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July 2, 2020
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Loud parties and shopping carts

By: Irene Hilsendager
January 31, 2020

The January 28 Rohnert Park Council meeting was enthusiastic and lengthy. The Pledge to the flag was led by the Ranch football Coach Gehrig Hotaling.

Mayor Callinan read a proclamation recognizing the 2019 Rancho Cotate High School Varsity football team for winning the Northern California 3 A Regional Championship. Mayor Callinan was extremely proud as he also is a graduate of the Ranch and a football player and for the local team to go to “state” and so it was with great honor for Callinan to be able to recognize the team.

Lindsey Sage asked the council to reduce or waive the fees to install a sound system at Sozo Student Center at 1451 Southwest Blvd. in Rohnert Park. The center is trying to help teens have a safer place to congregate and not be running the streets as they have no place to go unless they are lucky enough to be able to couch surf with friends. Sage mentioned she has broken up confrontations due to bullying outside of the center. The center also has a room towards the back of the building that houses computers and a job training program. David Armstrong, a local chiropractor, also was advocating for Sozo to have a conditional fee or waive the fees for the sound system.

Chief Tim Mattos and Louis Kirk, compliance officer also took the microphone to direct the problem of loud parties and alcohol problems that have arisen. The chief mentioned that 385 calls came into public safety commenting and complaining about the use of alcohol among the younger group of people. The residents of Rohnert Park would like to have an ordinance enforced by public safety to address this problem. As the subject of party noises was brought up, about 20 young men and women brought their grievances to the mic. The council discussed if it should be the landlords or the targeted party to pay a fine after so many complaints. Council member Susan Adams thought the landlords should get more involved in all of the party complaints.

Many  Sonoma State students said, “We are young and we want to enjoy our college days, but if we have to be afraid that police officers will appear at the door whenever we have a party, it will put a damper on us and drive the students to either leave town or go to another part of the city and continue the party.” One student said, “We try to be good neighbors, but some residents won’t even speak to us, so the line of communication is zero.” Others questioned the times of parties. The noise ordinance does say noise should be eliminated or toned down by 10 p.m. or at least 10:30 p.m. but many neighbors disagreed and said when you have to get up early to go off to your job and get kids up for school, having parties next door until three or four a.m. is downright disrespectful. Another suggestion was probably the city should build a campus-like housing that would allow more such activities.

One of the council member said, “Is there even a thought of developing the football field into campus housing and then you could have the college experience?”

Another suggested probably the public safety department can wait six or nine months to test these new ordinances with the new fines.

The large awaited answer to district elections was short and concise. Jackie Elward said she didn’t think that map 110 was very fair and another audience member thought having the council members go behind closed doors to discuss which map is the better really was unlawful. Mayor Callinan tabled the discussion of re-districting to a Feb. meeting. The gavel came down to close the Rohnert Park Council meeting for Jan. 28.