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May 24, 2017
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Jud Snyder
Lack of affordable housing in RP dominates Town Hall
May 11, 2017

IT WAS QUITE A TOWN HALL meeting the City of Rohnert Park held last week, especially since a good 85 percent of the audience concentrated on only one subject: the lack of affordable housing in the city and its impact on both homeowners and renters. City Manager Darrin Jenkins came prepared with a lengthy list of topics from potholes to panhandlers and a five-minute commercial film touting the city. But the questions from the audience always swung back to affordable housing.

The forces pushing for a “paper-less” future for the city had a splendid display of a TV screen translating questions from the audience in the community center and the five council members plus Jenkins at their mercy at a separate table. Naturally, there was a lot of repetition as speakers added their own version as the man or woman who preceded them. The council and Jenkins were in the same trap.

There was an international touch here for the translator. She must have been speaking from the Philippine Islands or else India for her spelling of Cotati always came out” Katadi” which only adds to the collection of spelling of Cotati we already have. 

The Katadi process was professionally done but I don’t know if it gained any new fans for their zealous pursuit of a paper-less future for the process is ubiquitous as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in a school lunch bag.

THE CITY COUNCIL wrestled diligently with the problem working in Sonoma County that owns too much of a good thing collected in one package. We mean a temperate climate, redwood trees, available wineries, salt water beaches and friendly people ready to help you. 

People want to live here but they are not wealthy dot-com retirees who can buy six or seven acres amid vineyards and wineries and settle in like modern day explorers.

No, they’re minimum wage workers who clean the tables, arrange the silverware, pour the wine, butter your toast, park your car, refill your coffee cup and wait for an opening in a nearby apartment complex. They’re still waiting.

ANOTHER PROBLEM arose with the rising popularity of that centuries old motto – A man’s home is his castle.  We hear about new homeowners cutting paths in their front lawns. Putting down concrete driveways and rolling in next to their homes is a giant RV, motor home or large boat with windows looking directly into your dining or rec room is nothing illegal. The word is, “Hey, it’s my home and I can do whatever pleases me.”

City Councils can do little because “my home is my castle” motto still remains and no legislature majority wants to challenge it. If they do and amend it somehow, it could easily raise more problems than it answers anything.

Speaking of a temperate climate, my nephew who lives in the Rochester region of upstate New York tells me his climate is the same as ours right now and he’s having problems mowing his lawn for it’s growing so fast.

It’s bad enough when homeowners convert their garages to a small apartment and then have to search for a street parking place or park it in the driveway. For if the car’s an unpainted eyesore there’s another set of neighborhood problems. When I talk with the people who cut driveways in their front lawns, they answer rather unpleasantly, “Tell ‘em they can move to Nebraska or South Dakota.”

THE CITY OF ROHNERT PARK has a couple of ordinances and a part-time employee who has the job of touring areas of the city looking for urban eyesores. Then it’s up to a public safety patrolman or woman to issue a citation. I have no idea how many cases he’s accumulated over the past few weeks but probably more than public safety officers can handle. 

I haven’t got enough room to talk about Quiet Zones in the SMART commute train scenario although the Rohnert Park City Council planned to discuss this at their Tuesday May 9 meeting in city hall. Yes, this nearly traditional euphemism refuses to die. 

I had a brief talk with Mayor Jake Mackenzie and also chairman of SMART’s Board of Directors about the subject and will pursue it in detail in next week’s Community Voice.