WatchSonoma Watch

It ain’t broken. Let’s fix it

News item: Santa Rosa is spending $400,000 to resurface some of the best streets in town. Why? City officials told my colleague Kevin McCallum it’s a lot less expensive to maintain good roads than it is to fix bad ones.

Did anyone else spit out their coffee when they read that?

There are programs to take care of streets that are in worse shape, city officials say, but they’re underfunded. Look out for the tank traps while you’re driving.

Does anyone think it’s a coincidence that the roads getting this TLC are in or near the neighborhoods whose residents dominate the City Council and the various boards and commissions named by the council?

Yes, I’m back on the district elections hobby horse.

Picking council members from around town might not generate any more money for the public works budget, but it could add some perspective to the decision-making process.

The election issue is bound to return – just as the roads are bound to remain a sore point for residents of less fortunate neighborhoods around town – and fair share might be a winning theme.

– Jim Sweeney


21 Responses to “It ain’t broken. Let’s fix it”

  1. Lets be Reasonable says:

    This was a misleading article from the get-go, since it only looked at one years’ worth of data. Isn’t it time to put something else here?

  2. Originalst says:

    What seems apparent is that no one on the city council lives on the west side of town and must not ever drive on Marlow Rd going south from Piner! Surely no responsible city official would not hold the paving company responsible for repairing the job they did on the cheap!

  3. Originalst says:

    I guess that explains why Grace Lane and streets in that area are resurfaced and renewed every 2 years and Steele Lane is fix every 20 if it needs it or not.
    And who is responsible for Marlow Road? That is and was the cheapest and worst job this city has ever seen.
    The trouble with our city is that 90% ow what they say is BS!

  4. Bored says:

    Pay employees inflated wages and benefits….. or fix the roads,water the parks,pick up garbage,lose the bike race! This is just the start and it is not getting any better. Why do we need layers of managers if we can not have the basic services we need and desire?

  5. Michael Koepf says:

    The next posting will be in three months.
    At the PD, our inside opinions are slow if they’re not anything else.

  6. Van says:

    The city has been doing this for years and nothing new. I was renting in the hidden valley area some 15 years ago and all the streets got a re-pave as I saw others in far worse shape go to hell. I think most of the people up there were on the city council and at least one former mayor lived there. The same streets that were going to hell still have yet to be repaved or resurfaced but are patched to the hilt. On the other hand some other streets, namely in the McDonald area and nicer areas off 4th are also in need of repair. Perhaps they are of historic value due to the old cement look or the old people who live there are being punished for passing prop 13. None of it makes sense and surely I jest but whatever the reason, the streets that are in dire need get little attention and those that need re-surfacing if not a total redo, get no attention. If preventive maintenance was the reason, I haven’t seen it on marginal streets either just the ones that look nice to begin with.

  7. John Claeys says:

    As a secret volunteer, I am growing tired
    and disgusted with the decision making
    in this City….where can there be civic
    pride and “pride of ownership” where the
    City lets it all go to pot?
    The maintainance in this town is the
    worst I have experienced anywhere I have lived in the state.
    It is shameful. Where can there be “civic pride” or “pride of ownership”
    where the rest of your envirenment looks like “crap”.(Still a four letter word).

  8. Lets be Reasonable says:

    The Courthouse Reunification project has not yet been approved by the Council, and while it may be a Council Goal, I doubt they would go ahead with the full project at this point, given the economic situation. My guess is that they close off the street and do the water/sewer upgrades only.

  9. RICHARD says:

    RE:” It ain’t broken. Let’s fix it.”

    Exactly right, The city is about to spend about $ 10 million to fix Courthouse SQ, CHS.

    Can you think of any better uses for $ 10 million than redoing CHS ?

  10. Grapevines says:

    alex, Fountaingrove and Oakmont got an overlay due to three reasons. One) probably somone on the city council or close to them lives there. Two) the residents living there contribute more to the re-election of the city council members than the rest of us do. And three) it’s the East side of town, you know we can’t do that to the West side now don’t you?

  11. alex says:

    ive been wondering why fountain grove got a new overlay on their already perfect streets that they didnt need at all

  12. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @RC – Thanks. Also of note, the City increased its Capital Improvements budget by about 50% for 2013/14, and it is from this bucket that major improvements to roads come from. But the economy is just now really turning around, and there is a big backlog on all sorts of CIP, not just roads…

  13. Reality Check says:

    LBR has provided us with clear evidence that the slurry seal program has been performed in all parts of the city. Normally this would cause a newspaper to retract the (false) implication that areas with council members receive favored treatment.

    Here’s the website again: http://agsmaps.ci.santa-rosa.ca.us/SilverlightViewer/Viewer.html?Viewer=PublicCity&layerTheme=Pavement

    Play around with the overlay options a little to get the history of the slurry program.

  14. Big jim says:

    You guys are missing the big picture with this argument about changing oil in a car. The problem isn’t the car, its that you’ve maxed the credit card and can’t afford basic car maintenance!
    In the case of the city, its spent too much on salaries and benefit promises it can’t keep. The city should switch to defined contribution plans and scrap defined benefits now, before we leave a service-less city with gravel roads for our kids – they deserve better!

  15. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @GAJ – you still don’t get it. Putting a slurry seal down is like changing your oil. It keeps the road from getting worse, which it would if you left it alone. The City doesn’t have the money to fix all the streets. $400,000 would only fix a few blocks of degraded street, but it will keep many miles of streets from getting to the point where you need to do a major fix. This article is also misleading; slurry seals are done all over town, not just the higher income areas. And Burbank Ave would be done by the County, not the City, since it is in Roseland.

  16. GAJ says:

    @LBR, as I own four homes, without question, I tackle the biggest issues first.

    It makes the most sense to me and to my tenants, who, BTW, are paying well below market rates and I intend to keep it that way.

    Synthetic oil in an engine running on two cylinders make no sense whatsoever.

    But I’ve now switched to synthetic oil in my car and two motorcycles…but then again, they were running fine before the switch and even better after.

    I was pleasantly surprised to see that they are finally repaving Burbank Avenue in Roseland…those are the kind of projects that should be high priority IMHO.

  17. Lets be Reasonable says:

    The City road network is rated on a set standard so that comparisons can be made. There are programs that tell you what various spending scenarios will produce in terms of overall road condition after a period of time. Yes, the City should be spending more, but for the amount they are spending, they are achieving the best overall road condition possible. If you go to the City’s GIS web site, you will see that while this year’s slurry seals are occurring in more well-to-do neighborhoods, past slurry seals have been fairly well spread out throughout incorporated Santa Rosa:


  18. Lets be Reasonable says:

    @GAJ – no, it is like putting in synthetic oil to make the engine last longer. The City can spend a little to keep up roads in relatively good repair. If you own five buildings, four that with a little roof repair can stay in reasonable shape, and another with that has black mold requiring a total gutting, do you fix the four, or fix the one?

  19. Reality Check says:

    The argument against the slurry program seems to rest on a misunderstanding of how street repairs are funded, leaving aside the general crabbiness displayed by some people anytime maintenance is done on the east side.

    The PD could clear this matter up quickly if it didn’t enjoy promoting a squabble so much.

    Hunch: Residential street maintenance is funded entirely out of the city’s pot of money, while arterial and collector streets stand a chance of getting some state or federal money. Is it a surprise that cities will wait, even past the point of neglected maintenance, to get Sacramento or Washington to pay for something?

  20. James Bennett says:


    Because ICLEI dictated it.

    Erode/defund all infrastructure outside “The Transportation Corridor” PDAs.

  21. GAJ says:

    Its like putting a new paint job on a car with a faulty transmission and an engine running on half its cylinders.

    Pretzel logic and shows the level of intelligence of the people making key decisions at the City.

    Fix the worst roads in the densest areas first you stupid morons!