This evening’s city council online meeting was short and routine for the most part. The first 20 minutes included technical problems getting the sound to work on Channel 26 for broadcast. Once that issue was resolved, the meeting proceeded for just over an hour. Here are some highlights.
Mayor Joseph Callinan led off with two proclamations. The first was proclaiming September 2020 as Firefighter Appreciation Month. Given the hard work in the county with recent and current fires, the comments were thankful and the proclamation well deserved. The second proclamation was also well received. It was proclaiming September 2020 as the “Bike to Wherever Days.” The title refers to the fact that because COVID-19 and related shelter in place requirements, many bike events planned earlier in the year were cancelled. It acknowledged that the City of Rohnert Park has been a leader in providing bike paths – more than other cities in the county per capita – and continues to support residents who are bikers. It was noted that bike enthusiasts can ride throughout the city without being required to take to city roads.
Emily Ann Miller, Vice President of External Affairs from Sonoma State University, followed with a short report. The crux of her comments centered around SSU students being singled out in last month’s discussion on adopting an updated ordinance 951. As previously reported, that ordinance repealed Chapter 9.48 related to “Alcohol Offense/Loud Parties” and replaced it with a new Chapter 9.48 “Alcohol Offenses, Loud and Unruly Gatherings, and Social Host Accountability.” Those changes imposed stricter criminal and civil penalties against alcohol offenses and loud parties. Miller reported the students were upset that they weren’t better included in that and other community discussions. They don’t always feel they’re seen as members of this community. Mayor Callinan acknowledged her report and thanked her for it. He said they continue to reach out and will try to do better.
A significant portion of the meeting involved approving resolution 2020-087. Passing on a vote of 5-0, the adoption approved entering into an agreement with the Goals Foundation for the Installation of a Mini Pitch System at Alicia Park Soccer court. Working with the Latino Alliance under the leadership of Frankie Lemus, the Goals Foundation was able to obtain this system worth $85,000 as part of the council’s focus on upgrading Alicia Park. It’s at no cost to the city.
According to the website www.mini-pitch.com/minipitch, Mini-pitches are artificial turf or hard surfaces surrounded by a rebound board system with integrated goals. This allows greater access to soccer with more ball contact as the ball remains constantly in play. Lemus said Rohnert Park is the hub in Sonoma County for soccer. This private/public partnership is allowing the city to continue that tradition as this will be the first system in the North Bay installed. It will be placed on hard surfaces, specifically the deteriorating tennis courts in Alicia Park. Callinan stated there’s “nothing better than soccer to keep kids busy and out of trouble.”
Another significant action taken was the council’s direction to staff to prepare a letter for the mayor to sign withdrawing Rohnert Park from the Russian River Watershed Association (RRWA). It gives a sixty-day notice to RRWA of that action. The association started years ago to address common environmental and water issues with cities, counties and special districts. It served a purpose then. However, now other regional entities are performing those functions and the membership costs and project costs have escalated to a point where the city believes the return on investment is not worth the benefit of belonging to this association.
The last significant item was a discussion on the city’s position on the Resolution Packet for the League of California Cities Annual Conference. At the last council meeting, Councilmember Susan Adams was designated as the city’s voting representative. The virtual conference will be held October 7-9, 2020. She was given direction to vote yes on a resolution to amend Section 230 of the Communications Act. This amendment would direct social media companies to remove content on their platforms that solicit or promote criminal activities. If the act is amended, and social media platforms fail to comply, this would allow cities, counties and states to take legal action against them for that failure.