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Martín Zúñiga Created a vibrant mural this summer at Roseland school with young people from the community. Photo Credit: Steve Mencher -
Martín Zúñiga Created a vibrant mural this summer at Roseland school with young people from the community. Photo Credit: Steve Mencher -

Rhetoric and Reconciliation?

Duane Dewitt to Enter Race for City Council Seat to Voice
Historical disadvantages Placed on Roseland.

Sep 29, 2019
by Duane Dewitt


Make a Difference Day for Roseland is Sunday October 27 at 10 pm in Roseland Neighbor Wood across from Roseland Creek Elementary School on Burbank Ave. Please come out to help keep the area clean to make it inviting for Roseland youth to have natural places to play. We in Roseland have always had a need for more natural spaces for our children to play outside in nature.

Concerned Citizens for SouthWest Area Youth (CCSWAY), headed by Terry Hilton from the mid-1980s, was always advocating for more places for Roseland youth to be able to play outside safely. He also began advocating for a Community Youth Center to be built in Roseland as far back as the 1980s. The 1984 Roseland Redevelopment Project, with a joint Powers Authority between the City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma, specifically stated there was a need for more services for youth. It also pointed out the need for parks to be built within the 264 acre area designated for redevelopment and improvement. For over 35 years the Redevelopment Project existed and raised money, but parks and a Community Youth Center were never built. When the state ended Redevelopment Projects in 2012 the county did not want to give back about $5 million in taxpayers’ money raised for “Affordable Housing”.  So a plan was made to use the Roseland Village Shopping Center as the spot for housing to be built as well as a “Public Plaza”.

Local residents who participated in the 2007 Sebastopol Rd. Urban Vision plan jointly conducted by the city and the county often expressed the need for there to be a large green space at the Roseland Village intersection of Sebastopol Rd and the end of West Ave. Some participants in the process remember the discussion was for a “one acre green space plaza” to be built in the future. This means the city and county have known of local residents desires for parks and green spaces. The county has let the 7 acres of land in the Roseland Village it purchased with taxpayers money languish for many years as it negotiates with the MidPeninsula Housing Development Organization to build housing. Now a proposal is going forward with Santa Rosa to allow a “temporary” plaza for merchants to sell their wares to the public at the site before the housing is even built.

Some residents are worried the use will become permanent and a 1 acre green space will not ever be provided there in the future. 

The Green Space desired by the public is nowhere to be seen yet. Various times the county has used taxpayers’ money to put paint on the former site of the Albertson grocery store concrete pad. Also the county has put up a small exercise and fitness area back by the Joe Rodota Trail which is a county park. But to many Roseland residents the area is seen as dangerous after transients attacked and injured bicyclists and others on the trail in the past. The fitness area is mainly used by homeless and transients who frequent the area. A small area with benches at the former Flying A gas station on Sebastopol Rd. at West Ave. has been literally turned into a “Homeless Hangout” where drunks lay about and trash is everywhere. It is disgusting to many local residents.

A struggle between light and darkness, that is what the two opposing figures on the old Roseland hardware wall shows, by Artists MJ Lindo-Lawyer and Joshua Lawyer. Photo: Ricardo Ibarra / La Prensa Sonoma.

Recently a simple mural was painted on the side of the old Roseland Hardware store to try and make things a bit nicer. At Roseland School across the street another mural has been painted by Martín Zúñiga. It is reported he, “Created a vibrant mural this summer with about a dozen young women from the Santa Rosa community.” While murals are an inspiring use of time and talent for our young people it is also time for there to be a “community conversation” about how to let the young people of our community have a real voice in the decision making process. There is an election next year for a NEW Santa Rosa City Council member to represent Roseland and South Park in what is termed District 1. Perhaps some young Roseland residents will step up to the fight.

Until then this reporter has decided to enter the race for the city council seat so there will at least be discussions of the historical disadvantages placed on Roseland by local government decisions. To communicate about this city council race contact this writer at 




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