WatchSonoma Watch
3 vie for spot on Sonoma County court bench

One year after the retirement of Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Mark Tansil, Gov. Jerry Brown still has not appointed a successor, leaving court officials wondering if a replacement will be named before the deadline for the next election.

$327,000 legal settlement goes unreported by Santa Rosa officials

Santa Rosa quietly paid more than $327,000 earlier this year to the law firm that successfully challenged a special city tax on new developments. And it did so without ever telling the public.

Coddingtown rail station plan triggers Santa Rosa tax lawsuit

Santa Rosa is being sued over the taxing structure underlying plans to intensify development around the future rail station near Coddingtown mall.

Doyle Park Elementary School supporters, Santa Rosa City Schools reach possible agreement

Closure of Doyle Park Elementary School would be avoided for now under a tentative agreement between Doyle Park supporters and the Santa Rosa City Schools district. Sources say the preliminary agreement would allow Doyle Park students to remain at the school at least for a year, sharing the campus with the district’s new French American Charter School. The deal would effectively settle a lawsuit filed by a group fighting to keep the school open.

Judge: Californians can’t legally drive with foreign license

California residents cannot legally drive while holding just a foreign license and their cars could be subject to 30-day impounds. That was the tentative ruling Tuesday from a Sonoma County judge in the case of a Rohnert Park man who was cited four times for driving without a California license.

Ruling keeps pot dispensary shut

A tentative ruling from a Sonoma County judge will keep a Larkfield medical marijuana dispensary closed while it goes through the county permitting process. Judge Mark Tansil ruled that Sonoma County has an interest in enforcing zoning laws, deterring violations from other marijuana clubs and protecting the public.

Santa Rosa ordered to pay tax critics’ legal fees

Santa Rosa must pay nearly a quarter of a million dollars in attorneys fees and court costs to the homebuilders group that successfully challenged the legality of a city tax on new subdivisions. Superior Court Judge Mark Tansil said the group performed an important public service in protecting people’s voting rights.

Santa Rosa won’t appeal property tax ruling

Santa Rosa will not appeal the ruling of a judge who found a special city property tax on new homes unconstitutional. The city will scrap the 2008 ordinance and draft another that will address the legal concerns raised by the judge. The annual tax – which imposed a $430 surcharge on each new home – was designed to pay for the city’s cost of providing police, fire and other services to new subdivisions.

Santa Rosa development tax ruled invalid

A special property tax passed by Santa Rosa is unconstitutional because it forces property owners to give up their voting rights in exchange for the right to subdivide their property, a judge ruled Friday.

Judge likely to block Santa Rosa tax on development

In 2008, Santa Rosa began requiring developers to join a special taxing district before they could get development permits. But a Sonoma County judge now says the tax appears to be unconstitutional. The ordinance required new homeowners to pay $430 a year to cover the cost of extending city services to new neighborhoods.