Monday, May 18, 2009

Community forum on redevelopment needed, PLEASE help us, Efren!

The following is an email I sent to our 5th District Supervisor, Efren Carrillo, in support of my neighbor Lloyd Guccione's email requesting a community forum to address Sonoma County's handling of funds earmarked for the Russian River Redevelopment Area. For easy reference, I have posted the original email from Mr. Guccione below mine.

Dear Mr. Carrillo:

As a strong proponent of redevelopment for the Russian River, I'm startled to find myself writing in support of Lloyd Guccione (whose email appears below). Residents of the Russian River urgently need your support in setting up a community forum in regards to the goals and future of the Russian River Redevelopment Area. I feel extremely disappointed, angry and cheated by Community Development Commission Executive Director Kathleen Kane's newly stated (and unilateral) goals for redevelopment. Considerable effort, resources, funds, and time have gone into developing a Strategic Plan & Vision, which incorporated input painstakingly gathered from our community. Yet the papers I've recently received bear little relationship to the document which was approved by RRROC and posted on the Web site.

My family and I moved to Rio Nido five years ago (okay, four-and-a-half). During this time, I've seen Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee members, activists, business owners, tenants, property owners and other stakeholders work long hours for zero compensation to ensure that our redevelopment funds are spent in ways that reflect the values, goals and needs of our community. These people take time to meet, do research, write proposals and provide input ... only to have Kathleen Kane shut ideas down again and again. In all the RRROC meetings I've attended, I have never heard this woman say anything constructive. If Ms. Kane devoted the immense energy she spends on explaining why things CAN'T get done towards actually figuring out how to GET things done, the lower Russian River would be in much better shape & the county would be collecting considerably more tax revenues.

Given the fact that our tax dollars pay for redevelopment and her salary -- at the expense of our special districts who struggle to provide vital community services -- the Russian River Redevelopment area deserves a far more positive attitude and a higher level of understanding from the CDC than we currently receive. For starters, we have valid reasons for not wanting all of the redevelopment funds to be spent on directly promoting tourism. Ms. Kane acts as though tourism is the magical tonic we need to invigorate our community. Alas, the hospitality industry does not usually create the sort of steady, well-paying jobs (with benefits) needed to create the viable and locally-active middle class required for the economic and civic health of a community.

We need to devote more resources towards strengthening our infrastructure; providing financial and other assistance to new and existing businesses; and encouraging the development of the middle-class, year-round community necessary for supporting our local businesses and boosting our tax base so we can afford to provide vital infrastructure and community services. One way to achieve this would be to run advertisements targeted to individuals and families in the Bay Area who are priced out of the housing market in parents magazines (like Sonoma Family Life and Bay Area Parent) & alternative papers (like the SF Bay Guardian and East Bay Express), & encourage them to consider relocating. Our natural beauty, cultural & recreational amenities, good schools, proximity to the city, lack of gangs, low crime rate, etc. will prove attractive to many folks & the long commute won't scare them, since most people in the Bay Area already have horrible commutes. This sort of advertising would provide at LEAST as much bang-for-the-buck as the highly controversial "alternative" GLBT tourism ads.

During your campaign, you repeatedly stated your intention of improving our relationship with the County. PLEASE remember this and help us by setting up the community forum on redevelopment which Mr. Guccione has requested.

Thank you.

Elisabeth Parker


May 18, 2009

Dear Mr. Carrillo:

I have received no response from you or your staff regarding the planning, formatting, and particpation of a community discussion, dialog, and debate on the future of the Russian River Redevelopment Project. The format outlined by Ms. Kane at last month's RRROC meeting is clearly not that envisioned and hoped for by those concerned over redevelopment's impact and the staff and administrative work and relationship of CDC.

Would you please at least take a moment to clarify your perspective on your campaign standing on the issue of putting redevelopment before the community versus the current (Kane - CDC) effort which is other than a community dialog and debate (and vote) upon redevelopment itself. My desire is to clearly understand your approach to the matter so I will not have any miss-understanding.

Kindly yours,
Lloyd Guccione


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