March header

Message from Kathy Millison

It’s fitting to share information about the Santa Rosa Redevelopment Agency because its continued existence is currently being threatened with dissolution by the State Legislature and the Governor.  The City Council and the Redevelopment Agency Board of Directors both have denounced this latest legislative proposal to once again redistribute your local property taxes to help meet some of the State’s fiscal obligations.  Since the City already passes through a share of the increasing property taxes collected within the redevelopment areas to local schools and other public agencies, the proposal seems short-sighted and removes the last real tool that cities have available to induce reinvestment in "hard to turn around" real estate within the City.  But let’s take a closer look and consider some of the important investments that this valuable financial tool has allowed the City to make.

The City of Santa Rosa has taken its fiduciary role seriously when it comes to redevelopment and has wisely used its resources to invest in refurbishment/replacement of water, sewer, street facilities, neighborhood revitalization, greenways, affordable housing, and toxic cleanup to induce significantly more private investment in targeted locations and jumpstart the revitalization cycle.  You’ll read more about some of these projects below.  More recently, the City has taken actions to formalize financial agreements for several redevelopment projects that have been planned and programmed with the current budget to make sure that these projects will proceed regardless the decisions that may be made in Sacramento.

I have received some questions about the project at the Coddingtown Mall.  This loan is specifically for the purposes of having the developer relocate and upgrade a major sewer line that runs under the walkway of the Mall and related public improvements.  This loan is an incentive loan that requires certain performance on an agreed upon schedule for private investment and business development at the Mall.  Such investment will yield new jobs in both construction and commercial services.  These are the goals that the City insists upon when it structures such financial deals with private investors.  The upgraded sewer line will also improve the City’s ability to maintain the public facility into the future and ensure reliable service to neighborhoods further west; it will allow for expansion and more transit-oriented development capacity for the Mall area to coincide with a plan to better utilize the future SMART rail platform service to be located nearby; and, it will spur revitalization and inward growth at an existing site.

The real purpose of redevelopment as a financing tool is to make such improvements in deteriorating areas that will benefit the public interest and induce greater private investment earlier and faster than it might otherwise occur.

Redevelopment in Santa Rosa

Redevelopment has been working in Santa Rosa for more than 50 years to breathe life into areas burdened with deteriorated buildings, environmental contamination and aging infrastructure. Redevelopment is the only tool that urban centers in California can use to turn vacant and underutilized properties into productive, tax revenue and job producing use. It is also a principal funding source for providing affordable housing for those families most in need. In Santa Rosa, redevelopment was critical in resurrecting the downtown after the devastating impact of the 1969 earthquake.

Specific results include:

  • Improving existing neighborhoods in the Southwest with bus stop improvements, a new fire station, parks, road improvements to West Avenue and Stony Point Road, and plans for a new Hearn Avenue/Highway 101 interchange, and sewer and water line improvements.
  • Assisted in the production or preservation of over 2,000 affordable housing units.
  • Support of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program in the Southwest and Gateways project area which brings stakeholders together to improve properties, remove graffiti, enhance public safety, and provide community services for residents.
  • Over $100 million in public improvements including Old Courthouse Square, Sonoma Avenue Park, parking garages, pedestrian walkways, infrastructure, and most recently, the Prince Memorial Greenway...continued
NRP   Prince Mem Greenway   

Citizen and City Workers Rescue Occupants from Fire

The Fire Department responded to a reported structure fire on North Dutton Avenue the morning of February 10, 2011. The first arriving fire units found heavy smoke showing from a single story duplex and were notified that the occupants may still be inside. Four alert citizens assisted in removing two occupants, one in a wheel chair, from the building as fire crews were arriving. Richard Jump a construction worker who was driving by on his way to work, Robert Geasland a retired Santa Rosa Firefighter, and our own Utilities System Operators Alex Bauman and Chris Worlow rescued the two occupants from the building.

Santa Rosa Para-transit worker Debra McCallum transported the occupants to the Senior Center while they awaited assistance from the Red Cross. Senior Center Activities Coordinator Jan Post-Schwarz assisted the distraught occupants at the Senior Center and provided lunch. The Firefighters stopped the fire from spreading to the adjacent unit limiting smoke and heat damage. After living through the devastating event, one occupant said to Jan “when one door closes another opens. They say it takes a village to raise a child, in this instance it took a City to help out three of its citizens.

Dutton Fire 1     Dutton Fire 3     Dutton Fire 2    

Crime Stats, Now Online

The Police Department has partnered with RAIDS Online to sync our Police records to automatically upload crime information and keep it updated on a crime map. It uses Google Maps to display the location and basic information for crimes. Users can choose which crimes and date range are displayed on the map and can also view the data in an analytics dashboard which automatically updates when the user adjusts filters. Residents can also stay informed about crime by signing up for crime activity reports that are conveniently emailed automatically on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule.

Every crime report posted on-line is placed on the map and off set so the actual crime report is not placed on the exact address where it occurred, only in the vicinity of the crime. The information is still relevant because the off set is anywhere from 200 yards, and no more than 600 yards. Please visit the web site at: www.RAIDSonline.com and keep informed of what is occurring in your neighborhoods. You can also reach the link by visiting the Police Departments web site, look under Crime Map, Police Events.


Rail Service to Start Again in Santa Rosa

Rail service will soon begin again through the Santa Rosa area. It has been several years since trains last operated within our City. This was well before many of us had cell phones and similar distractions within our vehicles. Train service may start as soon as April 2011.

The City of Santa Rosa would like to remind you to stay alert at railroad crossings. Never stop your vehicle on the railroad tracks. Follow all crossing sign warnings and never walk on or around train tracks. Do not operate a cell phone without an approved hands free device. Remember, trains always have the right of way and can take up to a mile to come to a complete stop. For the safety of you and your loved ones, please remain alert around rail crossings. For more safety tips, go to the Operation Lifesavers website at www.oli.org.

Clean Energy Advocate Program

The Utilities Department has been awarded a grant from the U.S Department of Energy to develop a program to spur the installation of solar, electric and thermal projects throughout the county. The pilot program, called the Clean Energy Advocate (CEA), is an independent and unbiased free service to Sonoma county residents. The program is intended to assist homeowners throughout the energy and water efficiency and renewable energy upgrade process. The CEAs will assess the homeowner’s current energy usage in order to provide pertinent information about solar and efficiency measures. Ultimately, energy upgrade projects will result in reduced utility bills and a more comfortable and energy efficient home.

Save the Date - Earth Day 2011 Fair

The City of Santa Rosa will be hosting its 2nd Annual Earth Day Fair on Saturday, April 16, 2011 in Courthouse Square. This event will celebrate Earth Day as well as inspired awareness and protection of our environment. All are invited to come downtown and enjoy food, music, eco-friendly crafts and activities for kids, volunteer opportunities, local vendors, and environmental organizations. In addition, residents can take advantage of available City resources to help Santa Rosa reach its greenhouse gas reduction target. Click on the image below to visit the Earth Day webpage.

Earth Day 2011

A New Dock for Lake Ralphine

The fishing dock on Lake Ralphine in Howarth Park recently received a much needed face lift with the combined efforts of the Santa Rosa East Rotary Club and the City of Santa Rosa’s support services crew. The dock was originally donated to Howarth Park by the SR East Rotary Club in 1981. Over the years many fisherman, duck feeders, and families have enjoyed and used this dock. It was showing its age when members from SR East Rotary made a proposal to the City to make some much needed improvements.

In November, the City crew removed the dock from the lake, transporting it the City’s corporate yard.  They removed the failing floats and rotting wood, and then added structural steel to the frame.  New floatation was also purchased and installed.  Santa Rosa East Rotary was able to get Trex decking and hardware donated, and proceeded to install the decking to the dock and ramp. They also purchased the new redwood railing.  The 1981 vintage sign is also slated for replacement this Spring. After some finishing touches, the dock was transported back to Lake Ralphine and secured in place at the tip of Cypress Point picnic area.

We’d like to once again thank Santa Rosa East Rotary for over $5,000 in materials and labor.  In this economy, this type of project would not have happened without their efforts, donation, and support.  The view from the fishing dock is fabulous, and we hope you’ll visit and check it out!

Fish dock

DeTurk Roundbarn Grand Opening

Located in the charming historic West End neighborhood, DeTurk Round Barn is listed as one of the state's oldest round buildings. Isaac DeTurk, one of the county's first winery owners, built the facility in 1891 as a horse stable. Today, the City of Santa Rosa's recent renovation has brought this building into the current century. A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony and Grand Opening event will be held Thursday, March 17, 2011 from 3:30-5:30 pm. The DeTurk Round Barn is located at 819 Donahue Street, Santa Rosa. Click on the image below to visit the De Turk Roundbarn webpage.