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Healdsburg moves to ease city growth limits

Healdsburg voters likely will be asked to ease a growth cap on home construction to provide flexibility for new types of development.

4 contenders plan run for Healdsburg council

Four people have taken out papers to run for Healdsburg City Council, including incumbents Gary Plass and Tom Chambers. Two others who plan to be on the Nov. 6 ballot are Shaun McCaffery, a mechanical engineer, and Vernon Simmons, a former Healdsburg planning commissioner. Councilman Steve Babb has decided not to seek re-election. A retired Healdsburg fire captain, he was elected two years ago to fill the unexpired term of Mike McGuire, who was elected county supervisor.

Healdsburg growth panel may include non-city resident

Jim Winston lives about a mile outside Healdsburg city limits, but he’s had outsized effect on determining how the town grows. He wrote and helped pass a voter-approved measure in 2000 that restricted the number of new homes in Healdsburg to 30 per year. Now he wants to serve on a city committee that will consider whether to relax the growth limit, thus provoking a controversy over whether a non-resident should be determining how many homes are built in Healdsburg.

Budget brouhaha in Healdsburg

Healdsburg Mayor Gary Plass and fellow Councilman Tom Chambers are on the defensive, sending out a public letter detailing the cost savings the city has achieved over the past several years. The unusual move was in response to a commentary in the local paper signed by two former mayors and two other prominent citizens who said the City Council doesn’t appear to feel the same sense of urgency in addressing ‘a financial crisis at hand.’

Healdsburg Animal Shelter tensions ease

Beleaguered directors of the Healdsburg Animal Shelter assured the City Council Monday that while they face difficult challenges finishing a new $3.5 million building it will be a state-of-the-art shelter for ‘contemporary animal care.’

Healdsburg facing ‘bleak’ public pension outlook

Healdsburg city officials learned Tuesday that they face a $26 million gap for funding public employee retirements, a situation described as “bleak” and “grim” by City Council members. In what Mayor Gary Plass said was a painful, but necessary exercise, the council heard the analysis by Joe Nation, a Stanford professor and former North Bay assemblyman, whom they invited to scrutinize city’s pension plans.

Healdsburg grapples with sidewalk sign ‘clutter’

Can a store owner use part of a sidewalk to put up a sandwich board sign, or display merchandise there to lure customers? That’s a question Healdsburg officials are grappling with — again. In a joint meeting this week, the City Council and Planning Commission affirmed that business signs need to be placed out of the public right-of-way.

Healdsburg says no change needed on tasting rooms

There may be more wine tasting rooms in downtown Healdsburg than some people want, but the City Council decided Tuesday not to impose new restrictions on them. “I think there’s an over-concentration of wine tasting rooms in the community. Does it mean I want to change it? No,” said Councilman Jim Wood. “The market ebb and flow will take care of it.”

Healdsburg embraces ‘Fair Trade’ movement

Healdsburg on Tuesday took steps toward becoming the first “Fair Trade Town” in Sonoma County, part of a movement to encourage fair labor practices and healthy working conditions in the production of imported food and goods. The City Council unanimously approved a resolution expressing support for fair trade practices and a local committee’s initiatives to make Healdsburg a “Fair Trade Town USA.”

Healdsburg maintains subsidies for utility bills

Noting that tough economic times can be hardest on seniors and the poor, Healdsburg City Council members on Monday declined to end a $48,000 program to subsidize water and sewer service for low-income households. “I have a real hard time taking from the poorest of the poor,” Councilman Jim Wood said.

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