Page 36 - Sonoma County Gazette June 2019
P. 36

As we near June, we enter the most important policy setting period of the year: budget hearings. While the Board of Supervisors sets policy year round, how we spend our money speaks volumes about our priorities in County Government. Either we put our money where our mouth is—or we don’t.
Now that the scope of the TMDL is defined, the county is recruiting an ombudsperson whose role will be assisting residents with resources and information regarding the new requirements. Please note that the County does not have control over the TMDL regulations or process—but we are committed to helping residents find a way to deal with them.
In June, we will face our County’s fiscal challenges head on. I have to admit that the projected numbers we’re seeing for our 2019-2020 County Budget and beyond are pretty grim. We have not received property tax backfill funding from our 2017 wildfires from the State, which means that we are faced with a $5M shortfall right off the bat—at a time when costs are rising and revenues are not keeping pace.
Traffic on Highway 1 at Gleason Beach, located just north of Bodega Bay, will be slow going through the summer months. Due to dangerous slides and erosion in the southbound lane, Highway 1 will be limited to one lane for 1200 feet, or roughly 2/10 of a mile. The single lane will be managed by a sustainable signalization system that will remain in place until the area
It is important to be transparent and honest about the challenges and opportunities we face going into budget hearings. I’d like to share the specific projects that I will be asking the Board to support this next fiscal year.
is repaired or made safe for traveling. Driveways along the affected part of Highway 1 will have a push button that will stop traffic in both directions, enabling them to safely leave their residences as needed. The entire system will use a combination of poles and protection ground laid conduit, on the pavement or attached to K-rails, and power lines to power up the system.
Some proposals I have put forth include:
Caltrans, Permit Sonoma and the Fifth District Office are working together to hold a public meeting, spearheaded by Caltrans, the agency responsible for Highway 1.
● $1.4 million for the General Plan update;
● $300,000 for enhanced security in downtown Guerneville;
● One-time funding for flood and fire damaged roads (cost estimate from
CalTrans held a public meeting on May 23rd to discuss the lane closure, and potential solutions to the damaged roadway. For more information about the project, contact Alejandro Lopez at
Transportation & Public Works pending);
● $450,000 for dock repair and replacement at the Sports Fishing Center in
Moorland Neighborhood Action Team
Bodega Bay;
● $300,000 funding toward first phase development of Specific Area Plan for
Unwavering energy and efforts by the Moorland Neighborhood Action Team continue to make the unincorporated island of Sonoma County along Highway 101 a more engaging community. Thanks to the group, which
meets the first Thursday of the month at the Carrillo Apartments and, when the weather is nice, at the community garden in Andy’s Unity Park, the departments of transportation and public works of both the County and the City of Santa Rosa are paying more attention and investing in the area. In early May, based on a joint City/County meeting I hosted, the City turned the intersection of Bellevue and Moorland into a four way stop, creating a safer intersection for drivers and pedestrians alike.
May 15 Coastal MAC meeting
Lower Russian River Area, from Forestville to Duncans Mills;
● $300,000 toward creating a group to facilitate infill development to city
centers in order to provide affordable housing;
● $200,000 to convert County energy use to 100% renewable energy.
Additionally, my priorities include protecting mental health services, ensuring that Sheriff Mark Essick can maintain critical public safety services
in unincorporated areas, and ensuring adequate staffing to provide for internal fiscal controls and future revenue increases. (It doesn’t sound sexy, but if we fire auditors, we are not effectively stewarding taxpayer dollars, and we are risking future mismanagement of funds.)
These small steps are worth celebrating, which is exactly what the Moorland Neighborhood Action Team plans to do. On Saturday, June 22, the community is invited to a potluck at Andy’s Unity Park. Bring a dish, bring a chair and bring some community love to the park. The informal event is an opportunity to connect neighbors with neighbors and to learn about resources available to the Moorland community. INFO: Omar at
While the Department of Health Services was able to backfill a $19 million revenue gap last year with one-time reserves, this year’s $11 million revenue gap is looking even more difficult to close. Behavioral Health, in particular,
is looking at a shortfall of $8 million and the proposed reductions will have negative impacts to many in Sonoma County who rely on government-funded mental health services. Proposed cuts could affect the Peer and Family Support Program, Crisis Stabilization Unit, and other critical programs. I do not support service reductions that impact our most vulnerable population. I plan to work with my colleagues to mitigate these cuts during budget hearings, which will take place starting June 11 and continue for several days.
This months MAC meeting was held Wed. night May 15th at the Fort Ross school. These MACs are a means
The draft TMDL is available online on the Regional Water Board’s website. Written comments are due to the Regional Water Board by June 24, 2019.
In August, TMDL will head to the State Water Board for adopted, which is expected to occur before the head of 2019.
 Gleason Beach
    TMDL - Total Maximum Daily Load
for coastal folks to channel their concerns to the Board of Supervisors, primarily our 5th district rep. Lynda Hopkins. The bimonthly meetings will rotate through the regions of the coast with the July
The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is getting ready to approve new health standards for the Russian River this spring. The standards, known as the total maximum daily load—or TMDL—limit the amount of
E. coli and other bacteria allowed within the Russian River. To control the TMDL, the Water Board has the authority to require that homeowners within the affected area have septic systems that are up-to-date and functioning at acceptable levels. Homeowners who are operating on cesspools or unidentified OWTS may need to update their systems in order to comply with the new environmental standards.
gathering at the Jenner community center. The evening began with public comments which primarily questioned how much money would be available to distribute and what would be the mechanism for deciding the distribution. For now it appears there will be 100,000 to use on coastal projects. The local residents of the Sea View/ Fort Ross area then presented a overview of the historically rich region, from the Pomo people to the Russians to the back
to the landers. Much of the remainder of the evening featured an extensive survey of the drive to bring broadband internet to the rural coastal strand
of Sonoma County. This work has been going on since at least 2011 and
has been an exercise in frustration with gradual success. Calvin Sandeen from the So. Co. Economic Development Board is our link to the county government on this issue. Access Sonoma Broadband is the umbrella under which these projects are proceeding. One overarching point, commented upon by a number of residents and experts is that we have the best system (fibre optic cable) already running past many if not most of our communities yet bringing the service from the road to the house may run to the tens of thousands of $. The public is always welcome at these events and your input is appreciated. ~ Cal Ares Jenner MAC rep.
Updating a septic system to modern standards can be a frightening prospect and a very unwelcome expense. Fortunately, there are passionate community members working to help our community make the transition from cesspools to solutions that will hopefully be both cost effective and environmentally friendly. The Lower Russian River Wastewater Citizens’ Advisory Group,
or LRRCAG, is composed of nine community members who volunteer their time each month to meet with Regional Water Board staff and County staff to be informed and assist with the problem solving involved in this future regulation. You can learn more about the LRRCAG, and their public meeting schedule at my Supervisor web page on the county site.
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