A little known state agency that has poured $68 million into Sonoma County conservation projects is running low on cash and planning to scale back its mission of protecting and enhancing vast forests and coastal lands.
The broad smile, a trademark of his 20 years of representing the North Coast in Congress, still flashes across Don Clausen’s face.
Clearing the way for a landmark Sonoma County conservation deal, the state Coastal Conservancy board Thursday approved a $10 million contribution toward the purchase of Preservation Ranch, a 19,652-acre property that sprawls across the county’s northwest corner.
Downtown, on the north bank of Santa Rosa Creek, a large mural of a fish graces a concrete retaining wall along the Prince Memorial Greenway.
The colorful artwork is meant to celebrate one of the key goals of the $25 million public works project — the restoration of the creek’s aquatic habitat.
But the health of the creek remains threatened by what lies hidden behind that retaining wall — soil and groundwater contaminated with a toxic brew of oil and other poisonous byproducts left behind at a former manufactured-gas plant.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. closed the plant in 1924 and now is spending tens of millions of dollars to clean the site at First and B streets, now mostly covered by the parking lot of the Westamerica Bank building.
But 26 years after regulators ordered the property cleaned up, it still hasn’t been and won’t be for years.
Democratic Rep. Jared Huffman takes his seat Thursday in the 113th Congress, facing big issues — budget cutbacks, the national debt limit and gun control — with a remarkably diverse freshman class and, he believes, a will to get things done.
Santa Rosa’s police and firefighters deserve to have contract disputes settled by a third party, as long as the city can truly afford it. That was the determination Thursday of the panel exploring changes to the city’s by laws, which since 1996 have required public safety contract disputes to be settled by a panel of three arbitrators. The 21-member Charter Review Committee felt tweaking the arbitration process would be better than scrapping it altogether.
District elections got a surprise boost Thursday when the committee that tentatively voted against it two weeks ago reversed course and agreed the issue should be put before voters. Several members of the 21-member Charter Review Committee cited the large, impassioned turnout of residents at the public forum on the issue last Saturday as influencing their thinking.
Once every decade, Santa Rosans focus on the people and neighborhoods who are under-represented in city government. One side endorses district elections as the only way to bring political equality to the city. The other side says everything is OK and district elections wouldn’t work anyway.
Voters shouldn’t be given the chance to decide whether members of the City Council should be elected from districts instead of the city as a whole. That is the preliminary conclusion of the city’s Charter Review Committee, which took its first straw poll Thursday on the most controversial issue before it: district elections.
A self-made millionaire before she turned 30, Stacey Lawson sees herself as living the American dream. Now Lawson, 41, who’s lived quietly and privately in San Francisco and San Rafael for 20 years, is engaged in her first-ever political campaign, bidding for the most sought-after political post on the North Coast.