Thursday, January 29, 2015

Council Meeting Review

I, along with Lee, Art, Duane, and Gregory attended the Tuesday Santa Rosa City Council meeting for the Budget Priority hearing; Gregory and Art stayed for the Roseland Annexation reports and commented on the matter  I don’t know if Duane stayed, but probably did!

I think the entire “show” can be viewed on the SR City website, but here goes:

There was a mostly full chambers, with about 75 North Bay Organizing Project (NBOP) and Imaginist Theater group arrived having marched from SW Santa Rosa for the event with placards for low income housing and transportation equity.  They were warmly welcomed (nice change) and were first on the commenters’ schedule.  
Lee spoke on the Open Govt. TF implementation specifically the Community Engagement Director and the consolidation of efforts into a new section/department as well as the Annexation process’s community engagement deficiencies (as per the material he sent us).   Quite a bit later, Gregory gave his presentation or re-creating city processes (also sent to us). Three folks from the Open Govt. TF also spoke to implementation of the plan including the Director Level of the new Engagement position, so I think we made an impact on that score.  

The Budget hearings went smoothly with presentations limited to 2 minutes due to a large number of presenters.  Mayor Sawyer did a masterly job of running the hearing.  Although many other issues had multiple speakers:  SE Greenway, Affordable Housing, it was evident that City Council members had gotten our materials.  

Lee and I left when they broke for dinner after the Budget priorities hearing, but Art and Gregory and Duane were troopers and stayed on through the item on Roseland and the consultants report.
My impression from his late night comments to me was that our submitted input (and follow up phone call from city staff to Gregory & I) really made an impact.  The consultant from Shared Spaces basically axed the longitudinal process in the report and described the creation of a Steering Committee that will truly empowered and drive the process. Gregory definitely said that the consultant’s process will go forward, not stop.   However, the Shared Spaces guy did request to meet.
My suggestion at this point would be to convene our Annexation Team and try and sift through all this information, including the efforts to create a Health Action Chapter in SW Santa Rosa, and how this will play into the Annexation Process.

Pat Kuta


Pat did a great job of describing the first part of the City Council meeting on Tuesday, and I share her perspective on the upbeat nature of the presentations and comments for budget priorities from the community and the Council. The tone of communication definitely has changed.

By the way, in the meantime, we’ve received an email correspondence initiated by Helga Lemke to John Sawyer requesting a change to the Public Comments on Non-Agenda Items from the end of the meeting to the beginning.  John wrote back that he will be proposing that at least a half-hour be dedicated at the beginning of the meeting for that, in addition to the end of meeting time slot.  Thanks to Helga, and a special thanks to John for his prompt and productive response.

One other item at the beginning of the meeting is worth noting.  Mayor Sawyer had placed a resolution from the Council honoring Bill Kortum, and it was presented to Lucy Kortum.  Speeches from members were from the hearts, and I was glad that lots of young people were on hand to hear about how someone willing to stand up for their beliefs can make a difference in lots of folks lives,

The agenda items concerning Roseland annexation, both the citizen engagement and the cost and revenues for annexation, went very well.  I believe that the letters we sent to the Council, and the conference call earlier in the day that Pat and I had with Lisa Kranz and Jessica Jones had an impact we hoped for.  Both the staff presentation, and the Councilmember questioning showed they understood our concerns.  The role of the Steering Committee, the need to design the process to adequately focus on annexation, and the opportunity to develop more fully the area’s capabilities of representation and participation, all were brought up and addressed.  In adopting the Citizen Engagement Plan, the Council has instructed the staff and consultants that it expects a robust outreach with creative initiatives to go far beyond what was described in initial documentation presented.  Even Duane complimented the Council for their enthusiasm, and gave them an optimistic view of the success of annexation.

On the costs and revenues of annexation, the report delivered by the staff was given top honors by the Council. The gallery was filled with departmental participants who were prepared to respond to questions, though most on the Council focused on clarifying County contributions and commitments.  The City Manager indicated that the document before them had been shared with the County last week, and it should become a clear start for serious discussions on what the County perceives as its perspectives.  

At the end of these agenda items, Duane and Art and I passed around business cards with PMC and Shared Spaces, and Steve Campion asked if he could meet soon to begin the process.  We agreed on Thursday, Feb 5th at 11am at our house.  Let me know if you think inviting him to our Steering Committee meeting would be more useful.  One of my interests is to get him to make all materials and plans available online immediately, and to consider establishing online access to document development and weekly online video-conferencing.

I think we’re off to a good start, mostly because we helped orchestrate a deep understanding of how our concerns will shape the success of failure of the process.  Now we need to keep the many eyes and ears who are alerted - watching and contributing - and recruit many others to become involved.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Community Engagement Strategy Comments

Santa Rosa City Council
Jan 27th Meeting
Community Engagement Strategy Plan for the
Roseland Area Specific Plan and Annexation

1.    Annexation Community Engagement is not the junior partner of the Specific Area Plan and EIR.  As designed, this Plan gives inadequate attention to the developing strong local community engagement  for Roseland's annexation planning.

2.    The Steering Committee is inadequately defined, selected, and authorized to undertake the creative and innovative measures needed to engage all partners in this important process.  Recruiting and developing key stakeholders, whose trust and involvement are essential requires clearer direction than defined in this Plan.  It will also require more timely meetings than is budgeted, and more outreach strategies than described.

3.    Who’s steering this effort?  There is no interaction or meetings combining the Technical Assistance Team and the Steering Committee, leaving the undefined Project Team in control.  Shouldn’t the Project Team and Technical Assistance Team be guided by the Steering Committee?  

City Council
Jan 27th Meeting
Budget Priorities Public Hearing

Good evening Mr. Mayor and Council members, thank you for allowing me to speak to you.

I’m Lee Dibble and I have been a resident of Santa Rosa over 50 years. I am a member of the Steering Committee of Santa Rosa Together.

Our group has reviewed the open government task force report and applaud them for their efforts.

I am here to reinforce several of their recommendations.

First: We would like to see the city hire a Community Engagement Director. We feel that this is doubly important at this time now that we are moving forward with the Roseland annexation process. We would encourage you to find a person to fill this position that has the experience and skills needed to lead the work to improve community involvement. In addition, we recommend filling the current vacant position of Community Engagement Coordinator and consolidating all of the city staff working on community engagement into a new Office of Community Involvement.

We have reviewed the Scope of Service/Roseland Annexation Community Engagement and feel that it does not contain enough opportunity for community input.  In addition to other deficiencies, it needs considerable expansion of the community meetings component. A Community Director and a Community Engagement Coordinator would make this expansion of meetings possible.

Our second recommendation to you is to create a Community Involvement Board/Commission with both community leaders and city staff with the following responsibilities:

A. Engage the community and the city staff to develop principles of community involvement to guide future work.

B. Develop a long-term plan for improving community involvement and implementing the recommendations of the Open Government Task Force.

C. Present the principles and plans to the Council for adoption within six months.

D. Provide ongoing evaluation and oversight of the community involvement efforts of the city government.

This would be a permanent board.

Santa Rosa Together stands ready to help in any way to implement these suggestions.

Thank you very much for your consideration of our suggestions.

Santa Rosa's Budgets


Here's a look at how the City spends our $299 million Operating Budget, and $58 million Capital Budget.        Thanks much to Tanya Narath for bringing it to our attention.

Digital Cities: Latest News

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Jan 27, S.R. City Council Agenda Items of Interest


There are three agenda items on next Tuesday’s Santa Rosa City Council Agenda which are of interest to the Santa Rosa Together (SRT) Steering Committee.  The 5pm Public Hearing on FISCAL YEAR 2015-16 BUDGET PRIORITIES AND CITY COUNCIL GOALS (14.1) is a very important opportunity for all residents interested in influencing the way that the City spends our money.  The SRT Steering Committee will be encouraging the Council to allocate funds for key elements to implement the recent recommendations of the Open Government Task Force. 

Depending on the pace of the Council Meeting, either earlier or later, the Council will hear reports on, and consider accepting, the Civic Engagement Strategy Plan for the Roseland Annexation and Specific Area Plan (13.2), as well as the Public Review Draft of the Costs and Revenues of Roseland Annexation (13.3). The Steering Committee will be encouraging the Council to provide more funds for, and insure a more representative and supported Steering Committee to supervise, the civic engagement process for the Roseland Annexation Plan.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Janury 27th, Recreation

Santa Rosa City Council
January 27, 2015


I'm here to recommend that you make a budget priority of recreation.  Only not the way you think of that word.  I urge you tonight to support re-creation, and specifically budget items that support the first three letters - Resident Education and Communication.

You are all agents of change, but you have to help all of us work with each other, with you, and your staff to make those changes. Your budget needs to include:

1.     Website additions which use historical and current information in easy to understand formats to educate residents, and which capitalizes on the valuable information produced by our many talented community groups. 
2.    Multi-media coverage of all city committees, allowing easy following of issues from initial presentation to final resolution. We need to develop new ways for advanced education and communication, early and often, with and between our residents.
3.    Support for your staff to work with the public and volunteers.   My recommendation for the highest budget priority is that you challenge yourselves to recreate a city ready to fully partner with your residents.   That may mean changing the work hours of your staff to allow them to meet when the public is available.  It probably will mean adding staff time.

For housing re-creation, parks re-creation, area-planning re-creation, utilities re-creation, city re-creation.  It's all of our jobs, and your budget priorities need to reflect that.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Open Government - More Inspiration

Upgrading the S.R. Neighborhood Public Notice Map


Our handy neighborhood public notice map is being improved.  Up to now, public notices have been added to the map as they were added to the City's website.  Usually, the life of a public notice for a specific step along the approval process (temporary use permits at the CDA office, design review application approvals and appeal with the Zoning Administrator, project approvals at the Planning Commission or City Council) is a very short time at each step.  One the notice expired, we took it off the map.

But if the map is to be useful, we should be following the progress of the property or issue.  So we're slightly modifying the way that information is added and displayed.  Chronologically, items will be added to the map (it can hold 2,000 at a time), and each placemark will contain up to 10 links to urls holding information on the item.  That way, anyone can view a large variety of sequential staff reports, blog entries, and social network commentaries.  It will begin to provide a more detailed historical look at our city's proposed changes to its properties and infrastructure.

We're doing it because we believe that earlier and more comprehensive information will improve the possibilities for collaboration within our community.

Let us know what you think of the map as it develops by commenting on this post, or sending me an email (Gregory Fearon).