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Santa Rosa commits $1.2 million to explore Roseland annexation

By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa took a major step toward the annexation of Roseland on Tuesday when the City Council agreed to spend nearly $1.2 million to officially make the southwest neighborhood part of the city.

Mayor Scott Bartley said it was the most important and significant move the city has taken in the 20 years he has watched the debate. “This is a serious commitment on the part of our city,” he said. “We have never gotten to this point before.”

Pedro Garcia makes his way past two unoccupied buildings along Sebastopol Road in the unincorporated area of Roseland on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

Pedro Garcia makes his way past two unoccupied buildings along Sebastopol Road in the unincorporated area of Roseland on Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014. (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat)

The money will fund the promotion of Community Development Director Chuck Regalia to assistant city manager for two years. It also will finance efforts by city departments, such as police and public works, to analyze the cost of annexation and fund the cost of a senior planner for two years.

The money is coming from a $3.3 million surplus from last year’s budget, which benefited from a combination of tight cost controls and an improving economy, Acting Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Phillips said.

A few council members expressed some hesitation about the creation of a new assistant city manager position to deal with the annexation. Phillips explained that Regalia was tapped because of his experience, leadership and ability to manage the project on the accelerated timeline the council requested.

Phillips originally had planned to manage the effort in the fall. But the council pushed the timeline up several months to make sure it could strike an agreement with the county by the end of the year on cost-sharing for new services and infrastructure improvements in Roseland. Phillips added that the loss of the city’s chief financial officer contributed to the decision to create the new position.

Bartley strongly supported Regalia’s promotion. “I basically think this is a brilliant solution to a very complex problem,” he said.

The handful of residents who spoke about the issue Tuesday were all in favor of annexation, though not all were supportive of the way the city was going about it.

Former Roseland resident Duane DeWitt said he didn’t think such high-level management was needed to guide the project forward. Previous major annexations in the southwest have been done by lower-level project managers, and he didn’t see why Roseland should be any different. “It’s not like we’re reinventing the wheel here,” DeWitt said. “You don’t have to spend this much money.”

Councilman Ernesto Olivares disagreed. “This is a big, big project, and I don’t think it deserves to be done on a shoestring budget,” Olivares said. “It needs to be done right and well.”

Some residents focused on the pressing needs facing some of the 6,400 residents of the county island.

Resident Roger McConnell urged the council to move forward with annexation for the sake of the residents who need basic services offered by the city.

In one mobile home park on Sebastopol Road supplied by well water, one resident has manganese levels thousands of times above the federally allowed standards, said McConnell, president of the Santa Rosa Manufactured Home Owners Association.

“We need to get some water out to those people,” he said. “In a Third World country, you wouldn’t stand that kind of stuff.”

Much of the council’s discussion revolved around Councilwoman Julie Combs’ suggestion to spend an additional $127,000 to study extending police services to all 50 unincorporated county islands in the city’s urban growth boundary.

Combs explained that she was in a minor car accident recently, and figuring out whether the accident happened in the city or a county island was confusing, not only for her but for emergency dispatchers, as well.

While other council members agreed that extending police services to county areas might be helpful, they noted that the county hadn’t asked the city to take over that role. They also worried that it would distract from the main goal of getting Roseland annexed as quickly as possible.





7 Responses to “Santa Rosa commits $1.2 million to explore Roseland annexation”

  1. Originalist says:

    The city never saw a dollar it couldn’t spend or waste or both.

  2. Follower says:

    For a Government that sincerely believes that only THEY know what’s best for us, a “believe” reinforced and bolstered with each re-election, the opportunity to annex a community of people eager to be dependent on Government is priceless!

    If I could spend $1.2Million of other people’s money with the only consequence being increased job security, I would too!

  3. John Bly says:

    Again, this Council got it right by moving ahead with plans for annexation of Roseland. This will benefit the 6400 residents of Roseland,and the rest of the City residents. Good move Santa Rosa City Council!

  4. bear says:

    The city has a historic, moral obligation to annex all of the Southwest.

    For over a hundred years, this area has housed maids, gardeners and farmworkers who have been neglected by both the City and the County. Why not let them in now?

    Want proof? Check out city and county plans from around 1978. Commitments were made, but never fulfilled.

    Prove me wrong.

  5. Ken S says:

    Oligarchy? Did you vote for them? I certainly didn’t vote for the “pro-business” majority.

    Elect Sawyer in the fall,whose slogan should be, “All in for the oligarchy!”

  6. Nancy says:

    Why isn’t this issue put on the ballot first so all of the citizens of Santa Rosa can decide if they want a Roseland annexation.

    This city council continues to act like an oligarchy and the public be damned on most issues.

  7. RICHARD says:

    You tell’em Duane !