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June 17, 2019
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New fire station gets final direction Cotati fills Planning Commission Grand Jury report on SoCo jail system Illegal robocalls and spoofing Llamadas ilegales y spoofing Enroll in Transportation Security Administration Cotati’s code of conduct RP moves to curb false alarms Boards approve plan to offset proposed groundwater fee SSU named one of the best universities Students almost ready for kindergarten SSI and SSP recipients eligible for CalFresh benefits Cotati honors and appreciates CRPUSD district’s good news in May Promotions in the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Homelessness spikes in RP Home delivery changes SMART to offer free rides... 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Cotati comes out against CASA Penngrove Community Church celebrates 120 years Cotati approves tree lighting City of Cotati has apartment housing parking problems Operators ordered to pay for false advertising violations Becerra urges Ca. businesses resources to help prevent human trafficking Possible change to parking rules Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates NHTSA reminds motorists to drive sober this season R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report FEMA awards Sonoma Water grant March for the blind highlights need for more accessible sidewalks Cougar to Bear — Simmons’ new pelt SRJC picks up local quarterback The Cougars defeat the Jaguars at homecoming New laws take effect Jan. 1 Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Cardinals rout Cougars How to help victims of wildfires Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival Fire storm anniversary Plan approved for Station Ave. park Football in full swing, 3rd win Arrests and charges target Apple stores Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery SMART celebrates a year of service RP Public Safety report card Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Cotati votes opposition to oil leases SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Penngrove grassfire destroys buildings Cotati Accordion Festival still a hit after 28 years RP residents provide input in police chief search Forum hosted by WLV for RP City Council candidates Supply giveaways lend a hand to families Police officers inspect inside of car Lowerys help with campaign Yes on Measure W will keep fire stations open RP to host community forum for public safety director search Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Spreckels and Alchemia connects community It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Another tough break for roller derby RP waits to make update to emergency alert system Cougars slay Dragons Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Enjoying ribs Little ones with big Polynesian dancing spirit Sidewalk repair gets big break from City of RP RP Health Center celebrates anniversary Imitating major leaguers Rohnert Park waiting for approval for canine program

More high density in Rohnert Park

By: Joshua Farestveit-Moore
April 12, 2019

The Rohnert Park City Council instructed city staff Tues., April 9th to alter the University Specific Plan to make way for more high density housing. 

The issue is that many of the lots within the University District are especially vulnerable to overflow. This is all thanks to the floodplains created by Copeland and Hinebaugh Creek, which makes developing in the region difficult. Mitigating the risk of flood requires infrastructure on the east side of Petaluma Hill Road, a lot of it—$17 million worth, according to an analysis done in 2018 by Sonoma Water. 

That number isn’t financially viable for Rohnert Park, but the contract with the developers of the University District require some sort of basin. The temporary one currently along the Rohnert Park Expressway looks to be growing into something less temporary. The change in plans leaves less room for the developer, which means Rohnert Park needs to squeeze more use out of the land that’s still available.

In 2014 the Rohnert Park City Council partitioned the 300-acre University District into 1,645 residential units. Even after Tuesday’s changes, the city is going to hold to that 1,645 number, most of which will be a combination a medium and low density housing. That means tract homes and townhouses. Until the basin to the east of Petaluma Hill Road was completed—that’s the project the city found cost $17 million—then an empty plot of land to the south of the Rohnert Park Expressway, designated UDLLC, would act as the temporary basin and medium density housing. 

Because that basin looks to become permanent, the developer asked and received tacit permission to classify it as high density. It now goes to the Rohnert Park Planning Department. 

The problem with the change to high density is that the designation leaves the door open for a future owner to build a different type of housing than the Rohnert Park City Council originally intended. That future owner may build an apartment complex, for instance, and if there was an apartment complex on the UDLLC property then it could make the land more attractive to Sonoma State for student housing. Sonoma State is a California institution and isn’t subject to local zoning laws, which means they could build whatever they pleased on that property. 

If they bought it, of course. That’s not a given, but it was enough of a concern that Mayor Gina Belforte raised the issue. 

“I do have a concern, though, that we’re doing the swap and if it gets sold off then we’ll lose control of that land,” Belforte said. “We’re very flexible with people. We think something is going to go one way and then it goes in a totally different direction.”

Yet not everyone in the city council agreed with Belforte. Councilmember Jake Mackenzie claimed the possibility of Sonoma State purchasing the property had existed for years, and as far he was concerned they were welcome to the plot. To Mackenzie, the property’s relative proximity to the university made it a perfect fit if the school decided to grow in that direction. 

“It’s call the University District for a reason. (...) If this doesn’t end up with some connection to Sonoma State then I feel it would be a huge opportunity lost,” Mackenzie said. “Whatever happens between the University District and the University will probably have the same degree of success as it’s had for the past twenty years—which is none.” The Rohnert Park City Council’s direction on the alterations to the University District now go back to the Planning Department.

Residents of Rohnert Park who might like to voice their opinion on the direction the neighborhood moves in should contact the city hall at (707)-588-2226.