Health and air pollution
Some residents have expressed concerns about the expected increased air pollution associated with more traffic and idling vehicles. It is well established that vehicle emissions cause respiratory problems.
The EPA reports one only has to live within 300-500 feet of a major road to be at risk for health problems. Exposures related to roadway traffic include higher rates of asthma onset and aggravation, cardiovascular disease, impaired lung development in children, pre-term and low birth weight infants, childhood leukemia, and premature death.
New Geography reports Air pollution increases with density. This results from higher traffic densities together with less volume of air being available for dilution and dispersion. Nitrogen oxides in this pollution have adverse respiratory effects including airway inflammation in healthy people and increased respiratory symptoms in people with asthma. There is consistent evidence that proximity to busy roads, high traffic density and increased exposure to pollution are linked to a range of respiratory conditions. These can range from severe conditions (such as a higher incidence of death) to minor irritations. Moreover, these respiratory health impacts affect all age groups.
There is enough traffic here already: We are near State Highway 12, the Lodge at Sonoma, and Train Town. Many people who live in the Valley use Highway 12 and Clay Street to get to Adele Harrison Middle School and Sonoma Valley High School.
The residents of the proposed housing project will be exposed to all these factors as well. It is possible they will be even more vulnerable to these environmental pollutants.
High density living and stress
The building of forty-nine apartments, some of which will have three bedrooms, suggests there will be as many as 227 people living at 20269 Broadway. City officials are on record supporting the building of even more low-income and affordable housing projects. It seems we all need to start bracing for a more urbanized environment. There will be housing developments that stack people on top of each other on what was once open space, diminishing our contact with nature. Many, perhaps most people who live in Sonoma chose to live in a quiet, low populated area because they have a lower tolerance for stress.
Hundreds of reports available online show the strong link between high-density living and stress, particularly social stress.
Urban living and mental health
Living in an urban environment is long known to be a risk factor for psychiatric diseases such as major depression or schizophrenia. This is true even though infrastructure, socioeconomic conditions, nutrition and health care services are clearly better in cities than in rural areas. Higher stress exposure and higher stress vulnerability seem to play a crucial role. Social stress may be the most important factor for the increased risk of mental disorders in urban areas.
Clay Street is Train Town's parking lot