Clouds and sun

Supervisors could sidestep furor over Black Mountain

Billionaire Jess Jackson's controversial bid to rename a prominent mountain in Alexander Valley comes before the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, although ultimately it will be up to a federal body to decide.

Jackson, through his company Jackson Family Enterprises, applied last year to change the name of Black Mountain to "Alexander Mountain," prompting an outcry from many longtime residents.

But county administrators are recommending supervisors remain neutral on the issue because it does not directly impact county services and operations, said community affairs and government manager Jim Leddy.

The brief background report prepared by a county analyst noted that the Windsor and Healdsburg city councils both opposed the change, citing the historic nature of the Black Mountain name.

But the report also said there is not agreement among private land owners on the issue, adding there is "an apparent lack of consensus within the local community for changing the name."

"In my opinion, that is incorrect," said Gary Wilson, a Healdsburg accountant whose family owns property on Black Mountain and is staunchly opposed to the renaming of the 3,128-foot-high peak.

Wilson gathered a petition with almost 350 signatures against the name change. He noted that a Press Democrat online poll last year found 76 percent of 900 votes cast were against renaming Black Mountain.

Others on Friday also agreed the prevailing sentiment is against changing the name of Black Mountain, which dates back to the late 1880s.

"Property owners I know on the mountain are across-the-board in favor of keeping it and I would concur," said Rody<NO1>(cq)<NO> Jonas, whose family owns a ranch near the top. "Multi-generational people up there are in favor of keeping the name."

He said changing the name could also cause confusion among fire departments and emergency responders that consider it a landmark.

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