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Bodega Bay Beat - March 2017

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Bodega Bay Beat - March 2017

by Joan Poulos

Democracy at its best was demonstrated Thursday night at the Grange. The Grange Hall (nearly all 150 chairs we have were occupied), was completely full of citizens ready and eager to share their ideas about “the opportunities and challenges in Bodega Bay.”

Speakers were organized by filling out yellow cards that entitled them to speak and the moderator, Charlie Bone did a splendid job of moving the meeting along. Organizations were represented, like the Chamber, the School, the Community Association, the PTA, the Public Utilities District, the Water Board the Fire Fighters’ Association, CERT, Food for Families, Sonoma Coast Surfrider Foundation, the Fishermen’s Marketing Association and the Grange, among other groups.

The well-run meeting allowed people to talk about what they really cared about and to make suggestions about what can be done. Underlying the entire evening was the strong feeling that “this is our home and we want to make it even better.” Sadly, also underlying most of the comments was an annoyance at the County (which is run from Santa Rosa) and criticism of the failure of the County to maintain local projects (ignoring the fact that we had recently denied the proposal to increase revenues to the county through a parcel tax and other remedies.)No one denies that the fire department which serves the local inhabitants as well as the 4-5,000,000 tourists every year, needs sustainable funding. Perhaps it is not too soon for the Fire Board to start taking suggestions.

Ideas on all topics were extremely varied, from the suggestion Richard Charter made that we need a Web cam overlooking the Valley Ford flood to organizing a group to push the Board of Supervisors to make the county act to repair or remove the falling down structures along the beach (like the Meredith Dock). Speaker after speaker put forth the frustration experienced by the community in that we have 4-5,000,000 tourists every year and all the funds (the TOT) go to the county. Not only do the firefighters need sustainable funding; the potholes and roads need to be fixed, and financial support needs to come for emergency preparations, like the emerging efforts to support emergency power in the FireHouse and on the emergency equipment. Another effort to put forth a new tax proposal seems inevitable. If so, the County needs to document need and show efforts to get the state to pitch in better for programs mandated which drain local resources.

There was an underlying sense of pride in the community about the way the community had rallied to help the fishermen when their crab season was curtailed; and about the way the community rallied to help the family who had lost their employment, had an injured child and could not pay their rent. There was support to create a community pantry to help those finding themselves in trouble and concern about keeping Human Rights included in whatever actions we take. 

 Rod Moore, who is on the PUD, gave the group a mini lecture on the water situation after Donald Coates expressed his concern about potential incursion of sea water. (Constant attention is called for when your aquifer is on top of sea water.) Rod Moore was upbeat about the water situation and had greater concern about the sanitation (current staff doing an excellent job with aging equipment.) Aging sanitation equipment seems to be a widespread problem in other places on the coast, some of which have suffered serious spills.

Maggie Briare expressed her frustration about the development Harbor View proceeding without appropriate permits and being investigated by various public agencies (and if built will not alleviate the current housing need for service workers). It was not clear whether or not the increase of usuage had been factored into the current need for improved sanitation equipment.

In short, it was a community talking to itself and sharing hopes and dreams and exploring remedies to make Bodega Bay an even nicer place. Mr. Rodiguez wants us to strongly organize to actuate the constant battle with the state and county to leave taxes in the community; Cea Higgins urged us to each do what we can and join the Surfriders in cleaning up the beaches ourselves. Picking up the trash the tides bring in along Westshore Road will be a good place to start.

A muted groan went up from the group when a speaker wanted to start moving the boardwalk project forward just as multiple headshakings accompanied the uniform acknowledgment of the need supported by Robin Ruderow for additional housing. Some of our needs seem to have difficult and evasive solutions.

Merlin Cole ended his time by asking “What does your community mean to you?” 

We closed thinking about how our community was changed by the huge number of visitors (some stay awhile) and how could we protect and support our cherished Bodega Bay School. We dispersed into small groups, further discussing all the ideas presented and enjoying the cookies. Thanks go to Dr. Trapani for starting this idea of sharing community ideas; thanks to Charlie Bone who is always ready to help.

Some changes are happening. Tony Anello said we finally will have diesel fuel available on this side of the harbor; the Fishermen’s marketing association is putting together a project to stock the fishing grounds with small fish attractive to salmon, Fish Fest is getting planned (the dates are April 8 and 9 – save the dates) and the school is gathering books for another very successful book fair 

(Carolyn Connors is a masterful organizer—last year they raised $1,700.)

This is a community that tries to help its disadvantaged. We are trying to get Meals on Wheels or a look-alike program, we join Earthjustice in their new battles in a Trump Environment (working to protect/improve salmon ‘ s lot by joining the effort to remove the dams on the Snake River, improving water quality and sanitation standards ) work with our churches to expand food pantries for the needy and reaching out to get acquainted with our neighbors (even temporary ones.) We live in a beautiful place. It takes the effort of all of us to make it even better.