The City of Rohnert Park in 2016 completed a large survey of our residents. We received more than 1,000 responses and used the results to help shape our priorities.
We have just completed a similar survey for 2017, and I’m very pleased that more than 2,000 residents participated. While we’re still compiling the results, we have some preliminary information to share with you.
One of the survey questions asked what one thing residents would like to see change in Rohnert Park. The most frequent responses included the following:
• Create a downtown: In 2016, the city council adopted a plan for downtown Rohnert Park, focused on the former State Farm property, the library and Dept. of Public Safety station, and nearby properties. This includes a combination of attractive streets with wide sidewalks for strolling, retail businesses such as local restaurants, open spaces which could include a plaza, and high-density housing.
SunCal, a developer that bought the State Farm property in 2013, proposed their own plan which the city approved. Since then, SunCal has not moved forward with its project, and last month they listed the property for sale. City staff have met with numerous potential buyers, emphasizing the city’s desire for a quality downtown.
It is important to remember that while the city sets the expectations for what we want in a downtown, it is ultimately the property owners’ decision whether and when to build what we are looking for.
• Roads and potholes: The quality of roads and the number of potholes – particularly after the heavy rains this past winter – are clearly issues of concern. Plans are already in place to fix Snyder Lane between Keiser and G section starting this summer. We will also improve Redwood Drive between Rohnert Park Expressway and Golf Course Drive later this year. In the meantime, our street crews are doing their best to fill potholes between storms.
• Traffic flow: We’ve heard a lot of concern about traffic flow in the city, particularly at major intersections along Golf Course Drive and Rohnert Park Expressway near Highway 101. We have started working on making the traffic lights more responsive with computerized controls and expect to see improvements by late in 2017. We are also studying the best way to improve many intersections. We have required developers to contribute millions to offset the costs of traffic improvements in and near the city.
• Crime and policing: Residents have expressed interest in increasing police patrols and reducing panhandling. While we are very pleased that crime rates dropped in 2016 to near-historic lows, we continue to hire Public Safety Officers and trainees (10 so far in 2017), and the city council approved five new officer positions in this year’s budget. Our Community-Oriented Policing Unit allows a group of officers to address crimes involving drugs and prostitution without taking officers off the streets. The city cannot prohibit panhandling so long as it does not create a safety problem.
• Park maintenance and restrooms: The council has made the opening of the restrooms in all of our parks a high priority. We started last year with Benicia Park, and construction on a new restroom is underway at Alicia Park. The construction of the new Alicia Park restroom will be completed shortly and will be open to the public by the end of April.
Renovation of the Magnolia Park tennis court restroom is nearly complete and will be open to the public by the end of April. While there is certainly more to do, in the last year we’ve made repairs at many parks, including new bleachers at G Park, rebuilt benches and picnic tables at S Park, renovated Benecia Pool, and installed new par course equipment at D Park with financing donated by the casino.
Town Hall meeting coming soon to RP
Another great way to share your thoughts about Rohnert Park is to attend a town hall meeting. Our next one will be on May 3 6-8 p.m. at the Community Center.
We hold these meetings twice per year because they have proven to be great ways for us to communicate with our residents. You will have the chance to ask questions and hear directly from the city council. I hope to see many of my fellow residents there.
Darrin Jenkins is the Rohnert Park city manager.