University District plan moves ahead
RP Council approves revised layout for 300 acres on RPX across from Green Music Center
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By Jud Snyder  August 2, 2013 12:00 am

You remember the University District Specific Plan, don’t you? It was the first of five specific plans RP has listed on its General Plan and the first of the five to be annexed by the city and then gained approval from Sonoma County’s Local Agencies Formation Commission (LAFCO). All this was done while city residents were upset about a possible tribal casino and its Las Vegas partners sitting on our city’s borders, and Sonoma State University’s proposed Green Music Center was attracting major funding for something they used to call Tanglewood West until Tanglewood East told them to cease with the identity tag. 

Where was the University District Specific Plan during all this fuss, feathers and excitement about a tribal casino on Wilfred Avenue and a huge music hall on RP Expressway?

Well, UDSP bulldozed and scraped almost all their acreage, built a 200-foot buffer along Petaluma Hill Road for wetland conservation channels, drew up housing plans and showed ‘em to city hall denizens.


The recession hits

Then the roof caved in. The housing boom, rife with greed and low-interest loans, collapsed like a leaky balloon, and the entire country was nearly dumped into a grotesque recession until the feds came to the rescue with loads of money, dubbed “bailouts” by the media. They propped up an ailing Wall Street, big banks and automobile builders to pull the country back to its feet, where it somewhat shakily stands now. 

But it didn’t help the UDSP or its brokers like Vast Oak properties or Brookfield Homes. Like a 17-year cicada, they had to fold their tents until the dismal worldwide development scene more or less came to its senses. It has and times have changed. 


Revised UDSP unveiled

Now, Kevin Pohlson, of Brookfield, has returned to RP City Hall with a revised plan for UDSP. He probably spent more time years ago in RP’s city hall than his own office in Pleasanton down in Alameda County.

At its July 23 meeting, RP’s City Council voiced approval of the 300 acres owned by the UDSP and congratulated Pohlson for his patience and perseverance. Councilman Jake Mackenzie is the only active council member who worked with Pohlson back in the days of annexation and LAFCO approval. He looked at Pohlson’s revised plan and said, “It’s a somewhat different plan, but I’m comfortable with it.” He also noted “drastic changes” will be made to RP Expressway between Snyder Lane and Petaluma Hill Road.


Entry matches Green Music

This leads to the most obvious shift in the new UDSP plan. They plan to have a main access right across RPX from the Green Music Center’s main entrance.  It was further west on their former plan. This entry will be zoned mixed use and hopefully attract a small hotel, restaurants and boutiques catering to SSU’s music palace visitors. It’ll also have a traffic signal.  

The UDSP also would like to have a north-south road from Keiser Avenue down to Copeland Creek. This is because 90 percent of the homes will be on the north side of RP Expressway. However, there’ll be Brookfield homes on the south side between J Section and Green Music Center.

There’s a map somewhere showing the possible placement of low, medium, high-density housing, mixed use and public parks in the Vast Oaks acreage.

The decade-long saga of Vast Oaks and Brookfield Homes typifies the housing development scene in Rohnert Park and Cotati. The last homes built here were in M section, and that’s close to 10 years ago.

Nostalgia freaks can recall the days of new RP homes for $12,500 in A section. But those days are more than nostalgia now. They’ve practically turned into ancient history festooned with cobwebs. 

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