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Roseland Review - July 2015

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Roseland Review - July 2015

by Duane De Witt

Blindsided by a “bum’s rush” for a “bait and switch”, many Roseland residents have been taken aback by a City of Santa Rosa Recreation and Parks Department revocation of an existing approval of the Master Plan for Roseland Creek Park adopted by the Board of Community Services in 2010. Telling community members “because the plan was 5 years old it needed to be revisited” city Recreation Department staff members held a quick series of short meetings recently. It appeared to this reporter there was a pre-determined plan already in place by city staff to change what community members had worked so hard on 5-6 years ago in a very expensive taxpayer funded “planning process”. (This reporter was an active participant in that previous process and the hard earned victory by local residents and taxpayers to save the expensive buildings on the site from city destruction.)

Now the city has announced at the end of this “new” process they will destroy the taxpayer owned assets for the city’s plan. Some community members who attended all three of the meetings are hesitant to go on record because they fear retribution from the city. It was told to this reporter by a citizen attendee the “Parks staff are horrible communicators and even worse listeners.” This is especially sad to hear because the city staff has now decided unilaterally to demolish the very usable buildings the taxpayers paid so much money for at the site of Roseland Creek Park. There will be a meeting of the Board of Community Services on July 22, at 4 pm at the Finley Center where residents can comment on the “new” project being called the Roseland Creek Community Park Master Plan. Written comments can be submitted not just to the Board of Community Services but also to the City Manager Sean McGlynn and Santa Rosa Mayor John Sawyer as well as the other city council members. 

The city could learn a thing or two from the Sonoma County process which is currently going on for the Roseland Village Redevelopment of 7 acres of taxpayer owned land on Sebastopol Rd. June 25, 2015 at 6pm at Sheppard School on West Ave. the county Community Development Department hosted a presentation by three land development organizations aspiring to be chosen as the “Master Developer” for the site. This meeting was far more inviting and accommodating to local citizen involvement and community engagement. Many good ideas were shared and the various proposals can be viewed at the county website for the Roseland Village Neighborhood Center Project. Sonoma County-based Burbank Housing Corp. and EAH Housing of San Rafael along with the Mid-Peninsula Housing organization from Foster City all gave well received informative presentations to over a hundred participants in the meeting.

In the month of June both the city and the county were holding important meetings to address how there may soon be improvements in Roseland. A “second community workshop” was held by Santa Rosa planning staff on June 23rd at Sheppard School for the Roseland Specific Plan. It was previously stated, “At the workshop you will hear results from the June 10th community workshop and discuss the planning options for the Roseland area.” The idea of having “options” leads some community members to hope there will be an open dialog with city similar as to what is occurring with the county officials which will allow citizen input to have an influence on the actual decision making process contrary to how the Parks Dept. has been operating for the last few years.  

Having interviewed numerous attendees of all the meetings held by both the city Parks Department and the city Planning Department, hosting the Roseland Specific Plan meetings, as well as the county meeting in June there is some hope in the air. But, it was reiterated time and again to this reporter, it appears the city is just going through the motions so they can then validate what they already have planned to do to the community. This is in contrast to the county employees who are appearing to be genuinely concerned about how to have authentic community engagement inform the decision making process.

Not one person spoken with over the years of these various planning processes has stated they want a worse Roseland than now exists. Without the more involved community engagement the county has now embraced for the redevelopment of Roseland Village that could be a possibility. Now the county has heard from the three developers and the local residents the ongoing process for Roseland continues with another possible community meeting in September. The August issue of Roseland Review will give an in-depth discussion of the community dialog for the Roseland village while also addressing Roseland Creek and the Roseland Neighbor Wood there.