If you live in Guerneville, Monte Rio, or Rio Nido, you've probably received a large white envelope in the mail from RRROC (Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee) in regards to the upcoming election on December 11th. Please open it, instead of tossing it into the recycling bin. This envelope contains a ballot, an information packet, & a return envelope (which, alas, does not include postage, so you'll need to buy a stamp).
It's REALLY important that you VOTE in this election & choose who you want to represent you on RRROC. I personally hope you'll vote for the incumbents (people currently serving on RRROC, who are marked as such on the ballot) because I feel that this group of citizens work well together, represent our community thoughtfully & effectively, & have managed to hammer out the logistics & funding approval for numerous worthy projects despite their often extremely different views (which accurately represent differences in our community).
RRROC members oversee how the County spends the millions of dollars in funds which have been set aside for public improvements to the Russian River Redevelopment area (which consists of Rio Nido, Guerneville & Monte Rio). These dedicated, caring, & hardworking folks work on an unpaid, volunteer basis & devote countless hours of time to research, public outreach, networking, reading documents -- including correspondence from folks like us -- & ... ugh ... attending monthly subcommittee meetings & monthly RRROC meetings which start at 7pm & often run well past midnight because there are so many important things to discuss & so many committee members & citizens who have strong & valid ideas & opinions.
RRROC was created a few years ago because so many local residents & stakeholders wanted a say in how this money will be spent. The folks from the County Development Commission (CDC) are nice people with good intentions, but they definitely have a vested interest in projects which will increase tax revenues (via property taxes & sales taxes generated from tourism) & do not always understand the core values of our community. We're a diverse, eclectic, independent, creative, unconventional, opinionated & outspoken lot. I LOVE that about us & that's a huge part of what made my husband & I choose to move here & call this place home.
As arbiters of how -- & whether or not -- redevelopment funds are spent, folks who win this election will have a HUGE impact on the future of our community. The recently-held & widely-attended series of Community Visioning Sessions (focus groups) have revealed that most of us share similar values & goals, even if we disagree on how to implement these values & goals.
We all want to preserve the environment & unique beauty of this area; increase economic opportunities & affordable housing without becoming an ugly, generic suburb with traffic & urban sprawl; care for the most vulnerable elements of our community -- children, the elderly, & the homeless; help low-to-middle income folks who need to raise their homes above the floodline &/or replace old, smoky & dangerous woodstoves; improve deteriorating public infrastructure like roads & leaky water pipes; creating new recreational opportunities like a skateboard park, bike/pedestrian paths, & new parks along the river; & eliminating rural/visual blight via building rehabilitations or removals, spring clean-ups, & removal of unwanted vehicles.
The folks who currently serve on RRROC have done an excellent job of getting a lot of these projects to go through while thoughtfully taking a variety of factors into account & ensuring that we have a measure of control & input in shaping these projects. Funding for the Guerneville River Park (through Sonoma Parks & Rec) & a low interest loan for Burbank Housing to acquire land for construction of affordable housing was only granted after RRROC received a substantial amount of control concerning the design guidelines for these projects.
I'll list the incumbents running for seats in the upcoming election in my next post. As far as I'm concerned, these folks DESERVE another term simply because they've already served & actually WANT to do it again. It's a hard, thankless, & unpaid job. My hat's off to them.
Please note that one of the incumbents I support is Dan Fein, who currently serves as RRROC Chairman. Rules & regulations prohbit him from being Chairman again, but he still wants to serve as a member. I am also ethically obliged to inform you that he hired me to create his Web site. Which I did because I strongly support him & -- although I highly respect his primary opponent (Lloyd Guccione -- more on that later) -- I prefer Dan's vision of the future to Lloyd's. I've often disagreed with Dan in my posts on nitpicky stuff, but overall, I strongly support him. He's caring, committed, strongly entrenched in this community, has good ideas, & is always open to the ideas of others.