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.
A spirit of cooperation and compromise appears to have taken root on the Santa Rosa City Council as newcomers unscarred by ideological skirmishes of the past are working hard to forge pragmatic solutions to the city’s pressing issues.
Two recent policy debates underscore how the dynamic has shifted since three new members have taken seats on the council since the November election.
Julie Combs and Erin Carlstrom were both elected to the seven-member council in the fall, and Robin Swinth, a former Board of Public Utilities member, was appointed in January to replace now 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin.
Finding that the voice that the Community Media Center of the North Bay gives to the public is too important to risk losing, the Santa Rosa council on Tuesday rejected a plan to cut off its funding.
The day after the Petaluma City Council expressed support for the federal assault weapons ban, the Santa Rosa City Council fired off two letters supporting efforts by Sen. Diane Feinstein and Congressman Mike Thompson to curb gun violence. Both letters referenced the December school shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 children and 6 adults were killed by a gunman using an assault-style rifle.
The answer to that question may hinge on the vote of newcomer Erin Carlstrom. Wysocky did not endorse Carlstrom during the election and clearly was not happy with her decision to forge an alliance with Ernesto Olivares during the campaign.
Santa Rosa recently declined to pay for the printing of a neighborhood newsletter that named council members who voted in favor of allowing the BoDean asphalt plant to expand.
Mayor Ernesto Olivares and Councilman Gary Wysocky will return to their seats on Santa Rosa’s City Council, joined by two challengers, neighborhood activist Julie Combs and attorney Erin Carlstrom.
Higher tax revenues from the improving economy combined with cost savings from employee concessions should put Santa Rosa in the black for the third year in a row. The city should end this fiscal year with $17.8 million in reserves, the first time in five years it has hit its goal of having at least 15 percent of its general fund set aside for emergencies.