Posted on Categories Land UseTags , ,

Second meeting on reunification of Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square

Residents of Santa Rosa are concerned that the city plans to cut down up to 37 conifer trees, mostly redwood trees, some 60 feet tall and 14 feet in circumference, to make way for the Courthouse Square Reunification Project. A city staff report received Dec 31, 2015 says “TPW staff is currently soliciting bids from qualified tree removal companies to remove [initially] up to 23 trees, of which 11 are Coast Redwoods, 2 are Monterey Pines, 5 are Red Cedar, and 1 is a Coast Live Oak as well as a few ornamental trees…  It is important to note that a majority of the trees currently in the square will be removed at some point during the construction phase of the project.”

A second community input meeting will be held by the city on:
Saturday, January 9, from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, at

19 Old Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa.

The public entrance for this community meeting is accessible on 3rd Street. Please try to attend this meeting and/or send an email to the Santa Rosa City Council at   

For more information, contact Thomas Sawyer at

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable LivingTags , ,

Santa Rosa's BoDean asphalt plant takes steps to reduce noise

The company that operates an asphalt plant near downtown Santa Rosa has outlined how it intends to comply with city noise rules it currently violates.
Following noise complaints from several neighbors over the summer, the BoDean Co. performed a sound study that confirmed its Maxwell Drive plant exceeds permissible noise levels, especially at night.
The company recently submitted a plan for how it intends over the next six months to reduce the racket created by heavy machinery that heats sand and gravel, mixes it with oily binder and dumps loads of hot, goopy asphalt into awaiting trucks.
“It’s going to be a significant investment,” said Bill Williams, general manager of BoDean. “This equipment is older equipment, so that’s one reason it’s so noisy.
”After a neighborhood group that wants greater restrictions on the plant paid for a sound study, the company conducted its own. That analysis found the plant exceeded the noise limits by up to 7 decibels during the daytime and 13 decibels at night. While the findings didn’t perfectly match neighbors’, the figures were close.
The company proposed a three-phase plan to muffle the noise. The first phase would be to build a noise-dampening wall around a large piece of equipment called a baghouse, which Williams likened to a large vacuum cleaner.
Rear more at: Santa Rosa’s BoDean asphalt plant takes steps to | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable Living, TransportationTags , , , ,

Much at stake for Bay Area in regional planning merger talks

OP-ED: Daniel Borenstein, CONTRA COSTA TIMES
Now the hard work begins.
Leaders of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Wednesday temporarily halted their ham-handed bid for a hostile takeover of the Association of Bay Area Governments. Instead, the two regional planning agencies have promised to work cooperatively toward a needed and long-overdue merger.
There’s much at stake. The Bay Area must better align housing, jobs and public transit. We spend too much time stuck in traffic. It will only get worse if we fail to build densely near transit centers and continue to approve sprawl along highway corridors already filled to capacity.
Unfortunately, for decades we’ve had two regional planning agencies — one for transportation, the other for housing — that have been engaged in passive-aggressive and sometimes open warfare.
Read more at: Daniel Borenstein: Much at stake for Bay Area in regional planning merger talks –

For more on the MTC/ABAG power struggle: “A pricey palace, huge losses in risky investments, a busted bridge – and now the agency responsible wants more power.”

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable LivingTags , , Leave a comment on Why environmentalists oppose the Rohnert Park Wal-Mart Supercenter

Why environmentalists oppose the Rohnert Park Wal-Mart Supercenter


Sonoma County is one of the most environmentally conscious places in California. Through conservation of open space, protection of the coast, organic farming, investments in rail transit, clean power, smart growth policies and a GoLocal cooperative, residents have tried to preserve natural beauty, reduce greenhouse gasses, and create a sustainable economy. However, the proposed expansion of the Wal-Mart discount store in Rohnert Park to become a supercenter selling both general merchandise and groceries undermines these efforts.

The Rohnert Park City Council approved the proposed expansion in 2010 but a Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the Sierra Club and Sonoma County Conservation Action in a suit claiming the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was flawed. Wal-Mart has now submitted a revised EIR that the City Council will soon consider (details below).

A supercenter will increase dependency on the automobile and increase traffic in an already congested 101 corridor; the supercenter operations and its supply chain will increase greenhouse gas emissions and reduce air quality in the region; and Wal-Mart campaign contributions will support candidates opposed to environmental protection.

A recent report by the Institute of Local Self Reliance, “Walmart’s Assault on the Climate,” cites Wal-Mart’s own documents to show that its total carbon emissions since 2005 have increased by 14 percent and reached 21 million metric tons in 2013. According to the report, Wal-Mart is one of the largest climate polluters in the nation; the company lags behind its peers in shifting to clean energy; and Wal-Mart admits that their greenhouse gas emissions will climb over the next decade. Why?

via Why Environmentalists Oppose the Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Posted on Categories Land Use, TransportationTags , Leave a comment on Op-Ed: Courthouse Square needs side streets

Op-Ed: Courthouse Square needs side streets


It is decision time again for Santa Rosa regarding the Courthouse Square reunification project. The street that currently bisects the square will be removed.

The Environmental Impact Report has options for including or omitting the proposed side streets, Hinton and Exchange avenues. Is this situation like buying a car? Are we trying to decide whether to add a sunroof or not to this proposal?

True plazas have one thing in common; they are economic engines of prosperity. Think of Union Square in San Francisco. It is a premier shopping district and the most visited neighborhood in the worlds most visited city.

In Sonoma County, Healdsburg and Sonoma’s plazas are the centers of commerce for those towns. All three of these successful squares (and towns) have public streets on all four sides.

Streets supply the lifeblood of economic activity to a square. If Courthouse Square was to have just Exchange Avenue (the western street) and not Hinton Avenue (the eastern street) it would become an “attached” plaza. Attached plazas can feel like they are the private front yard of the buildings that directly front them, instead of being truly public. Great plazas telegraph to everyone that they are public and open to all by their design — the public streets that surround them.

via Close to home: Courthouse Square needs side streets | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Public workshop for Sebastopol general plan update

Public workshop for Sebastopol general plan update


The City of Sebastopol is launching its general plan revision with a community “visioning” workshop Wednesday night.

The session is designed to introduce the public to the process and solicit comments on goals and priorities that should guide future development and growth.The workshop also will introduce the city’s 12-member General Plan Advisory Committee, which was appointed to provide a forum for discussion and to help sift through the issues and policies to be incorporated into the revised plan.

Mayor Robert Jacob said the general plan rewrite provides an opportunity for the city to codify, for instance, a strong community interest in promoting pedestrian and bicycle travel in a town currently ruled by the automobile.

That may mean strategic placement of “human friendly” pathways, re-evaluation of the one-way traffic scheme through downtown or defining limits to the city’s core and other commercial zones, he said.

via Sebastopol readies general plan update | The Press Democrat.