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Sonoma County Gazette
LETTERS from Gazette Readers

LETTERS from Gazette Readers - to Gazette Readers - December 2019

Nov 28, 2019


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Dear Petaluma, 

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your kindness during the evacuation from the Kinkaid fire. As we all felt the shock of having to leave our homes and wondering if we would have anything to come back to, being given such a warm welcome in such difficult circumstances, helped ease the shock of it all. We thank the pub owners who allowed us to bring our dog in and the people who took time to show interest in our situation. To the custodians who took care of Walnut Park and leaving the bathroom open (we stayed in our car next to the park) and the person who offered a bath to the evacuees. We didn’t take them up on it, but I was so touched by their very gracious offer. In a world with so much unrest, I feel truly grateful to the amazing residents of Petaluma who gave us a sense of normalcy during this difficult time. Val Larson, Camp Meeker

Do you remember...

Do you remember....limber?  Tan, another business owner that was doing just fine with the nail salon he and his wife own but then something happened they hadn’t planned upon, the Tubbs Fire.  Tan and his wife had just taken a second mortgage out on their three-bedroom home to upgrade their shop to better serve his neighbors, many of which had children that attended school and even played outside in the street in their culdesac’d street in the clean, comfy even friendly...Coffee Park neighborhood.  Tan didn’t lose his home as did so so many but at this point, he tells me... he’d be much better off if he had.  The three or four customers they have daily barely cover the shop rent let alone support his family...and that pesky second mortgage which as do his children...let him know in no uncertain terms that they will not be ignored. How many a small business owner has suffered the same fate?  Some as it’s told have lost the businesses they took over from their parents planning fully perhaps that their children would wish to do the same.  Children being children oft have different plans than following in their parent’s mop bucket tracks such be the dates of such SoCo icons like Gary Chu’s or that fabulous G&G Market so it’s not just fires that can devastate the plans of hard-working parents, hard-working immigrant parents the kind that gave their labors, that gave their very lives most proudly and in times of real wars not us just bullying much smaller countries as we are known to be doing today and sadly our young who lose their lives behind these intolerably one-sided battles are given the name of hero, heroes we knew well from the Great War and the even greater war we fought to stop a madman that soon followed to stop a racist hate monger who just as one is doing now...blamed 100% of his country’s problems on less than 3% of its population, a visibly different appearing group of citizenry...much like as is being done, tolerated and even happily supported by equally easily led fools. Perhaps it is in the hearts of our newly declared enemies does to again for themselves and their underdeveloped countries stop the Madman that now occupies that big house at 2100 Pennsylvania Avenue for surely his madness must be countered both here and abroad.  Immigrants founded this country, immigrant’s built this country and it’s said that the taxation upon those hardworking families will be the base from which Social Security dividends will be so derived.  May God bless all dreamers titled so or no, known or unknown, visibly different thus easier to blame for the results of poorly controlled BIG BUSINESS and it’s profits over people cornerstones of tradition. Marcos Zapatero


AGAIN Lying here with my busted knee cap. Happened Thursday night. Didn’t even see it coming. Self employed hairstylist,  just getting back on my feet after cancer treatment now this. Parking curb in the middle of nowhere! Diane Howard

Say Yes

The moment I slipped my arms into the poem of falling leaves shrugged my shoulders just so the threads of mystery in the fabric pulled my body straight

This poem, an old jacket passed down to my waiting hands its elbows and cuffs shedding old language of wonder and hope was a perfect fit

This poem of crying violins rusting sunsets, broken hearts and lavender mornings wrapped around my aching heart and said yes, no matter what, yes

The music will sound, your friend will come, the bread will rise, and the birds will sing

You are not the first and not the last

Say yes, no matter what, say yes.

- Doug von Koss

Evacuation Plan?

At about 5 a.m. the morning of October 27, my family of 5 and their dog climbed into two vehicles to begin  “evacuation” of our west side homes.  We turned east on Third Street in an attempt to reach Stoney Point Road and thence hopefully towards Petaluma, where we understood we would find refuge.

After over 4 hours, we were still on Third Street having traveled only 5 blocks.  At that rate, the fire could have overtaken us and hundreds of others on the same path. By then we decided to turn around -- heading west on Third Street and north on Fulton Road which by then had operational traffic lights and other signs of life. 

We ended up heading east on Piner Road where we were able to buy gas for both vehicles and all the lights in that area were operational.  Since by then we understood that there was no room at the inn in Petaluma, we drove to the east side of town and found a friend who was not evacuated.

Whoever was in charge needs to examine any evacuation “plans” that were supposedly in place that morning since they were less than helpful and create a plan that would work.

~ Charlene Stone


Fire Safety in Jenner

I want to share with you the things we learned at the fire focused MAC meeting last evening in the town of Bodega.

We heard from a host of fire and emergency people on the response to the Kincade fire (largest in the history of Sonoma Co.) and the upgrades to communications and warning systems.

Folks, there is both good and bad news.

The good news is that as a result of the recent disasters we have been forced to focus on what works and what does not work, resulting in a number of highly intelligent motivated people working to keep us safer.

The bad news is that our community is overdue for a major fire catastrophe. The expert consensus concludes that had the Kincade fire gone any further, there would be nothing to stop it till the Pacific ocean. We need to plan for a real disaster right here and right now. T

his fire discussion went on for over 2 hours and a goodly portion of that was dedicated to personal safety, evacuation, and testosterone. The highest priority of all responders is personal safety, therefore staying behind when asked to evacuate puts you and rescue men and women at much higher and unnecessary danger.

While I have not seen them yet, the two documentaries about the Paradise fire are promoted by the firefighters as an illustration of what you would face in a firestorm. Fellow citizens picture yourself in the front yard in 70 mph winds with flaming embers like fast balls coming at you, visibility is now down to 20 feet, and you are breathing superheated dense smoke. Meanwhile, an emergency responder who got word that you are still there is risking his/her life to get your sorry ass out.

Well, you get the idea.

On a side note, we may be getting a siren on our firehouse to warn of Tsunami. In January the board is planning a meeting at the JCC to hear from some of the emergency planners from the county.

~ Cal Ares, Jenner


Non-Compliance with Mandatory Evacuation during the Kinkade Fire

Per the Sonoma County Fire District, residents who do not evacuate following a mandatory order are extremely problematic for the firefighters. When residents remain in a neighborhood, air tankers cannot deploy fire retardant. Firefighters must stop their work of fighting the fire to deal with people who are not supposed to be present. This puts entire neighborhoods at risk of burning.

During the fire and related power shutdown, many people in areas not affected by the fire felt it was OK to remain in their homes. It was more comfortable than evacuating to a shelter, or to wherever they could find someone to take them in. Many people didn’t plan ahead as to where they could find a shelter that would allow their pets.

The biggest firefight of the Kincade event was along Hwy 101, to prevent the fire from jumping the highway and being propelled by the high winds to the west and southwest. The route from East Windsor to Guerneville is very short both in distance and time when there are strong winds. The fire was projected to follow Sweetwater Springs Road, over the hills into Guerneville.

Guerneville WAS in danger, hence the mandatory evacuation order. This wasn’t guesswork. It was based on satellite photos from NASA.

To me, it seems both foolish and selfish of residents to put the lives of firefighters at risk because they must stop doing their job on the fire to personally escort those residents away from danger. Sonoma County fire districts are grossly understaffed. Do you want them to be able to do their job of saving areas from burning? Or do you want them to let homes burn while they babysit residents who think they don’t have to obey the evacuation orders?

We don’t have enough firefighters for them to do both. Most of the residents of Guerneville, Rio Nido, and surrounding areas responded quickly and without panic during the evacuation orders. Their response allowed firefighters to continue to battle the fire and save properties from the inferno raging not far away.

Next time, and there will be a next time for fires in our part of Sonoma County, you who ignore an evacuation order may lose your lives. Due to your own actions.

~ Lois Lebovich President, Guernewood Neighborhoods Assoc. Member, Russian River Fire District – Disaster Evacuation Planning Committee Resident of Guerneville for 23 years /p>


Having lost my hair during chemotherapy for breast cancer, I am happy to support this event so women who have low income who are already going through so much PLUS cancer don’t have to suffer the loss of their hair due to their treatment. PLUS, this looks like such a fun event!

~ Diane Heditsian

Our County by Lynda Hopkins

We all owe a debt of gratitude to Supervisor Hopkins for her tireless efforts to improve the quality of life in our beautiful west county. She and her staff show sincere care and concern and have done a great job for us, particularly with their handling of the flood impact on Guerneville. Thank you Lynda!


It’s time to move forward with microgrids that serve west county population centers. There are multiple benefits that would come to residents of the county if neighborhoods were to be the source of energy with no reliance on PGE to provide reliable and safe power.

We have the technology and much of the feasibility of the idea has been performed by the creation of the MAC’s.

Tell Lynda Hopkins we want local renewable energy providers to lead the way and not look to San Francisco or Berkeley to muscle their way in on the work. Local companies for local energy. Good jobs and cleaner air are just the start of the benefits to us.

~ Beef Mcwin

Responding to Current Threats to the Sonoma Coast - PART 1

Mr. Charter and Mr. Trump are so far apart they are standing back-to-back. Somewhere between the two, reality will have its day. Our coast is our most precious treasure, and since the beginning of human establishments along the coast there has been a need to use the resources of the ocean for our survival and enjoyment. This won’t change. Best management practices include putting Charter and Trump ideologies on the same table at the same time for a real review - enough division!

Let’s get real and ask our elected officials to do the same.

~ Beef Mcwin


’Im old enough to have lived through many many changes in West Sonoma County. I applaud this writer for pointing out serious flaws. I too have seen ‘consultants’ advertising their services.

~ Suzanne Lindsey


Changes to our Coast? 

Thank you for your news article and your ever-loving commitment to Sonoma County and the preservation of its coastline, and the California coast. As you will remember, I served as North Central Commissioner from 1972-1982 and was chairman 1980-82. I am still doing a lot of wetland and historic preservation work for the coast and in San Francisco Bay. I applaud and second your efforts to encourage folks to participate in the LCP process.

~ Beef Mcwin

Sonoma County supports Immigrants

Thank you, County of Sonoma and the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Departments, for your continuous support during the Kincade Fire that took place last month. During a time in crisis, your organizations provided comfort and security to those seeking shelter by clarifying “No identification is needed to stay at an evacuation shelter, and Government Agencies, such as ICE, do not have access to the shelter.”

During a time when America is experiencing a political tug of war between human rights, it is comforting to know people still care about people.

In 2017 we experienced a 5% destruction in our economies housing market due to the Tubbs fire. This created a catastrophic affordable housing crisis here in Santa Rosa. Although Sonoma County is doing better than the rest of the nation, the results indicate that people are earning less over time due to the rise in housing costs.

North Bay Jobs with Justice, a community-based organization that supports equality and living wage policies, published a comprehensive study on the racial and economic inequities here in Sonoma Country in 2018. They concluded that failure to raise wages to a living wage would displace thousands of low-income residents.

So what are we waiting for?

~ Christy Grieb


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