Most of us are aware that the Castagnasso property, East Spain at Second Street East, with the Clydesdale horses, is now being offered for sale. But you may not know that the RM zoning, has a zoning housing density that requires a minimum of 7 housing units/acre and a maximum of 11 units/acre. This would equate to a minimum of 19 housing units, and a maximum of up to 30 units on the 2-3/4 acre aggregate area of all three parcels. Just one half block from the Plaza, this will represent a major change in the character of the community. Preliminary development project concepts will be coming soon, and the competing developers will be meeting with the City staff to get a sense of the requirements, and advise on how the Planning Commission may react.
Irresponsible developers with concepts that are not sensitive to the planning issues defined in the General Plan and Development Code, need to be given clear direction from the City staff that these are important issues that need to be respected. The neighbors will be concerned that any proposals be in conformance to the General Plan and Development Code, and will want the City staff to clearly advise the developer to conform to these Zoning standards and guidelines.
What if part of such a unique landmark could be preserved? Most of the citizens in the Valley and many of the visitors would support such an effort. Ten or so years ago, the City and the Open Space District were discussing with the Castagnasso family, buying a conservation easement over these parcels, but the family wasn’t interested at the time. Maybe there would be interest from the City Council in exploring something of this nature now? The property is currently divided into three parcels, two fronting on Spain and one at the rear fronting on 2nd.
The parcel on the corner, contains the historic house and barns, and is a separate parcel, making it possible for an historic preservation effort to purchase this portion and save it. It is already a contributor to the National Register Historic Plaza District, making it a valuable historic resource. Perhaps the City Council and the Sonoma League for Historic Preservation could lead the community in such an effort.
— Victor Conforti, Sonoma