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Sonoma County Gazette
Tim Meinken, was a generous man, committed and steadfast in his service to the common good.
Tim Meinken, was a generous man, committed and steadfast in his service to the common good.

Mourning Tim Meinken and
Celebrating his Approach
to Solving City Problems

Jul 15, 2019


By Merrilyn Joyce

Last Fall I interviewed council candidate Tim, a gentle, wise and positive force for collaborative change. With buoyant enthusiasm, he shared his ‘Residents First’ platform. We summarize it here along with citizens’ comments.~ Merrilyn Joyce

“I admired Tim’s maturity, especially evident as he faced adversity. The style of it made him a generous man, committed and steadfast in his service to the common good. We need his leadership, his example. Tim’s passing is a great loss to the Healdsburg community. We will miss him.” —John Diniakos

A management consultant for 20 years, Tim had UNIQUE QULAIFICATIONS for creating alliances, bringing diverse groups together to cooperate and make decisions on tough issues. He wanted to use these skills to serve his community. “I don’t need to agree with everyone to foster better discussions. Healdsburg currently has two approaches: spend tremendous time attacking specific issues or describe issues in broad brush strokes. We can only implement meaningful change when we begin to see the way issues interconnect in the jigsaw puzzle and develop better overall strategies that address the whole picture.” 

“Tim had courage. He spoke up on controversial topics - for the public interest. When personal attacks came his way, he shrugged them off. He remained focused on sound policy and doing the right thing for his community. A good man.” —Janis Watkins

Developer-Centric to Community-Centric

Tim helped Healdsburg apply for an American Institute of Architects’ SDAT grant. SDAT’s Master Plan recommendation aligned with his thinking:“Direction should come from a partnership between city and community. Lacking a community vision, we’ve let developers decide what to build; then we argue about it. We’ve allowed cookie-cutter development with no charm or community focus. When the community agrees to a vision and goals, I can help us develop a specific strategy to accomplish them.” 


“Do we need more $200/plate dinners and $1000/night rooms? Both increase low paying jobs and our need for affordable housing.” After participating in the 2017 Tourism Forum, studying the City’s own survey results and talking to hundreds of residents, Tim concluded: “Healdsburg has clearly spoken: ‘we’ve reached our hotel limit. Let’s understand the connections between culture, downtown, Plaza, infrastructure, and neighborhoods; let’s take a more comprehensive approach and look at the overall community impacts and consequences of doubling hotel rooms. In a citizen ballot initiative let’s ask voters, ‘Do you want to stop hotel growth?’“ 

“Tim inspired Healdsburg citizens to get active in defending our town by his example of not giving up in his quest to win a city council seat, not once but four times!”—Warren Watkins

“We don't have a housing problem; we have an AFFORDABLE HOUSING (AH) problem. Stop talking about market-rate housing and instead put our energy on a bipartisan, comprehensive, coordinated approach to AH, including ADUs, smaller units, housing bonds, housing land trusts, measure "S" funds, in-lieu fees, higher inclusionary housing. Inventory City-owned properties and consider all for affordable housing. Diversity strengthens the community so avoid monolithic neighborhoods. Population bombs put pressures on our resources.”

To foster engagement and participation from LATINOS, comprising at least 1/3 of Healdsburg’s population, Tim wanted Spanish translation and childcare at council meetings and a City level Latino Commission. Closer coordination between the CITY and SCHOOL BOARD affects housing and the Latino community. To address PARKING he wanted to form partnerships with private property owners. He recognized the nexus between ENVIRONMENT and CLIMATE, encouraging more City-funded solar; and connecting the River and tributaries.

Tim was passionate about an integrated TRANSIT community not another piecemeal, add-on approach.“Let’s improve east to west connectors, like March and Powell; connect neighborhoods with bike lanes, integrate shopping areas, hotels, shuttles and the train station. Let’s ask ourselves: why does Healdsburg have the most expensive bike share in the U.S.? Do the hotel shuttles add to overall connectivity? Why is Mill District not connected to the train station?"

“Many have noted how well-considered, and inclusive Tim’s ideas were, and how articulate of a speaker he was. What touched me was how effectively he communicated his thoughts: the conviction, enthusiasm and positivity that punctuated and elevated every sentence with a heartfelt commitment to Healdsburg. His voice will be missed in our community.”—Joan Berler

The Voices of Healdsburg by Merrilyn Joyce



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