Budget Includes Open Space Funding for Sonoma Developmental Center

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

SONOMA – Sens. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, and Mike McGuire, D-North Coast, today lauded a budget proposal from Gov. Gavin Newsom that will ensure the open space at Sonoma Developmental Center is properly protected and managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Under the open-space proposal, California State Parks can also work with local partners including Sonoma County Regional Parks to ensure the land’s best use.

“Recognizing the value of this precious land, we passed a law to preserve it for generations to come. Now we have the means to do it,” Sen. Dodd said. “Everyone is eager to see it properly managed for the benefit of all Sonoma County residents. This budget proposal achieves that through oversight by State Parks, in partnership with local parks departments and nonprofits. I thank Sen. McGuire for being such a great partner as well as community members for continuing to support and advocate for this incomparable open space. We’ll be working together to ensure the proposal is finalized and approved by the Legislature this summer.”

“SDC is truly a special place,” said Sen. McGuire. “The open space and wildlands have always been a treasured part of the property and thanks to today’s state investment, the open space will be protected forever. Sen. Dodd and I made a promise to the community years ago that the vast majority of the SDC property would be permanently protected. And, today, that promise was kept. Over 80% of the property will be permanently protected by the state. Obviously, there’s more work to come and I’m excited to partner with Sen. Dodd to flesh out the final details on the open space and public access in the coming few months.”

The $3 million allocated in Gov. Newsom’s budget would fund oversight of about 765 acres of the 945-acre Sonoma Development Center as open space. The money would cover California State Parks’ equipment and operational costs, and fund projects such as fire mitigation and improvements for habitat and the public. Preservation of the land was previously guaranteed under a law secured by Sens. Dodd and McGuire several years ago.

The proposed funding comes in addition to previous significant investments secured by the senators to maintain the property. The center closed in 2019 after 128 years of service. The announcement also follows a groundbreaking in December on a new, $700,000 memorial on the site that pays tribute to more than 1,400 people buried in its cemetery in unmarked graves. The senators were instrumental in securing that funding as well. 

The property is adjacent to both Jack London State Park and Sonoma Valley Regional Park, and part of a critical wildlife corridor. 



Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Yolo, Sonoma, Contra Costa, and Sacramento counties. You can learn more about the district and Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.