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Rohnert Park Ripples by Jud Snyder - August 2016

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Rohnert Park Ripples by Jud Snyder - August 2016

By Jud Snyder

RP Town Hall Meeting in ComCenter

Another in the series of having the city council meet with residents was held Wednesday July 20 in the Community Center. It drew a modest audience, about 40 to 50 residents to the big meeting room Modest, for it had to compete with television coverage of the Republican nominating convention in Cleveland, starring Donald Trump. The Town Hall was scheduled from 6 to 8 pm, but the questioning period ended the meeting at 7:20 pm when no attendee had any questions.

Of key interest, Director of Public Safety Dept. Brian Masterson noted the downward trend in serious crime in the last 20 years is still with the city. 

He had interesting information about the location of criminal activity in the city. It seems the west side of the town with its many hotels and motels has gained extra attention from DPS officers as this side of the freeway advantages over the east side for burglaries, assault and battery, car robberies and thefts, prostitution and drug crimes in hotels and motels. Masterson didn’t mention the Graton Casino at all, indicating it’s a relatively clean business function.

The city still has plans to build a police and fire station on the west side of the freeway. The Graton casino will be financing its construction as part of the Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) it signed with RP.

Other topics discussed were bicycle riders riding on sidewalks, the continuing problems with the city’s homeless population, affordable housing and water supply.

Answering citizen questions were Mayor Gina Belforte, vice-Mayor Jake Mackenzie, council members Joe Callinan and Amy Ahanotu. Councilwoman Pam Stafford was absent. Also at the front table was City Manager Darrin Jenkins

National Night Out in RP August 2

Rohnert Park joined the rest of the country to celebrate America’s Night Out Against Crime, Tuesday Aug. 2, from 5 to 8 pm. Location was  in City Center Plaza on City Center Drive near  the Dept. of Public Safety headquarters and the public library, where the Farmers Markets were held.

Focus of attention was on the 60-plus men and women on the force, Police Chief Brian Masterson and his staff, and there was a lot of free entertainment including bike rodeo, K-9 demonstrations, Bounce House, fingerprinting, balloon toss, face painting, food, prizes and information booths.

Community separators are a hot topic 

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors have held several public meetings dealing with community separators to create open space between cities. The voters years ago approved a one-quarter cent tax to finance the work of the Open Space District in setting aside hay pastures, alfalfa fields and chunks of vacant land to build these separators. A lot of them are also valuable wetlands to shelter wildlife and birds. The District has done a good job.

Rohnert Park’s City Council’s keeping a sharp eye on the open space between RP and Santa Rosa. It lies north of RP city limits. 

Holly Avenue occupies most of the land in this area, but tacked on above Holly which is all neatly developed by Condiotti and other developers with three and four bedrooms, two or three baths, is Heritage Lane with an assortment of individually developed homes, each with a different architectural style. It appears like an afterthought from someone in city hall who decided the city needed a location for more expensive homes, not in the Holly Ave. development format. Heritage Lane borders the Open Space District.

There has been talk of building an incubator farm in this Open Space District. An incubator farm will train young men and women how to become farmers. RP’s City Council is against this proposal. They contend an incubator farm will have tractors, trucks and student cars and none of them should be in an Open Space District. 

The city council’s vote is not binding, the decision is up to the District itself. As of this point, no decision on the incubator farm has been made. 

Downtown Rohnert Park still in limbo-land 

Still rippling along is Downtown RP. Slated to be built from the SMART commute train depot on the former State Farm Insurance regional headquarters to wherever, the property is owned by CalSun, Southern California developers. They will no doubt tear down the former office building here and build a mixture of housing on the rest of the property it owns. Few formal plans have been submitted but SunCal mentioned continuing Downtown RP along adjacent State Farm Drive.

Work is proceeding on building a platform for the SMART commute trains, but progress has been slow and aside from the location of any Downtown goes, there’s little to discuss.