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About Us

We are a grass-roots organization that was started in January, 2002 by people living in the northern end of the valley. It was prompted by two proposals to build luxury resorts in the area: a 98-room $500-$900 a night resort, spa and restaurant on 27 acres adjacent to Chateau St. Jean and a 50-room $600-$1,000 a night resort, spa and restaurant complex (along with 11 luxury homes) and a 40,000-case boutique winery at Graywood, a 183-acre pasture just north of Kenwood, nestled under Mt. Hood.

Ultimately, the Chateau St. Jean project was abandoned but a lawsuit brought against the EIR findings on the Graywood resort failed, paving the way for the construction now widening Highway 12 to accommodate future resort traffic. Residents are still concerned that such concentrated commerce will have a negative impact on this region. The entire Valley is accessed through the two-lane State Highway 12, which is subject to heavy traffic flows throughout the day. The combined impact of bringing in 50 new hotel rooms requiring hundreds of employees to maintain 24-hour-a-day services is excessive for many reasons, including impacts on traffic, water, sewage, police, fire and medical needs. The continuing unrestrained development of wineries, tasting rooms and event centers is equally problematical.

The Valley's wine business is well developed, with dozens of wineries and tasting rooms along the Highway 12 corridor, most of which already host events such as weddings and parties and even large concerts. There are also dozens of bed and breakfast homes serving the needs of weekend visitors that have a minimal impact on the traffic and water uses in the area. There are over a dozen restaurants in Glen Ellen and Kenwood serving the tourist trade.

A VOTMA-sponsored study of potential building in the Sonoma Valley to Schellville showed a potential for growth that outpaces anything Napa or Marin have experienced and which gives us pause to consider the future of this agricultural and rural residential community.

VOTMA is not and never has been against growth or reasonable building out of property, its members are mostly residents and property owners who want reasonable, sustainable growth that will allow all to enjoy the quality of life that makes the region such a pleasure to inhabit. Since the initial reaction to the resorts, we have taken up a broad range of issues that continue to be of concern to residents, including the growing number and types of events being held (and consequent impacts on traffic), groundwater quality and replenishment, high-impact development, county General Plan policies that will impact the county and its future viability as a place to live. Currently, vacation rentals being used as party houses have caused problems in Kenwood and throughout the county in the absence of any rules governing their use. VOTMA is addressing that issue.

Over the course of years, VOTMA has sponsored public meetings, distributed of information, and has retained legal counsel and consultants to ensure that the specific and cumulative impacts of proposed projects are fully appreciated by the community at large. The Alliance reaches out to like-minded individuals and groups throughout Sonoma County to establish development policies and generate a political consensus about the viability of building concentrated resorts in rural areas. While commercial and agricultural interests are well represented at policy-making levels, there has been too little influence by residents and property owners who also have a long-term stake in keeping the region a viable place to live and raise families.

While high-impact projects are attractive to political leaders looking to fund mandated projects, like affordable housing, locating high use luxury hotels and permitting non-agricultural events in rural areas with poor access is bad planning on every level. The Valley of the Moon Alliance has tracked the progress of the county's current and major General Plan update to ensure that policies are considered and adopted that bring to bear long-term planning considerations to guarantee the viability and sustainability of rural life in Sonoma County.

Beyond addressing the immediate future, the Valley of the Moon Alliance has undertaken a broader mission to work out a vision of a sustainable community over the decades to come and viable methods of addressing future issues as they emerge in the ever changing landscape that is the Valley of the Moon.

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