the only vehicle ingress/egress.
Based on providing only 61 parking spaces, this will support a unit count of 30 apartments. (30 x1.5 = 45 +25%, = 57 + 4 (for loading and staff) = 61 per code without exceptions.
Parking should be located on the north side of the site (adjacent to Chase Receivables), away from the residential property on the west. To alleviate traffic and congestion concerns along Clay St, the project entrance should be located on Broadway away from the residential neighborhood street and the Lodge loading area.
An adequate buffer, providing a visual and sound screen should be provided between the sites along the west property line. There should be no vehicle egress on Clay Street or parking along the west side due to noise, fumes, and lighting concerns which would be harmful to the adjacent homes.
Concerning the “buffer” between the development and the residential neighborhood
This so-called buffer is inadequate. A parking lot and a few trees do not constitute a buffer. The sound of vehicle noise, car fumes, and the parking lot lighting (which will essentially turn night into day) do not seem to meet zoning ordinance intent as a buffer. The landscape along the parking does not provide a sound buffer or visual screen as should be required by the Planning Commission. The landscape space width is not adequately wide enough for a landscape screen.
Concerning the high density of the proposed project
We are concerned about the high density of the project. Broadway is a high-traffic street without adequate crosswalks to the schools located on the other side. Mixed Use zoning allows up to 20 units per acre. This development has 24.5 DU/AC, which is an exception. The zoning height restriction is 30 feet but developers are asking for 36 feet, which is another exception. This allows for a third story on some units. This is not consistent with the scale of other Mixed Use developments along Broadway, which is yet another exception. There would be no need for 3-stories if the density was reduced.
Sonoma has a population of approximately 10,650. Placing a 49-unit public housing development in the City of Sonoma would be comparable to building a 772-unit development in Santa Rosa (pop 167,815) on a single site. The Housing and Urban Development preference is to integrate low-income housing throughout the city, not concentrate it into one area of the city. Also, it is preferable to have a combination of mixed income people in a development and not all low and extremely low income together. (Architectural design concentrating the poorest with the poor went out with development in the 1960's.)
We have questions as to whether the size of this proposed development fits the “Broadway Corridor” Code. Does it conform with existing land uses in the corridor for “small multi-family development?”
This development is not small and has the potential of getting bigger.
Concerning site circulation
Site circulation does not appear to meet City planning standards; it does not allow for emergency vehicle access. The parking along the West side of the lot is a dead end, which means there is no way for a fire truck, for example, to maneuver.
Concerning long-term management and funding
Low-income housing funds are drying up all around the country and there continues to be a dwindling of Federal funds. According to reports I read online, “From 2010 to 2015, HUD’s mainstay HOME Program, which distributes block grants to states and communities for assisting low-income renters and homeowners, saw its budget chopped in half, from $1.8 billion to $900 million. Funding for other programs has virtually dried up.”
After five years or so, these types of developments start to fall apart because there is no funding to keep them up. How exactly will the City and/or County and/or SAHA keep this development from becoming a run-down ghetto? Where is the money going to come from when there doesn’t appear to be a sustainable source?
There are other concerns having to do with accountability, construction project management, et cetera, but those outlined here are the most pressing at this time.
I attached photos of Clay Street and Broadway to help you visualize the existing, long-term problems with traffic. These cars and trucks occupy Clay Street—and they are parked precisely where the ingress/egress is shown in the drawings of the site.
Thank you for your consideration.
Lynn Fiske Watts