Two Bennett Valley residents have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to overturn the city's approval of plans for a facility housing at-risk young adults in their neighborhood.
Charles Jensen and Robert Turley argue that The Dream Center proposed by Social Advocates for Youth will have noise and traffic impacts not fully studied by the city.
City planners determined the project at the former Warrack Hospital campus didn't justify a full environmental impact report. The Santa Rosa City Council unanimously approved the project March 25.
But Theodore Cody, the attorney for Jensen and Turley, argues that the construction of the project, recreational activities at the facility and increased traffic would all create more noise.
Cody also argues, in his suit filed April 23 in Sonoma County Superior Court, that the city failed to fully study the traffic impacts on nearby Hoen Avenue, Yulupa Avenue and Summerfield Road.
City planners have pointed out that if construction noise were reason not to move forward with a project nothing would ever get built.
An attorney for SAY, Rose Zoia, called the suit "entirely without merit." She said the city conducted a "thorough environmental review" and followed the law in approving the project.
"The filing of this lawsuit will not stop the project, but it will make the project cost more to build," Zoia said.
She called it "unfortunate" that opponents would add legal expense to a project needed to help Sonoma County's homeless young adults.
The nonprofit SAY proposes to renovate the former Sutter hospital on Summerfield Road into a 63-bed facility for adults ages 18 to 24 who are transitioning out of foster care or are homeless.
The proposal has sparked fierce debate in Bennett Valley, a relatively white, wealthy enclave in southeast Santa Rosa. Some worry that bringing troubled young people into their peaceful neighborhood will create safety issues. Others dismiss the safety concerns and feel the project represents an opportunity for the community to meet a vital need.
(You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or at email@example.com. On Twitter @citybeater.)
Watch the committee hearing
A bill that would streamline environmental review for housing in Santa Rosa got mixed reviews at its first committee hearing Wednesday. To watch the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality hearing, click here.