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Sonoma County Gazette
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LETTERS from Gazette Readers -  May 2017

Apr 27, 2017


Have a favorite memory of your Hippie days?

Please share it with us!

The West County Museum is creating a library of oral histories of Hippie days in West Sonoma County.
We’d love to include your story.
So, for an appointment to record your oral history please contact:
Sue Pekarsky Gary
(Co-Curator “The Hippies”) at 808-333-1113

Sonoma County Housing, Crisis and Hope, Part 1

It’s horrible to see studio apartments going for a thousand dollars a month.
Young families are being driven from the state they grew up in and love.
Our older and disabled are seen more often on the streets pushing carts with what few memories and belongings they’ve been able to save from much happier days. They become targets of teenage bullies and thugs on the streets.
When they die they end up in potters field. No name no one to care.
America shouldn’t treat its people like this.

Lesa O'Mara

Sadly, I think we will see the time...

...when there will be so many people here (I see 10-20 new people at the library each time I go) that food will be distributed from the back of a truck...that never slows down. I love the thought of the tortured finding comfort but there are just so many bums both male and female that have no plans of ever doing anything more than scooping up free services and getting is perversely pervasive and it shows not a single sign of getting better, quite the opposite as everything anyone is doing only attracts more! This would be the message I would have shared at many a meeting had I attended. Raise the standards to receive any charity, sobriety needs to be the great divider, work-fare needs to be set into place and yes with entry level manufacturing jobs all but destroyed in this country as I have said before...send them out to pull the weeds cities have given up on, sweep the parking lots business entities have ignored...I have been around this town, recently to places I hadn’t seen in years...I am completely disgusted!

SFGate does a pretty good job of saying what is going on, the Feds need to step in and tap Vegas for 1,000 times what this paltry sum amounts to!

San Francisco residents wonder why the city streets are home to so many lost and forlorn mentally ill drifters. Now there’s a documented reason: Nevada callously shipped its unwanted psychiatric patients here to be rid of them.

In a tentative settlement, Nevada is agreeing to pay $400,000 to San Francisco to end a lawsuit over what has been called Greyhound therapy, the practice of shipping indigent patients elsewhere. In this case, a state psychiatric hospital in Las Vegas allegedly sent 24 homeless former mental patients to this city with one-way bus tickets and little else.

Marcos Zapatero, Santa Rosa


If You Build it They Will Come

I jus picked up a copy of the Gazette (issue April 2017) having read all the blurbs from the local communities, I was struck with the fact that only TWO communities are having a homeless issue, Guerneville and Monte Rio. This issue has been discussed for over twenty years, countless meetings, proposals and four county supervisors. The result of all the time and money spent the problem is worse.

Now the county solution is to buy a 10-acre horse farm across from the Senior Center, blocks from the elementary school and near the entrance to Armstrong Woods State Park.

Have our supervisors looked at locations in Healdsburg (there is a large former lumber yard that would be suitable) and the homeless would have a short walk to the Russian River that being a consideration for the location. How about Sebastopol or Windsor or any other Somoma County location.                         

I am not saying not in my town, only asking why not another town.

Ron Smith, Guerneville

Thanks for your letter - I can answer at least part of your question. Yes - EVERY community has a homeless problem - just not as VISIBLE as Guerneville since the river is one block from downtown. The River has a lot to do with gathering homeless people since you will find that in all towns with rivers, homeless people camp by water for obvious reasons. But in most cases they remain invisible or less visible than in Guerneville.

They are also less visible in Monte Rio although still very much present. But Monte Rio has few places to purchase food and supplies compared with Guerneville. In Healdsburg and Windsor people camp along Dry Creek and along the old railroad tracks. In Santa Rosa it’s along the creek and used to be along the tracks until SMART changed that. 

In Forestville it’s mostly along the river on both sides. In Sebastopol it’s along the Laguna. In Cloverdale by the river and under bridges. In Petaluma along the river and tracks. In Sonoma it’s along the creek. etc. etc. Each community has ways of handling their homeless populations depending upon who they are and how much of a disturbance they create.

Guerneville’s visible population is what is causing much of the concern, especially because this town relies on tourism for its economy. When you delve deeply into how each community handles its homeless population, you see that they do all have systems that work - or don’t work - for them one way or another. ~ Vesta

Why then the community blurbs in your paper do not mention the homeless problem.

…because the columnists choose to focus on other issues. Homeless problems are ongoing - the reason Monte Rio and Guerneville are focusing on it in their columns right now is because there are currently town meetings addressing the issues. The next meeting is on April 24th hosted by Lynda Hopkins. Finding a location for the Homeless Services Center is at the top of the community’s mind right now. The Monte Rio columnist is one of the people involved in finding a place for that shelter/service center.

Healdsburg/Windsor/Geyserville and Cloverdale are serviced by North County Community Services in Healdsburg. They are the people I spent time with doing the homeless count in 2016 and have had several articles on how they serve the community. (443 Hudson St, Healdsburg, CA 95448 Phone: (707) 433-6161) They have a strong outreach to the homeless.SEE page 34

YES on measure C

Though I have lived in many places across this country, this is the only place that I have ever come back to after moving away. I first arrived in Santa Rosa in the early 80’s, left to attend college for a couple of years, but couldn’t wait to return “home.” After 16 years with the public library, I retired and, today, I try to survive in the most beautiful, yet one of the most expensive, places in America on a PERS pension of less $800 a month. Thankfully, my husband’s income allows us to manage, though we struggle from paycheck to paycheck and worry as we face his retirement.

We lost our condo during the real estate crash. That investment was to be our pathway into senior housing, which we were 6 months away from qualifying for. Renters once again, it is highly unlikely we will ever own our home. My son and his family live in Portland because they can’t find housing that is affordable on the incomes that local jobs offer. So I see my two granddaughters only rarely.

But we are lucky. We live in a duplex in the JC area and have the greatest landlord ever. No, Measure C will not apply to us, but I will happily vote YES on MEASURE C. Why?

Because I love this place. And I will not stand idly by while money pours in from faceless organizations and people who do not live here, dictating the way to run our city. Their money, their questionable strong-arm tactics and their lies must not win. Our city council members, who DO live here, were correct last year when they first passed this ordinance. They know this city. They meet us in line at the grocery store. They know, personally, both the renters and the landlords, and they worked hard to walk that very fine line between protecting the landlords’ investments and offering some relief for renters.

I will vote YES for MEASURE C because I refuse to let big, out-of-town money turn my beloved city into a place where only the rich people live.

Bonnie Petty, Santa Rosa

The Elephant in the County

I am new to Sonoma County. I was propelled out of Santa Cruz County because of the increasing levels of pesticides and other chemicals in the air. I developed a chemical intolerance and an immune deficiency disorder. I have the uncanny ability to feel and experience the toxic effects of these pollutants in my body. I wear a “filterized” face mask for protection as I drive. I have several air purifiers operating in my home 24/7. My quality of life shifts up and down according to the level of toxicity in the air.

My immune system is healing. I look forward to the day that I no longer see or feel the elephant in the County. I am sharing this information with you while it is still first hand and personal.

The chemicals are ubiquitous. I just want people to know the severity of the toxicity in our beautiful county. The problem is huge.

I live in Monte Rio. Ever since May of 2016 it has become a hot spot of air contamination. I am not talking about the wood burning stoves, this is another, separate issue. I experience a chemical exposure in my home almost every day. I do not know the source.

The other hot spots that I encounter within my driving range are: Watertrough Road, the town of Graton, Ragle Park and Hwy 116 from Forestville to Sebastopol.

I am concerned about the children. How can they develop and thrive in a sea of chemicals? There are several school on Watertrough Road.

I drove past the Graton school once. I was horrified at the level of toxic air. I rated it a 10 on a scale of 0-10.

I feel powerless to create a change. The agriculture Department and the chemical companies are heavily supported by laws. But I can speak my truth and tell my story. I can suggest the buying of organic goods and that we stop using toxic substances inside and outside our homes. I can encourage the support our local organic farmers and question the need for more wineries.

There needs to be a balance between industry and our right to live in a healthy environment. Life is not sustainable with high levels of pollution. I struggle daily. The pesticide regulations are not effective. If they were, the air would be cleaner. Politically, there seems to always be a reason to support conventional farming and vineyards, but very little insight into why people are sick and dying.

A clean environment supports health. Why not foster health instead of just focusing on treatment of the disease? We will not be healthy as a county or a country if we continue to give permission to industry to pollute.

We need a shift in consciousness where the welfare of   “We the People” is more important than the corporate profits. Sonoma County could be the first place for the change to occur. The reality of global warming brings an opportunity to create meaningful policies that will deliver true protection to the people and the earth.

We are now at a grave time in history where the environment needs to be healed before its inhabitants can become whole and healthy.

Gail Adams, Monte Rio

Kudos to Lynda

Lynda Hopkins has  jumped in full force to tacklle many problems in the 5th district, I am very grateful to have her in the job and to the Gazette for providing a venue which allows constituents to follow some of the major tasks she is addressing.

Charlene Stone, Santa Rosa

BoDean Ads

Hello. I’m reading April’s edition and found BoDean’s ad on page 15. While it’s kind of them to support yourGazette, we folks in SR West End have been trying to get them to move their smelly and carcinogenic asphalt operation out of our fairly high density and close to several schools and childcare places. This month’s gazette seems to support cleaning up the environment- it’d be great not to have your gazette supported by one of the very worst polluters in Santa Rosa. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely, Kate Sholl

Sorry this took so long to get back to you. I went to BoDean and did a tour of their upgrades. I wanted to see for myself. They were not operating that day so I will have to go back when they are in full swing.

I know they have done many upgrades, but I didn’t know they are so extensive. You may want to do a tour yourself.

Considering that they are grandfathered in - they will continue to be in that location for a long time. The neighborhood grew up around them over time, but when they were established it was clearly an industrial section of town. The upgrades are very impressive on many levels. Like I said, I’ll go back when they are operating, but right now, I’m feeling like they are doing as much as they can to mitigate the nature of their business. 

As you may know, asphalt is a hot product and must be used within a short distance from where it is made. Our roads depend upon this plant - which is one of two in Sonoma County. I have not been to the other plant which is owned by Ghilotti. If it’s anything like this one, I’d be surprised if they could do more to make this product in a cleaner a process. From fans and filters, to noise reduction, they’ve paid attention to the entire process to be quieter as well as cleaner.

I live where there are two rock quarries that supply aggregate for our roads. They have much less control over what goes into the air, but it is natural rock dust. But still - the truck traffic, especially during peak road repair season, is intense. And yes, both quarries not only use the highest technology in their equipment and trucks, but they also place limits on trucks that come and go. Roads are dirty. I doubt there’s a way to build and maintain them in a totally clean way. ~ Vesta

Celebrating teachers & classified staff

Education is a force for good in the lives of Sonoma County children. Our teachers and school support staff constantly adapt to best fit the needs of our changing student population and prepare them for success a rapidly evolving world.

For this reason, the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) applauds the hard work of Sonoma County’s 3,700-plus teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 1-5. SCOE also celebrates the county’s dedicated classified school employees during the week of May 21-27. This week provides an opportunity to appreciate the important contributions made by non-credentialed employees, such as the bus driver who brings your child to school, the friendly face who greets her in the front office when she arrives, and the person behind the lunch counter who serves her a warm meal.

A series of teacher appreciation posters on the back of Sonoma County Transit buses are now being displayed throughout Sonoma County. The posters include photographs of 13 educators chosen to represent their colleagues for this promotional campaign. The teachers are from local elementary schools and SCOE special education programs. (Last year’s teacher appreciation week promotion featured middle and high school teachers.)

The bus poster project was coordinated by SCOE and supported by community partners, including Clover Stornetta Farms; Community First Credit Union; Exchange Bank; Girard, Edwards, Stevens, & Tucker LLP; Kaiser Permanente; Ray Morgan Company; Redwood Credit Union; Redwood Empire Schools’ Insurance Group (RESIG); Santa Rosa Junior College; School & College Legal Services; and Sonoma Clean Power.

I believe it’s important for all of us to let Sonoma County’s teachers and classified school staff know that they are appreciated and valued. They are an essential part of our children’s lives and their work is key to the future of our communities.

Steven D. Herrington, Ph.D.—Sonoma County Superintendent of Schools


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