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Monte Rio Musings - Chuck Ramsey - February 2016

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Monte Rio Musings - Chuck Ramsey - February 2016 

Efren Carrillo recently said 2016 is the year of progress. It certainly has started out with a bang. The community meeting held Monday January 11th was the largest turnout of this community I have seen. I was pleased to see the community being civil and respectful. I was surprised the county did not seem prepared to discuss solutions. Everyone has their take on the issues. To me, I see it as two completely different issues. One is how to provide compassionate help to those homeless people that need and want help. The county is working on developing a service shelter here to address that. The other issue is the homeless/drug addicts that do not want help. They are creating havoc in our area, on our sidewalks, on our lands, and in our river. Criminal activity is up. They come here because we allow it. They know no one will hold them accountable for their actions. 

Most of us know the limitations law enforcement has to work under: short staffing, Prop 47 which decriminalized drug offenses, homelessness and loitering are not illegal activities, etc. But we also know that shooting up in public on our streets, trashing our environment, breaking in and stealing from our neighbors is still against the law and our law enforcement needs to be visible on the streets and proactive. 

Our community groups need to be working together with each other and with our government to resolve this. Our economy is heavily tourist dependant. It took a long time for our local economy to come back. It won’t take long for it to tank again. Negative press reports of what is going on here may help spur action, but won’t help our businesses that rely on tourism. The unresolved issues also won’t help our property values, our jobs, or the county’s property tax and lodging occupancy tax revenues. 

Many in our government are hard working responsive people. Having said that, there is certainly work that needs to be done in the area of customer service and accountability when our residents call in complaints. We hear too many times “I was brushed off, nothing was done, it’s futile”, etc. It shouldn’t take months and consistent follow-ups to get action. 

On a positive note, the county is promoting a new app called Sonoma County Report It. This free app is available at the app store and Google Play. Currently you can report public works issues (such as pot-holes, drainage, and litter). You will have a record of the report, you will be updated with progress reports, and you can check the current status at any time. You can also upload pictures and the app is GPS friendly so it already knows the address. Soon code enforcement will be added (abandoned vehicles, blight, garbage). This app should be very useful. I hope you will download and use it. 

On another positive note, Nextdoor has been a great addition. You are immediately in touch with neighbors in your neighborhood and throughout the River area. So far the postings have been mainly positive, informative, and productive. I recommend you signing up. If you don’t have physical mail delivery please contact me, or anyone already a Nextdoor member, for a direct email invite before beginning the short registration process. Otherwise you will have problems being verified or registered. 

Speaking of progress, we are trying to “step it up” this year with our community groups and local districts. The groups need to be more community oriented and need to work together for the greater good. All groups should have building community as their primary goal. If you are interested please consider attending some meetings, volunteering at some functions, or simply supporting our non-profit groups and events. Every group needs more volunteers. You also get to meet other people. Small town at its best!

Kudos to the Supper Club. Another example of what can be done when people volunteer and bring the community together.

Kudos to the Village Inn. They have locals night menu on Wednesdays and are donating part of the proceeds to the MR Chamber to repair the neon Vacation Wonderland sign. Speaking of the Chamber, I want to thank and acknowledge our newest board members Robbi Ernst and Dan Fein. 

 Our Rio Theater will be showing Oscar-nominated films, and will also have several free events this month such as Super Bowl, Democratic Debate, and of course Oscar night on Sunday February 28th. Riotheater.com for more info.  

Quiz of the day: What happy hamlet has the third oldest Chamber of Commerce, and the oldest Recreation and Park District in the State? We must be doing something right!