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Roseland Review - December 2014


Roseland Review - December 2014

by Duane De Witt

Some folks in Roseland would like to see a traffic “Roundabout” installed at the intersection of West Ave. and Sunset Ave. This is the “ground zero” focal point for the ghettoization of Roseland in the eyes of many of the long-time residents of Roseland who have seen nothing but decline over the last two decades for their beloved community. They hope a traffic roundabout would act as a traffic calming measure, and a way to have better pedestrian safety there where many young families and children are often walking. Such a measure could happen as the street is in the city of Santa Rosa and does not require an annexation or county approval to occur.  This is mentioned today because many long-time residents of Roseland feel they have been getting the “run around” for decades as the city and county have not followed up on the 1984 agreement for annexation of Sebastopol Rd. and the 264 acre former Roseland Redevelopment Project Area. 

Roseland Village redevelopment was again a topic of discussion for a number of concerned citizens hoping for a better future for Roseland. Thursday Nov. 13, 2014 the Roseland Village Task Group held a Community meeting at the Roseland School gymnasium for at least 40 people. About a dozen of the folks there appeared to be residents of Roseland, while many were employees of the county and the Sonoma County Community Development Commission hosting the meeting. Non-governmental organizations Community Action Partnership and the Community Benefits group from the St. Joseph Medical businesses were also represented by many attendees at the meeting.

The session began with an introduction in Spanish by Efren Carrillo, the Fifth District County Supervisor. After welcoming the attendees everyone listened to introductions of the other participants in an effort to make the community aware of who was there to help chart the future.  While reassurances were given there are no plans in place for the 7 acre site of the old Rose Bowl and Albertson’s grocery store, it was also stressed by county employees all the buildings on the property owned by the county will be demolished.  While some attendees, especially a member of the Roseland Lions club who sought to save one warehouse wanted to discuss the chance to save something, they were told demolition is the plan and there is no going back.

Unfortunately the meeting was not really a dialogue between residents and county planners or a beginning to a planning charrette type of activity for future plans at the seven acre site. It was billed as a listening opportunity for the local residents to say how the use the site now and what they would like to see there in the future. As well as what they would NOT like to see there. Many Roseland residents, especially some of the closest residents to the site, said they would not like to see West Ave. “punched” through the site as a continuing “street to nowhere” in the words of one vocal resident. This may become a bone of contention in the future as the county has said in the past they are committed to also making the extension of West Ave. a center piece for the low income affordable housing they intend to have built at the site.

The county will not be building the housing, though they may be paying for the extension of the road. The county appears to want to have a “master developer” come in and construct improvements to the site with taxpayer subsidy to be an important part of the final agreements. The idea of a one acre town square and public plaza seems to be the one thing everyone can agree upon at this point, though some critics have pointed out a master developer will want to pick where this will be located in order to maximize the developer’s profit on the project. 

This leads to another point of concerned witnessed by this reporter at the meeting on the 13th of Nov. Many long-time residents feel there is a distinct lack of respect on the part of many of the governmental agencies, non-governmental businesses, and others vying to have a voice in this Roseland process, towards the real residents of Roseland. The longtime residents who are not just passing through or only there for a short time until they move elsewhere in the county. Newcomers to the community are welcome, and always have been in this reporter’s eyes with decades of experience in Roseland. But folks who are just getting involved in the process to further the profits of their business, their employer, or other opportunists are not seen as respectful by many Roseland folks and they are distressed by the path the Roseland Village appears to be on as a seven acre vacant lot, quick to become a “flea market” and “used car lot” for those who disrespect Roseland on a daily basis and could care less about any love for our community.