Monday, March 26, 2012

BZA Hearing is only 10 days from now!

The Board of Zoning Adjustments Hearing for Ratna Ling Retreat Center's new Use Permit is just ten days away.   

Thursday, April 5th at 1:00 p.m.
Permit and Resource Management Department Hearing Room
2550 Ventura Ave.                            
Santa Rosa, CA  95403

Many of us are busy writing a presentation for the hearing arguing that our Resource and Rural Development (RRD) Zone  is not an appropriate setting for an industrial printing plant.

Your support is essential to the success of our presentation.  We need a large number of people to show up at the hearing and let the Board Commissioners know that protecting the rural nature of the West County is important to us and the county as a whole. (Wear something red.)  Land use in Sonoma County is a political issue.  The General Plan and zoning throughout the county are vulnerable to piecemeal change from  the pressure of determined, monied, special  interests.

The Planning Department has written a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) saying that the Ratna Ling Project has little or no impact on the environment or community and that it conforms to the purposes of the General Plan.  They arrived at this conclusion despite the fact that the printing operation must truck in all raw materials and truck out all finished products.  This is counter to the very purposes of an RRD Zone - to promote the production, processing and protection of local resources and land based uses such as timber production, ranching, agriculture, recreation and low density housing.  

The entire Dharma Publishing operation is at Ratna Ling.  Besides books for Tibetan refugees Dharma Publishing also prints books in English for western audiences, which are for sale to support the printing of Tibetan books.  Ratna Ling is asking to remove any limit on the number of books produced and to keep 39,000 square feet of book storage tents.  Any new mission to print more Tibetan books or meet increased demand for western books will all have to happen at Ratna Ling which will lead to even more expansion.  There is a very real possibility that if Ratna Ling is allowed to keep the tents they will be replaced with permanent structures in the future.

We continue to support the retreat center as an appropriate use in an RRD zone. 

What you can do:

1.  Come to the hearing:  
Wear something red to let the commissioners know you support stopping Ratna Ling expansion.

2.  Donate $$:  
Any amount will help.  So far it has cost $6,000 for office expenses, experts and an attorney to help us develop strategy and make effective arguments.  

- You can make a tax-deductible donation, on the internet, through our 501(c)(3) sponsor The O.W.L. Foundation.  Use this link to their donation page:  

and click on Coastal Hills Rural Preservation.

- OR you can send a check to: 
Betsy Anderson / CHRP
P.O. Box  618
Gualala, CA  95445
(donating this way is not tax-deductible)

3.  Share this info with your friends and neighbors.  They can sign an online petition at:

4.  Write a letter:  
There is still time.  The letter can be simple.  Just tell the County book manufacturing needs to be in an industrial zone.

Address letters to:  
File No. PLP08-0021, Ratna Ling Retreat Center    
Board of Zoning Adjustments
Cynthia Demidovich, Project Planner III                   
Sonoma County PRMD                            
2550 Ventura Ave.                            
Santa Rosa, CA  95403    
OR e-mail to:

Send a copy of your letter to: 

Supervisor Efren Carrillo, 5th District
County of Sonoma Board of Supervisors
575 Administration Drive, Room 100 A
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

OR Email:

Please also email a copy of your letter for our records to:

See you at the hearing.  Thank you for helping to keep the West County rural.

Coastal Hills Rural Preservation
Steering Committee
Carolyne Singer, Michael Singer, Ward Anderson, Bob Dickson, Bruce Johnson, Frank Locatell, Nancy Feehan

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