Monday, May 8, 2017

S.R. City Council Agenda, May 9th


Thanks once again to our friend, Anne Seeley, of Concerned Friends For Santa Rosa, for her analysis of this week's Santa Rosa City Council Meeting.

Friends:    The Study Session before the 4PM Council meeting starts at noon in the Council Chambers.  This is just the beginning of the budget-setting process.
   3.1 Review of Fiscal Year 2017/18 Department Budget Requests, Capital Improvement Program Funding requests and Community Promotions Funding Requests.  They will consider the bigger-budget department requests next week, 5/16, such as Police and Fire Recreation and Parks, Transportation and Public Works.
Below find a link to some general information about the budget - where it comes from and where it goes.

4PM Council meeting 
10 Mayor's and Council members Reports
10.1.8 Appointment of a City representative and an alternate to the Santa Rosa Plain Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA).  This new agency is one of 3 in Sonoma County just now being created (others are the  Petaluma River Watershed and Valley of the Moon watershed).  This is a State-mandated program.  California is the last state in the Union to implement groundwater sustainability measures.   Each agency will each make a GSA Plan by 2022 to ensure groundwater sustainability.  Each City in the SR Plain, the County, the Water Agency and a few others will have seats at the table.

14.1 Courthouse Square Reunification project Update.  I hope you've all had the chance to experience the new plaza.  There are still some things to be installed, but it is a great improvement over a street going through the heart of downtown.
99DA-4EF1-9E51-84AFA1D72B2D  Courthouse Square Update Staff Report

5PM   Public Hearing
15.1 DeTurk Winery Village.  The Council will consider two things that are recommended by the Planning Commission.  First, a vacation of city real estate adjacent to the project and second, awarding a Density Bonus of 35% increased density.  The project is at 9th and Donahue Streets.  To be built are 185 apartments, with 15 designated for low-income people, while maintaining 20,000 square feet of existing commercial buildings.
     Below are links to a map of the project site and then the justifications given for the increased density.

See you there!    Anne

Saturday, April 15, 2017

S.R. City Council Agenda, April 18th

Friends:    There is no Study Session before the 4PM meeting

7. Proclamations and Presentations
  7.1 Sexual Assault Awareness Week
  7.2 Roseland Beautification Week

8 Staff Briefings
  8.1 2017 Earth Day Onstage Festival

15 Report
  15.1 Approval of Amended and Restated Joint Exercise Powers Agreement for the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (SCWMA).  This item is for the Council to decide to extend the agreement for one more year.

  15.2 Annual Police Auditing Report and Contract for a Professional Services Agreement with Robert Hunter Aaronson. 

  15.2 Request to Vacate Public Right of Way on Melita Road in 2 Areas

  15.4 Approval of the Preliminary 2017/2018 Regional Water Reuse Budget. This refers to the Subregional Wastewater Treatment Program that Santa Rosa administers.

15.5 Appointment Of City Attorney and  Approval of City Attorney's Employment Agreement.  It's to be Sue Gallagher, to be paid $17,083 per month.

16 Public Hearings 
  16.1 Gasparini Rezoning at 368 Yolanda Avenue from CG (General Commercial) to IL (Light Industrial).    Is this the same parcel on which considerable effort was applied several years ago because it maybe was going to be a Home Depot?

See you there!   Anne

Saturday, March 25, 2017

S.R. City Council Agenda, Tuesday, March 28th


Thanks to our good friend, Anne Seeley, of Concerned Citizen For Santa Rosa, for her analysis of this week's City Council agenda:

4:00 A Joint Meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission for a study session.
   3.1 Southeast Greenway Preferred Alternative  After years of work by a committed and inspired group of people, this project held 2 public meetings about which of 3 designs should be the preferred alternative.  Each has different combinations of development - commercial and community, gathering places and wildlife protection areas.  Come and tell the Council and Planning Commission which alternative you prefer!
     See the link below for the staff presentation on this.

5:00 City Council meeting
   14.2 The purchase of 3 new Police vehicles in anticipation of their need for when the annexation of Roseland happens in late 2017 or early 2018.

   14.3 Designation of a Recreational Trail Across Land Belonging to the Oakmont Treatment Plant.   You've read about the objections to access for pedestrians and bicycles from Channel Drive to Annadel State Park.   This is part of a solution to that.

14.4 Urgency Ordinance To Impose a Moratorium of Outdoor Cannabis Cultivation for Personal and Commercial Purposes.
     While a draft comprehensive policy is being created, this 45-day moratorium would protect against some problems already seen with outdoor cultivation.

See you there!


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Recent Grants in Santa Rosa


Here are recent basic needs grants to Santa Rosa-based nonprofits from the Community Foundation Sonoma County.  The Santa Rosa Office of Community Engagement is working with us to assemble a list of neighborhood resources, and new grants given in the community are often opportunities for our residents to volunteer.  Look for the contact information on the agencies in the blog of our Directory of Santa Rosa Nonprofits.

Ag Innovations & Sonoma County Food System Alliance: to support the 2016 Sonoma County Food Forum
Alliance Medical Center: to support the “Discovering the Hidden Treasures in our Communities-How Community Centers Impact Everyone’s Quality of Life” event in Healdsburg.
American Cancer Society Inc.: to provide medically vulnerable Sonoma County cancer patients undergoing active treatment with free transportation to and from treatment appointments.
Art Escape: to support the Dia de los Muertos celebration at Art Escape
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa: to support the Family Support Center.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa: to support the basic needs of residents at The Palms.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa: to support the Family Resource Center.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Santa Rosa: to support the operations of the DeMeo House.
City of Santa Rosa Housing and Community Services: to support Sam Jones Hall.
Community Action Partnership: to support the Sloan House.
Community Action Partnership: to support “Rally for CAP” event as part of the Annual Day and Night Festival
Community Support Network: for general operating support
Episcopal Senior Communities Foundation: to provide emergency funding to low-income seniors.
FISH of the Santa Rosa Area Inc.: to support FISH’s food pantry.
Hispanics in Philanthropy: to support the HIPGiver Gala.
Integrative Medical Clinic Foundation: to support the “What Matters to YOU” coalition.
InterFaith Shelter Network: to support the Off the Streets project.
Jewish Community Free Clinic of Sonoma County: to provide free medical services to low-income patients.
John Muir Charter Schools: to provide Youth Connection Students the opportunity to purchase the supplies necessary to continue their studies with the Culinary Arts Certificate and Baking Certificate programs.
LandPaths: to support the In Our Own Back Yards program.
Latino Health Forum: to support the 24th annual Latino Health Forum
Latino Service Providers: to support the Fandango Fundraiser
Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy: for staff support to apply for inclusion on the Upstream Investments portfolio.
Living Room Center, Inc. : for general operating support.
Los Cien Sonoma County: to support the 2016 State of the Latino Community in Sonoma County event.
Los Cien Sonoma County: to support Los Cien’s operations.
On The Move: to support VOICES with funding for emergency food and transportation assistance.
Museums of Sonoma County: to support the Art4Kids education program, a hands-on art classroom instruction and museum experience for 5th and 6th graders in four Title I schools in Santa Rosa.
North Bay Organizing Project: to support the Latino Student Congress.
Northern California Center for Well Being: to support “Heroes for Health”, a run/walk event to celebrate the Center’s iDo26.2 program.
On the Move: to support the launch of an On The Verge cohort in Sonoma County.
On The Move: for general operating support for VOICES Sonoma
Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County: to support the 12th annual Winterblast held in the South of A District of Santa Rosa
Pepperwood Foundation: to support TeenNat, connecting youth to natural resource careers through participation in conservation research.
Pepperwood Foundation: to support the professional development of members of the Sonoma Environmental Education Collaborative.
Point Blue Conservation Science: to bring the expanded Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed (STRAW) multi-visit program to an underserved Sonoma County school.
Raizes Collective: to support the Guelaguetza festival at Luther Burbank Center for the Arts.
Redwood Empire Food Bank: for general operating support.
Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation: to support the traveling exhibit ” Patient No More.”
Santa Rosa Symphony: to support Simply Strings, a five-year program providing free in-depth music training to underserved elementary students.
Serve A Little: to provide free auto repair to low-income single moms.
Sixth Street Playhouse: to support an innovative project challenging students in selected middle and high schools in Sonoma County to create an original theatre piece.
Social Advocates for Youth: for general operating support
Social Advocates for Youth: to support the “Girls Empowerment Movement”  conference
Sonoma County Economic Development Board Foundation: to support the “Discovered” project, recognizing exceptional individual artists in Sonoma County.
Sonoma County Economic Development Board Foundation: to engage in a county-wide assessment of arts education instruction in the public schools, K-12.
Sonoma County Office of Education: to support ” Equity at the Core” conference.
Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation: to support the Roseland Cup in Southwest Santa Rosa.
Sonoma Ecology Center: to support the K-6 Watershed Education Program and EnviroLeaders paid internship program for teens.
Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods:  to support the Forest to the Sea programs for K-12 students in Sonoma County.
Team Sugarloaf: 1) Red Barn Campsite construction - to create three new backcountry campsites at the historic red barn compound near Bald Mountain; 2) Hood Mansion Interpretive Panels - to provide permanent interpretive information relating to the history  of Hood Mansion and surrounding properties; 3) Bear Aware Program - ber-proff garbage containers at campsites, signage and interpretive programs to educate the public about black bears. 
TLC Child & Family Services: for general operating support
Verity: to secure emergency shelter and other basic needs for victims of sexual violence and human trafficking.
Volunteer Center Of Sonoma County Inc. : to support 211 Sonoma County.
Women’s Recovery Services A Unique Place:  to provide food, safe housing, and diapers to mothers enrolled at Women’s Recovery Services.
Women’s Recovery Services: to support Women’s Recovery Services programs for homeless women and their children.

YWCA of Sonoma County: to provide food and essential program supplies for women and their children fleeing domestic violence.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

S.R. Council Agenda March 14th


Our thanks once again to Anne Seeley, of Concerned Citizens For Santa Rosa, for her analysis of this week's City Council Agenda.

    Before the meeting, the Council will be in closed session to consider 3 legal matters, two of them requests from other jurisdictions to join in support in suits against the Trump Administration.  Interesting.

There are 2 Study Sessions before the 4PM meeting.  They start at 2pm..
3.1 Progressive Parking Strategies and Railroad Square Parking Management Plan.
3.2 Development of a Safe Medicine and Sharps Disposal Ordinance.
   The County Department of health will present its model Safe Medicine Disposal Ordinance that could be implemented throughout the county. 

10.2.1 Request for a Future Agenda Item.  On 3/7/17 Vice Mayor Tibbetts asked for an agenda item in which Council members will discuss having a 'Housing First' speaker present to the Council.
12.1 Resolution - Valet Parking Agreement (VPA of course).  It is recommended by the Finance Department that the Council approve a VPA with the Futrell Corporation which will develop a hotel in the Empire Building, on the northwest corner of Courthouse Square.  Cars would be parked by valets in Garage #12 on First Street.

12.2 Changes to Speed Limits on portions of several roads: Bellevue Ave. Bennett Valley Road and Brookwood Ave. All speeds would be set lower by 5MPH.

12.3 Resolution of Support Authorizing an Application to the State's Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) for $93, 257 in funds to support more frequent service on CitiBus trunk lines.  
   These funds would come from the State's Cap and Trade System.

14.1 Resolution of the Council Approving the Argument in Support of the Cannabis Tax Measure that the Council voted to appear on the June 6 ballot.

14.2  Sonoma County Water Agency 2017/18 Budget and Water Rate Increase.  On April 3, the Water Advisory Committee to the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), which is made up of representatives of each contractor, will vote on whether to increase the water cost  for users.   SCWA's new budget shows a need for an increase in usage payments which might result in an average 2.2% increase.
   The purpose of this item is for the Council to direct Santa Rosa's representative on the WAC, Tom Schwedhelm, on how to vote on 4/3.

14.3 An Update on the Cpurthouse Reunification Project and its costs so far.

14.4 Sustainable Cities Memorandum
   The 'Sustainable Cities' program is a nation-wide model for partnership between cities and universities.   The Council will decide whether to partner with Sonoma State University in this program.

14.5 Sesquicentennial Celebration Event Planning.

    In September, 2018, Santa Rosa will be 150 years old.  An ad hoc group involving city leadership and members of the public has been working since 2015 to discuss how to celebrate the City's birthday.
The committee asks for $23,000 to hire an event coordinator to begin work.

There are Public Hearings having to to do with trash abatement.

See you there!    Anne

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Getting to Housing First in Sonoma County

Problems like homelessness have no simple answers.  For decades, we’ve seen poverty and housing costs rise. Wanting to avoid development sprawl, and enjoy a healthy environment, we contained new housing.  And we knew it would result in higher costs, and the poor would suffer.
Eliminating poverty is not a local option.  For many years, I served on the board of directors of the local, federally-funded poverty agency with a mission to end poverty.  The agency has been consumed just aiding our local poor to keep hope and children alive.
Building affordable housing is closer to a local option.  State and local funds, coupled with local zoning and development authority have allowed some reduced price housing to be built.  Federal, state, city and private funds have opened and closed shelters when it got too cold and wet.
So we shouldn’t be surprised by a movement that demands we do a better job of getting our most vulnerable residents into permanent housing without wasting money cycling them through shelters, or trying to change the behaviors mostly brought on by being homeless and poor.
What should surprise us is the ease with which our representatives are moving to end homelessness without asking us to answer the question “What sacrifices are we willing to make?” .
If we can’t make the poor richer, and we’re not willing to dispoil our environment so badly that housing costs drop, then it looks like our only options are to either: 1) squeeze solutions out of housing developers (and all non-poor housing seekers); or 2) squeeze currently-housed residents to provide new taxes to subsidize poor housing development; or both.  
I vote for both, and I think we should have a full community discussion about it.

S.R. City Council Meeting Agenda, March 7th


Friends:    There is no Study Session before the 4PM meeting.

7. Proclamations and Presentations
7.1 Women's History Month.  In this proclamation, credit is given to the National Women's History Project, and their birth 37 years ago of the National Women's History Month.  

8.  Staff Briefings
8.1 Artspace Market Study of Artists', Creative Individuals' and Arts Organizations' Space Needs and Preferences.  In their report to the Council, the consultants indicate that the survey was completed by 394 individuals and 47 organizations and businesses. The results of the survey reflect a need for art-focused spaces of all types in Santa Rosa including:

  • Affordable live/work space for artists/creative individuals and their families; 
  • Studio and creative work spaces for artists; 
  • Permanent spaces for arts and cultural organizations; and 
  • Event, gallery, administrative, educational, shared/co-working, and other types of spaces for organizations and businesses to rent or utilize on a short-term or occasional basis. 
Consent Items
13.1 RESOLUTION - EXTENSION OF PROCLAMATION OF LOCAL HOMELESS EMERGENCY RECOMMENDATION: It is recommended by the Housing and Community Services Department that the Council, by resolution, approve an extension of Resolution No. 28839 which formally proclaimed a local homeless emergency within Santa Rosa.Community

The staff report includes twelve important community conditions effecting the health and safety of our homeless, and concludes: "These conditions continue to pose extreme peril to the safety of persons and property within the territorial limits of the city, thus necessitating the continuation of the proclamation of local homeless emergency at this time."

Report Items
15.1 & 15.2 are two separate, but similar items which place before the Council the decisions to call for an election on June 6th to allow City voters to enact a rent control & stabilization ordinance delayed since last fall, and a new tax on cannabis operations in Santa Rosa.

There is also a special meeting of the City Council, called for this Friday from 9am to 4pm, at the Hilton, 3555 Round Barn Rd.  Here is the agenda.  It would appear that residents wanting to influence the goals of the Council in the next year should be prepared to speak at the "Public Comments" period at the beginning of the meeting.

Workshop Objectives:
• Consensus on mission, vision and values
• Consensus on Tier 1 priorities
• Strengthen teamwork of Council and executives

  1. Welcome by the Mayor 
  2. Public Comments 
  3. Comments from the City Manager 
  4. Review Today’s Agenda 
  5. Discuss Progress and Achievements Over the Past Year 
  6. Discuss Trends and Challenges 
  7. Discussion Mission, Vision and Values for Santa Rosa 
  8. Orientation to Setting Priorities 
  9. Discussion of Tier 1 Priorities 
  10. Wrap up and Next Steps 
  11. Discuss April 20 – 21 Workshop objectives: 
  • Discuss Council procedural items 
  • Confirm mission, vision and values 
  • Discuss core business functions of the City and investments needed 
  • Reaffirm Tier 1 and achieve consensus on Tier 2 priorities, and what will move to Tier 3 (non-assigned and non-programmed) 
  • Strengthen teamwork of Council and executives No other business will be considered at this Special Meeting

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

S.R. City Council Agenda, February 28th


Thanks again to our friend, Anne Seeley, of Concerned Citizens For Santa Rosa, for her analysis of this week's City Council agenda.

Friends:    There is no Study Session before the 4PM meeting.

6. Proclamations and Presentations
6.1 Black History Month.  In this proclamation, credit is given to the late Rev Coffee, Ms. Shirley Gordon and the Community Baptist Church's sponsorship of the Bridge to the Future - Rites of Passage Program in which adult mentors have since 2000 have mentored teens aged 14-18 in skills for effectiveness as adults.

14.3 Community Feedback to the Community Advisory Board (CAB) on Capital Improvements Program (CIP) projects.
      In the 2003 ordinance creating the CAB, which came out of the 2002 City Charter Review Process, one of CAB's responsibilities is to bring the public into the planning and budgeting process. CAB held a series of public meetings recently about the list of projects on the CIP - usually big-money public infrastructure projects partially paid for by development   The public who attended produced a set of priorities.   Below find first, the link to the CAB actions and second, a list of the CIP projects spending from October through December of last year.

14.4 Discussion of a $20,000 GAP Funding Request from Legal Aid of Sonoma County.  The needs are great for tenant protections and representation.  This was proposed for discussion  by Council Member Rogers and approved for discussion on 1/24/17. If Council agrees, there is a resolution ready for their approval to do this.

See you there!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Message of Hope from Santa Rosa Together

A Message of Hope from Santa Rosa Together

Our election and the transition to a new Presidency have revealed deep fractures in the fabric of our national community and politics. No matter how we voted, if we hope to restore the ability to work together to meet our challenges, we all need to find ways to overcome the deep divisions that separate us. In Santa Rosa, we have made some progress in this work. For the past five years, a diverse group of volunteer community leaders have been working to get more people engaged and improve and the way we work together. We’ve created a volunteer, non-partisan organization, Santa Rosa Together, to build interpersonal connections and focus on strengthening our community. We started with the belief that we cannot rebuild trust and overcome alienation unless we all have a meaningful voice and role in the city and we cannot learn from each other and find common ground without renewed faith in democracy.

 Our democracy was designed to enable a way of life that respects each person’s unique contribution and engages the talents of all of our citizens.  This vision is our democratic heritage, the gift given to us by generations of sacrifice and struggle. We believe that the best path to community healing is to reaffirm our commitment to democracy and rebuild a politics based on our shared democratic values. 

Some see our current state as bleak, but in Santa Rosa Together we do not see it that way. Despite the election, we believe our community is now more united and inclusive than ever. Our towns are teeming with diversity and in their daily lives our citizens are building bridges as never before. If we recognize our potential and rebuild our local politics to give everyone a role and voice, we will create a democracy that will flourish beyond our own wildest dreams. Jefferson was right, democracy does needs to be renewed periodically to make it relevant in a changing world. That is our task today.

We can start by finding ways to restore power and function to our local organizations and neighborhood level communities. These can be our democracy schools where more of us can get engaged, get to know each other, and develop the skills that we need to find common ground and work together. Neighbors who understand how to do this will be prepared to reject the divisive tactics of our current politics.

We also need creative new ways to bring our diverse communities and citizens together to share ideas and learn from each other. We are already learning how to bring information and resources to our neighborhoods and how to organize cross-community meetings to share ideas and find common ground. In Santa Rosa, we have organized “Homeless Talk”, a coalition taking the conversation on homelessness out to neighborhoods and working to develop the kind of processes we need to find common ground.

And we need transformed governments that understand that in a democracy they have a primary responsibility to help citizens organize so that they have a voice and role in the work of the city.  Administrators and staff should bring their expertise to us and partner with us to address our city’s concerns, not just make decisions for us.  In Santa Rosa, with the leadership of our City Council and a new Director of Community Engagement, we are poised to begin this transformation.

It is regrettable that we have had to experience the deepened divisions and diminishment of democratic values that recent politics have helped to create. But if this experience motivates us to work together to rebuild our democratic community and create a democratic politics that helps to bring us together, it will be worth it. Santa Rosa Together encourages all local citizens to join us in these endeavors.  

Friday, February 10, 2017

Three Bells: A Response and Critique of the Santa Rosa Homeless Summit

By Adrienne Lauby, Homeless Action! member

Thank you to the Santa Rosa Collective, Catholic Charities. St. Joseph’s and anyone else who helped produce this 2-day workshop.  Thank you for making it possible for low and no-income people to attend and eat lunch.  Thank you for giving Homeless Action! one of the break-out sessions. Thank you for providing an intellectually stimulating couple of days. Thank you all for attending and being part of our ongoing attempt to do something ‘awesome’ to end homelessness in Sonoma County and Santa Rosa.  My four recommendations from this Summit are at the end of this essay.

Before the Summit, my understanding of “Housing First” was that we would stop trying to fix people until we get them into housing.  I support that.  As someone who has been poor and someone who knows and works with many homeless people, I see how varied and how strong many homeless people are.  I’ve seen the ineffective and humiliating programs many homeless people are channeled into “for their own good.”  This theory rang a large brass bell of jubilation for me.
I also liked Iain’s focus on radical acceptance, allowing people to be the people they are rather than trying to figure out what is wrong with them and putting together a path for their improvement.
We don’t know what any individual is capable of; we don’t know what they need.  As we all know from our own life, improvement is a complex and personal thing.  Iain said that a helper’s job is to 1) get people into housing and 2) walk alongside them in a non-judgmental, constructive, consistent and intensive way.
Hearing him discuss this in detail was not only validating but a good refresher course for my own behavior.  For much of the Summit, I felt we were advocating Housing as a Human Right and challenging the idea that only those who meet standards set from above should have a community that includes food, shelter and healthcare.  I deeply believe that food, shelter and healthcare should be shared and not be doled out, as it is so often, as punishment or reward.
All of this rang a sweet-toned bell, a bell of long-term and ongoing hope.

I learned that, in Iain’s version of Housing First, nearly all of the available resources would be shifted from helping people who are homeless into 1) housing location and 2) extensive case management after people get into a house.  I believe this is the Federal government’s version of Housing First as well.
Which is more important, to feed people once a week or to get them a house with a kitchen?  To teach parenting skills or get a parent a home for their children?  Put this way, it seems obvious that housing is the most important goal.
Homeless people would largely agree.  When I ask homeless people how Homeless Action! can help them, the number one answer is, “I need a place to live.”  Homeless people also say that the agency staff who are supposed to be helping them don’t do the things they need most.  They say the agencies have their own agendas and spend too much time either trying to improve their characters and/or enforce unnecessary rules.
Iain said that we could house people even in high rent, low vacancy areas like Sonoma County.  He said that most poor people, most people living with mental illness, most people who drink, do drugs or have other problems do not become homeless.  All these people, he said, find homes in the current rental market.  We just need to work harder and be more focused.  He said we could find homes for the homeless people who live here.
Iain gave two categories of housing that we may be missing, 1) owners who rent informally, only to people recommended by current tenants and 2) corporate owners who might welcome less vacancies and turn over.  Is there housing for the homeless available in Sonoma County if we look in these two areas?    We don’t know.  But, the hope that there are rental openings we don’t know about, don’t work hard enough to find, or don’t have the skills to locate is exciting.
More resources should be devoted to testing this theory.  The Rent Sonoma Committee of the Continuum of Care began doing this work.  There is also a group in West County starting to forge links with landlords.  Their efforts and other work in this area should be encouraged and provided with resources.
The Santa Rosa City Council and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors through the Continuum of Care should ask for monthly data from each agency to track their success in locating apartments and getting homeless people into them.  Shelter providers should also report their capacity and wait list numbers.  These reports could be very simple but should be on each website.
The idea that everyone who is working on homeless issues would focus on housing people is alluring.
For funders, it’s particularly handy because, with simple metrics, they can grade everyone from the individual staff member to entire agencies.  We only need to ask the question: What percentage of the people who come through your door were you able to house last month?
This also set a bell to ringing and, this time, it was a warning bell.

Iain presented himself as an expert and often referred to research that proved his point. He painted people who might object as people who are resistant to change or people who want to protect their agencies.  The proactive silencing of those who may disagree is bad behavior and should be ignored.
As I said above, the simplicity of this version of “Housing First” is very alluring and, I believe, particularly alluring for funders.  But, its simplicity is also its flaw.  Human societies are not simple and homelessness is not a single-issue problem.
Iain spoke of the many people who are ‘able to find housing even in a tight housing market.’  But homelessness is primarily a result of poverty and, in Sonoma County poor people, elders, those on fixed income, mentally disabled people, and people with addiction or other problems are not doing so well.
Despite ObamaCare, many people with mental illnesses cannot access routine health care.  Rental insecurity is exacerbating mental and physical illnesses.  There is a pathetic lack of treatment available for addicts, and the quality of life for many elders and youth continues to slide.
According to the Sonoma County Department of Health Services’ 2014 “Portrait of Sonoma County,” huge disparities along the lines of race, ethnicity, and gender persist in levels of health, education, and standard of living. Many people have already had to leave the county because they could not find a way to support, shelter and feed themselves in Santa Rosa.  All of this is likely to get even worse under the Trump administration.  When 30% of households spend more than 50% of their income on rent, as they do here, we have a problem that can not be measured by the number of homeless people we house.
Will finding available apartments for homeless people shrink the number of apartments available for other low and no-income people?  That seems likely.
Both the City of Santa Rosa and the CDC efforts have the homeless issue as a primary focus.  As they seek solutions and work for success, we must ensure that they do not ignore the wider problems and solutions.   Both the business and the advocacy community recognize that the financial burden of paying 50% of income for rent is impossible in the long term.
I asked Kris Freed, one of the Summit presenters, to explain how this model of Housing First works in her organization, the L.A. Family Housing.  She said that her LFH once had both transitional housing and shelter housing and they had 300 person waiting lists.  They closed the transitional housing, made the shelter bare bones and put all their money into finding housing and helping people stay in their houses.  Now she can guarantee that people who come to her can have a house within 60 days. Who wouldn’t want that?
But, when I ask more questions, I got a picture of many people squeezed into crowded, stressful living conditions.  LFH offers some help with the initial rent but there were no ongoing rental subsidies.  They do the kind of casework Iain recommended but for even the most troubling conditions, it ends after two years.  This was very disturbing information and we need to learn the details of those who have “succeeded” via Housing First.  Are these successes successful by our community standards?  What are the trade-offs in health and well being both for the homeless and for the low-income communities?
If we select only the outcome of “stable housing for the chronically homeless”, we are setting our goals too narrowly.  And, we are allowing the larger community to ignore their role in providing a reasonable quality of life for all its residents.
The U.S. homeless population skyrocketed beginning with Ronald Reagan’s 50% cuts to HUD (Housing and Urban Development), the agency that had historically been tasked with building low income housing stock.  In each decade since, those low-income houses have not been built.  If we apply the model of Housing First that we heard at the Summit, we don’t need the Federal government to help house the people of the U.S.  But, this is patently untrue.
Locally, both the City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma have committed to building housing dedicated to homeless and other low or no-income people.  Their efforts need to be encouraged and supported.  The “boomerang funds” which returned from Redevelopment should be tracked and we must assure they are dedicated to housing, rather than just lament the loss of Redevelopment. And, the State of California also needs to step up to their obligations to provide for community housing needs.
Finally, and this may be the most important thing I am saying, if resources are to be redirected, we must ask homeless people which services are the most important to them. Any funding changes, whether within an agency or from outside funders, must only be made after a rigorous survey of the most important people, the homeless people themselves.

1.  Test the theory that there are rental openings we don’t know about, don’t work hard enough to find, or don’t have the skills to locate.  Encourage and provide resources to those who are working to locate housing for homeless people through direct contact with landlords, property managers and owners.  Track their progress carefully.
2.   Ask for public monthly reports from each agency on their success in housing homeless people as well as the capacity and wait list at each shelter.
3.   Support, but assure transparency from, the City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma’s commitment to building housing dedicated to homeless and other low or no-income people.
4.  Redirect funding only in response to and as guided by a rigorous survey of homeless people who currently use the services (agency level changes) or homeless people as a whole (city and county-wide changes).


Here's two YouTube videos featuring the Santa Rosa City Council discussion on extending the Emergency Ordinance on the local homeless crisis:

Santa Rosa City Council, Feb 7th, Part 1
Santa Rosa City Council, Feb 7th, Part 2

Saturday, January 28, 2017

S.R. City Council Agenda, Jan 31st


Our thanks to our friend, Anne Seeley, of Concerned Citizens For Santa Rosa, for her analysis of this week's City Council agenda:

Friends:     There is no Study Session.

10.2 Request for Agenda Items.
 10.2.1 On 1/24/17, Mayor Coursey asked for an agenda item to discuss Santa Rosa Declaring Itself a Sanctuary City.  The Council will decide whether and when to have this discussion.

12.1 Roseland Area Plan Land Use Corrections.  The reason I include this item is that is shows the City Staff's responsiveness to landowners' needs during the Roseland Annexation mega-project.   When a few property owners on West Hearn Avenue who were required to annex but objected to the loss of some of their previous conditions, City Staff promised to alter their land-use designations to protect their conditions.    When the final document went before the City Council for Approval, these changes hadn't been included.
    BUT those residents checked the maps and appealed to staff to correct the Council's document to recognize what had been promised.
The moral?  Watch those legal documents all the way to final approval!

 14.2 Quiet Zones - Notice of Establishment.  Transportation and Public Works staff advise the Council on how to establish a Quiet Zone with respect to train horns sounding within City limits.  As SMART trains make their trial runs through the City, there has been some unhappiness expressed by people living adjacent to the RR.  The Council needs to send to the Federal Railroad Administration a Notice of Establishment to allow train operators some leeway in following the mandate of the Federal Railroad Agency that trains will sound their horns at all highway-rail intersections.  The Quiet Zone would be established from Bellevue Avenue to San Miguel Road on the north.

 14.3  Amendment to City Code regarding Public Works Contract Policy to approve Modifications and Additions that include a requirement for Prevailing Wage for all City Contracts.

 14.4 Update on the progress of the Courthouse Square Reunification project.

5PM Public Hearings
  15.1 DeTurk Winery Village.  The Council will hear an appeal of the Design Review Board and Cultural Heritage Commission's denial for approval for this project planned for the Northeast corner of the West End neighborhood.   185 housing units are planned.

See you there!   Anne

PS I am sorry to not include the staff reports and presentations as links, but haven't yet figured out how to do it with gmail.  You can see them if you look at the agenda on

(We're glad to add the links to key issues outlined by Anne) - SRT

Sunday, January 22, 2017

S.R.City Council Agenda, January 24th


Thanks once again, to our friend Anne Seeley, of Concerned Citizens For Santa Rosa, for her analysis of this week's City Council meeting agenda:


     By far, the most important reason for you to attend this meeting is the 5PM Public Hearing in which the public (you) are asked to offer your priorities for the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Budget Year.  This is a significant time to speak up for projects or programs you deem very important.  The Council will  take heed of your input, even if they make other decisions.

1:30  The Council will meet as the Successor Agency to the defunct Redevelopment Agency, to approve repayment of funds as required by State law of 2012, which shut down Redevelopment Agencies statewide.  The amount owed is staggering - likely close to $4.5 Million.  

The Council will hold a closed session: Conference with Labor Negotiators for the Firefighters, Police Officer's Association, Operating Engineers, Maintenance and Utility System Operators, Santa Rosa Employees Association, SEIU Local 1021, Executive Management, City Attorney and Santa Rosa Attorneys' Association and Santa Rosa Management Association.   In other words, almost all employees.  I presume this is a preliminary meeting before each group goes to negotiation, but I don't know.

10.  Mayor's and Council Members' Reports
 10.1.2 Appointment of a Representative and Alternate to the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA).
 10.1.6 Appointment of a Representative and Alternate to Sonoma Clean Power Authority.
 10.1.7 Appointment of of the Council's Representative and Alternate to the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency (SCWMA).

10.3.1 Mayor's Appointments to County, Regional and State Positions.     The Mayor will ask for the Council's approval.

10.4 Matters for Council Regarding Future Agenda Items.  This is important because it allows individual Council members to bring up for official discussion matters that they think are important.
 10.4.1 Request for an agenda item to consider $20,000 of GAP funding for Legal Aid of Sonoma County.  The request was made by Council member Rogers on January 10, 2017.

14.1 Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Budget Amendment.  See in the link below how City Finances are being used and where changes are being made.

5PM  Public Hearing  Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Budget Priorities.  Each year, the Council holds this hearing to solicit from speakers and writers what they think must be emphasized in the coming year's spending.

See you there!


The budget hearing is specifically to hear the public priorities for spending. It is not a presentation of the existing budget but a way to get input in advance of planning the future budget. Tell us what you value?

And for your information here is the 2016 version of the full budget


Lacinda R. Moore

This link takes you to the page where you can write your budget comments if you cannot attend the CC mtg on Tuesday.

Judy Kennedy