September 17, 2019
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RCHS Mascot at Welcome Back Rally Police and housing topics discussed at Council Credo ladies in Trashion show Cotati Council makes it short Man takes own life PG&E Wildfire Assistance Program distributes first checks to victims  Home invasion robbery, suspects still at large SOMO Village overrun by CHP party Latino Alliance promotes first festival Special education funding complicated Keeping California history alive RP man sentenced to prison 23 years for robbery Promotions in the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety Homelessness spikes in RP Home delivery changes Former Rancho student convicted Fresh faces on the CRPUSD board 73rd Miss Sonoma County competition held at Spreckels Straus Family Creamery moving to RP TAG building grand opening RP Foundation to reinstate Small Grants Program Newsom’s vision “cradle to career” RP Downtown project underway Schools, facilities and bonds: Plans but no money DUI driver crashes into 7-1 Teen arrested for shooting at RP RP votes to restrict fireworks Three arrested; stolen items recovered Bad air quality cancels sports Official election winners as projected by the VOICE  RP swears in new council member 2018 local stories which made history ArtStart brings art to the RP Senior Center Holocaust piano now in Cotati CRPUSD seeking a new superintendent Superintendent search begins Cotati Council moves ahead Planning Commission approves hotel In memory of Greg Beedon Fun family Christmas events in Cotati Cougars’ season comes to a tearful sad conclusion CalFresh clients get Feb. benefits early Rohnert Park Station Ave. update Cuts suggested for school district The “Healing Wall” comes to Sonoma County Cotati memorializes victims Rohnert Park considers firework restrictions CHP to check motorcycle safety in local area Cotati honors and appreciates Winners of “Discovered: Emerging artists of Sonoma County” Dr. Dominguez and Hawkins named as director and co-director for Hanna Institute University Elementary School to host Maker World at SSU Animal Shelter League of RP receives grant Cotati Council reshuffles seats Help save lives by donating blood New laws on purchasing and concealing handguns Fencing in Sonoma County School district leaders tackle 1.9m deficit School district seeking new superintendent Cotati protests CASA compact School district balances budget More high density in Rohnert Park Put down your phone April is distracted driving awareness month SSU Police make arrest in sexual assault case CRPUSD district’s good news in May Cannabis cultivation and more projects The Community Voice endorses candidates DA’s office awarded DUI Prosecution Grant Rohnert Park kid joins TCU El Camino graduates Rohnert Park Council says we don’t need another agency Rancho students excel in Poetry Out Loud  SC public safety heroes of the year Don’t drive with an open container Traffic concerns top RP survey SSU Equestrian looks to go national Brace yourself for mosquitos Station Avenue project An offer has been made and accepted on Rohnert Park’s corporate yard SMART to offer free rides... Rep. Thompson speaks at SSU on climate change Frightful, fun, free Halloween activities Cougars crush Ukiah Election projected winners November 6, 2018  Sonoma Clean Power offers no-cost energy upgrades Rancho advances to semifinals RP’s n­ew Director of Public Safety A stand-off with barricaded, suicidal woman ends safely in RP RP has a new director of public safety Mackenzie leaves SMART RP officers spent Sat. car chasing A shimmer of hope against the angry heavy sky SSU to host North Bay Women of Color conference Rancho’s TAG building, now a reality Mayors of So Co write angry letter Dodd’s college student food bill passes Rohnert Park caregiver arrested Sheriff’s canine apprehends convicted felon Issues and recognition but no council meeting Public invited to give input on Downtown RP Site School board candidates voice opinions Woman stabbed on west side of RP LandPaths connects people to protected land Tech High Girl's Soccer Undefeated champions! AG Becerra issues consumer alert on price gouging in fire-affected communities Learn to docent at the SSU Fairfield Osborn Preserve New signs point in the right direction Where are the ski lifts? Is Cotati being targeted? New alcohol fees for Rohnert Park Sonoma State president testifies for tax relief for disaster victims Fixing Cotati’s roads RP driver identified Burglary suspect found with firearms Learn to become a naturalist State Farm property steams forward to Station Avenue Scrappers Steal Win RP Foundation issues grant Cotati allows second dispensary New residential building lands approved In Singapore Strait aboard a missile destroyer PG&E has a prediction model USCIS presents free training on how to apply for citizenship RP investigates new site for Corp. Yard Two arrested in RP motel for mail theft  Is Juuling the new norm? Cotati considers $15 min. wage No criminal charges filed against PG&E in northern Ca. wildfires  RP decides on west side Vintage race cars on Sonoma raceway track May CalFresh month celebration Sozo Student Center opens Rancho Cotate Band fundraiser BBQ Jessica Holman: Thirty-five years of Rancho Spirit Titans crush Mustangs Station Avenue gets final approval Cotati Council reviews trash plan Baseball League receives donation from local motorcycle club Cotati Police Chief Parish swears in new officer Garber A Sunday afternoon with retired football players Injury collision closes Golf Course Dr. Giving Kids Smiles in Rohnert Park Neighborhood watch meeting scheduled New Executive Director at SSU A satisfied smile New interim superintendent Krispy Kreme Doughnuts comes to Rohnert Park  Cougars blow past Gauchos  Rohnert Park honors its Veterans and Servicemen CHP reminds all of increased crimes Cougars beat Bulldogs More than 276,000 Dreamers have renewed DACA White receives Matt Walsh Memorial RP and Sunday festivities SSU fraternity banned for five years Name correction: Grand Jury report on SoCo jail system New leadership delivers new start at school board meeting Cotati Chamber of Commerce Oktoberfest Rancho crushes Analy CA Homemaker Association needs volunteers Active duty honorees at the RP Veterans Day program Santa now knows her secret CPI receives funding to offer counseling in schools Caltrans works toward decarbonizing California transportation The Rancho Cotati Rotary Club hosts Humanitarian Award dinner SSU and SCOE offer high school internship Illegal robocalls and spoofing Farmers’ Market party on the plaza RP’s new interim police chief Big changes to big project in Rohnert Park A possibility for Snyder Lane to have four lanes soon Rohnert Park road updates Sheriff’s Detectives arrest SR man after controlled delivery of ecstasy pills. Cotati comes out against CASA Llamadas ilegales y spoofing Music alive in Cotati Sept. is suicide prevention month 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 Enroll in Transportation Security Administration Elder abuse rising in So Co U10 Cal Ripken champions say Aloha New start at school board meeting Students at University Elementary discussing the labyrinth Rohnert Park City Council Candidates NHTSA reminds motorists to drive sober this season Cotati’s code of conduct School board follows its policy Free school supplies RPDPS receives grant to fight alcohol-related crime R P Foundation gives grants to NOAH and Petaluma Bounty Summit State Bank annual report FEMA awards Sonoma Water grant RP moves to curb false alarms Doggone hot days are here! Warnings weren’t enough! ‘Stuff the van’ with school supplies Wake up to social crisis 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 Boards approve plan to offset proposed groundwater fee Technology High School construction on schedule Groundwater sustainability fee adopted in Santa Rosa Plain Rohnert Park City Council all about safety Accordion Festival San Francisco Mime Troupe to perform in Cotati Kids and firefighters compete in RP RP local, Petri Alva, 14, a nationally recognized athlete SSU named one of the best universities Verity is hiring to work with survivors RP City Council, not business as usual A young child making a big difference Cotati’s first homicide in 24 years Veterans’ housing to open in 2020 RPPS encourages public to drive sober SweetPea celebrates 31 years Seawolves serve up a victory Students almost ready for kindergarten Would you make a great foster parent? Grand Jury recommends improvements for So. Co. Water City of Cotati switches to 100% renewable electricity I’m ready, bring ‘em on! Tech High School celebrates 20 years PG&E Wildfire Assistance Program accepting applications for aid Cardinals rout Cougars SSI and SSP recipients eligible for CalFresh benefits Five vehicle crash shuts down Golf Course Dr. Happenings at Cotati City Council Trades Intro Program (TIP) leads to career RP City Council: from safety to striping Girls explore STEM possibilities at Tinker Academy Spring Lake Water Bark kickoff How to help victims of wildfires Polynesia celebrated at annual Pacific Islander Festival Fire storm anniversary New fire station gets final direction Undercover operation identifies prostitution at local massage parlors Red flags fly at all fire stations during “Red Flag” warnings L J principal promises open door policy DUI driver arrested after collision on RP Exp Contact information needed from about 150,000 PG&E customers Plan approved for Station Ave. park Football in full swing, 3rd win Arrests and charges target Apple stores Cotati fills Planning Commission The long summer grinds Alert resident foiled attempted burglary of neighbor’s home All about the roads Third DUI driver arrested in RP in three days Santa Rosa doctor overprescribing Annie Rasmussen Celebration of Life School district set to begin new year Wrong way bicyclist rides into path of SMART train City, county reach agreement with Homeless Advocates Our words are not enough: Educators call for action First day of school and new friends Revisiting those who lost it all: October wildfire victims still on the road to recovery Rohnert Park residents awarded law degrees School Year 2019-2020 for free and reduced-price meals Cattle drive comes to SR Man dies in custody Home-based learning on the rise SMART celebrates a year of service RP Public Safety report card Joint Legislative Wine Committee to meet at SSU Ca. Dept. of Justice announces ammunition regulations Fatal bicycle vs. vehicle collision RPPS investigating sexual assault A slow and painful wait for a downtown Penngrove native set for amazing voyage Cotati votes opposition to oil leases DMV offices will close for half day Social Security – Care and Beware Urban growth boundary benefits SC neighborhood sues illegal pot grower Reckless vehicle ends in DUI arrest Do you know the relationship between low impact development and water quality? So. Co. Behavioral Health and Health Services in the county jail Cotati City Council of Aug. 13 Water Conservation Car washes and water waste Equifax provides $600 million in consumer restitution Cotati sees its first homicide in 24 years New Column 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 Stray sways the crowd Showing off rope tricks Sonoma County Fair reviews safety protocols Gun violence in the U.S. and globally 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 Skating during Cotati Kids Day parade Watenpaugh returns to lead CRPUSD Join CASA of So. Co.’s commitment to helping victims of child abuse RP to host community forum for public safety director search Emergency Alert System Test Sept. 10 & 12 Spreckels and Alchemia connects community Vehicle crashes into house Call to action in Ca. Passenger killed fleeing crash It wasn’t an easy fight but Rancho wins again RP Safety Dept. climbs in remembrance of 9/11/18 Suicide leading cause of death in youths Impersonating pharmacists Pesticide residue consumed by infants and children Back to school for Rohnert Park and Cotati Another tough break for roller derby PG&E to conduct inspections by helicopter in Sonoma County Correction to the July 26 issue RP waits to make update to emergency alert system Cougars slay Dragons Deputy saves overdosing man using department-issued Narcan SR theft suspect caught after lengthy chase Third pedestrian struck by SMART train Enjoying ribs Rohnert Park’s Black Blear Diner gets sued Penngrove wastewater pipeline overflows 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

RP Council looks at serious close-to-home issues

By: Lanny Lowery
August 16, 2019

Presentations, discussions and public comments of several serious issues challenged the Rohnert Park City Council at the Aug. 13 city council meeting.  Jes Slavik presented the Laulima Downtown project status.  The staff and experts on wired and wireless broadband communications discussed 5G technology.  Assistant City Manager Don Schwartz and his assistant, Jenna Garcia, delivered a comprehensive look at the City’s efforts to respond to homelessness.

The evening began with the Mayor’s Certification of Recognition.  Officers Kieran Keaney and Mike Bacigalupi were honored for their heroic actions in the rescue at the pond of Las Casitas Mobile Home Park.  They answered the call from their homes when they heard that an SUV was submerged in the pond with a woman and two children.  First on the scene, they removed their police equipment and jumped into the pond to pull all three to safety.

Then the first of three lengthy presentations began as Jes Slavik, Laulima Director of Planning and Design, gave an update on the downtown project.  He talked about the current status as he described the Station Avenue property on the former State Farm site, and he reviewed the history of the project.  He reminded the Council that there would eventually be 140 retail outlets and 130 offices at Station Avenue along with 460 residential units.  And he mentioned that the project would generate 1980 permanent jobs and 3390 temporary jobs during construction.

Slavik went on to discuss rising costs and the need to revise completion dates.  The largest of these costs would be connected with infrastructure, especially concerning streets, utilities and parking.  He said that they would recalculate the construction schedule and get back to the city council.

City council members expressed concern about the current appearance of the site as they had received many queries and complaints from the public.  Joe Callinan registered his disappointment with the destruction of the redwoods and the creation of an eyesore.   “I hope we see something soon although it is not close to opening.  Now we see crap; it was an absolute butcher job.  Do your best to make it presentable.”  Susan Adams compared it to a bad haircut.

Laulima responded that a landscaping crew would be at work the next day.  Results should appear in the near future, within a week or so.

All of the items on the consent agenda passed with little discussion.  The ten items were business as usual adopting two resolutions, accepting reports for bills, approving minutes, five authorizations for the city manager and an adoption of a resolution to approve plans for sidewalk and driveway improvements.

Prior to closed session, during public comment half a dozen citizens discussed the Wroth lawsuit connected with the death of Branch Wroth.  Many called for a public safety oversight committee.

After closed session, the council reconvened with no comment about the conference with Legal Counsel on an issue described as “Significant Exposure to Litigation.”

Then a lengthy presentation about wired and wireless broadband communications ensued.  

After a review of the five generations of wireless, 5G technology, supposedly better technology, was discussed.  The presenter maintained that it would be faster, better and cheaper, dense supplying network with greater capacity and enhanced service.  Zoning codes controlled by the federal government leaves little for the cities to regulate was implied.  Some council members expressed concern about the size of devices on poles.

David Molidor, a Rohnert Park resident, registered his concern that there has been no long term testing done.  The council needs to be aware of the dangers of 5G technology.  He asserted that people have been injured by this technology with exposure to energy.  He encouraged everyone to research 5G effects and attend a presentation on Sat., Aug. 17 at the Rincon Valley Library at 2 p.m. to learn more.

The council spent the majority of the meeting listening to a presentation about homelessness and what the city might do about this problem.  Assistant City Manager Don Schwartz and his assistant, Jenna Garcia, gave a comprehensive slide presentation about a variety of things related to homelessness.  

They began by reviewing the background.  Schwartz said this was a complex issue involving high housing costs.  Other factors linked with mental health, drug addiction, and low wage jobs.  He concluded that cities alone cannot solve the problem.

Homelessness quantified in the county shows 2,951.  87 percent of these people are from Sonoma County.  89 percent of these people would accept some form of housing.  The homeless population of Rohnert Park has increased from 66 in 2014 to 173 in 2019.

Schwartz then tackled what the city is doing about this.  In July overnight parking was banned from five public places.  Creek patrols, management of vegetation and clean up for health and safety are priorities.  Public safety to prevent high risks is needed.  Costs for encampment clean up are budgeted at $160k, vegetation maintenance at $120k and creek patrols at $36k.

Much discussion was focused on COTS (Coalition on Temporary Shelter).  This provides long-term temporary supportive services or moving expenses.  Schwartz and Garcia discussed many things that the city is doing, including adding and retaining affordable housing.  The good news is that there is a large increase in state funding.  

A homelessness roundtable could bring communities together to face this wide challenge as this issue requires a community response.  Other recommendations included more access to beds and shelters, permanent supportive housing, landlord incentive funds, donations of furniture and appliances and safe parking areas.  The mayor was encouraged to sign a letter regarding the “Right to Shelter.”

Five members of the public responded.  Steven Keith recommended that the council give direction to the staff as he said, “What bugs me is not having direction or purpose.  People need to have both.”  Jim Duffy put some of the problem at the hands of the council for passing the no overnight parking regulation.  He claimed that people were forced into the neighborhoods with the closure of the Roberts Lake Park and Ride to overnighters.  “We need to create space for homeless people to park.”

Adrienne Lauby told the council, “Thank you for having this discussion.  Offer an RV site that could be permanent supportive housing.  Work with churches and other institutions.  Set aside a city parking lot.”

Council members responded positively.  Pam Stafford favors piloting shelters, donations, safe parking and legal funds to help the homeless.  Susan Adams stated that she supports shelters, safe parking and the program with COTS.  Jake MacKenzie praised the staff report that laid out the issues.  He endorsed many of the ideas embraced by Stafford and Adams.  

Joe Callinan was especially concerned with health and safety issues.  He said, “We should help those that want it.  Others just want to be left alone.”  He totally disagrees with the safe parking idea.  “You’re just creating a problem.”  He thought it best to begin with the pilot of the four-bed program before expanding to twelve beds.

Mayor Gina Belforte questioned, “Are we using shelter beds wisely?”  And Don Schwartz replied, “I seriously doubt that we are using the beds in the best way that we can.”  Belforte followed this with definitive purpose:  “We need to get as many in beds as possible.  I don’t know why we wouldn’t go for the expansion.  We should do better and we can do better.”

COTS employee Cecily Kagy affirmed that homeless people do want help.  “A lot of our homeless want to change.  At a shelter they will have more services.”  And Kagy’s director and coordinator of COTS stated that housing must come first.

The city council directed staff to expand the plan and look into safe parking.

The work of Schwartz and Garcia, research and presentation, was first rate and their recommendations suggest that Rohnert Park can and will be active in helping the homeless.  Schwartz plans to follow up the presentation with information available to the public both online and in his Community Voice column.