Sonoma County releases business plan for climate hub at Sonoma Developmental Center

The county released a business plan describing “a place where key stakeholders, leaders and private enterprise can work together to find new responses to the ongoing climate crisis.”|

Sonoma County is throwing its weight behind a proposal for a climate action center as part of the redevelopment strategy for the historic Sonoma Developmental Center property in Glen Ellen.

The county released a business plan for the Center for Climate Action on Wednesday, describing the concept as “a place where key stakeholders, leaders and private enterprise can work together to find new responses to the ongoing climate crisis.”

The initiative is being funded by a $250,000 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.

“This business plan marks our latest progress in SDC’s future,” Tennis Wick, director of Permit Sonoma, said in a news release. “As we implement the state’s mandate to protect open space, construct housing and provide economic development, the Center for Climate Action and Innovation concept is already attracting interest that could result in employers returning to campus.”

The Sonoma Developmental Center, a residential treatment facility for some of the state’s most mentally and physically disabled people, closed at the end of 2018. Founded in 1883, it was long one of the largest employers in the region.

The state, which owns the 945-acre site, is in negotiations with Rogal & Partners and the Grupe Company, the partnership selected by the Department of General Services to oversee a redevelopment that could include as many as 930 housing units.

The scale of the project has been criticized by many residents in the Glen Ellen area.

In announcing the business plan for the climate hub, the county emphasized that it does not yet include a defined development project.

The idea for a climate action hub was broached at the Coastal Conservancy two years ago by its longtime board chair, former North Coast Congressman Doug Bosco, a Santa Rosa attorney.

“I believe the attack on climate change needs a place,” Bosco said at a Jan. 25, 2022, meeting. “I picture a place where the best scientists engineers, inventors, foresters, entrepreneurs, environmentalist investors, are invited to create a laboratory where synergy innovation and focus are directed at this most important challenge of our lifetime.”

The Coastal Conservancy is a state agency that protects and restores lands and waterways to help support local economies along California’s coast. It was allocated $500 million from the state legislature in September 2021 to support climate change adaptation and research.

Bosco is an investor in Sonoma Media Investments, parent company of The Press Democrat.

You can reach Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or On Twitter @Skinny_Post.

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