Tag: Sonoma

Sonoma County hotel sector expands despite coronavirus and wildfires

Despite the pandemic and a spate of wildfires, Sonoma County’s lodging sector has generated notable expansion, with another Santa Rosa hotel opening presenting the latest example.

La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Santa Rosa Sonoma started welcoming an increasing number of overnight guests after Labor Day to the four-story, 100-room property.

“I believe wholeheartedly in Santa Rosa and the resiliency of Santa Rosa in the face of pandemic and fires,” said Andrew Firestone, principal of Stone Park Capital in Santa Barbara, the project developer on Commercial Court.

The limited-service La Quinta with a pool has targeted a daily rate of $150, looking to capture visitors who do not need all the amenities of a full-service property, but want more than budget hotels offer.

“I’ve always wanted our hotels to be a springboard to the region,” said Firestone, whose company oversees five hotels statewide. “There’s so much to do whether you are wine tasting, mountain biking or going down the Russian River.”

The hotel follows the August openings of 132-room Cambria Sonoma hotel in Rohnert Park and the 142-room AC Marriott Hotel in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square. The Montage Healdsburg, a 130-room, ultra-luxury project, is slated to open in late November, while the Courtyard Marriott in Petaluma’s Riverfront should take first guests in early 2021.

The county’s hotel occupancy rate has been around 60% to 65% during the coronavirus pandemic, a reasonably good level compared to other tourist destinations, said Claudia Vecchio, president and CEO of Sonoma County Tourism.

“It’s pretty good comparatively against other destinations, certainly in California and around the country,” Vecchio said, noting the plethora of outdoor activities that still draw visitors. “We’re in a really good place when it comes to the kinds of experiences we offer and what people are looking for during COVID.”

The recent openings also have helped make up the loss of about 400 hotel rooms as a result of the Tubbs fire when three Santa Rosa hotels were destroyed in the 2017 blaze. That loss represented about 20% of the overall room supply in Santa Rosa at the time.

Meanwhile, other Santa Rosa hotels are going through renovations to lure guests. Those include the Motel 6 Santa Rosa and the Hotel La Rose. The Flamingo Resort started a major upgrade before COVID-19 arrived, but has scaled back due to funding limits, according to the North Bay Business Journal.

“You go through a renovation and reinvent yourself and become much more desirable,” said Brad Calkins, executive director of Visit Santa Rosa, the city’s tourist marketing agency.

There’s been talk of other ventures, such as a proposal to build a pair of large hotels near Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

But Firestone expects those projects on paper to provide the developers with struggles of financing and economic uncertainty during the lingering contagion.

“I think this probably gives people a bit of a pause in terms of ’Let’s see how things shake out,’ ” he said.

You can reach Staff Writer Bill Swindell at

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Sonoma County supervisors extend vacation rental cap to December

Sonoma County will keep in place at least through the end of the year a cap on the number of vacation rentals allowed to operate outside of cities, as county supervisors Tuesday sought to buy time before potentially imposing a longer-lasting limit.

The measure, adopted on an emergency basis, extends the temporary countywide cap of 1,948 vacation rental properties enacted by the board Aug. 18, but it does so on a shorter timeline. A proposal by staff would have kept the limit in place for up to 22 months.

The limit also has some wiggle room, part of what Supervisor Lynda Hopkins called “a very messy compromise,” that could have the board revisit the cap if it is reached between now and the end of 2020.

Hopkins spurred the wider discussion, with support from Supervisor Susan Gorin, the board chair. The two represent opposite sides of the county, the west and east, with the highest concentration of vacation rentals outside of cities.

The measure is intended to prevent transformation of a wider share of existing housing into short-term rentals, ensuring more homes remain for residents.

Industry groups have generally bristled at such limits and the board has balked in previous years at setting a hard cap on vacation rentals, wary of their value for property owners and the tourism-dependent local economy.

The full board was split over a cap and eventually settled on a compromise crafted by Hopkins: a shorter-term limit and the option of revisiting it before December if necessary to accommodate new applicants.

County staff, however, have pointed to at least 400 idle permits that could potentially be purged to open up more slots. They said it was unlikely new applicants would be denied in the next three months due to any constraints imposed by the cap.

The short-term limits are the first step in a planning effort expected to take at least a year. Staff members also promised to come back with more data in March before being able to craft a comprehensive strategy in the fall of 2021 at the earliest.

Gore said he would not support extending the cap beyond the first of the year. Zane said the county should be welcoming tourists back into Sonoma County, and a cap sends the wrong message. Rabbitt questioned whether the new regulation would resolve any of the long-standing issues with housing.

“I’ve never been a fan of moratoriums,” Rabbitt said. “I think they’re the absolute last nuclear option when it comes to land use. It’s the wrong way to go. I think the duty when a moratorium is brought forward is to move expeditiously forward to help solve the problem. But we haven’t identified what the problem is.”

For Hopkins and Gorin, the problem is two-fold: First, a dense concentration of vacation rentals along the lower Russian River and in the Sonoma Valley, leading to complaints of noise, traffic and general decline in quality of life; and second, their concerns about the proliferation of vacation rentals and

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Vacation Rentals In Sonoma County: Supervisors Extend Cap

By Jeremy Hay, Bay City News Foundation

SONOMA COUNTY, CA — Sonoma County supervisors on Tuesday reached an agreement to extend for three months a cap on the number of vacation rentals in the county, a far cry from the 22 months staff had sought. The unanimous vote kept the ceiling for the number of vacation rentals at 1,948 — the number of existing permitted rentals — until mid-December.

The cap was adopted as an urgency ordinance that the board approved Aug. 18 and that was to expire Oct. 2. The cap applies only to the unincorporated areas of the county, not its cities.

The Tuesday vote came about through a last-minute compromise that overcame the objections of three supervisors who were leaning against extending the cap at all.

Under the proposal fashioned by Supervisor Lynda Hopkins, the countywide limit expires in December but at that time, county staff is to present a new proposal addressing only those areas of the county most impacted by vacation rentals, the Russian River and Sonoma Valley.

The board on Tuesday at first appeared poised to reject entirely on a 3-2 vote the proposal to extend the cap.

“I want to help you solve your problems within those distinct areas in your district but I don’t think a moratorium and the extension of a moratorium is the answer,” Supervisor David Rabbitt said to Hopkins and Supervisor Susan Gorin, the board chairperson, whose district includes Sonoma Valley.

But one last attempt by Hopkins — whose district includes the Russian River communities of Guerneville, Forestville, Monte Rio and Rio Nido — to fashion a short-term solution won out.

“This isn’t a black and white issue,” she said, responding to complaints that the proposed cap could hurt the local economy, especially the tourism sector, was unfair to individual property owners, and was a blanket solution to a problem impacting only certain parts of the county. Both she and Gorin — whose Sonoma Valley district has the most vacation rentals in the county —acknowledged that a countywide cap was an imperfect tool.

“We do have a problem,” Hopkins said. “How do we go about approaching that problem in a more targeted way.”

She described the lower Russian River as being once a place of holiday cabins and vacationing San Francisco residents but that has evolved into a year-round “live and work” community that is starting to “erode” under the pressure of vacation rentals.

Gorin said, “I’m not necessarily supportive of this approach, never have been, it’s an urgency mechanism to tackle some of the issues … I would be looking for a way to put a cap on those areas that we have identified temporarily.”

A Saturday party at a vacation rental in Gorin’s district led to gunfire that hit five homes; no one was injured. But the other supervisors made clear they wouldn’t be on board with the countywide cap for much longer.

“Coming back, I’m not going to be voting to keep my district in a

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Welcome to Lake Sonoma


* As of 2 p.m. today (March 23), all public use areas at Lake Sonoma are now closed until further notice. This includes all campgrounds, day-use areas, boat ramps and the visitor center. We will continue to coordinate with county public health officials as we monitor the situation.
* Additionally, the Bay Model Visitor Center in Sausalito, as well as all fish hatchery tours at Lake Mendocino, have been suspended/closed until further notice. Please continue to check this site for updates. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause but safety first.

* Coronavirus Information – https://www.usace.army.mil/coronavirus


Nestled in the beautiful coastal foothills of Sonoma County, California, Lake Sonoma is surrounded by world famous vineyards and land that is rich in history. Created by the construction of Warm Springs Dam in 1983, the lake provides for flood control, irrigation and recreation. When full, the lake has a surface area of more than 2,700 acres and 50 miles of shoreline, forming the perfect setting for a wealth of recreational activities. We invite you to hike, swim, ride, boat, camp, fish, or hunt at our beautiful lake.

Interested in a tour on horseback?  Check out The Ranch at Lake Sonoma:  www.theranchatlakesonoma.com




The Warm Springs Cultural Resources Study was one of the first large projects conducted under federal historic preservation laws and regulations enacted in the 1960s. From 1974 to 1984, before the filling of Lake Sonoma behind Warm Springs Dam, the area was intensively studied by a team of archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, architectural historians, ethnobotanists, historians, and Native American traditional scholars. Before Warm Springs Dam was the last of many reports produced by that team, synthesizing the material for a general audience.

Unfortunately, by the time the report was completed in 1985, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had insufficient funds to distribute it as widely as intended. Funds for the envisioned future publication of the volume never materialized. A few years ago, the Anthropological Studies Center requested permission from the Corps to publish the volume elsewhere. This was granted and thus began the task of recreating a volume whose text resided on obsolete “elephant disks.” Rose White scanned the text from the original provided by the Corps. The authors proofread the text for the myriad minute errors that sneak into scanned text. Maria Ribeiro formatted the report, inserted the graphics, and made the final edits. Scotty Thompson and Richard Stradford helped us find elusive photographs.

Much as we were tempted to update the volume and revise sections we now know to be inaccurate or outdated, we agreed that such an effort would put the volume’s publication back another 15 years. So except for very minor technical edits, this is the Before Warm Springs Dam: A History of the Lake Sonoma Area as it was submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1985.


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Home | Sonoma County Regional Parks

  • Gualala Point Regional Park whale watchers 1900

    All Sonoma County parks are closed until further notice

  • Two children taking a nature walk at Spring Lake 1900

    All Sonoma County parks are closed until further notice

  • Spring Lake runners with fall foliage 1900

    All Sonoma County parks are closed until further notice

All Sonoma County parks are closed until further notice.

Doran Beach man with kite

All Regional Parks Closed

All Sonoma County Regional Parks are closed beginning March 24, 2020 to help slow community spread of the COVID-19 virus. The closure is made to comply with a county order to shelter in place during this health emergency and is in effect until further notice.

Learn more

Read Frequently Asked Questions

California buttercups

Get Your Wildflower Guide

Spring wildflowers are blooming, and we have an updated field guide to help you learn more about your local flowers. Download this easy-to-use-guide to your phone, and take it along on your next hike.

Download your wildflower guide

Gualala coast

North Coast Parks Lure Visitors

The ocean parks on Sonoma County’s north coast are a refreshing destination for hiking, camping, picnicking and exploring. Drive Highway 1 to discover the redwoods of Stillwater Cove Regional Park, the coastal trails at The Sea Ranch and the wildlife-rich estuary at Gualala Point Regional Park.

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Camper barbecuing at Doran Beach

Reserve a Campsite

Due to the coronavirus emergency, campgrounds are closed through April 7. Affected reservations will be refunded, Future reservations are on hold at this time.

For more information

  • When: April 11, 2020 from 9:00 AM 2:00 PM

    Mark West Creek Regional Park & Open Space Preserve
    Discover Mark West Creek, riparian woodlands, towering redwoods, and beautiful views and envision the land’s potential as a park. 

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Latest News

  • Published on March 23, 2020

    Sonoma County’s interim public health officer today ordered the closure of all parks in Sonoma County to further enforce the county’s shelter-in-place directive during the COVID-19 emergency. The closure goes into effect March 24 and remains in effect until further notice.

  • Published on March 9, 2020

    Spring in Sonoma County Regional Parks is the perfect time to see wildflowers in bloom, enjoy green meadows, hike or run challenging trails or just ample along at a slower pace. Regional Parks’ team members recommend Crane Creek, Helen Putnam, Shiloh Ranch, Sonoma Valley and Tolay Lake parks for some of Sonoma County’s best spring hiking. 

  • Published on November 15, 2019

    The Doran Regional Park boat launch has reopened following a major renovation and is available to campers and day-use visitors. Improvements include new surfacing, ADA kayak launch, fish cleaning station and landscaping.

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