Santa Rosa’s City Council is planning to tackle some thorny issues in the next two years, including the annexation of Roseland, requiring labor agreements on public projects and relaxing the city’s medicinal marijuana ordinance.
Wal-Mart is resuming efforts to expand its Rohnert Park store into a superstore, reviving a controversial plan that was halted in court after one of the more divisive arguments in recent city history. The city Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Thursday to review the project and new studies evaluating its effect on the community.
Santa Rosa is being sued for its decision to relax zoning rules for large grocery stores that want to set up shop in existing buildings in the city’s southeast. When the City Council passed the zoning changes in September, it said it was trying to remove hurdles for businesses, create jobs and give low-income residents better access to fresh food and vegetables.
It is in Sonoma County’s interest to have all of its workers fairly compensated. Income inequality is on its way to becoming a national scandal. Higher wages mean more money circulating through the local economy. More people with health insurance means fewer uninsured patients who become a financial burden on health care providers and the community-at-large. But saying it doesn’t make it so. The best of intentions alone cannot create wealth or repeal the basic laws of market economics.
Coddingtown mall got the go-ahead Thursday to build a Target big-box store following an unusually contentious and emotional Santa Rosa Planning Commission meeting that exposed a deep ideological divide over what kind of jobs the city should encourage. The extraordinary meeting featured one commissioner rebuking his colleagues for delaying a job-creating project, another accusing staff of stifling valid inquiries, and a third claiming Santa Rosa is in the ‘Stone Age’ compared to how other communities consider development projects.
The Santa Rosa Planning Commission today will reconsider its June 14 vote to grant a permit for a Target store at Coddingtown mall, a move that has frustrated some business and political leaders but encouraged advocates of better wages and benefits for workers. The decision could determine how quickly the mall can move forward with plans to demolish the two-story former Gottschalks building and replace it with a 143,000-square-foot single story Target, which would be Santa Rosa’s second.
Wal-Mart may revive a controversial plan to expand its Rohnert Park store with a 32,000-square-foot grocery — a proposal approved by the city two years ago but then stopped in court. ‘We’re evaluating the next steps and working with the city on the requirements established by the judge’s ruling,’ said Wal-Mart West media director Delia Garcia. She was referring to a 2011 decision in which Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Rene Chouteau said parts of the environmental report for the project were inadequate.
The nation is now experiencing the most severe jobs crisis since the Great Depression. President Barack Obama’s jobs plan will provide a much-needed extension of unemployment benefits and a payroll tax cut for working Americans. Nevertheless, only a federally funded jobs program, such as the Works Progress Administration, launched by President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, can fully address the catastrophe.
A day after the Rohnert Park City Council gave the go ahead for the controversial expansion of Wal-Mart, divisions remained razor sharp over the proposed supercenter. Will critics file a legal challenge? One councilmember thinks they have solid grounds for a lawsuit.