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Cotati City Council backs moving rare tree

Prue Draper, left, of the Cotati Historical Society and Louise Santero, a longtime Cotati resident, stand next to an rare chimera redwood tree near the railroad track at East Cotati Avenue in 2014. (PD FILE, 2014)

Cotati has always been known as a special little town, and City Council members think saving a rare chimera redwood tree and planting it near City Hall may be the perfect addition to that image.

Rohnert Park council clears way for up to 1,645 homes

Rohnert Park University District Brookfield Homes

The Rohnert Park City Council on Tuesday approved changes to a long-stalled housing project just north of Sonoma State University that could add up to 1,645 homes starting as soon as next year.

Healdsburg debates efforts to remain a small town

Tourists and locals walk along Healdsburg Avenue in front of the Hotel Healdsburg on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

A citizens’ group seeking to limit the size of new hotels and retain Healdsburg’s small town character got some defensive reactions Monday night from City Council members and others who praised the city’s ability to handle growth and preserve the quality of life.

Scale of Petaluma’s future development shifts

Nelson Barragan of DV Pro Painting puts the last coat of paint on an awning of a greenhouse at the new Friedman's Home Improvement store in Petaluma, Tuesday April 2, 2014. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat)

The proposals that yielded Petaluma’s two largest shopping centers, both anchored by big-box chains, created heated disagreements among the community and the City Council on what size and style of development were appropriate for Sonoma County’s second-largest city.

The Target project sparked two lawsuits and a $150,000 settlement with an opposition group, while developers of the Friedman’s project agreed to fund nearly $200,000 in amenities opponents wanted in order to head off threatened litigation.

Now that the nastiest development battles of the past decade are over, with Target’s East Washington Place already open and Friedman’s Deer Creek center well underway, what’s next for development in Petaluma?

Sebastopol voters could see tax triple bill on fall ballot


The Sebastopol City Council plans to ask voters this fall for a hand in putting the city on stronger financial footing, through two tax measures expected to share ballot space with a proposed hike in the county sales tax, city officials said.

Divergent views emerge on Santa Rosa open-government task force

Santa Rosa City Hall (PD FILE)

Santa Rosa’s open government task force, formed in response to criticism that city decision-making lacks transparency, opened its inquiry Thursday with a wide-ranging discussion about what open government means, where the city has fallen short and how the panel should explore areas for improvement.

Santa Rosa commits $1.2 million to explore Roseland annexation

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)

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.

Two out-of-town animal agencies partner with Healdsburg shelter

Kiska Icard, the executive director of the Sonoma Humane Society, gets a kiss from a Chihuahua available for adoption named, Kiko, held by Evelyn Mitchell, the president of Sonoma Humane Society's board of directors, during an outreach event at the nearby Healdsburg Dog House pet store in Healdsburg, on Sunday, March 30, 2014. (BETH SCHLANKER / PD)

The next chapter in Healdsburg’s effort to provide quality care for stray dogs and cats debuts today when two nonprofit organizations from outside the city officially grab the leash of animal control and sheltering services. The Sonoma Humane Society and Petaluma Animal Services Foundation are taking over following the demise of the city’s independently run Healdsburg Animal Shelter last summer.

John Sawyer makes candidacy for Santa Rosa City Council official

John Sawyer (PD File, 2012)

Former Santa Rosa City Councilman John Sawyer filed official papers Friday in a bid to regain a seat on the council.

Petaluma asphalt plant opponents’ appeal denied

Aerial view of the site of the proposed Dutra asphalt plant south of Petaluma. PD FILE PHOTO

Opponents of an asphalt plant just outside Petaluma city limits have lost another legal battle and are mulling whether to pursue one final appeal, a review by the state Supreme Court.