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Santa Rosa Snippets - January 2016 - Elaine Holtz


Santa Rosa Snippets - January 2016

Santa Rosa City Council Has Been Busy

This year housing and homelessness were the priority of the Santa Rosa City Council. According to Council Woman Julie Combs the city now has a total of 560 shelter beds and Social Advocates for Youth (SAY) providing crisis intervention, counseling and community support to youth and families is in the process of creating more beds for young people who are homeless. The Homeless Outreach Services Team (HOST) (855-707-4678) a pilot effort by the city and operated by Catholic Charities has expanded its services. 

Mayor John Sawyer is optimistic by the restructuring and renaming the former Economic Development Department to the Housing and Parking Department. Their main focus will be on affordable housing and homelessness. Sawyer is encouraged by the cities “out there” campaign and invites people to visit the website where you can find out what Santa Rosa has to offer tourists and young entrepreneurs. 

Councilman Tom Schwedhelm is the new Vice Mayor. There will be a budget priority meeting on January 26th and the public is invited. 2016 is an election year and so far Councilwoman Julie Combs will be a candidate along with new comer Jack Tibbetts.

Diversity Workshop at Community Baptist Church

We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are” a saying of author Anais Nin came to light at the at the “Community Training on Implicit Bias” hosted by the North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP) Education Task Force in December. The training was provided by Chris Bridges from the Equal Justice Society (EJS) in Oakland ( The EJS is transforming the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science, and the arts. They use a three-pronged approach to accomplish these goals, combining legal advocacy, outreach and coalition building, and education through effective messaging and communication strategies. 

The workshop attended by approximately 100 people focused on exploring individual and collective bias along with looking at cultural diversity and its impact on us. As an attendee I was surprised to discover some of my fears and biases. The instructor asked us to imagine we were walking down the street and saw a person of color walking towards us. I personally was surprised when I recognized that I felt fear. According to Bridges this type of reaction is called “unconscious bias” which is more subtle then we recognize. It is important to note that according to Bridges psychological studies show that children develop an adult like understanding of race around five years old. It is my opinion after attending that all schools and organizations in our county would benefit from this type of experience.

New Location for Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce 

Good news for 2016: Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce is moving back downtown to 50 Old Court House Square in Santa Rosa. The move is taking place tentatively the second week in January. According to Kevin Stoll, marketing and communication manager, “with all the revitalization happening in the downtown area it made more sense to be where people could easily walk in, ask questions and get the information they need.”  

The new location will have  an expanded meeting room for seminars and workshops; the central location provides greater accessibility for business meetings and forums as well as being more easily accessible to the general public. “Their presence in the heart of Santa Rosa is critical to influencing policy, growing our economy and supporting businesses downtown,” says Julie Kawahara, owner of Kindred Fair Trade Handcrafts.

New Park in Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa Recreation & Parks is excited to announce the opening of Finali Neighborhood Park located at 1420 Range Avenue. Finali Park sits on 2.8 acres of land and features a community garden, dog park, large playground structure, tot lot, walking paths, a barbecue area, picnic tables and multiple grassy areas. 

Richard and Susan Finali purchased the original 28 acres of land over 70 years ago and grew prunes, walnuts and hay and raised cows, chickens and horses. The land recently was developed by the Wolff Co. of Scottsdale, Arizona. Adjacent to the park will be 270 unit multi-family housing development. Once construction is completed, the Wolff Co. will dedicate Finiali Park to the City of Santa Rosa and the Recreation & Parks Department will maintain the park. Agricultural-themed play structure details in the new park are a nod to the land’s history.

Elaine B. Holtz is producer/Host of “Women’s Spaces” Monday 11-12 noon & 

11-12 midnight. All shows on line at