The Sonoma Developmental Center is a 900-acre state-owned facility in Glen Ellen, California proposed for redevelopment. The site has provided valued services to the developmentally disabled for a century, is beloved by the local community for recreation, hosts a key pinch point in a regional wildlife corridor, and is located in an area of highly valuable real estate. With this array of diverse values, the Center’s closure has been of great interest and debate in Sonoma County. PCI has had a leading role in the ongoing community planning process for this spectacular site with extensive recreational, historic, economic, and environmental resources.
In 2016, PCI worked with a community coalition led by Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, Sonoma Land Trust, and others to identify the key resources on the site, and to prepare a report highlighting the value of these to draw community attention to the need for planning as the Developmental Center came to a close.
In 2017, the State of California hired a team of consultants, including PCI, to further this planning process with a comprehensive, detailed study of all of the site’s resources as well as constraints and opportunities for future redevelopment. The team was led by planning firm Wallace, Roberts, and Todd, with PCI serving as the lead on ecological and recreational resources. PCI’s science, planning, and landscape architecture staff worked together to describe the resources of the site—from trails and a ropes course to salmonid-bearing streams and highly valued scenic views–and identify opportunities to enhance public access while protecting sensitive resources. The local community is passionate about this site, and eager to be involved in deciding its future. PCI’s role included participating in a series of lively community stakeholder advisory committee meetings and two public workshops, conveying the value of the site’s resources, and identifying ways that both recreational and ecological values can be enhanced. PCI wrote the recreational and ecological chapter of the comprehensive report on the site.