May 31, 2018
by Lynda Hopkins, 5th District Supervisor - Sonoma County
We held our second Lower Russian River MAC informational meeting on Wednesday, May 9. During the meeting we shared the proposed boundary for the LRR MAC. We expect the boundary to encompass the area of Forestville, Guerneville, Rio Nido, Monte Rio, Duncans Mills and Cazadero (minus the west hills). The goal is to be more inclusive, which I know might seem a bit scary or disconcerting. We’ve heard from many residents, “But I don’t have anything in common with someone who lives [anywhere but where I live].” While our river communities are distinct and unique, they do share very common and very real problems that need an outside of the box solution. I think the nine members of the MAC, composed of individuals from each unique community, will be able to bring their unique experiences with common issues, including homelessness, vacation rental over-saturation, roads, affordable housing and more, and help us create an outside-of-the-box solution.
As for the next steps, my staff will be working with Permit Sonoma to draw nine districts, based off of the feedback we received from our second MAC meeting, from which the LRR MAC’s representatives will come from. At the same time, staff will work with our county administrator's office to finish the bylaws, policies and ‘fun stuff’ that will be presented to my Board for approval, hopefully by late July. Afterwards, we will hold another town hall to inform people of the districts and open up the application process.
For the Lower Russian River MAC, we plan on holding a caucus. The plan is to empower the communities and districts to vote for their own representative in an informal setting. My office is still looking into the complexities and realities of holding a caucus, making sure we empower all residents living in the Lower Russian River to have a chance to vote. Due to all of the complexities accompanying a caucus, we will likely not hold the event until mid or late September. After the caucus, I will formally recommend the nine ‘elected’ representatives to the Board of Supervisors. After they are accepted, the board members will go through roughly three months of training.
While we aren’t looking to hold the caucus for another few months, it's never too early to begin thinking about the requirements and qualifications that would make for a good MAC representative. Suggested requirements and qualifications include:
• Full-time LRR resident
• Ability to meet once a month for three hours
• Has a good pulse of his or her local community and its needs
• An interest in civic duty
• Desire to help and represent the entire community
• Strong communication skills—isn’t afraid to speak up
• Ability to travel throughout the Lower Russian River area to attend meetings
We also want to hear from you: what requirements or qualifications do you think a MAC representative should have? Please email my field representative, Amie Windsor at Amie.email@example.com with any suggestions.
I am happy to report that our Board on Tuesday, May 22, decided to request a six-month extension from the state. The solution presented to us Tuesday morning wasn’t an adequate solution. It didn’t take into account the financial burden of minor nuances in language; for example, a simple turn of phrase describing septic repairs could cost homeowners $75,000. It also failed to take into account months of work, dedication and volunteer time from many west county homeowners, landlords, property owners and realtors who are concerned about striking the right balance between keeping housing and all of the accompanying maintenance affordable with the desire to preserve the safety and environmental health of our Russian River.
Moving forward I will be working with Second District Supervisor David Rabbitt on securing an extension from the water control board and working with staff to craft a policy that makes sense for both our residents and our river.
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