October 16, 2021
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Use of fireworks taken without a lot of heat

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
April 30, 2021

The Rohnert Park City Council held their second regular meeting of the month. It was generally a non-controversial meeting. Even the final approval of Ordinance No. 954 to Prohibit the Sale and Use of Fireworks was taken without a lot of heat. There were nine public comments on this item; seven requesting reconsideration, opposition, or request to place the issue on the ballot. Two were in support of the ban including a lengthy comment from Fire Fighting associations. The final vote went as before, passing on a 3-2 vote with Councilmembers Susan Hollingsworth-Adams and Pam Stafford voting against as they have every time it’s been put to a vote. 

There wasn’t much comment or discussion as it was obvious that nobody would change their minds. Vice Mayor Jackie Elward said, “as of tonight I want people to be united” and Hollingsworth-Adams said she “appreciates everyone’s” comments on the issue, but once the council makes the decision, the entire council will support it. Mayor Gerard Giudice said I “echo the comments” of Elward and Hollingsworth-Adams. 

Director of Public Safety, Tim Mattos, provided the council the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) statistics for the city. Collected and published by the FBI since 1930, more than 18,000 law enforcement agencies participate. Compared to 2019, in 2020 the city saw an increase of 13 violent crimes (from 267 to 280) which includes homicide (1), forcible rape (5), robbery (5) and aggravated assault (2). Aggravated assault represents 213 of the total 280 reports. Perhaps because of shelter in place, burglary, larceny and motor vehicle theft went down 10 percent, 77 less than 2019. Overall, crime was down 6 percent in the major crime’s categories. There were also 1,172 lesser crimes such as DUI, weapons violations, drugs, fraud, stolen property, and vandalism.

An hour and forty-five minutes, the bulk of the meeting, was dedicated to two discussions and direction on the city’s general plan update. Jeffrey Beiswenger, the city’s Planning Manager, led these discussions. 

The first was whether the council wanted the Racial, Social and Environmental Justice element to be a sub-topic within the Community Development Element or a stand-alone chapter within the plan. The council went with a stand-alone chapter. This element is designed to “consider policies that reduce exposure to pollutants or other hazards, promote healthy habits, prioritize infrastructure improvements and programs that address the needs of disadvantaged communities, and promote civic engagement in the public decision-making process” according to Beiswenger’s written staff report.  Making this a separate chapter will cost the city an estimated additional five to six thousand dollars.

The other discussion was on the Circulation Element.  According to his written report, “The Circulation Element identifies goals, policies, and programs that will implement Rohnert Park’s vision for the citywide transportation system and its connection to regional transportation facilities. The Circulation Element also provides the goals, policies and implementation actions that will support the city’s compliance with the state mandated requirements to consider and make efforts to reduce the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in the community.” This element has eight sections which include goals and policies. These were: Roadway Network, Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT), Complete Streets, Pedestrian and Bicycle Circulation, Safety, Transit, Parking and Evolving Technology, and Freight Rail and Goods Movement. A common theme encouraging “changes in land use, creation of improved bike and pedestrian facilities, and encouraging the use of alternative travel mode choices (transit, walking, biking, carpooling, etc.).” 

The council also approved a resolution “Declaring Intention to Form the Bristol Services Community Facilities District” (CFD). As Mary Grace Pawson, Development Services Director, explained this is an agreement between the city and developer “used to fund the provision of certain authorized public services or maintenance and to finance the purchase, construction, expansion, improvement or rehabilitation of public facilities.” 

There are currently just 12 property owners eligible to vote and it takes a two-thirds majority to approve the special tax levy proposed. The project consists of 42-unit single family residential lots located south of Keiser Avenue within the University District Specific Plan Area. If passed, the annual special tax rate will be a maximum of $2,155 for each residence, each year with provisions for an annual inflation adjustment to be collected through the property tax process starting in FY 21-22. This tax will be disclosed to buyers as part of the sales process by the developer.

The council also provided direction to Eydie Tacata, Management Analyst, to prepare a “Coordination Agreement” to allow participation in the Marin Sonoma Bike Share Pilot Program. This agreement “establishes certain rights, liabilities and responsibilities of each party with respect to the program…” According to her written report “The bike share program will increase mobility and connectivity for commuters using SMART and needing to get to nearby destinations; expand the reach of fixed-route bus services such as Sonoma County Transit or Golden Gate Transit and provide a convenient and user-friendly alternative to cars for running errands around town.”