Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring has sprung!

“Life is like a rainbow. You need both the sun and the rain to make its colors appear.”

-- Anonymous proverb

Rainbows … Today’s crazy weather – blue skies and warm sunshine one moment, glowering gray clouds and torrential monsoons the next – brought rainbows galore! This evening, students and staff from the Guerneville After School program paused from the evening rush to gawk at the vibrantly-hued rainbow arching over the misty, redwood-forested hills – with a second, fainter rainbow echoing above it – and take snapshots with their cell phones and digital cameras. Five minutes later, my daughter and I pulled into the Safeway parking lot to find folks marveling over the same twin rainbows. I hope they bring us some luck, better times, and maybe even the proverbial Leprechaun’s Pot O’ Gold!

Spring has sprung in Rio Nido: Neighbors have been enjoying the warm weather, sunshine, and the pungent aroma of freshly-mown onion grass. Yep, we’ve got lots of onion grass here in Rio Nido. And if you’ve been walking by the Post Office and Fire Station on warm evenings, you may have noticed Kelsey practicing with her flaming hula hoop. The Rio Nido Community Garden continues to flourish, and several new members signed up at the annual spring meeting on March 13th. The local canines are getting frisky at the adjacent Dog Park, and they’re not the only ones … Love is in the air. At least two new romantic couples have formed amongst our neighbors since our last Rio Nido Home Owners Association event!

Speaking of interesting new couples … Dennis Judd and Vince Walsh were reportedly seen having a late-evening tête-á-tête at the Rio Nido Road House. Oh-la-la! And who exactly are Dennis Judd and Vince Walsh, you may ask? Mr. Judd is a local developer who purchased the decrepit remains of the historic Rio Nido Lodge last November. Mr. Walsh is the owner of various trashy, derelict eyesores … oops, I meant to say “vacant, buildable lots” … adjacent to the Lodge. Sigh … [cue: mooney eyes and tiny bubble hearts floating around in the air] … sounds like a match made in heaven.

Alas, not all relationships last … newly-elected RRROC members abruptly resign: Elio “Buck” Sierra and Chris AuZsten resigned from the Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee (RRROC) only two months into their four-year elected terms. In an email to his constituents, Mr. AuZsten cited “health reasons” causing some of us to surmise that carrying out his RRROC duties placed him in mortal danger of being bored to death. This is a danged shame, as both Mr. Sierra and Mr. AuZsten have lots of energy, experience, and interesting ideas.

PSSST! In case you’ve been noticing the sudden epidemic of stylin’ manicures … the ladies are getting them at Fulton Nails on 2550 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa. Which employs a new “nail gel” technology which costs $35, takes less than an hour, and lasts for 4-6 weeks! Woo hoo! No more ratty fingernails for the Rattina!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Miscellaneous newsy tidbits

In the nick of time … Budget cuts and stricter funding guidelines for various public agencies have put many existing and proposed programs and projects at risk. Fortunately, a couple of worthy causes near-and-dear to some of our hearts have received funding in the nick of time. The Russian River Charter School narrowly escaped shutting its doors this month – three months before graduation – via a settlement with the California Department of Education. However, renewal of their charter for next year remains in doubt due to a dispute concerning funds received for average daily attendance.

Despite mutterings about how ambulances do not technically count as “infrastructure,” the Board of Supervisors gave the go-ahead to the Russian River Redevelopment Oversight Committee’s recommendation for $242K towards the funding of a badly-needed, new ambulance for the Russian River Fire Protection District. Fire Chief Sean Grinnell's and 5th District Supervisor Efren Carrillo's strong support overcame objections from Valerie Brown (chairwoman and supervisor for the less-downtrodden 1st district) concerning possible legal challenges from the State.

Girl Scouts, anyone?: Local moms, a few dads, & their girls met last Tuesday at the Sebastopol Library for an orientation on joining or starting Girl Scout troops here in West Sonoma County. Fledgling troops include a combination Daisies (K-1)/Brownies (2-3) troop in Guerneville, and a Daisies troop in Occidental/Salmon Creek. For more information, please email Sandy Pete, the coordinator for West County, at stp @ (spaces inserted to prevent spamming). You can also look up local troops on the Girl Scouts’ Web site at If you live in or around Guerneville & crave those delicious Girl Scout cookies, come by Safeway & pick up a few boxes (Saturday from 12:30-3:30pm & Sunday from 1:00-3:00pm) from troop #10480.

Anecdotal Evidence: KGGV FM DJ Laura Mueller hosts a fascinating show about history on the Russian River, including interviews of our older residents. Tune in on Saturdays at 11:00am by turning your dial to 95.1 FM or clicking on the streaming audio link at If you’ve got a story to tell, contact her at laura @ (spaces added so Laura doesn’t get SPAM from the email link).

Neighborhood Watch: A number of communities here on the River are forming neighborhood watch groups, including Monte Rio, Guernewood Park, and Rio Nido to address safety and security issues like emergency planning, crime, and substance abuse. For updates, information, and resources, visit Microbulletin Board’s new Neighborhood Watch page. Monte Rio residents, business owners and stakeholders can contact MonteRioWatch @ (I’ve added spaces so they don’t get spam from the email link). Folks from Rio Nido are invited to attend the upcoming Neighborhood Watch meeting on Saturday April 3rd, 11am, at the Rio Nido Roadhouse. If anyone out there has information on the one in Guernewood Park, please let me know.

County creates task group for “revitalizing” Rio Nido: Seriously, it’s on page 5 of the latest Russian River Redevelopment newsletter! And how will task group members be chosen? According to Redevelopment Associate, Al Lerma, applicants’ names will be added to to the list I am compiling for our Executive Director Kathleen Kane who will make the final selection for the task groups …” How considerate of Ms. Kane to save applicants the trouble of filling out applications, by handpicking all the task group members herself. Apparently, nobody has bothered to inform her and her associate that Rio Nido ALREADY has a task group. They’ve been meeting for the past five months and have set up committees to address Rio Nido Residents’ top priorities: Beautification, Infrastructure, Safety & Security, and Business/Economic Development (which is also in the process of setting up a Rio Nido Web site).

SPEAKING of the Rio Nido Task Force ... The REAL Rio Nido Task force will be meeting on Saturday March 13th at 10:00am at the Rio Nido Road House. We'll get to meet & greet our neighbors over coffee & hear reports from our newly-created committees (Beautification, Safety & Security, Infrastructure, & Business/Economic Development) which have been meeting over the past few weeks.

A page from the affordable housing developer’s playbook: A friend of mine from Guernewood Park recently sent me the link to a fascinating document from the Department of Housing and Development’s Web site, entitled “The Fair Housing Toolkit”. This 80-page document serves as a training manual for developers of affordable housing and provides detailed instructions on defusing and overcoming opposition to affordable housing. Since several affordable housing projects here on the Russian River are in various stages of planning and development, many of us may find the strategies explained on pages 53-55 to seem eerily familiar: .

Please note that while I DO support construction of affordable housing, I ALSO hope that any developers and County officials involved in these projects to make genuine and meaningful efforts to actively seek and incorporate input from affected communities.

The Rio Nido Road House thanks you!: As per my previous post, they've received over 100 letters of support from us. Efren Carrillo and others from the County are working with the owner, Brad Metzger, to help resolve these issues.