Santa Rosa deserves a better development. Sonoma County deserves a better deal.
Together We Can Make a Difference
On July 11, 2017 Sonoma County finalized the sale of the 82 acre historic Community/Sutter hospital property on Chanate to a favored private developer, who plans up to 800 new homes at this location. This is a bad deal for our community health care, supportive services, non-profits, local taxpayers and for the preservation of historic landmarks and open spaces. This property is also in Santa Rosa’s Urban/Wildland Interface, and is in a high fire hazard location, which has become very important to all of us after the Tubbs Fire.
On August 9th we filed suit against Sonoma County to attempt to change this bad deal.
Friends of Chanate filed this lawsuit because we strongly believe that citizens lawsuits are an effective – and sometimes the only – means to hold local government accountable to the law. We are not seeking to stop the project; we do want to improve it.
We are suing the County for three primary reasons:
1) Failure of the County to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which requires preparation of an Initial Study that starts to consider the environmental consequences of the proposed development.
2) Failure of the County to comply with the Brown Act, which requires the County to conduct the public’s business in public and to allow the public to participate in decisions that their government is making.
3) Giveaway of public funds because the sale – the Disposition and Development Agreement – does not sell the property for fair value, allows the developer to maximize his profit and sell the project, and does not guarantee the project will ever be built.
The best and most likely outcomes of the lawsuit include that the court would invalidate the Disposition and Development Agreement and return it to the County to:
Conduct proceedings in accordance with the Brown Act and CEQA to identify potential environmental impacts of the project, including the potential traffic and safety impacts caused by building up to 800 new homes.
Improve the language of the Agreement to increase the value of the sale and the project to the County taxpayers.
We Need Your Help
As the New Year begins, we face new challenges:
Attorneys for the County and the developer are doing everything in their power to delay our lawsuit – they just (5 months later) responded to our complaint!
The County is demanding an exorbitant amount of money to prepare the Administrative Record for our case (the “Administrative Record” is a record of all the documents necessary to prove our case).
The goal of the County and the developer is to make the cost of prosecuting our lawsuit so expensive that they hope we will have to abandon it.
We can’t let them get away with these tactics.
Our attorney has donated her professional time to file a motion with the Court to either set the cost of the Administrative Record at a reasonable amount, or to allow Friends of Chanate to prepare the Administrative Record (which would save us money).
Members of the Friends of Chanate are donating their time reviewing all the documents so that we'll be ready to prepare the Administrative Record if we get that opportunity.
Individuals in the community have donated their time and sent additional Public Records Act Requests to ensure that the County has to reveal all the documents relevant to the lawsuit.
With your support, we hope to force the County to reopen their sale of the Chanate property, force the County and the developer to comply with environmental regulations, force them to be transparent, and force the County to get a fair price for this valuable property.
If we don’t have the financial resources to continue to prosecute our lawsuit, the County will get away with this gift to its favored developer – allowing the developer to maximize his profit at the expense of all County taxpayers.
Please help by making a tax-deductible donation today – together we can make a difference!