Monday, February 8, 2010

BIG Rio Nido Meeting: Judd not lest ye be judded, part 2

Actually, the subtitle should be "Judd not lest ye be judded, part 4" because our fourth meeting in as many months is coming up (see previous post). However, River Rattina has been too busy avoiding phone calls from bill collectors while sitting on her porch with a shotgun "jes' in case them danged bankers come round agin" to write up the last two meetings.

The second meeting was held on December 12th 2pm inside the Rio Nido Lodge. And Lo and Behold! The first sight which greeted us as we approached the former hotel lobby was the huge gleaming edifice of a relic from glory days past ... the beautiful, antique, redwood bar which had been stolen from the Rio Nido Lodgea few weeks before! And was found and reported to the Sheriff by an observant neighbor -- in some crankster's pickup truck hack-sawed into three jagged pieces. This was a supreme vindication for Brad Metzger, owner of the Rio Nido Roadhouse, who had been implicated by some bizarre rumor.

The bar had been carefully restored by skillful hands and stood stolidly as though it had never been removed. As JRR Tolkein's hero, Aragorn, declared about the once-broken sword of Isildur, "It has been remade." More brownie points for new Rio Nido Lodge owner Dennis Judd, who now looks like the judicious custodian of this precious artifact from Rio Nido's history. Which basically comes down to ... a bar? Um, let's not go there. *Hic*

Chaired by newly elected RRROC member and long-time Rio Nido resident, Chris Auszten, the meeting was attended by over 50 people, including Mr. Metzger from the Rio Nido Roadhouse (which currently serves as our beloved neighborhood hangout, restaurant, bar, music venue, community center, pool, etc.), Mr. Judd, his representative Steve Radjelic, Doug Meisner and others from the Rio Nido Home Owners' Association, 5th District Supervisor Efren Carillo, Mark Krug from the County Development Commission, Tom Lynch from RRROC & the Zoning Board, Sergeant Kevin Young from the Sheriff's Department, Vesta Copestakes from the West County Gazette, Amber Twitchell RRROC member elect and Economic Recovery Director for California Human Services, Karen Kopp from the Guerneville 5&10, Joe Feladjic from GoLocal Coop, local blogger Steve Gladfelter, and many others.

Rio Nido resident Rebecca Ford kept things on track with her calm, professional demeanor, along with a timer to keep things moving at a reasonable pace so we could leave before midnight. Elena Chronis was kept busy furiously jotting down the minutes. Local resident and writer Justin Raimondo and others served as the obligatory anti-development hecklers until others urged them to pipe down and listen to what The-Powers-That-Be have to say. Domenic Farnocchia, the unofficial but de-facto Mayor of Rio Nido was, alas, nowhwere to be found.

Mr. Raimondo squeezed in one last expression of his suspicions regarding Mr. Judd's motivations, only to have Mr. Auszton lose his temper and thunder out, "THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!" Dang! So much for any political prospects he may have enjoyed beyond RRROC. Such a shame, he ran such a good campaign. Thankfully, the One Who Has Innumerable Political Prospects, Efren Carrillo, later gently chided, "Actually, this IS a democracy."

Mr. Judd once again reiterated that he has no specific plans for the Rio Nido Lodge property (affordable housing -- Sonoma County Department of Subliminal Advertising), wants to hear what we folks from the community have to say (affordable housing -- Sonoma County Department of Subliminal Advertising), believes we should unite as a community (affordable housing -- Sonoma County Department of Subliminal Advertising), and wants to work with us towards common goals (affordable housing -- Sonoma County Department of Subliminal Advertising).

As you may have guessed, I do believe that Mr. Judd sincerely wants to work with us towards creating something totally fabulous in keeping with our fabled history, but I also believe that the County's objectives combined with our arcane zoning codes and permit requirements/procedures will make it absolutely impossible for any property owner to make money -- or just break even -- unless they build "affordable housing". Personally, I would love to see more affordable housing in combination with mixed commercial use so we can also have a grocery store, laundromat, coffee shop, theater, the restoration of our once fabulous beach, a dock for boats, a bait & tackle shop, & other amenities. Orrin Theissen ... where ARE you?!

Numerous ideas were exchanged. The energy was amazing. Representatives from our distinguished theater group, Pegasus, expressed hope in finding a new home here. Ms. Twitchell energetically stated the need to use available funds towards creating jobs so people can afford to live here and urged us to "Please think beyond this moment towards what's sustainable." Mr. Feladjic from GoLocal offered "a helping hand" to local businesses ... which currently consists of the Rio Nido Road House & whatever Mr. Judd winds up doing. Rio Nido resident Jennifer Ostrom distributed a handout on potential uses for the space and things we can do towards the beautification of Rio Nido. Mr. Meisner said that running the Rio Nido Homeowners' Association is "like herding cats."

In the end, a sign-up sheet was passed around for those interested in forming a Rio Nido Task Force, and a meeting was set up for January at the Rio Nido Fire Station.

JANUARY 9, 2010 MEETING -- Apparently, Rio Nido was QUITE the happening place back in December. The following meeting on January 9 was well-attended with about 25 neighbors present, but not nearly as crowded and contentious and vibrant as the previous one. Mr. Auszten was facilitating the meeting until ... suddenly, he didn't want to any more. I don't get it ... we ornery, obnoxious, & digressive Rio Nido folks seemed to be on our best behavior that day. Dang, we DO seem to chew through so many of those poor meeting facilitators. Luckily, local resident and business consultant Kim Holliday stepped in and orchestrated some key agreements on what we should focus on: Safety/security, beautification, infrastructure, business development, and internal stuff (how we're organized, how we make decisions, how we work together).

So now these five major items are slated for the upcoming meeting agenda. The meeting is scheduled for Saturday February 13th, 10am, at the Rio Nido Road House. With all the opening and closing stuff, we have 12 agenda items. That means 5 minutes per agenda item. That means we'll need to split off into committees so we can have more detailed discussions & start accomplishing things. Please come, and please also WISH US LUCK!

10 comments:

Nic - Spa Dad and Son said...

It's becoming fairly apparent to me that the County Board of Sups and the cities along the 101 corridor have an unspoken agenda to strangle the Lower River's traditional tourism based economy and convert it to bedroom communities for the Santa Rosa etc. Then the cities won't be responsible for the ancillary costs (roads, schools, parks etc,) associated with housing their workers here. At the last PRMD meeting on Vacation rental homes, PRMD representatives were unaware (!?!) that at least 50% of the original motels and campgrounds in the area had already been converted into long term, low income rental properties

judi said...

truth is PRMD bza and planning commission in general is a joke when it comes to west county, they have their own agenda and make the rules up as they go along

Justin said...

Russian River Rattina should be writing fiction instead of "reporting": instead of being told to "pipe down," my questioning of Judd's agenda was echoed by at least two others at the meeting, both of them homeowners.

I am glad to see, however, that Mr. Judd seems to have backed off from the "affordable housing" (i.e. slum-lord) option -- but, just in case he hasn't, we still have those 100-plus names on our anti-"Affordable Housing" petition, which we're more than ready to present to our elected "leaders."

Yes, poor Chris Auzston did seem a bit out of his depth at that meeting: perhaps he doesn't have the, ah, temperament to hold political office. Oh well ....

I did receive a copy of the Rio Nido Task Force meeting minutes and upcoming agenda: looks like a lot of good work is being done. Would love to sign up for the "beautification" brigade ....

Russian River Rattina said...

Actually, you're right, Justin, many folks share your concerns. Including me, though I want to give Dennis the benefit of the doubt.

rgrace said...

I'd like to sign Justin's petition...

Domenic Farnocchia said...

My apologies for appearing "nowhere to be found" but I thought it was announced at the meeting that I was spending the day in the emergency room. As far as my commitment to the community, I feel my contributions have been consistently second to none on my priorities list.

Russian River Rattina said...

Domenic, you've always been a wonderful resource in the community & did a lot to organize the meeting. That's why folks were surprised that you weren't there. I know you had a medical issue.

The Lighthouse Keeper said...

I'll note that no, no one is going to announce at a meeting of that scale that Dominick is indisposed and can't make the meeting. And no such announcement was vouchsafed. Everyone assumed he'd be there.

Elena Chronis said...

Factually speaking, I attended this meeting and took the "Meeting Minutes". Chris Auzston announced at the start of the meeting that Domenic had been taken ill with a kidney stone and rushed to the hospital. Chris then filled in as Facilitator of the meeting in Domenic's absence. Domenic had been preparing for this meeting all week and unfortunately fell ill.

judi said...

dennis judd is just using a page or two out of the california play book
http://www.hcd.ca.gov/hpd/nimby.htm
even tells him how to organize meetings and what to say to subdue and otherwise cajole neighborhoods...spa dad is right, the developers are on the move, and your children will be shaking their heads, and make no mistake, efren carillo is using this path to the congress with people like dennis judd scratching his back