Business Plan for a Center for Climate Action and Innovation at SDC
The County of Sonoma, in partnership with the California State Coastal Conservancy, is pleased to present the Center for Climate Action and Innovation Business Plan (Business Plan) at Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC). The California State Coastal Conservancy has approved a grant of up to $250,000 to the County of Sonoma to fund this opportunity.
As a core occupant of the site the Center for Climate Action and Innovation (Center) could act as a future hub for collaboration and innovation, providing an area where key stakeholders, leaders, institutions, and private enterprise can work together to find new responses to the ongoing climate crisis. The Center could provide valuable economic contributions in the form of research and development activity that would add new jobs and diversity to the county economy while confirming Sonoma County’s place at the forefront of climate resilience and adaptation research.
The proposed center would work in conjunction with any proposed housing or commercial opportunities that might be built at the site in the future. It could provide opportunities for developing resilient products, processes, and services to benefit not only residents of Sonoma County, but all Californians in their daily lives. This might include research into innovation in water reuse, microgrid and alternative energy production, low-carbon mobility, vegetation management, fire safety technology, regenerative agriculture, vermiculture technology, equitable farm starts and their contribution to climate adaptation. This center would be a hub for climate leaders, innovators, entrepreneurs, institutions, and the public to come together to find and demonstrate novel solutions and mitigations to address the climate crisis using the beautiful SDC campus as a backdrop.
View the finalized document available now: The Business Plan for a Center for Climate Action and Innovation (PDF)
What is the Plan? How Does it Work?
This business plan is solely meant to explore the feasibility of creating a Center for Climate Action and Innovation at the SDC campus. It explores opportunities the site presents, lays the groundwork for management and economic feasibility, and also shows what partnerships might be available to help make it a reality. As this effort is only to explore feasibility and does not propose a development project, the locations identified in the presentation held October 4, 2023 and the final document are listed solely for reference as potential opportunities on the site to illustrate what could be possible, demonstrated, or created there. Any opportunities from the plan that might get used by the developer must be consistent with the specific plan that was approved last December. The incorporation of a Center for Climate Action and Innovation into the ultimate development of the site places SDC and Sonoma County at the forefront of climate resiliency and in a position of world leadership by demonstrating what is possible when residents, institutions, business, and agriculture work together to meet the challenges of climate change.
What About the State and the Developer of SDC?
The goal of the effort is to demonstrate that such an institution is implementable, realistic, and financially desirable for the ultimate owner/developer of the site. Once completed, the document would then be made available to the State’s selected owner who could then consider what (if any) aspects they would want to incorporate into the ultimate build-out of the site. Our hope is that this can help the ultimate owner/developer take a climate leadership role for the site by demonstrating the viability and desirability of these ideas to incorporate climate resilient design and innovation from the ground up.
Does This Effort Affect the Approved SDC Specific Plan?
No. The SDC Specific Plan will be unaffected and unchanged by this effort. Any options or opportunities used from the Center for Climate Action and Innovation Business Plan by the ultimate developer of the site will need to conform with the SDC Specific Plan. As this effort is only to explore feasibility and does not propose a development project, the locations identified in October’s presentation and the final document are listed solely for reference as potential opportunities on the site to demonstrate what could be possible, demonstrated, or created there.
What Outreach Has Been Done?
As the scope of this Business Plan is primarily to demonstrate feasibility, financial desirability, and climate resiliency opportunities, outreach has been focused on speaking with local, national, and global climate leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators. Several dozen stakeholder interviews have been completed with organizations from around Sonoma County and the nation. From these conversations we’ve learned valuable lessons from those actively working in the climate adaptation sector to make this study as sound as possible. This outreach informed the final document and created a wealth of information for Sonoma County to continue to draw on.
On October 4, 2023 a Public Workshop was held to inform the public about key components of the plan while soliciting feedback on the initiative. This workshop provided a real time forum to further introduce and discuss key business plan recommendations and priorities, allowing the team to further refine the framework of the plan and consider implementation goals.
- October 4, 2023 Public Workshop Video (YouTube)
- October 4, 2023 Public Workshop Presentation Slides (PDF: 13.07 MB)
With the Business Plan for a Center for Climate Action and Innovation finalized, the document can support the future development of a world-class collaboration space that advances innovation and helps break down barriers between public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders. We envision the Center for Climate Action and Innovation as a compatible and long-term neighbor in Sonoma Valley, a hub that utilizes the SDC’s natural and built environment and brings environmental leaders, stakeholders, and the public together to research and demonstrate actionable climate change solutions.
This plan demonstrates what is possible when local government, developers, climate leaders, and the public work together to build something that addresses the challenges presented by our changing climate while meeting the needs of the people it supports. In conclusion, the success of the CCAI hinges on robust collaboration across public, private, and philanthropic sectors, coupled with effective governance, innovative infrastructure, and community engagement. By implementing the recommendations outlined in this report, the CCAI can become a beacon of climate adaptation and sustainability, driving positive change in Sonoma County and beyond while implementing important environmental policy outlined in the Specific Plan.
Now that the Business Plan is completed, Permit Sonoma has provided it to the State of California, Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, the appointed developer of the site, and the public in an effort to show what is possible and build on the momentum of this project.
Business Plan Vision
On December 16, 2022 Sonoma County (County) adopted a visionary Specific Plan that charts a course for new land uses, zoning regulations, and policies, designed to foster a community envisioned to become a catalyst for climate resilience, sustainability, and community well-being for the future redevelopment of the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC).
Following adoption of the SDC Specific Plan the California State Coastal Conservancy awarded a $250,000 grant to the County of Sonoma to craft a comprehensive Business Plan aimed at exploring the establishment of a Center for Climate Action and Innovation in October of 2022.
This center is envisioned to be a core occupant of the site and a hub for collaboration and innovation, an area where key stakeholders, leaders, institutions, and private enterprise can work together to find new responses to the ongoing climate crisis. The Center for Climate Action and Innovation is envisioned to provide valuable economic contributions in the form of research and development activity that would add new jobs and diversity to the County economy. The challenge is to determine a path to realization that is practical and achievable.
This initiative consists of the creation of a Business Plan for the Center for Climate Action, a roadmap based on a collective wealth of knowledge dedicated to crafting an integrated and ecologically mindful approach to buildings, infrastructure, and open spaces to create this hub. The plan revolves around the fundamental challenges posed by climate change, ranging from habitat restoration, food and agriculture, wildfire resilience, and water stewardship to renewable energy and low-carbon mobility. Based on interviews with county, state, national and private stakeholders and leaders in the climate sector this plan explores the development of two interconnected frameworks aimed at both institutional and site advancement.
The Plan identifies potential partners, governance and management options, funding options and financing recommendations for the center. Additionally, the plan makes suggestions on how to advance pillar ideas in the specific plan in a way that aligns buildings and open spaces with key priorities we learned from the current climate stakeholders who participated in the interviews. This Business Plan is envisioned to serve as a strategy guiding the County, State, the site’s ultimate developer and stakeholders in prioritizing and making near-term decisions within the framework of a complex and ambitious long-term vision.