WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa leaders decry redevelopment losses


City services most Santa Rosa residents take for granted — from litter removal downtown to attracting new businesses — could soon cease unless new ways to fund them are found.

That grim picture was outlined for the Santa Rosa City Council during a briefing Tuesday that addressed how the loss of redevelopment will affect the city’s downtown program, economic development efforts and services to poorer neighborhoods.

“We knew that this conversation was going to come, and it doesn’t make it any less painful,” Councilwoman Susan Gorin said.

Before the elimination of redevelopment, the city had the “largest and most diverse economic development program in the North Bay,” Dave Gouin, the city’s director of economic development and housing, told the council.

Following redevelopment’s demise as part of a plan to help solve the state budget deficit, the city will have $2.4 million less for its economic development and neighborhood revitalization programs next year.

“Redevelopment can no longer support our downtown program,” Danielle O’Leary, the city’s economic development manager, said.

That includes litter removal and public event support, cooperative advertising for businesses and special events, and improvements like street furniture and decorative lighting.

An array of economic growth efforts also face significant cutbacks. They include efforts to retain existing businesses, attract new ones, and encourage people to shop locally, O’Leary explained.

The funding drop will force the department of six full-time workers to be reduced to two, leaving a “significantly reduced citywide economic development program,” she said.

Council members batted around several ideas for how to salvage some of the services, including paying for them out of the general fund, revamping the city’s parking programs, and encouraging downtown businesses to do the work themselves.

Councilman Jake Ours suggested buying brooms for downtown businesses and property owners and telling them “this is a new city program – you sweep.”

Councilman Scott Bartley noted that efforts to institute an assessment district downtown called a Business Improvement Area “landed with a thud the last time we tried it.”

He also noted that according to a city survey, property and business owners preferred seeing programs eliminated over paying for them themselves.

“That’s disheartening to put it mildly,” Bartley said. “As society everybody wants everything, but none of us want to pay for it.”

Raising parking revenue by charging more for people to park during peak hours – a concept known as progressive parking – was floated as a way to raise revenue.

Gorin noted that businesses and residents “are not going to appreciate it,” but they might come around if they can be convinced it will help the downtown.

Councilman Gary Wysocky, who also supported progressive parking, stressed that the redevelopment loss wasn’t happening in a vacuum, but rather in response to state budget challenges that have been brewing for some time.

“I guess it’s a day of reckoning and it’s time to stop kicking the can down the street, but unfortunately that does entail some human costs,” Wysocky said.

Most council members agreed that a program to help the city’s poorest neighborhoods was valuable and some way should be found to keep it.

Mayor Ernesto Olivares said the program – which offers a variety of education and code enforcement programs to clean up neighborhoods – is one he wants to continue because it helps “an underserved and vulnerable population.”

“Who speaks for them? It has to be us,” Olivares said.

9 Responses to “Santa Rosa leaders decry redevelopment losses”

  1. Jim Bennett says:

    Look, redevelopment is a travesty on many levels.
    If most of the people knew what it was really about, all of its baggage, ramifications and what it does for a communities fiscal health and property rights, they would be irate.
    That’s why they always ‘slip it in’ without a vote or bona fide notification.

    If not for a few citizens that saw what was going on, funded a suit that put it off a few years, then subsequently the bond market dried up…
    well, it would have been the perfect storm. The timing was such that the City would have extended us with horrific financial burdon right before the financial tsunami. We could likely be flirting with bankruptcy right now.
    With a bunch of our diminished tax base siphoned off for ‘Smart Growth’ and more misappropriation.

    Now, in the wake of it’s demise, these city officials that we pay (handsomely)
    have the nerve to threaten us, and use it as an excuse to take away more services, AND lay a guilt trip on us.

    Look, this ICLEI directive that we’re under will defund, privatize, and take away everything we hold dear if left in place, they don’t need any additional excuses.
    The City REALLY wanted all that money to ‘work’ with. Based on all the whining and propaganda.
    Based on how vindictive they’ve been with me, I think they’re still pretty sore about it.
    I think all the vengeful financial damage the City has put me through is was/is worth it.
    When you stand for what’s right, when you speak the truth, it doesn’t matter what happens-you’ve done the right thing.

    PS ABAG/MTC is trying to go ahead with that OneBayArea tyranny even though what few citizens did know about and did go to the ‘visioning’ meetings came unglued.
    They are going ahead having synthesized some illusion of support through a firm hired to conduct rigged telephone poll, neighborhood shills, misleading out of context questions, etc.. pollshttp://apps.mtc.ca.gov/meeting_packet_documents/agenda_1834/Agenda_Item_2_Plan_Bay_Area_Winter_2012_Public_Outreach_and_Involvement.pdf
    Will be driving to Oakland Fri. morn. to stand against their lies.

    Might be a good time to get involved, might be a good time to ask THE ICLEI QUESTION yourself.

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  2. The Hammer says:

    Simple, just pay less for the labor. Why can’t you spenders figure this out?

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  3. Billy C says:

    The Gateways redevelopment area was HUGE.
    It started on Santa Rosa Ave then Crossed over to Railroad square and then north to Codding town. Ostensibly this was to be a funding mechanism for the transit village and high-density housing.
    Housing that was to create ridership for the coming “SMART” train and conform to the ” One Bay Area ” plan. with out redevelopment funds theses plans could be set back 30 years.
    This should make the anti agenda 21 people quite happy.
    As for the “SMART” folks I am really surprised that MTC is not making them
    re-figure there ridership numbers.
    With out redevelopment the trains will likely pull in to empty stations.

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  4. NoQuarters says:

    i am working on SCH C

    i just learnec that a new hire school sup will be making 300k, how many teachers could we keep on?
    and you would like to raise my taxes
    once agian


    “Redevelopment can no longer support our downtown program,” Danielle O’Leary, the city’s economic development manager, said.

    I can not beleive how incompetent our goverment has become

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  5. FedUp says:

    This article is a perfect illustration of why it was a good idea to eliminate this slush fund. None of these programs have anything to do with redevelopment. City politicians are eventually going to get the message – chose between city services and supporting your union lackeys, you can no longer do both.

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  6. Dave Madigan says:

    This story is funny. The City is going to provide brooms to business owners?

    I cleaned the sidewalk in front of my building for YEARS. There is only one time that the City came thru and steam cleaned the parking spaces. That was with the Downtown Association that was supposedly doing so much for us.

    The business owners already take care of the space in and around their businesses. The City Council can take thier idea of yet ANOTHER try at a Business Improvement District and ummm….sweep it!

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  7. Steveguy says:

    Looks like the cash cow was slaughtered, and they are crying over eating hamburger.

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  8. Reality Check says:

    Insightful article. When a proposal to establish an “assessment district” was offered to fund various activities benefiting downtown, it “landed like a thud . . . ” The obvious point, which hardly needs to be made, is that these activities aren’t worth paying for.

    OK if free. If not, forget about it

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  9. bear says:

    I think there are people here who would be willing to clean streets in order to keep taxes down.

    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 11

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