Human Rights Commission calls for more time for development center plans – Sonoma Sun


Posted on February 11, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors is currently considering several plans for the development of the Sonoma County Development Center. However, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) believes that stakeholders have not had sufficient time to assess and weigh options that include sufficient input from underrepresented and marginalized communities. The current four proposals leave out key elements for the successful development of this vital enterprise. Therefore, the RHC urges the following:

An immediate request for an extension of the deadline for the elaboration of the comments and the proposal. The extension will allow for more diverse and inclusive outreach and engagement that will adequately integrate the voices of marginalized and underserved communities. And, the development of a truly fair, diverse and inclusive proposal that emphasizes:

○ Indigenous peoples. Long before the creation of the SDC, this land belonged to and was taken from our Native American parents. Nowhere in the current proposals are indigenous communities mentioned. Future proposals should consider Indigenous land rights, cultural preservation, and they must be equally and fairly represented in this process with respect to their stewardship of these lands for many centuries.

○ People with intellectual disabilities. This land was donated to the State of California for the primary purpose of serving people with developmental disabilities. We ask that future proposals honor the intentions of the family who donated this land. Future housing proposals, job creation, vocational training and recreational activities should focus on the inclusion and integration of people with intellectual disabilities.

○ Agricultural workers. For countless years, farmhands have been and remain the beating heart of the Sonoma Valley. The economic, social and agricultural luxury of the wine region would not be possible without their work and their vibrant culture. Yet the housing and material conditions of agricultural workers are almost never a priority. We ask that future proposals include this fundamental community.

○ A greater percentage of housing for people with low and very low incomes must be established. The low percentages in the current proposals are insufficient to take a meaningful step toward improving Sonoma County’s housing crisis. Amenities and transitional housing sites should also be included.
○ Creation of local jobs, growth of the local and diversified economy/businesses with a focus on equity. A greater percentage of jobs must go to BIPOC communities, people with intellectual disabilities and those who are most disenfranchised.

○ Strongly promote the use of alternative, green, fire-resistant building and transportation energies.

○ Preservation, creation and maintenance of wildlife corridors and local ecology.

○ Development of an innovative incubator for progressive and forward-thinking companies that are committed to maintaining the values ​​instilled in the valley, region, state and nation when it comes to environmental solutions. This incubator would create well-paying jobs and businesses that could employ future generations of Sonomans.

CHR believes that thriving and diverse ecosystems support thriving and diverse communities. This project offers us the opportunity to create a unique, equitable, resilient and sustainable model for humans and other species. At the same time, it is our duty to draft options that will honor and fulfill the mandate of the family trust that transferred the land to the state. Its stated purpose is to meet the diverse medical, spiritual, emotional and developmental needs of our diverse living community. It was never meant to be a tourist attraction.

— Katrina Phillips, Chair, Sonoma County Human Rights Commission



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