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September 17, 2021
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City Council continues forward progress

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
August 27, 2021

Rohnert Park City Council held their regular meeting on Tuesday August 24. The meeting included presentations, public hearings, and resolutions addressing current issues and future projects. They also met Tierra Warner who joined staff as the Community Services Manager. 

Michele Rogers, Executive Director of the Early Learning Institute had the first presentation of the night. Established in 1999, employing a staff of 72, they are located at 311 Professional Center Dr. They serve between 500-600 youth under age five and their families in Rohnert Park and throughout Sonoma County. Rogers outlined the needs and challenges they are facing because of the pandemic. She said the biggest problem is finding facilities appropriate for childcare.

Director of Public Safety Tim Mattos talked about community meetings already held or being planned to discuss Police Accountability and Community Relations. This outreach effort was one of the items approved by the council at their last meeting. Mattos took that direction and is up and running with it. Two more meetings are scheduled this month. At the Wedgewood Banquet Center at Foxtail on August 30 the residents of Section D, E, and F are invited to participate. The following day, August 31, residents of Section J, K, and L are invited to attend at the Rohnert Park Senior Center at 6800 Hunter Dr. More are scheduled for September. A full list of meetings can be found on the city’s website at: www.rpcity.org under the upcoming events section. 

Jenna Garcia, Housing Administrator gave the next briefing. This was in reaction to the complaints on social media and to the city about the homeless camps in the city. This briefing reiterated what the city put out on social media. You can find that post at: City of Rohnert Park Local Government - Posts | Facebook. Garcia said the “City is limited on what it can do.” She outlined the challenges, including legal limits for breaking up homeless encampments on public property. They are visiting the Roberts Lake Park and Ride every day and plan to clean up trash there next week. Mayor Gerard Giudice said they were “doing everything humanly possible” within legal guidelines. Indeed, many of the public comments were directed to the council about this issue with some speakers saying they no longer feel safe because of these camps.

Planning Manager Jeffery Beiswenger provided the staff report for a Public Hearing and Resolution 2021-096 adoption. This pertained to the development plan for Vast Oak North Phase 3B which is known as Willow at University District. It involves 128 single family homes on a property located south of O’Ryan Road, north of Hinebaugh Creek and east of Kerry Road. There were no public comments and the resolution was adopted 5-0 by the council.

Director of Development Services Mary Grace Pawson presented the next staff report pertaining to two resolutions. One was to amend the General Plan to classify Bodway Parkway as a Collector Roadway. Currently no street parking is allowed, but if adopted, the resolution would allow street parking as the SOMO Village area is built out and the roadway is improved. The first section to be built out was the other resolution. It was a tentative map for a 12.35-acre site south of Camino Colegio and west of Bodway. The lot “will be subdivided into 117 residential lots, including 116 single family lots” and a lot of 32 condominiums. 

The staff recommended a Condition of Approval that requires the developer to enact a residential parking permit program. Developer Brad Baker requested at the planning commission hearing that this condition be removed. The planning commission did recommend removing it. Baker felt it may handicap his project because other developers of new housing in Rohnert Park don’t have this condition placed upon them. City staff however recommended it stay and the council agreed with staff. Baker did say he appreciated the “spirit of cooperation with the city to look at the wording of this program, to turn it from a handicap to an asset” in marketing the homes he builds.

In other council news, Vice Mayor Jackie Elward was designated the voting delegate at the League of California Cities Annual Conference in September. Council member Susan Hollingsworth Adams is the designated alternate. Finance Director Nishil Bali presented an updated financial policy for General Fund Assigned Reserves. The existing fiscal policy was originally adopted in 2011. The council agreed with his recommendations and a resolution will be prepared for adoption at the next council meeting. Finally, Director of Public Works Vanessa Garrett presented a list of Capital Improvement Projects to be presented to the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) for possible grant funding opportunities. These included proposed projects for Southwest Blvd. Complete Streets Corridor and the Highway 101 Bicycle and Pedestrian Overcrossing.