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Developer is dismissing community concerns

Posted on January 27, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Following my brief remarks to the City Council on Monday, January 23 opposing the First Street East (FSE) project, Bill Jasper, identifying himself as “a significant investor” in FSE, rose to refute my claim that the developer has not responded to residents’ and city planners’ many concerns.  (Note:  FSE is the massive proposed hotel and residential development just northeast of our historic Plaza between the Little League fields and The Patch, not, the West Napa Street hotel project.

“We (FSE) have gone out of our way to get community input,” Jasper said.  This is just not true.  In fact, their minor efforts have been nothing but window dressing.  After the project plans were already developed and submitted to the city, Ed Routhier (principal of Caymus Capital and developer) had two meetings with neighbors to tell us “what was best for us.”  Additionally, there has never been any outreach to Meadow Gardens, condominium residences​ on Second Street East that would be surrounded on two sides by the project; ​none to the north; and the only outreach to the other potential abutters, Vintage House and Little League, were lobbying efforts, resulting in misstatements of their views. FSE has not listened to ​and has ​dismissed the concerns of both residents and the larger community as illustrated by their most recent proposal.

While there have been changes from the first proposal to the current, third iteration, the most egregious, problematic elements remain in the plan.  Contrary to Jasper’s comments, three-story buildings remain in prominent locations defying the development code​.

​Jasper also stated the number of hotel rooms has gone from 60 to the current proposed number of 30. This is not true.  The hotel has gone from 49-rooms in the first submission to 30.  This is a classic developer’s trick: first request a ridiculous number of units, then request what is really wanted, while appearing to have “listened.”  Thankfully, Sonoma is sophisticated enough to see through this.  Never mind the fact that our city’s General Plan, Development Code and a City Council resolution clearly discourage and deem incompatible a hotel of any size in this neighborhood.

Land use, scale, mass, density, parking, traffic, a planned development request, and the effect on the area’s historic nature are all unresolved issues for the neighborhood and city, as well as the planning commission.

Mr. Jasper has a right to defend his “significant investment” in the FSE project, but he doesn’t do himself any favors by misleading the City Council.  Our neighborhood and larger community has every right to protect Sonoma’s charm, authenticity and quality of life.  This isn’t about money for us, this is about our community.

Karin Skooglund, Sonoma

7 thoughts on “Developer is dismissing community concerns

  1. At one of Mr.Jasper’s community meetings his response to community input and questions was, and I paraphrase:
    “You will all like what we plan to build and if we don’t get approval for our plans, we will build something you will NOT like.” Is this Mr. Jasper’s idea of working with our community? It is the threatening attitude and hostile manner of this Developer that has no regard for our General Plan, Development Code or community . We should all be greatly concerned about the long lasting negative impact this inappropriately sized development will have on our historically sensitive neighborhood. Hopefully, our City Council will see past their insincere and false efforts to “work with the community”.

  2. Tamera’s recollection of the developer’s response is correct, but I believe it was Ed Routhier who said that, and I’ve no doubt that Jasper concurred.

  3. Regarding my supposed statement, I never made any such statement. This is just evidence of opponents making false statements about the project without knowing all the facts.

  4. One more thing – regarding “concurred” – I didn’t know we had a psychic living in our community who knows what people think. Again stick to facts, not conjecture.

  5. Clearly Mr Jasper’s attitude is coming forward in the sarcasm in this very blog. This hotel is wrong for this neighborhood and there is , to quote Donald Trump, yuge opposition in this community to this project. I think we can all have a talk about it Thursday evening at the planning commission meeting. This project is a long way from being a ” done ” deal. Maybe a small bed and breakfast would be nice in this area but what he has in mind just won’t fit. And three story buildings are outside the plan of our city. You just can’t come into Sonoma and push us around mr Jasper – Even if your name is just like my favorite town in Canada…..

  6. Mr. Jasper is correct that I should not have assumed that we would say the same provocative thing that Mr. Routhier said, and for that I apologize. However, his statements at the last Planning Commission meeting that I refer to in my original post are correct, and he is on tape, and was heard by everyone in the room and those viewing at home.

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