South Sonoma Neighborhood Project
LODGE AT SONOMA
NEEDS MODIFICATIONS AND OVERSIGHT
The Lodge plans to remodel its restaurant, many of its hotel rooms, and replace the landscaping along the Broadway frontage. It has applied for building permits and amendments to its Conditional Use Permit. We think it is more important for the hotel to build an actual loading dock elsewhere on its 9.5- acre property to remove the dangerous conditions on Clay Street before money is spent on cosmetic projects.
The Planning Commission should not issue permits or amend its Conditional Use Permit until it:
1) Agrees to build a loading dock that conforms to industry standards and OSHA regulations away from Clay Street
2) Complies with its current Conditions of Approval for a length of time. This includes the mandated stipulation of keeping the filthy conditions screened from public view.
3) Adheres to City Municipal Codes
The Lodge does not have a loading dock. Although it would have to rely on daily deliveries of everything from toothbrushes to propane to mattresses, no one involved in evaluating and approving the Lodge noticed there was no actual loading dock included in the site plan. The easternmost driveway on Clay Street leads to what's called the "service area," and it has substituted for a loading dock since 2001, when the hotel opened.
Calling a driveway a loading dock does not make it one. Residents of the neighborhood have long been plagued by the commercial traffic the Lodge attracts to Clay Street. Former Planning Commissioner Mike Coleman was very concerned about a public street being used as an alley and dock and he asked Planning Director David Goodison about its history during a public meeting, September 28, 2017:
Mike Coleman: The Loading dock is addressed by hotel management only. Clay Street is owned by the City up to the curb?
David Goodison: Right of way encompasses the sidewalk on both sides of the street.
MC: When a use permit was allowed 20 years ago, on 9 acres, and didn’t incorporate a loading dock on their property, was there an arrangement for them to use Clay Street as an off loading facility?
DG: If I remember correctly the use permit was amended to allow the use of that loading dock.
MC: On a permanent basis?
DG: Yes, as part of the use permit .
Whether and when a Use Permit was amended shouldn't be a matter of remembering correctly; it is an official document and should be on file.
We suspect it does not exist but if it does, we would like to read it.
If there was no amendment to the Lodge's Use Permit allowing Clay Street to be used as a privately owned loading dock, there should be no delay in relocating all activities associated with it to another part of the hotel's property.
Loading docks are notoriously dangerous places, partly because of the equipment that’s used around them. Trucks, pallet jacks, and forklifts are potentially dangerous and OSHA regulates their use.
The Lodge receives deliveries from drivers who arrive in vehicles ranging in size from box trucks to tractor/trailers to refrigerator trucks. Drivers use pallet jacks and forklifts even in the rain when the area is slippery. The "service area" is unsupervised, and even the biggest trucks don't use wheel chocks when they’re parked, whether parallel to Clay, jackknifed, or right in the middle of the street. (1910.178 OSHA Guide (7) Brakes shall be set and wheel blocks shall be in place to prevent movement of trucks and trailers while loading or unloading.)
For eighteen years the people living in the collective neighborhoods of South Sonoma have been exposed to many of the same unsafe conditions found at loading docks. Construction will begin at the 20269 Broadway housing project in October 2019, adding innumerable vehicles of all sizes. When construction ends, 200 new residents will move in and the safety risks will increase unless a dock is established elsewhere.
Clay Street is 38 feet wide, which falls short of what is needed for trucks to maneuver safely. When cars are parked on the North side, it further limits maneuvering space and drivers must make many passes to get into position at the driveway cut. Most drivers opt for using the corner of Bragg Street and Clay to make their turns. In effect, the combination of Clay and Bragg serves as a private enterprise's loading dock. This is unacceptable. Always has been.
A typical loading dock is situated away from places where people live and includes a raised platform and a ramp between the dock and a truck.
1) Deliveries at the Lodge occur 0-100 feet from the nearest residence, for now. When the new housing is completed, deliveries will occur 0 to 38 feet from residences.
2) There is no room on Clay Street to add the necessary safety and physical features to transform a driveway into a loading dock.
Though loading docks are places of potential hazards and must meet high standards if they are to be safe, the hotel has made no improvements to the area. Before the Lodge remodels, it must invest in the safety of Sonoma's citizens and the City should provide the expertise to help.