March is known as a time when the last bit of rain is starting to fall. Sonoma County is in the midst of its driest year in a decade. It’s so dry, rain is seen as a foreign object. Maybe it was just random that Tuesday night’s meeting was focused on water, when it was raining outside. Mayor John Moore and his colleagues spent much of the time talking about water, from conservation projects to fish.
Tuesday night’s meeting started out like any other, with a roll call and pledge of allegiance. Before the meeting officially kicked off, the council took the time to honor Steve Onines, former Planning Commissioner of Cotati. Onines stepped down recently after 20 years of service. Each member of the council had a chance to speak a little about Onines and thank him for serving the community.
After this, Onines was able to say a few words. He had some good advice for those who may be feeling the call to action. Onines said if you’re someone who feels the need to help your community or serve it, then run for office, whether it be city council, planning commissioner or something else. He also told the council it’s okay to have others with opposing viewpoints. Sometimes those with different views can bring out more discussion because they might not see issues the same way.
Next up was a presentation by Lynee Roselli, Finance Manager for the Sonoma County Water Agency.
She focused on the coming year and what projects were coming up. The presentation was mainly about the budget for the fiscal year 2021-22, but also included some information on the Dry Creek Habitat Project, which will start in 2021.
Some of the key things the agency focuses on are water supply, water transmission, water flood protection, wastewater treatment and reuse, energy and sustainability.
Roselli chose to focus on water supply for Tuesday’s presentation. Some important things to note were the total budget for the fiscal year being 11.05 million dollars, the rate increasing from 6.56 percent to 4.1 percent, Santa Rosa and Petaluma water contractors elected to lower aqueduct capital to further reduce increase to 3.47percent, decreased capital project costs and increased use of fund balance.
After the logistics were over, Roselli talked about the Dry Creek Habitat Project and some other areas of interests regarding these water projects.
This presentation certainly received questions and positive feedback from the council. The council agreed to pass the resolution 5-0.
The next big agenda item of the night was a resolution in support for proposed Quick Strike Street’s Grant Application (Downtown and Civic Center Connectivity and Safety Project). This program is designed to get a grant totaling 4.4 million dollars, which will then allow various local projects to go forward.
Some of the projects listed in this presentation were fixing the intersection of W. School St. and Cypress, repaving La Plaza and W. Sierra Ave. to W. School St., connecting the downtown and areas east to Civic Center Complex and areas west, narrowing travel lanes and creating bike lanes. The timeline on this particular project is March 30, 2021. May/June MTC approves projects and program funds, June-November 2021 city completes Caltrans project processes, November 2021-January 2022 obtain approval for construction from Caltrans. All funds must be obligated by September 30, 2022.
Projects like these have been at the forefront of the council’s discussions before, so seeing it on the agenda again is not surprising. Council member Susan Harvey did ask why they were waiting till June for this project.
Besides that question, the council has brought up the W. Sierra three way intersection many times as one of the least safe places in Cotati/Rohnert Park. So, if this problem does get addressed, it will make life easier for drivers and pedestrians.
Finally, City Manager Damian O’Bid shared some new information regarding the vaccination program and overall news.
According to O’Bid, the state’s Vaccination Program has been transferred to Blue Shield. Blue Shield, as a state contractor, is taking over all the programs. The county is still in Tier one of the vaccination program; vaccination rates have slowed somewhat but will hopefully pick back up with the implementation of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. As of now, the county is still in purple, but according to O’Bid, will be re-classified to red once the state changes the tiers. The state will change the tiers once 2 million people get the vaccine. Currently about 1.6 million Californians have gotten it.
Some other things of note O’Bid touched on was how low the reservoirs are. The reservoirs being low because of little rain has affected how many fish are in the lakes and streams. Also, there will be various food drives in the city the week of March 22 and finally because of complaints by community members, the city will be relocating roosters.