Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The latest on the Rio Nido Inn

I received the following email from my neighbor, Justin Raimondo, about what's going on with the Rio Nido Inn. For those who don't know, this long-neglected property has become a magnet for noise, drug dealing, littering, crime and other problems in this community. For more information, read my posting -- along with lots of comments from readers -- "Rio Nido Inn for Sale ... Thank Gawd!" from March 2008.

From: Justin Raimondo
To: Russian River Rattina

Here's the latest on the Rio Inn:
I called the real estate agency that is handling the "sale" of the inn, and got the name of the Santa Rosa bank that is going to foreclose on the loser owner of the property, and the woman in charge of properties gave me the name of the court-appointed receiver, one Jim Severii. I spoke to him, and he told me: 1) The residents have been issued a 60-day notice, 2) MAYBE half of them will move out by that time, 3) it will take another few months to get them evicted, and 4) the filth, crime, and general disorder at the Inn is going to get a lot WORSE fairly soon.
He also made a comment that I thought revealed his attitude toward the whole matter: when I complained that the Inn is lowering my property value and the value of all the property in Rio Nido, he said, and I quote: "You know what's lowering the value of your property? Rio Nido itself."
I have seen wild pit bulls roaming free on that property, and I recently rounded the corner of Willow coming back from the post office to witness a cop arresting one of the encampment "residents." You may have noticed that the number of vehicles, especially RVs, has increased dramatically: the "management" is actively encouraging people to come and camp out since they will get sixty days of free rent. I live relatively far from the Inn, but you are right there: with your children running around I would think that you would be concerned about the pit bulls running loose. Maybe you just haven't noticed.
In any case, I have called the animal control division of the county government and reported the pit bull situation. (The other day, while round that same corner of Willow, I was confronted by a shirtless denizen of the Inn, who asked me: "Have you see two pit bulls running around here? They got loose!" Yikes!)
Since I am relatively new to this community, and hardly know anyone, I'm wondering if the other residents are going to stand idly by while a bank destroys their investment and their community.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What's the 411 with Red Spaghetti & its protesters? A RETRACTION

MARCH 15, 2012 -- Russian River Rattina's long gone, but recently heard from someone at the Red Spaghetti Tattoo Parlor  (by Hacienda Bridge in Forestville) asking me to take down my May 23, 2009 post about the neighbors holding a protest with signs saying things like "Red Spaghetti does NOT respect our neighborhood," due to an alleged porn shop and marijuana dispensary on the premises. She insists that Red Spaghetti does not sell pornography or marijuana. Since their "Slightly Sinful Showroom" Web site -- which directly mentioned these items -- is no longer up & running, I'll assume this is true. I wish they still ran that coffee shop, though. The coffee was awesome.

Since the Red Spaghetti Tattoo Parlor people suddenly have their needles in a twist over this ancient article, someone also may want to inform them of their somewhat unfortunate Google! search results.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More emails for Efren Carrillo about having a community forum for redevelopment on the Russian River

Turns out that some other folks had some additions to Lloyd Guccione's & my emails to Efren Carrillo regarding the County Development Commission's handling of redevelopment on the Russian River.

---------- We need all the help we can get ------------

Hello Elisabeth,

After traveling up to the Russian River over the past 25 years, and after living here part, now full, time in Rio Nido, I agree very much with your remarks about the need to strengthen the infrastructure and to develop a year-round sustainable economy. When these issues are addressed, only then will the Russian River area redevelop into more than just a summer destination spot. That being said, I don't know how controversial or costly the GLBT tourism ads are, but I'm here to tell you, that the GLBT money that is pumped into the local economy is substantial and significant. When it wanes, the community wanes. I've seen that over and over in cycles through the years since the early 80's. However, the GLBT and 'straight' tourism dollar should be considered in addition to the infrastructure and year-round economy issues. Diversity in advertising dollars is always wise.

But I also have to say, nobody wants to invest in a community prone to blight and flooding. When is some enforcement towards the clean up of the local ‘private’ dumpsites throughout Rio Nido going to happen? The Rio Nido Inn is disgusting, with its trailers filled with garbage and covered in blue tarp. I've called the county, to no avail. It appears to me that some substantial redevelopment can start in most of the front and back yards in this area. People drop their trash anywhere they please, and nobody seems to care. The entrance to Rio Nido is a bunch of muddy ruts turned in mosquito ponds. Some large boulders to keep vehicles off these areas, once they were leveled, would be a big help, and would look appealing. Maybe that idea can be presented to the Redevelopment group. True redevelopment will occur when people that drive through the River note the beauty of this area, instead of the blue tarp and garbage dumps along the roadside. Until then, I think the Russian River is doing well to attract any tourist dollar it can get.

Matt Malik

Matt, $25K was spent on niche marketing ads for GLBT tourism. The Chamber of Commerce & other organizations tracked spending for & responses to these ads closely & found -- as you would have predicted -- that the ads had good results, in terms of increased tourism & business. The decision to run these ads was extensively discussed & well-thought out. Unfortunately, the ads also ticked off a LOT of people, who felt that their tax dollars were being spent on promoting an image of our community which many folks are NOT on board with.

In general, we revel in our free-wheeling, live-and-let-live image until a certain line is crossed. Like the equator, the GLBT-Friendliness line is utterly invisible, but definitely not imaginary. It lies somewhat South of our belovedly wild, wacky, & totally stylin' drag queen charitable fundraisers, the Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence whom we all ADORE; & WAY NORTH of the barbarian hordes of drunken, vomiting, buttless chaps-wearing Lazy Bear Weekend visitors
whom we all ABHORE because they're obnoxious & make everyone who's unfortunate enough to visit that weekend -- including our very own friends & relatives -- never, ever, EVER want to visit this area again.

---------- Redevelopment? WHAT Redevelopment? ------------

Dear Mr. Carillo:

This note is to second and support Mr. Guccione’s and Ms. Parker’s messages regarding the conduct and management of the Russian River Redevelopment Area. As a manager, Kathleen Kane does not have the interests of the River communities at heart, is deeply unconstructive in her attitude towards those of us who are advocates for issues in our county region, and is the wrong choice to lead redevelopment efforts here.

Ms. Kane has a long-standing record of unresponsiveness and lack of accountability towards those of us who want to see the RRRA prosper. This is most strongly typified by her refusal to consider any options beyond funding tourism efforts aimed specifically at the gay community. Businesses in the area are getting no marketing support, the large community of families in the Russian River and their interests are completely ignored, and innovative ideas for growing the local economy are shot down with negative comments.

This is completely unacceptable. Among the major problems in this area that Ms. Kane appears to have no interest in addressing are the following:

  • The central park of Guerneville, Drake Park, has no bathroom and no functioning water fountains. Meanwhile, a recently built county park across the road overpass has a complete bathroom facility and is overrun by the homeless and by drug dealers;
  • The only credible local newspaper of note, The Russian River Monthly, has just shut down;
  • At least half a dozen storefronts in Guerneville are vacant, and what new businesses there are do not effectively cater to the local population with good inexpensive restaurants and shopping, preferring to concentrate on fripperies for non-existent tourists such as expensive jewelry and boutique flowers;
  • An old bank building in Guerneville has been vacant since the mid-to-late 80’s and remains a magnet for homeless panhandlers;
  • The roads in Rio Nido, my immediate community, are essentially unpaved dirt and local hot-rodders constantly speed through our canyons at 30-40 miles per hour. This while Old Cazadero Road in Guerneville has speed bumps installed along its entire length;
  • Monte Rio continues to have chronic infrastructure problems and is facing an ugly summer ahead as water levels continue to drop, killing whatever tourism may be possible in that community.
  • Homes in foreclosure are selling locally for a third of what they were worth a few years ago;
  • There are absolutely no jobs in the local area.

Now, redevelopment initiatives can’t solve all of these problems, but it would be nice if we had county employees who actually gave a damn about our area. One of the few ways to grow the tax base in this area is to market these communities as less-expensive places to raise a family. Even now, homes in the immediate Bay Area are selling for a median of $700K+ in metro areas, remaining out of reach of even most two-income families. This is a perfect marketing opportunity. Our area remains within commuting distance of San Francisco. Yet all we do is market to the gay community, continuing to damage our communities’ reputation and keeping our image as a party-hearty area where people can come and let their hair down with impunity, drive drunk and commit sexual battery. On some weekends during the summer, I’m actually afraid to bring my kids to Guerneville even to do grocery shopping.

Ms. Kane not only does not represent our interests; she does not offer solutions and simply remains negative and resistant to change and new ideas. I completely support Mr. Guccione’s idea for a community redevelopment forum and hope that you can find time in your crowded schedule to begin to address our concerns and possibly take some action to restructure the RRRA management to become more responsive and constructive. Ms. Kane does not solve problems; she causes them and perpetuates them.

Richard Grace

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

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Summer fun in Rio Nido -- 2009

Today's recessionary trends which declare summer "stay-cations" all the rage, make me feel like quite the cutting-edge trendsetter. Once again, my family & I plan to spend summer right here in Rio Nido -- a cool, green, redwood-shaded, historic enclave of a mere 179 dwellings nestled amongst the winding canyons & along the Russian River -- for some good, clean, summer fun (I've heard that some good, down-and-dirty, summer fun can be had here too, but as a dorky stay-at-home mom with 3 kids, I fall asleep before any of that stuff happens).

Our charming little collection of winding canyons shaded by redwoods is located 2 miles east of Guerneville (the largest town in our area), just a mile or two West of the famed Korbel Winery, off of River Road.


RIO NIDO ROADHOUSE --- POOL, RESTAURANT, BAR, & MUSIC all summer long: The pool & snack bar officially opens Memorial Day Weekend, but Leanne & Brad started early because this past weekend was so danged hot! They also run a bar & restaurant with good food for reasonable prices, & host an eclectic assortment of danceable bands on Saturday nights for a modest $5.00 per adult (kids are free) in their attractive, enclosed picnic area.


Come join the fun! Everyone's invited!

Once again, these events are hosted between Rio Nido Road & Canyon Seven Road (off of River Road) in the main picnic area, except for the golf tournament. Once you turn in, we're hard to miss. If you live in Rio Nido, PLEASE consider joining our neighborhood association (information provided below). You don't need to actually own a home, you just need to live here, run a business here, summer here on a regular basis; plus a filled-out form, a pulse, & $20):

  • Memorial Day Chicken Barbecue, Sunday May 24th: Food: 4pm-7pm ($8.00 adult, $5.00 child). Music & dancing: 5pm-9pm
  • Fourth of July Hot Dog & Hamburger Barbecue, Saturday July 4th: Food: 5pm-8pm $5.00 per plate; Music & Dancing: 5pm-9pm
  • Rio Nido Cleanup Day, July 11th
  • Pancake Breakfast: Sunday July 19th: Breakfast 9am-12noon. Adults $6.00, Child $3.00
  • Rio Nido Homeowners Golf Tournament, Saturday August 8th: Northwood Golf Club, starting at 9am. 2-player Better Ball format (no handicap). $80 per player. Includes: 18 holes, cart & BBQ at Rio Nido BBQ area after game. To sign up, list the names & addresses of the players, include a check payable to the Rio Nido Homeowners Association, & snail mail to RNHA P.O. Box #A, Rio Nido, CA. For more information, contact Troy Held at troymheld at yahoo dot com (this is not formatted as a link because I don’t want the poor guy to get automatically-generated spam)
  • Pancake Breakfast & Art Festival, Sunday August 16th: Breakfast 9am-12noon. Adults; $6.00, Child $3.00; Rio Nido Art Festival 10am-3pm
  • Rio Nido Homeowners Association (RNHA) General Membership Meeting, Saturday August 29th at 11am.
  • Labor Day Chicken Barbecue, Sunday September 6th: Food: 4pm-7pm ($8.00 adult, $5.00 child). Music & dancing: 5pm-9pm
  • MARSHMALLOW ROASTS ... To be announced: For good, wholesome family fun, join our gracious hosts, Domenic & Suzanne Farnocchia for roasting marshmallows by a roaring campfire, followed by a rated G movie (maybe PG, if they’re feeling kind of wild).
  • RIO NIDO MINI GOLF – OPEN WEEKEND EVENINGS Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend: Our mini golf course isn’t as fancy as the one on Drake Road near downtown Guerneville (which is wonderful & seems well on its way towards becoming designated as an historical landmark), but it’s fun, charmingly designed, is in walking distance for folks who live or vacation in the neighborhood, it costs only .50 cents per play, & it’s RNHA member Susie Markham’s labor of love. The kids adore it – plus, it keeps them occupied & somewhat corralled during our events. There’s even a small rec-room with kids’ games & inexpensive candy, chips & sodas for sale.
  • Cool, shady playground: We also have a lovely little playground & picnic area with a circular path for scooters, roller skates, & bicycles/tricycles, which goes over a charming little bridge for our seasonal creek. It’s located a couple of “blocks” north of our picnic area, post office & fire station.

IF YOU’RE A VISITOR OR NEWCOMER: Bring along some extra cash to the holiday events, because you may want to buy a Rio Nido T-Shirt or Sweat shirt with a picture of our winking moon; purchase a yummy dessert from the baked goods table; treat your kids to minigolf; or wet your whistle with some beer, wine, or a mixed drink. You’ll also need an extra layer, because it gets cool here at night. If you have kids & feel nostalgic for the sort of fun, small-town summers you enjoyed as a child, Rio Nido is definitely the place to go – especially during summer holidays.

There are also tons of festivals throughout our area throughout the summer & a lively fireworks show on July 4th weekend in downtown Guerneville. For events listings, visit the Russian River Chamber of Commerce in downtown Guerneville or check their Web site at . If you want to stay here in Rio Nido, consider a vacation rental through Balaika Guest Homes or D&G Equities. These folks are reliable & have a good selection of rentals in this area.

IF YOU LIVE HERE - Please support the RNHA – Become a member: Do you live, work, or own property in Rio Nido or on Rio Nido Road (which is basically in Rio Nido, despite the Guerneville zip code)? If so, PLEASE join the RNHA. All you need to join is $15, a membership form with your contact information (RNHA has them at the booth at all the major events), & a pulse. Your yearly membership dues will help support all these events; maintenance of our picnic area (which is available year-round) & mini golf course. You will also periodically receive an RNHA newsletter with local news & upcoming events (it seems to come out about four times per year). Despite the organization’s name, renters are also welcome to join. For more information & sign-up forms, please visit the RNHA table at one of our holiday events, or write to: Rio Nido Homeowners’ Association, PO Box A, Rio Nido, CA 95471.