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Roseland Review - August 2016 - Duane Dewitt


Roberts Road Reunited? Tunnel Visions!

by Duane De Witt

 Secret negotiations between Santa Rosa city staff members and business leaders of Redwood Gospel Mission may bring a reconnection of Roberts Road into Roseland again in the future.

Call it Tunnel Vision as city staff has made a proposal to have a multi-million dollar tunnel bored through the ground under Highway 12 west of the Olive Street overpass in east Roseland. This proposal was made public at the July 14 meeting of the Santa Rosa Planning Commission as the city agency was conducting a public hearing about the Redwood Gospel Mission proposal for a new campus straddling Roberts Road. This was reported in the July 15, 2016 edition of the Press Democrat. While the plan for the Redwood Gospel Mission was delayed at this time, it appears the project will return in the future. Neither the Roseland Specific Plan Steering Committee nor the county’s Roseland Village Task Group had been told of the Tunnel idea before it came up at the Planning Commission hearing, even though they have been meeting for over 18 months about planning for Roseland projects. 

Santa Rosa Planning and Economic Development Department staff now is working on this approach rather than the long standing plan to connect the road under the Highway by way of the existing railway right of way along the underpass currently below Highway 12. Roseland is at a crossroads as more and more “top down” development projects will be coming forward from various developers given the go ahead by various city and county agencies. One of these is the new revitalization plan for the seven acre Roseland Village on Sebastopol Rd. County staff from the Community Development Commission has just given Mid-Peninsula Housing Development Corporation a pre-development allocation of 1.5 million dollars to move forward on their planning for a project including housing and a plaza at the site.

But the city of Santa Rosa’s Roseland Specific Plan currently under consideration for adoption shows West Ave. running right through the middle of the Mid-Peninsula planned development as adopted in cooperation with the local community residents. The city has spent over half a million dollars on the ongoing process for the Roseland Specific Plan and Sebastopol Road Specific Plan and has not even coordinated with the Roseland Village Plan for West Ave. More frustrating to local residents is the city and county have not advanced the Annexation, though the city has also been spending taxpayers money on a Roseland Annexation Plan. 

After over two and a half years of apparently fruitless negotiations between the Santa Rosa city officials and Sonoma County officials the annexation of Roseland discussions are dead in the water. No future meeting is scheduled as officials from both sides point their fingers at each other and say “it is in their court now”. The “Roseland Annexation Committee” was established in December 2013. The committee is comprised of three Santa Rosa City Council members and two members of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.  These members are: Santa Rosa Mayor John Sawyer, Council Member Ernesto Olivares and Council Member Julie Combs. Sonoma County Supervisors Efren Carrillo and Shirlee Zane make up the rest of the committee. With these members the process is now going nowhere fast. The city website states, “The purpose of this committee is to determine how costs associated with the annexation of the 620 acre Roseland county island will be funded.  Such costs include those to provide services such as police and fire response, and to upgrade and provide new streets, sidewalks, and public facilities.” It further states, “Based on past financial analyses, it is expected that costs of services and infrastructure will exceed revenues in Roseland. The committee is the forum to allow collaboration between the City and County to identify how costs can be shared.”

Earlier it was mentioned Roseland is at a Crossroads and this is not just about the city making plans without involving citizens well in the processes. There is also an Affordable Housing project named Crossroads about to start construction after 13 years of planning and development preparation by Burbank Housing. The 79 unit development will be located on Burbank Ave. and reach back to Sheppard Elementary School with an extension of Leo Drive to be built. 

While this will generate extra traffic there may be some relief with the new proposed Hearn Ave. overpass rebuild to occur at Highway 101 in the future. On Wednesday night August 3, 2016 at 6 pm at the Finley Center at 2060 W. College Ave. there will be a Public Meeting and Open House to discuss replacing the existing Hearn Ave. Bridge with a new one able to accommodate four traffic lanes and provide bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. You can see the Initial study about this at the city website Now would be a great time for the city, county and state agencies involved in these top down planning activities to collaborate and cooperate better amongst themselves and also with the citizens of Roseland. 

Have a good summer and remember school starts in mid-August now so please drive safely around schoolchildren.