Congratulations to the Friends of Chanate for slowing the sweetheart deal between Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane and the Bill Gallaher development company. Let's not give away this long-time public asset and community hospital site. Now with a bit of breathing room, as the supervisor prepares to spend more taxpayer money on the appeal process, the community should be allowed into the planning process for this site before it is sold to anyone.
Especially helpful would be to allow Sonoma County veterans, who are not real estate brokers and developers, to be a part of the housing planning and design process. Projects like the Palms Inn (see The Paper, p10) are not the best way to help veterans in need of housing. That project has helped the owners of the motel to become politically active, but it is more like a last resort for many truly needy homeless veterans to live out their last days.
In March 2017, the Sonoma County Grand Jury report recommended the Chanate site be used to help house the homeless before it was sold. Now is an excellent time for county officials to get off their overpaid duffs and truly help veterans instead of just trying to "pimp" them out for development projects using the funding from the Section 8 vouchers that some have.
Even better, I urge the county not to appeal the court's decision to block the project and instead rework the entire effort to sell the property. As an alternative, why not lease the property to housing developers who agree to provide veterans housing first? Otherwise, please stop blowing smoke our way. Veterans are not stupid and know what is really happening here.
Duane De Witt lives in Santa Rosa.
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