Saturday, January 20, 2007

RRROC's 60th Meeting Part II: Overview of What Was Discussed

The January 18th RRROC meeting at the Guerneville Veterans Hall started at 7pm & ended at 10pm. And -- based on several accounts from folks I talked with -- this was a SHORT meeting. I'll try to sum things up as best as I can. Please feel free to add comments & corrections, since I'm sure I've missed a lot of stuff & misinterpreted even more stuff.

  1. Call to Order: The meeting has begun officially.
  2. Roll Call: Made sure all the committee members, county representatives & presenters are present. Dan Fein, head of the Communications Ad-hoc Subcommittee was the only one absent.
  3. Minutes: Go over a summary of the previous meeting & agree that all the things discussed & decided upon were done so according to consensus & procedure.
  4. Public Comment on Non-Agenda Matters: We had a quiet meeting & sailed through this with nary a squall.
  5. Information Sharing: Likewise, we seemed to sail through this, although I admit to not understanding much of what was discussed.
  6. Correspondence: Letters from the public are discussed. A list of businesses participating in the GLBT niche marketing program from Lloyd Guccione in response to a previous request from Boris Sztorch, Redevelopment Manager; an email from Margaret Kennett, our Chamber of Commerce president requesting postponement of the Sidewalk Repair agenda item until obtaining approval for the Chamber's official statement from their legal counsel; Letter from Regional Parks requesting an additional $110K funding to complete development of the new park down by the river.
  7. Monthly Reports: Tom Lynch asked about the Wood Stove upgrade rebate program. Vicki Stacksteder, Redevelopment Associate, replied that the program has been discontinued because CDC (Community Development Committee) lawyers determined it to be out of the purview of the RRROC mandate for reasons that would require a Talmudic scholar or Mensa member to fully analyze & explain. This SUCKS, since it was an affordable, accessible program that directly benefits our air quality as well as local residents. I was present when the measure was approved & felt it was an excellent, incremental accomplishment. Boris Sztorch, CDC Redevelopment Manager also reported that they have received ADA (American Disabilities Act) clearance for proposed renovations to the the RCCS (River Child Care Services) building. Some funding comes from the county for the public part of the area, the rest will be a low-interest loan.
  8. John De Salvio's Design Guidelines Steering Committee: Still reviewing documents to avoid conflicts with permit regulations, the General Plan, etc. They're conducting a traffic study report & will finish in a few months.
  9. Housing Subcommittee (Ken Wikle): They're still working on an official report/study on the homeless in our area. Mr. Wikle seemed genuinely emotional as he explained that we have homeless working families in addition to chronic homeless & the issues are "hard & complicated" to sort through.
  10. Restrooms Subcommittee with John De Salvio: I'll attempt to paraphrase him: We're a tourist town. We need restrooms. They're still doing studies & making inquiries in regards to 3 possible locations: The Safeway parking lot, the Park & Ride lot, or under the bridge. They are waiting for a response from Cal Trans.
  11. Infrastructure Subcommittee with George Zastrow: A need to more thoroughly study & assess large projects like the renovation of the Koret Club. It's too late to review the Koret Club project since it's already well-underway, but in for future undertakings, he wants "more direction" from the RRROC.
  12. Communications Ad-Hoc Subcommittee with Dan Fein (absent): George Zastrow reported that the RRROC newsletter has been sent out & plans are underway for a Web site, but he can't say any more because Dan Fein wasn't there.
  13. Spring Clean-up Appreciation: Tom Lynch proposed issuing an award to Margaret Kennett & Scott Mitchell & even had plaques made for Dan Fein to sign, because they "Did more work than everyone" and he felt that "Their efforts were slandered" the RRROC should "stand by them" and give more awards to folks in general. Lengthy argument concerning who should receive award plaques for service to the community & whether or not to offer awards at all. John Uniak aptly pointed out that if awards are to be issued, then there needs to be an established procedure for giving recognition. He then recommended that we "pass for now." A gentleman from the audience who was also involved in the clean up commented that a LOT of people worked really hard on the clean-up & how he himself took many loads to the dump at his own expense & how people did this willingly for the community without expectations of public recognition & questioned how we would decide who should receive awards.
  14. Guerneville River Park (with a Parks & Rec representative whose name I unfortunately did not catch): Readers may have noticed that a park is being constructed under the Guerneville Foot Bridge. It currently has a rest room, some brush was cleared & that appears to be it. Parks & Rec wants $110,000 to complete the original scope of work for Phase I, including a concrete path, family picnic sites, group picnic sites & an outdoor stage area for performances. The bathroom facility cost way more than was originally estimated. Parks & Rec also distributed drawings of plans with the meeting packet. Catherine Young from the Design Guidelines Steering Committee expressed concerns about the aesthetics, because we're trying to "raise the image of the community." John DeSalvio asked whether we have studied existing parks in similar locations. John Uniak mentioned that the new restroom opens right onto the main path & provides no privacy. Parks & Rec guy replied that in regards to aesthetics (too much concrete, etc.), they're trying to accommodate potential flooding & "long-term maintenance issues "(County-speak for "there's NO money for long-term maintenance").

    During the public comment period, yours truly, River Rattina, launched into a tirade about how we're spending all this money on a new park that we can't afford to maintain, while existing local parks (Drake, Pacheco & Monte Rio) have no bathrooms (except for the porta-potty at Drake which is so utterly vile, my daughter refuses to use it), are poorly maintained, littered with trash & drug paraphernalia; & how the park in Monte Rio is unusable because the wood chip ground covering is infested with mold. I ranted on about how there are more families with young kids than folks realize -- both of the local preschools are full & Kindergym is well-attended -- & we are not being well-served. If we want to create a good impression of our community, we should have clean & well-maintained parks. After all, the GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, etc.) tourists we're targeting our niche marketing efforts to often have children as well, since they're sometimes marrying & adopting in increasing numbers. Basically, I was totally rude & went WAY over the 3 minutes allocated to speakers during the public commentary period. People pointed out that this is outside the scope of the RRROC & there's no budget for maintenance. We would need to raise property taxes by $10 per parcel. I snarled, "What? In addition to the almost $7,000 in property taxes we are CURRENTLY paying?" Oy vey. I was totally rude & out of line, but what the hell, you only live once.
  15. Continuing to include correspondence (letters written by the public to the RRROC) as a line-item agenda for meetings with Tom Lynch: Tom Lynch proposed eliminating this as a standing agenda item. He pointed out that folks sometimes abuse this, it takes up a lot of administrative time & money; & it keeps more important business from being conducted. Apparently that 150 page letter from a couple months back -- which required extensive review & printing the required 20 copies for the meeting packet -- has just about done poor Mr. Lynch in! Mr. Lynch pointed out that stuff like this is why fewer people come to meetings. John Uniak advocated keeping this agenda item because RRROC is supposed to be open to public input & we shouldn't make a decision like this based on a single incident. Catherine Young pointed out that printing & distributing the letters can give the wrong impression because it looks like the RRROC is officially endorsing the opinions & information expressed in these letters. During the public comment period, I ranted about how maybe meetings are not well-attended because the RRROC does not discuss issues that are important to many of us River Rats, like speed bumps, meth heads, parks, etc. Plus some of us have kids & can't stay out till 10 or 11pm. An articulate gentleman with a civilized British (or maybe Australian?) accent followed me & gently pointed out that RRROC should figure out a way to publicize its accomplishments & get people excited again. The woman next to me -- who muttered a stream of brilliantly lacerating & hilarious commentary under her breath throughout the meeting -- took the mic & gave us a (fairly well-deserved) tongue-lashing because we need to go to more meetings & not expect instant results because that's simply not how things work.
  16. Affordable Housing : Hard to get developers. Follow Luther Burbank model?
  17. Communications: Targeting potential tourists from the LGBT communities?
As you can see, I did a slip-shod job on addressing items #16 & 17. I'm totally starting to lose it -- it's way past bed-time for this buckarina. Yikes, my eyes are glazing over. Does Sonoma County actually want us to accomplish our goals, or do they hope we'll screw up so they can take all the money back? Mwahahah. Tune in next time.


TiaTatiana said...

Wellllll hello! Now that's what I call real meeting mintues.. Thanks for this wonderfully written account- felt like I was in the room. And thanks for going and using up your three minutes (next time I'll give you mine-so not to matter that you go over - wish I could!).. I'll stay posted and am looking forward to seeing your notes from tonights meeting (2/15). Its harder and harder for me to get these meetings and I really wish there was an online forum for providing input to the RRROC.. This is a great start!

Russian River Rattina said...

Thank you so much for the kind words & encouragement, tiatatiana. It means a lot to me. It IS really hard to go to these meetings -- even for folks who are AVAILABLE in the evenings (& many of us are NOT). I do think we need an online forum & I'm exploring the idea of creating one. Thanks again.