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LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS - January 2017

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LETTERS to Sonoma County Gazette READERS
January 2017

CORRECTION:

Vesta, the content below was left out of the column, Springs Splash, in the December edition.  That gives the appearance of support for the project and that’s not necessarily the case. When those assembled were asked to raise their hands if they supported this project there seemed near unanimous approval. There was no request for hand raising of those who might be opposed. Re., Trump victory/Student Protest, the high school demonstration was significant for the number of students involved.

Thomas Martin

THIS was left out…. 

Another view…At least one respondent commented that it appeared to her this will be a “glorified food truck” stuck in the middle of the Springs. She went on to say that after five years, “What then?” Will the container trucks for housing be dismantled? Or, will the owners move on and the Springs left with an eyesore across from the hoped for Springs Plaza?

Press reports indicate that Ken and Stacy Mattson who are partners in this venture have also invested elsewhere in Sonoma in recent months. They purchased the Boyes Food Center (Callé del Monte and Hwy 12), Sonoma’s Best Deli and Cottages (E. Napa Rd), as well as a home in Sonoma.

We will follow this new development in the midst of the Springs with great interest. Will it be a first move to improve the quality of life in the Springs or is it simply an investor’s experiment in a community of need? We shall be interested to see.

Springs neighbors join Trump protest…Following the election 300-400 Sonoma Valley High School students marched up Broadway to the Plaza to announce their opposition to the election of the Trumpster. On Friday evening  of the same week the mostly adult Trump Protest at the Plaza included many Springs’ residents. They waved flags, banners, and signs were met with resounding support from horn honking citizens passing in front of the Plaza/City Hall. Among those participating was a family that included students from Flowery School.


Hate Crimes

I am a student at San Jose State University writing in response to the article, “Op-ed On Hate Crime and Homelessness”, published November 27th, 2016. The article discusses a rise in hate crime, especially as we move into a new presidency under Donald Trump. A solution brought forth in response to this issue is to implement the “National Hate Crime Hotline Act”, which will allow people to report a hate crime committed towards them or others. I would like to take this opportunity to state that I feel this is a great step towards cracking down on hate crimes.

In my own city and on the university campus (where hate crimes often occur), we are instructed to contact police. However, as someone who has experienced a few hate crimes, it did not feel worth it to get police involved. I feel as though the police do not have time to legitimately investigate these types of crimes. I believe it will be helpful and more effective if there is an organization that specifically adheres to these issues. This is especially true if there are people like me who are skeptical of reporting a hate crime at all. It would be great for more cities and states, as well as college campuses, to get on board with this policy!

Londyn Pitts, San Jose


Local racism & bigotry 

Thank you, Betty Meritt for calling out the verbal assault incident at the Starbucks. You are correct, it’s the passive bystanders, the non-allies to whom we have to address ourselves. We cannot pride ourselves on any liberal or progressive identity if it is not backed with action. Take it personal folks!  An assault on one is an assault on all the rest of us. Stand up, be at each others’ backs, or don’t crow or complain. If we are not bringing in the light through the crack, it isn’t getting in at all, it’s just an illusion. 

Laurie B. Lippin


Housing the Homeless

For the Homeless Service Center, Sonoma County wasted precious time and money on the George’s Hideaway site in Guerneville, which was a bad idea and never part of the RASAD recommendations. 

An overall strategic plan is required to address the diverse needs of the River homeless community. Diverse solutions include housing, mental health counseling and health services under coordinated case management. 

The County has 4 sites that have been considered (Community Church, St. Hubert’s corner lot and Hall and two lots on Old River Road) and each site has big challenges. Instead of building another building and bureaucracy, we need to utilize existing service providers on the River: the Health Center and West County Community Services both already provide services to the homeless community. 

Strengthening and coordinating case management for individuals with the Health Center and WCCS housing would zero in on the individual needs of people who stay at the shelter or in outlying encampments. We do not need to devise another non-profit bureaucracy. The Health Center may not want to get into the housing business however, they are already serving homeless and an essential part of healthy living is housing. 

We can start now with intense case management coordination for both housing and health. This could mean daily check-in for those who need that kind of support. The Housing First policy of the County is well and good but we need to look at individual needs and provide services to get people off the streets. Ultimately, we need to address the causes of disabilities and/or addictions that devolve people into chronic homelessness.  

Jean Marquardt, Guerneville

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Housing the Homeless

For the Homeless Service Center, Sonoma County wasted precious time and money on the George’s Hideaway site in Guerneville, which was a bad idea and never part of the RASAD recommendations. 

An overall strategic plan is required to address the diverse needs of the River homeless community. Diverse solutions include housing, mental health counseling and health services under coordinated case management. 

The County has 4 sites that have been considered (Community Church, St. Hubert’s corner lot and Hall and two lots on Old River Road) and each site has big challenges. Instead of building another building and bureaucracy, we need to utilize existing service providers on the River: the Health Center and West County Community Services both already provide services to the homeless community. 

Strengthening and coordinating case management for individuals with the Health Center and WCCS housing would zero in on the individual needs of people who stay at the shelter or in outlying encampments. We do not need to devise another non-profit bureaucracy. The Health Center may not want to get into the housing business however, they are already serving homeless and an essential part of healthy living is housing. 

We can start now with intense case management coordination for both housing and health. This could mean daily check-in for those who need that kind of support. The Housing First policy of the County is well and good but we need to look at individual needs and provide services to get people off the streets. Ultimately, we need to address the causes of disabilities and/or addictions that devolve people into chronic homelessness.  

Jean Marquardt, Guerneville

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Make Building Permits Affordable - Make Housing Affordable

It costs more, in the Bay Area than the median income of $64,500 to get permission to build on a residential parcel.

The housing and construction industry account for almost 30% of the work force in the USA . Investing in U.S. infrastructure is a priority for the newly elected president.  Housing is a nightmare for many.

We must house a growing population. Innovation suffers and creativity is compressed down, when people get fenced in, functional space is limited and regulators lock up development. The country urgently needs to build more homes. We need to fix our roads and bridges. Gridlock is damaging the human spirit. Humans are part of the environment too.

A huge roadblock to achieving this goal is the licensing and permitting system. We used to be the envy of the world with modern housing and great public works that created well-paying jobs and affordable homes.  This was the foundation on which we built the American dream.

Highway 101 widening has been going on for decades. It takes years to get through the maze of regulations and reviews to the point where you can start building. U.S. Highway construction projects, airports, dams and power plants usually take between 9 and 19 years from initial planning to permitting and completion.

The American Dream is fading. In the 70’s almost 90% of the working 30 year olds made more money than their parents did at that same age. Today it is barely half. We are over licensed, over regulated and over taxed.

The universe is expanding and we need to allow human life to expand. We must understand that people are part of the environment, too.  The costs add up in human suffering and dollars when housing is denied by regulations and NYBYISM (Not in My backyard).

Richard Paille’, Santa Rosa


Can we choose NOT to treat an illness?

Dear Kira Reginato,

I found your information relating to dementia to be very cold and sad and uncaring. Who gives you the right to write an article that wants us to believe your feelings and what a family’s outcome should be. You encouraged the family and the person to believe it is OK to say goodbye to their dementia parent because they in turn may have to make sacrifices and changes in their lifestyles. 

If they love their mom or dad they would leave no rock unturned. It was not their parent’s choice to get this sickness. You make it sound like leprosy. This disease is nothing to be ashamed of and it is not an Old Age Disease. Young people have been diagnosed with this. You go on to say and make us feel it is ok to not prolong this person’s life due to having dementia and go on to say it is OK to refuse them treatment for a simple urinary infection, treatable pneumonia, and antibiotics. 

What kind of human being are you ??? Do you not realize that this person might still have a strong heart, and possibly squeeze your hand and whisper they love you? I wouldn’t put my dog to sleep let alone by parent or beloved one. You pick a power of attorney so that person is entrusted to take care of that person. You think this dementia can’t happen to you? 

I feel sorry for you that you are such a chicken and don’t value life to the fullest, and because you have this disease you feel it is alright to take someone’s life.  Why is this disease any different from people suffering cancer and strokes? Learning how to walk again and talk again like a baby etc. I believe God gave you your life and He will take it when He sees fit. Yes you can choose alternative roads, but in the end God will decide your outcome. 

I sure am glad that I am not related to you or have you as my friend. I feel you are a very cold uncaring person and if you don’t have the will to live that be your choice, but don’t you ever try to encourage others to you way of your inhuman thinking. Right or wrong, everyone is given choices and you are Not The Almighty.

Barbara

Thank you for taking the time to write. It’s helpful to read your perspective.

To clarify, my article was merely offering an option, not prescribing a choice by any means.  The main thing is to capture the choices of an individual while they are still able to make choices. If a person wants to be treated for each illness for their entire lifetime, I would support and advocate for that choice, too. Certainly everyone has different beliefs and desires about how they want to live their lives. 

I agree that a loving, heart centered approach is best and know that this can be a difficult time deserving of support and comfort for all involved.  

I’m encouraging us to think and talk about this hard topic sooner than later and communicate those wishes. That can ease the difficulty when the time comes to face the issues together as a family.

Kira Reginato
Author, Speaker, Elder Care Consultant

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Dear Kira Reginato, 

The footnote at the bottom of your article refers to a form one may download and the implication is that it is a form that will be relevant to one’s wishes RE: no treatment for an illness if one has severe dementia.  My present Advance Healthcare Directive is in good order and I also have a DNR order and wear a medallion.  It is very important that disaster prep organizations in particular understand that anyone with a DNR under no circumstances should be given CPR.  How to prevent that can be a problem if someone happening by is ignorant or overcome with self importance.  I live in an adult mobile home park and have really tried to get this point across -- but good luck with that!  Wearing the DNR medallion at all times is one of the precautions I am sure you emphasize in your work with seniors.

Thanks again for your article in the Gazette.

Pat Pomerleau

Hi Patricia,

Thank you for writing.  To clarify: there is no “form” per se, that allows you to add dementia provisions. One just uses the form they already have, no matter which one, and adds their sentiments/wishes about dementia care. I hope that clears things up.  

Thanks again for reading the article.  Good for you for adding dementia provisions to your form.

Warm regards, Kira


Santa lands safely on Cotati Lions Club roof

Hi Vesta, 

My August Sonoma County Gazette column for Cotati has had a positive effect, while playing a small part in a huge WIN for Cotati Lions Club

Long story SHORT: After 65 years the Cotati Lions Club roof was failing. Enter new member, Rocky Burks. Note that average membership over the years has been around eleven members. Rocky takes on the challenge of removing the old and manifesting a new roof. There are no funds to replace it. 

I interviewed Rocky and the man who asked him to join the club, Mike O’ Neill. Mike served as club president from 2011 to 2014 and leader for ten years. Cotati Lions Club column gets published August 2016. 

Rocky talked to Lowe’s and every building company in the county. Then Burks’ wife takes the Gazette column to work and talks about the need for a new roof. Rocky was introduced to the head of Arntz Builders in Novato, CA. Dave Arntz discovers Rocky Burks have a mutual friend in nonprofits and fundraising. 

Four months later: Friday, December 2 Arntz Builders, from Novato, came to Cotati Lions Club to tear off the old roof. All materials have been donated.  Monday another company will deliver and install a new roof.

THANKS! Deborah Taylor-French


Wood Smoke

I live in Rio Nido, and was wondering if there is any solution to the many wood stoves over here? Is the county involved in this issue at all? The air is thick with smoke day & night & it permeates my home. I use a small electric heater only, and it works pretty well & hasn’t increased my electric bill. I can’t believe there’s no alternative... 

Thanks,  Sheila

 Poor air quality caused primarily by wood burning stoves is an issue the Russian River Alliance has been working on improving for years. The air quality here is especially bad, and Rio Nido is one of the hardest hit places due to many wood burning stoves, people who don’t know how to burn cleanly, and the lack of air circulation in the canyons. 

The county has made some progress in this regard, however much more can and should be done. Just because we live a few miles outside the Bay Area Air Quality Management District boundaries (such as outside of Santa Rosa, outside of Occidental), we in the Lower Russian River Area should not have to endure this situation or be treated like second class citizens. 

I have included Rob Bamford and Lynda Hopkins on this reply and hopefully they can respond addressing what steps the County is taking to improve the situation. 

I know the county has a rebate program for wood stove changeouts and the air district may personally visit offending neighbors if you provide their addresses. 

Even with a wood burning stove, if people are educated and forced to burn cleanly (dry seasoned wood with sufficient air intake especially upon start-up) there should be minimal visible smoke emissions. Unfortunately this is not always the case, and you will have some neighbors that refuse to change their ways despite the health effects on their neighbors. 

You can report addresses (it will be treated anonymously) to Rob for follow-up. We are hoping with new leadership at the county level that expectations and enforcement will improve the current situation. 

Another related issue we have here is the ease of obtaining burn permits for residential open burning. This too is not allowed in the Bay Area, Santa Rosa, Sacramento, or other areas I am familiar with and needs to be addressed. It will take action on the part of our County Supervisors to effect change in this regard.  

Again, thank you for your email and I hope the situation is improved.

Chuck Ramsey
President, Russian River Alliance 


Lawns into Gardens

Enjoyed your Dec article, Garden Delights by Kellen Watson - stirred up some old memories.

 In the early 60’s, in Daytona Beach, FL, we made a veg garden in the front yard.  Neighbors thought it was tre gouche.  

We had found  a gardening book by a New Yorker who had retired to Connecticut.   ‘How to have a green thumb with out an aching back’ by Ruth Stout.  Look her up in Wikipedia, she wrote other gardening books too.  

She suggested covering the garden with yard clippings to retain the water, keep the weeds down and to become a horizontal compost pile by putting kitchen scraps, except meats/seafood, under the mulch.  The garden soon had an abundance of worms, never had any odor and we didn’t have to mess with turning a compost pile or keeping a wee scraps bucket on the kitchen countertop.  The garden flourished.  

Those same neighbors dropped by to compliment us on the garden when the tomatoes started to ripen.  I thought of that as an act of subliminal begging for a taste.

Harold G.  


Belden Barns Tasting Room

I was appaled (once again) when I read this article, at the complete lack of knowledge, foresight and insight of the Sonoma County Board of Sups. I have lived in Sonoma County since 1960 and have seen it change from a once lovely spot to to a “vineyards rule” mentality. I’ve experienced the same thing in my backyard that the residents of Sonoma Mountain Road are about to experience with the approval of Belden Barns Tasting Room and it isn’t pretty. My road looks just like Sonoma Mountain Road: predominantly 1 lane, narrow, twisty. Board of Sups didn’t care. Bottom line in this county appears to be that if you want to open a winery or tasting room you can do it any where. I wondering when it will be enough? It’s enough for me.

Sign me “Moving”, Cynthis Rogers


5th District Election

I am astonished by your reference to Lynda’s “clean campaign.”  I’m wondering how you characterize last-minute full-page hit pieces in the PD containing outright lies.  The election was obviously purchased by the corporate opposition, organized by the Koenigshofer PAC. Lynda would still be digging carrots if it weren’t for this group and everyone knows it.  This is hardly a mandate.  If you want to align yourself and your paper with the Koenigshofer, Carrillo, Bosco, PD crowd that is your right, but you must be prepared to accept the resulting disaffection from those of us who are paying attention.

Sincerely, Pieter S Myers, Occidental

Those ads were Eric Koenigshoffer’s IEC - which if you followed me on Facebook you would know that I tried to talk him out of running them before they ran. But he was undeterred. And when he ran them I told him he was slinging mud on Lynda”s clean campaign - and still he was undeterred because he felt people needed to know what he had in those ads. As I have said so many times - BY LAW Lynda could not communicate with an IEC during a campaign. So - do you understand that those ads AND mailers were NOT approved by the candidate? - which they stated in print - BY LAW - and on the radio ads I believe Eric and his group ran. NOT approved by the Candidate. 

Communicate with Lynda directly on this matter. She is very open to communication. It’s one of the many reasons I endorsed Lynda. She is intelligent, open, I like her attention to detail and commitment to two-way-street communication. 

NOTE: They talked extensively

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Dear Lynda Hopkins,

Thank you for publishing the wonderfully lucid letter to District 5 Citizens about the outcome of the recent election and her thought on our future.

I was already convinced that Lynda will make a very good Supervisor, but after reading her comments, I am dead certain we elected the right candidate.  

Charlene Stone, Santa Rosa

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 Dear Vesta,

You do all the heavy lifting with the Gazette.  You’ve earned the right a thousand times over to express any opinion you want about anything—including ballot measures and candidates.

Something you and I agreed on was supporting Lynda Hopkins for 5th District Supervisor and she has certainly struck a wonderful note in her own comments this month.  How refreshing to find a “politician” who realizes she represents the whole district, not just her supporters.  Would that it were true with our new President and Congress.  Paul Ryan has talked about a “mandate” and one far-right columnist recently described Trump’s election as a “landslide.”  They “won” with less than a majority vote.  Hopkins (like Obama) is light years beyond such ideologues.

Well, the national election was a landslide all right.  Unfortunately the country itself is at the bottom of the ravine.

Arthur Hills


THANK YOU

A huge THANK YOU from Forestville United methodist’s FOOD CLOSET to all the 2016 grantors and business contributors, including, but not limited to: The Forestville Chamber of Commerce, Forestville Planning Association, Russian River Rotary, D & G Properties, Glover’s Easy Score, Inc., Nightingale Bakery, Ritchie Vineyards, Russian River Pub, Karol Schneider, D.D.S., Shear Pleasure Salon, The Service Station and Twist Eatery.  

There’s also a special place in our hearts for those that placed Christmas Collection Containers on priceless counter space in these establishments:  Forestville Family Dentistry, Forestville Pharmacy, Ideal Hardware, Nightingale Breads, Shear Pleasure Salon, Speers Market and Tiny Town-—plus the many individuals who placed their hard-earned cash in those Containers.   

The FOOD CLOSET also recognizes with deep gratitude the in-kind donors including Redwood Empire Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul, Speers Market, Forestville United Methodist Church, its members plus individual Forestvillian donors and our faithful & indispensable volunteers who make this all come together for a nutritious and life-affirming twice-monthly food give-out to up to 72 Forestville families all year long. As Tiny Tim famously said in “A Christmas Carol”, “God bless us everyone!”

Barbara St. Louis


It Matters Where You Bank 

Thank you for including this article about banking locally (April 2012). I am working within a local group that supports the Standing Rock Sioux, and our focus right now is to help build public awareness of the power we have to affect our local, regional and national  politics through taking local actions and making sure we keep our money in local institutions. There is a growing movement for divestment of funds from the “Too Big To Fail” banks, and there have been a lot of successes. I am following this movement very closely, and your information is one more source that will help people become more aware of how we can affect change. 

Linda Swartz


Trash Service Descrepancy

 I live in Guerneville, and I was going over my bill from Redwood Empire Disposal this morning and came across some disturbing information about our rates as they compare to the rest of Sonoma County.  As a long-time Guerneville resident and Redwood Empire Disposal customer, I find this to be quite concerning, and I thought I would share my findings with you.

Here is the text of the email I sent to Redwood Empire Disposal’s parent company, Unicycler (The Ratto Group) today: I would like to know why your rates in the Russian River area are so high compared to all other Sonoma County communities.  The distance from Guerneville to the central station in Petaluma, for example, is almost half the distance from Cloverdale, yet we pay rates that are 50% higher.  We are also closer to the the central station than Healdsburg, but we pay 212% more.  This is ridiculous.  How can you possibly justify the exorbitant rates you are charging your Russian River customers?

I have also attached a breakdown of rates taken from the Unicycle website.  I hope you find this information useful, and can bring it to the attention of more people in our community.

Thanks, Randy Tudor

Community Rate Distance

Cloverdale $15.72 43.8 miles

Cotati $9.80 4.5 miles

Healdsburg $11.17 26.7 miles

Petaluma $9.51 N/A

Rohnert Park $8.51 5.6 miles

Santa Rosa $14.68 12.1 miles

Sebastopol $11.14 9.8 miles

Windsor $11.11 21.4 miles

Guerneville $23.71 24.8 miles


THANK YOU for helping us keep our river clean

Now that we are in a new year and we ready ourselves for the work of 2017 it only makes sense to peek back into the past twelve months and add up our totally grass-roots, all-volunteer accomplishments.

This year, over 550 volunteers have removed 155,510 pounds of garbage from the Russian River watershed between Hopland and Jenner. Of that total, about 45,000 pounds was collected, bagged and staged for us by a subset of dedicated volunteers who are currently living without houses. None of that trash will land on our beaches this winter, nor will it end up in the Pacific Ocean – ever.

Clean River Alliance has spent the year expanding our efforts and adding more events to our calendar: 

A weekly town cleanup in Guerneville every Monday afternoon; 

An outreach effort to our house-less neighbors through the Vets Connect program every Thursday at the Guerneville Veterans Memorial Hall, followed by the pick-up of trash that has been bagged up and staged for us by those same neighbors in the lower Russian River;

The 29th annual Russian River Watershed Clean-up in September in collaboration with many other agencies and entities;

Other watershed projects to remove detritus left by beach-goers, tourists and campers; 

And, continued outreach and education efforts to residents and visitors alike on the importance of clean waterways.

None of this would have been possible without the ongoing support of many agencies and entities that have provided us with access, encouragement, in-kind contributions and fiscal sponsorship.

Thanks to Don McEnhill and Russian Riverkeeper for their faith in us and undying support. Thanks to the County of Sonoma, our Board of Supervisors and their staff-people, and the Sonoma County Water Agency for assistance when we ask, and for picking up the phone when we call. Thanks to West County Health Center’s Homeless Outreach Team for its collaborative spirit and ongoing encouragement, and to West County Community Services for all it does and is trying to do.

Along with these collaborations, we have also been honored to partner with other local community groups and non-profit organizations. Amongst these are Russian River Wild Steelhead Society, the B-Rad Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, North County Community Services, our local schools and businesses and many more.

Mostly, thanks to our utterly dedicated volunteers, aka: The Garbage Patch Kids, who continue to show up even when it’s cold and wet and muddy. Faced with the direst circumstances, they remain cheerful, understanding, passionate and compassionate. They are our most valuable assets and with them we are a growing, thriving organization.

Please consider a contribution now so we can continue to grow and expand our efforts in the coming year. To make a donation online, go to russianriverkeeper.org/what-you-can-do/donate/ Make sure to include a comment noting that your donation is for Clean River Alliance.

You can also mail us a check to P.O. Box 536, Guerneville CA 95446.

And, if you would like to volunteer, or simply talk trash, call me at 707-322-8304. Visit cleanriveralliance.org and LIKE us on Facebook!

With sincere appreciation,
Chris Brokate and the crew of Clean River Alliance