Alternative Transportation

Alternative transportation in Santa Rosa CASanta Rosa is a tourist destination. Not just because of the wine and beer but because it is a beautiful place to be and ride a bike or take a train. Climate is a top priority of mine and getting more people out of cars and onto bicycles is a big help in addressing that issue. It leads to less pollution, less wear and tear on the roads, and a healthier citizenry. People need to feel safe as they ride their bicycles through our streets. This city already has a strong cycling community and a detailed plan for expanding that existing infrastructure. If we are going to be serious about tackling climate change, we must do so at all levels, including this one. For that reason, promoting cycling and bicycling safety is near the top of my priorities.

The biggest transportation challenge in our community is that there are too many cars on the road. Overall, I think the City of Santa Rosa does a very good job promoting bicycle use. With the updated Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan the City has a lot of good ideas to continue making bicycling a practical and pleasant method of transportation and enjoyable activity. Specifically, I think the protected lane, especially in the vehicle turn area, like at the corner of Humboldt and College, is a fantastic feature that does not significantly impact traffic but adds a great deal of safety for cyclists. I also think the painted green lanes, especially at freeway entrances, are a more clear demarcation for vehicles to remember to look out for cyclists. These safety features and extra steps that the city takes to protect cyclists will show them that this is a safe place to ride, which will only encourage more people to do so.

I know that some people are hesitant to ride to a specific location, not for their own safety during the ride, but for the safety of their bicycle once they get there. I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t know someone who has been riding regularly as a means of transportation, that parks (and locks) their bike outside and has not had it stolen. It is a real problem that needs to be addressed. Whether that is with better bike racks, manned bike enclosures, or some other creative solution. If we can ensure people the chances of their bike getting stolen, even if locked to a bike rack, is less than it is now, I think more people would ride. I would really like to work with the Bicycle Coalition to come up with a solution to this problem..

SMART Train in Santa Rosa CAThe city of Santa Rosa had a bike sharing program a few years ago which I was very excited about, until it launched. It was so difficult, cumbersome and impractical I was unable to participate, despite my desire to do so. I think we need to design a bike sharing program that is easy to use so people will actually participate. Maybe connect it to the SMART train so you could take the train from, for example, Santa Rosa, to Petaluma, hop on a bike and ride into town. When your day is done, return the bike at the SMART station and take the train home. I think having this type of program might make people use the train to commute more too.

I also think the SMART train should run more on the weekends so that it is not just a commuter train but also a way that families could easily travel to another town for the day. I had wanted to take family trips on the train but the stations are not always in the middle of town making doing a fun activity with kids once you get there difficult. There also were not that many trains running so getting to our location, walking into town, doing an activity or eating out, and then making back on the next train to get my youngest home in time for nap simply wasn’t doable.

Sidewalk repair program in Santa Rosa CAWhile bicycling is a popular activity in our City, so is walking. Unfortunately, there are still areas in the City that do not have any, or adequate, sidewalks. If we as a community seek to encourage people getting out of their cars and traveling to local businesses by other means, we need to make walking easier and safer. We have many crosswalks and lights. We have some that have delayed crosswalk lights allowing pedestrians to begin walking across a street before cars are given the green light to start driving. We need more of these and the good news is, it is a cheap and easy thing to do. For intersections where the lights are already installed, it is just about resetting them so pedestrians are allowed to go first. We also need to repair sidewalks making it safer for people to actually use them.

Overall I think the city is doing a good job promoting bicycle safety. I think it needs to be doing a better job ensuring the safety of your bicycle. We also need to continue taking the affordable and modest steps necessary to make pedestrians even safer and improve and promote non-commute use the SMART train.

Homelessness:

According to a Point-In-Time homeless count, as of June 2019, there were 2,951 homeless people in this county. A 3% drop from 2,996 in 2018. While the homeless population grew 4% from 2017 to 2019, it is 35% lower than in 2011. This, despite multiple wildfires. That’s because over the past two years, the County has been able to house 3,100 people.

 

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Wastewater:
Santa Rosa has been a leader in the use of recycled wastewater for over 40 years. We have one of the largest recycled water systems in the world! About 98% of the City’s recycled water is used to irrigate approximately 6,400 acres of agricultural lands and public and private urban landscaping, with more than 12.6 million gallons per day being recycled for the Geysers Recharge Project to generate enough electricity for 100,000 households.

The Laguna Treatment Plant is a wonderful and state-of-art facility here (with a fantastic tour!) that collects wastewater from Santa Rosa, as well as partnering cities and districts, through more than 500 miles of underground pipes. The wastewater goes through a three-step process of treatment prior to disinfection, storage, and reclamation.

I believe Santa Rosa Water Division has an excellent system in place for dealing with wastewater, and I support allowing its current model to continue in their efforts unhindered, with confidence that they will continue to excel and keep up with innovations in the industry.

Economic Recovery:
We need to draw more people to our downtown businesses by taking steps to support those businesses, especially during these truly unique and challenging times. Helping our homeless population is a big step towards accomplishing that. With that will come the public feeling safer using the public parking structures. We also need to promote small business creation throughout the City. We can encourage new, green jobs to come to the area by showing that we, as a city, support businesses trying to survive.

We have some unique areas that are often overlooked because they are not downtown. For example, the live/work complexes on Sebastopol Ave. in the seventh district. This is an area that has spaces for small businesses to open and housing all close to public transportation, yet this area struggles to actually draw businesses and customers. We need to support public transportation and bicycling, making it easier for people to get to the local stores they want to visit. Economic recovery is definitely a priority but it is important to understand that this is inextricably tied to protecting our environment. Tearing down one to try and build up the other will only cause both to fail sooner than we might expect Things like the Go Local campaign are good ideas but need to work to promote businesses in all areas of the City.

Measure Q:

Measure Q would eliminate two existing quarter cent sales taxes and replace them with a single half-cent sales tax. One of those quarter-cent taxes was passed in 2010 as Santa Rosa was coping with the Great Recession and is set to expire in 2027. The other was passed in 2018 and was pitched as necessary to deal with the fallout from the 2017 wildfires. That one is set to expire in 2025. If passed, the half-cent sales tax would be in effect until 2031.

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Alternative Transportation:

I think the city does a good job promoting bicycle use, with dedicated and newly painted bike lanes. However, the city’s bike renting program was not successful. There were too many hoops to jump through and the bikes were locked up in giant cages that were only accessible after people who wanted to use the bikes got a special card from the City and those were only available at certain times. It was so cumbersome, it did not make sense for people to participate in. It must be easier.

Our city has a strong bicycle coalition. I would reach out to them and get their thoughts on a bike rental program, maybe something they oversee, and is coordinated with local bike shops. We also need a better way to track down stolen bikes. Maybe some sort of embedded tracking device with a group dedicated to bicycle retrieval. My family has been hesitant to ride our bicycles to downtown because we are afraid they will be stolen. Promoting bicycle use is not just promoting riding bikes, but also giving people the confidence to trust their bike will be there when they exit the local business or restaurant.

 

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Police Funding:

I believe that the police are currently forced into areas that they are not properly trained for. Most significantly, this includes handling non violent issues with the homeless and mental health issues. Instead, funding should be taken from the police and funneled to mental health professionals who are tasked with working directly with the homeless, one on one, to ensure each person is getting the help and medication he or she needs. There should also be mental health professionals trained to handle situations involving mental health concerns of people who are not homeless. People who know how to safely interact with others who struggle with mental health.

This will free up the police to not only focus on what they are trained to do - public safety, but it will also give them time to walk the streets and get to know people in the community. This will help rebuild trust and real relationships with these people which will ultimately increase community building and trust in the police and in return, the police will have relationships with those in the community resulting in less aggressive responses.

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Public Pension System:

In the early 1900s, the concept of “retirement” was unknown to most. People essentially worked until they no longer could, due to illness, enfeeblement or death. In the first half of that century, retirement plans and public pensions began to surface as a light at the end of the tunnel. They provided a means to give workers a light at the end of the tunnel.

Initially, plans were simple and low-risk. They provided a steady accrual of low-interest earnings with very high reliability. As the years went by, people actually retired, leaving the active workforce and putting strains on reserves. This also coincided with a growing level of competency and innovations in the world of health care. People were retiring younger, and living longer. Investments into retirement plans had to become more aggressive, and created the need to take larger risks on those investments.

The maturation of public plans, growing public payrolls, and benefit enhancements have led to a meteoric rise in pension liabilities. The federal government maintains data on public-pension assets and liabilities going back to 1945. Comparing historical data on pension liabilities to the national gross domestic product gives a decent measure of the size of promised benefits relative to taxpayers' overall ability to pay. In 1960, state and local pension liabilities totaled approximately 12.6% of GDP. By 1990, the ratio had nearly doubled to 22.2% of GDP. Then between 1990 and 2017, the ratio nearly doubled again, growing to approximately 42% of GDP. The total value of retirement benefits already earned by public workers is higher today than it has ever been.

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