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BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GEORGE RANCH ~
by Danny Kaplan, with a little help from
Harold Marsh, Karen Everard and Steve Pease
Originally part of General Vallejo’s land grant, the George Ranch entered modern history when in 1942 it was acquired by James P. George. Mr. George had been successful in the Oil and Gas business in Southern California but for the next 40 years lived on this property. He named it the Lazy Bar G and operated it as a cattle ranch. The 1000 acres was 3 miles west of Sonoma Plaza and varied in elevation from 400 to 1600 feet.
In the late 1970’s one of a group of Dutch investors, Mr. Nick Sandmann, contacted a boyhood friend, Mr. Pieter Everard, a Sonoma accountant. Pieter apprised him of the George property and after some negotiation Mr. George sold the Lazy Bar G Ranch to Damstraat Investors for $2.1 million.
Damstraat Investors (named for a street in Amsterdam) then experienced a difficult few years involved in site evaluations, EIR’s, and soil, geological and archeological evaluations. Finally, in 1982 the County of Sonoma approved a major subdivision of 56 lots to be developed in four phases. During this time a financial rearrangement had passed the property to Centennial Savings and Loan.
The County endorsed the developer’s vision of a low density subdivision with underground utilities, private roads, scenic easements, and agricultural activities. Specifically, several large agricultural lots were delineated for cattle or sheep grazing and vineyards. Home building lots were prepared with scenic easements to preserve views from the valley floor and easements for hiking and equestrian trails. The open and natural concept included a recreational area with a pond and clubhouse.
When marketing began in 1983-84 the George Ranch consisted of 51 residential building lots varying from 3 to 20 acres. Two large properties, each several hundred acres were reserved for agricultural purposes and scenic preservation. Three other lots were reserved for vineyard development. The Georges kept their original farm house and its 15 acres and this parcel was only later incorporated into the George Ranch.
As a California Community Interest Development, the GR is governed by its homeowners through a five person elected Board of Directors. The Board supervises several committees whose responsibilities include maintenance of common areas, management of the GR Mutual Water Company and review and approval of building plans. Their mandate is to preserve the rural nature and aesthetic characteristics of the Ranch.
Today all but a few lots have been developed. Some homeowners are retired but many are active in various business and professional careers. The George Ranch is a beautiful and interesting area that has fulfilled the original concept of a low density subdivision with a rural character, agricultural emphasis, environmental sensitivity and largely secluded homes.