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Roseland Review - December 2015 - Duane Dewitt

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Roseland Review - December 2015 - Duane Dewitt

by Duane De Witt

Residents of the Roseland County Island may soon be doing their building permits and zoning change requests through the city of Santa Rosa. On Thursday Nov. 19th Tennis Wick, the director of the Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department, told the Roseland Annexation Sub-Committee his department would soon be switching these activities to the city to make for a smoother transition for the annexation. The joint city and county subcommittee has been meeting for two years on an intermittent basis to discuss how to accomplish annexation. What is interesting about this proposal on the part of Mr. Wick is the annexation may still be as much as two more years away from occurring. Yet Mr. Wick would like to see this function of county government be given over to the city right away.

This was the first meeting of the joint sub-committee in over six months, so there was much to catch up on with Santa Rosa Mayor John Sawyer and City Council Member Ernesto Olivares hosting over 22 various city and county staff members. The City Manager Sean McGlynn was there as well as Assistant City Manager Chuck Regalia who is handling the annexation project and the Roseland Specific Plan now underway for a year. The city presented its “Terms” to the county for the annexation to move forward. The Sonoma County Supervisors in attendance were Shirlee Zane and Efren Carrillo who appeared eager to get the annexation completed.

But Santa Rosa city staff is now seeking at least 15 different “terms” they require for the Annexation Agreement to proceed to successful completion. These terms include requests for the “county to contribute $18 million per year over a 10 year period to make the proposed improvements” to streets, street lighting and pedestrian connectivity.  The city is also asking for an additional $8 million over 10 years “to cover the gap between the cost of services and the revenues.” Plus the city wants “$1.3 million to cover one time start-up costs of providing services when the annexation is complete.” This comes close to $30 million over a ten year period and the amount caused the county officials to hesitate in their acceptance of these terms.

Now the county has taken the list of terms under consideration and will begin the process of negotiating for some compromises based upon money the county has already spent on parks and roads in Roseland. Supervisor Carrillo was quick to point out the county has made a commitment to Roseland by siting a new branch of the Sonoma County Library as well as assisting with the redevelopment of the former Roseland Village Shopping Center in the future. While those activities are underway the county has also helped to get a branch of the Boys and Girls Club opened at the same building as the library branch. This is in the Dollar Tree store building on the west side of the 7-acre Roseland Village parcel now owned by the county taxpayers. These are currently in a two year agreement to stay there while the development of the “Roseland Plaza” envisioned for the site is completed.

The meeting was mostly upbeat and positive “investment opportunities” were discussed including a possible location of an “Urban Farm” by the Sonoma County Agriculture and Open Space District in Roseland. Also, “Santa Rosa is evaluating ways to expedite provision of Santa Rosa Police Service to the Roseland unincorporated area before the annexation is complete.” Still to be discussed is what will happen to the South Park Sanitation District and the disposition of Special Districts such as the Roseland Fire Protection District. There is still much work to do for the city and county to come to agreement but unfortunately most of it is not being done where the public can follow the process.

Roseland residents will need to contact Supervisor Carrillo’s office and Chuck Regalia’s office to get the most recent information. You can also ask for updates there on the new homeless encampment established at Roseland Village “until a suitable long-term solution can be found.” The phone for Supv. Carrillo is (707) 565-2241 with email efren.carrillo@sonoma-county.org. Mr. Regalia is at cregalia@srcity.org and phone (707) 543-3010.