Month: January 2019

Flash Flood Watch issued January 31 at 10:57AM PST until February 02 at 6:00AM PST by NWS

…FLASH FLOOD WATCH IN EFFECT FROM FRIDAY EVENING THROUGH LATE FRIDAY NIGHT… The National Weather Service in San Francisco has issued a * Flash Flood Watch for portion of northern California… Including the following locations: The entire San Francisco Bay Area and Central Coast except for the hills of San Benito

Sonoma Seduces With Creature Comforts – Forbes

Photo Taken In Bodega Bay, United StatesGetty

Imagine the most beautiful coastline you’ve ever seen: miles of Pacific Ocean raging up against massive rocks that stand sentinel in the surf like ancient gods. Now add to that, fertile valleys where some of the world’s best wines hang from clusters of grapes waiting to be born.  Add the passion of chefs, butchers, picklers, soap makers, hoteliers and even the cinematic passion of Sonoma-lover Alfred Hitchcock and his masterpiece, The Birds, filmed in Bodega Bay and you’ll get some idea of why Sonoma is now using the phrase “Life Opens Up,” to describe its delights.

Landscape in Sonoma Valley at the beginning of spring, CaliforniaGetty

Sonoma County, California prides itself on being open to experimentors and to pioneers and pilgrims who come to its coast, riversides and valley vineyards to plant their passion for food and wine in its fertile soil.  Ask winemakers or chefs here what differentiates them from their sister region, Napa, and they’ll tell you that there’s still room here for passion and invention and sweat equity, alongside the larger and well known purveyors of wine and food who have made their home here for decades.

Even travelers with only a few days to enjoy the sensual delights of Sonoma can do the region tapas-style, tasting some of the best the region has to offer and seeing some the regions most dramatic and bucolic beauty in a less than a week.

A great place to start your tour of Sonoma is a legend in the wine industry. Kendall-Jackson Wine Estate and Garden in Fulton is a restaurant, tasting estate and an organic garden that highlights the famed wines that have been the gateway Chardonnay to many an oenophile.

Santa Rosa, California, USA – September 23, 2011: The Kendall-Jackson vineyard and winery tasting center is a popular tourist attraction in the Sonoma Valley wine country. The label was originally founded by Jess Jackson and his wife Jane Kendall in 1982.Getty

The upstairs restaurant serves produce from the estate’s extensive culinary gardens and Executive Chef Justin Wangler’s food and wine pairings highlight the fact that “KJ” does not just mean big, oaky Chardonnays (although they have those, too). The estate has an annual heirloom tomato festival (those lovely globes that prove tomatoes don’t have to be orange-red to satisfy). If you’re lucky you may end up in a tasting with wine master Randy Ullom, who coordinates all the winemaking for this legendary, family owned winery.

Stay the night (or many more) in the nearby and equally legendary Farmhouse Inn set on 6 rural (hence the “farmhouse”) acres near the food paradise of Healdsburg. There’s a Michelin-starred restaurant where Executive Chef Steve Litke and Sonoma’s only Master Sommelier, Geoff Kruth preside. There’s also a free soap bar where guests get to pick their own artisanal soaps and bath products gratis before checking into rooms that seem to have every creature comfort imaginable (and for no extra charge). Locally made snacks, smores, and of course, a bottle of local wine greets you on check in.  Beds are big, four poster farmhouse specials where you’ll sink in and feel like you’ve become one with the casual elegant, cashmere-soft texture of the place and huge showers have a steam sauna built in for extra decadence. And of course, outside your room, the constant bubbling and steam of the hot tubs provide a creature comfort white noise reminding you that you can sink in and soak at anytime.

Creature comforts at the Farmhouse Inn, SonomaSonoma County Tourism

At stay at the farmhouse puts you close to the tidy, art-and-food-filled town of Healdsburg. Two places for food and wine pilgrims should be Journeyman Meat Company and Vallette Restaurant.

At Journeyman Meat Co. winemaker Pete Seghesio embraces his decades old family tradition of salumi, handmade sausage and Italian-style cured meats.  Find a place at Pete’s counter at his intimate Healdsburg shop and do a tasting menu alongside local wines that will either prepare you or ruin your meal to follow at nearby Vallette Restaurant depending on how much you can eat.

Feast on Italian-style cured meats, sausages and salumi at The JourneymanSonoma County Tourism

Vallette, also in Healdsburg is the passion child of two brothers, Chef Justin Vallette and General Manager, Alan Garzini. The brothers’ pedigree goes back to Italian bakers in Sonoma several generations ago. Today, this bustling room offers a multi-course tasting menu that’s designed to “wow” travelers’ way into the Sonoma food scene. Locally sourced flavors and great wine pairings (Justin apprenticed at Francis Ford Coppola’s winery) all under a vintage agricultural mural from Sonoma’s rural days make a night at Vallette akin to the classic food film, “Big Night” with Stanley Tucci and Tony Shalhoub. The film and Vallette are all about two brothers whose passion for the possibilities of great cuisine outweigh all other considerations.

Dustin Valette, owner/chef of Valette in HealdsburgSonoma County Tourism

Moving in to what Sonoma County Tourism calls the “Valleys and Vineyards” area of the County (they divide up the county for tourism between “Valleys and Vineyards,” “Redwoods and Rivers,” and “Coast and Sea Villages”), cider lovers must make time to stop at Horse and Plow, a small but elegant tasting room in Sebastopol.  The name sounds Russian for a reason. Russian tradesman, artisans and others settled this area so heavily that the nearby river bears their name, Russian River. The Horse and Plow features elegantly unoaked whites as well as mouth-puckering ciders and organic foods. The wines come from organic vineyards throughout Northern California and they work solely with growers who use certified organic or biodynamic methods of growing.

Also in Sebastapol is a unique art campus and marketplace called Visit The Barlow where food producers, wine makers, brewers, distillers and artists co-mingle and co-create.  Wine lovers will want to stop into The MacPhail Family Tasting Room, for a taste of small-batch Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and more from the Sonoma Coast, the Russian River and the Anderson Valley.

Moving into the “Red Woods and Rivers” area in the interior of the country you’ll find the boon hotel and spa (lower case on purpose) in Guerneville, a memorable and sensual place to stay.  Boon is the love child of chef-owner Crista Luedtke (you may have seen her on Guy Fieri’s “Guy’s Grocery Games”). Luedtke felt that the area needed a place where luxury was affordable and so her 14-room boutique hotel was born. Luedtke, is known throughout Sonoma as the person who transformed Guerneville into a big name on travelers’ maps through a canny knowledge of food and hospitality.  The adults’ only boon hotel and spa needed a companion restaurant in town and boon eat and drink was born. Luedtke also owns next door Cantina, El Barrio where she makes a mean margarita. The feel in all is low-key, casual but very heavy on taste and texture. Rooms in boon have wood burning fireplaces and vinyl-playing record players. There’s an honor bar and if you’re lucky you may get to meet Boon himself, the property’s namesake a 12-year old puppy who loves to catch frisbees and whose profile on signage doing just that will keep you guessing (the secret is out now).

Zen calm at the boon hotel and spaSonoma County Tourism

Boon sits cheek-by-jowl to the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, close enough to walk into this ancient forest. If walking is not enough and you’d like to get intimate with trees, consider totally immersing yourself in them at the Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary.   The brainchild of onetime Buddhist monk and Japanese landscape designer, Michael Stusser, the spa is a haven surrounded by authentic Japanese gardens and zen rock formations. On a rainy afternoon you may see spa goers meditating in monk-like scarlet raincoats with small cups of tea in front of them. But the centerpiece of the spa is the cedar baths. While Stusser was a student at a Japanese monastery, he learned about a time-honored Japanese treatment method of bathing in fermenting cedar enzymes.  By immersing yourself in a fragrant tub filled with this soft chip-like substance you can help relieve muscle aches, sciatica, skin issues and other complaints. The feel after you get out of the tub is one of deep and wood-fragranced relaxation.

Founder of Osmosis, Michael Stusser with iconic cedar enzyme bath.Gretchen Kelly

Moving closer toward the coast, drop by at the Western movie-like town of Duncans Mills where a panoply of charming shops await. Cetonia Bath and Body is run by local, Angela Lee, who founded the natural soap and body care line after purchasing a tiny house near the town. Lee wanted to make sure that all the soap and bath suds she used were biodegradable and organic so she created her own line. The scarab beetle on her art nouveau-graced boxes is a symbol of spiritual and physical rebirth.

Angela Lee, proprietor of Cetonia Bath and Body, Sonoma, Ca.Gretchen Kelly

Travelers can stock up at Cetonia, after a day spent soaking in cedar chips and head to Timber Cove for the night stopping at one of the regions best wineries for a tasting.  Fort Ross Vineyard and Winery is one of Sonoma’s best known. Owners Linda and Lester Schartz started the winery in a section of virgin forest in the high coastal ridges overlooking the Pacific.  The area is cool and foggy and makes amazing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The tasting room feels like very Frank Lloyd Wright and is filled with local art.  The wines themselves are like the microclimate: mysterious, revealing themselves gradually like redwoods appearing out of the clouds.

Quarter for the night or many nights (you’re going to want to) at Timber Cove. The hotel was originally built in the 1960s and retains a mid-century modern aesthetic. Combine that with wood burning fireplaces and the pounding surf just below and you have a stay that will linger long in the part of the brain that registers textures, sights and other sensual pleasures.

Mid-century modern style at Timber CoveSonoma County Tourism

You’re in true Sonoma Country coastal heaven here. Timber Cove is a great place to explore other area attractions like the Jack London State Historic Park where the iconic author lived and where he is buried. (London was “On the Road,” way before Kerouac was and he was just as photogenic). You should also make sure not to miss the River’s End Restaurant also just facing the raging ocean and the rocks beyond. The restaurant has annual stone crab festivals and five course crab tasting menus (even dessert is crab-shaped). Inside the restaurant itself, the mid-century modern motif continues. You can see Tippi Hedren dining here and having martinis with Hitch himself, discussing their next scene in “The Birds” which was filmed a short drive away at Bodega Bay.

River’s End RestaurantSonoma Country Tourism

Before you leave Sonoma, make a wish and leave it on the “wishing tree” at Belden Barns. This farm and winery has a history that goes back to the late 1800s. Today, owners Nate and Lauren Belden (and a bevy of playful kids) run the farm and winery and have created a unique attraction–a wishing tree. Lauren will tell you that travelers have been leaving wishes on the branches of one special tree since they opened the winery (it’s on the label of their wines). Some of these wishes have miraculously come true and tasters and travelers have sent the Beldens proof that the tree or the land or Sonoma itself is so magical that wishes are granted here and lives transformed.

Whether or not you believe in the wishing tree, it’s doubtful that you’ll leave Sonoma without a feeling that you’ve communed with the land and the passionate people who live here, and that you’ve transformed your tastebuds as well as something deeper inside you.

Barn in the rain at Belden Barns.Gretchen Kelly

Pruning championship is on again | News – Sonoma West

Bragging rights and big prizes will be on the line at the 18th annual grapevine pruning championship being sponsored by the Sonoma County Winegrowers on Friday, Feb. 22 at its new vineyard and office location on Guerneville Road.

Entry applications are due by Tuesday, Feb. 12 and no more than three workers per company or vineyard management firm can enter. The competition will be held in pre-assigned heats with the top two contestants advancing to a final heat. Contestants must bring their own pruning shears and safety equipment. Walk-ins will not be accepted.

Women are encouraged to compete. The contest begins at 9 a.m. and lunch will be served at the conclusion. There is no entry fee. For more information contact Dana Cappelloni at or 707-522-5851.

Out of Hear: Bar none – a dive bar history – Sonoma West

I don’t go to bars much anymore, like I used to. I’m getting old and staying home.

Frank Robertson column photo

Frank Robertson

Maybe that’s the problem. Many lower Russian River saloons I once frequented are getting old too. They’re dying off. 

The trend toward disappearance for these old watering holes came to light most recently when the Forestville Club closed last year. The county’s Permit and Resource Management Department (now called Permit Sonoma) shut it down for alleged safety reasons after someone said the building’s foundation wasn’t up to code. A patron or an employee apparently was out to get the Forestville Club’s owner, Wayne Speer, by wrapping him up in bureaucratic red tape.

So far it’s succeeded. The Forestville Club, venue for cultural experiences from live local rock to midget wrestling, has been quiet since Speer shut the doors in July, leaving a serious void in the dwindling west county dive bar landscape.

If all you have to do to shut a business down is mention building code compliance to Permit Sonoma, the entire lower Russian River business landscape could be in big trouble.

Building code violations brought down Monte Rio’s venerable Pink Elephant bar a few years ago when then-owner Tim Parker was trying to fix the place up.

The Pink’s shutdown stunned Monte Rio residents for whom the bar served as a cultural landmark where old hippies, bikers and Bohemian Club bon vivants all rubbed shoulders beneath the neon Pink Elephant still standing over the bar’s front door. Except for a brief closure in the 1990s, the Pink had been open since 1937 — long before the county had building codes or a planning department.

George’s Hideaway on Highway 116 remains boarded up since the Sonoma County Community Development Commission decided it wasn’t financially feasible to turn George’s, probably the oldest roadhouse west of Forestville, into a homeless services center with subsidized housing.

Some of us may also remember Skippy’s Hacienda Inn, the rickety roadhouse that once loomed up in rustic glory above Hobson Creek on McPeak Road.

Don and Lynn Kelso ran the roadhouse as a quirky restaurant and bar that dated back to the late 1800s. Its weathered wood siding probably hadn’t seen a paintbrush in 100 years. Ancient stairs led to a neon “Skippy’s” sign and a cavernous wood interior with a Bohemian Club canoe stuck in the roof beams.

Don Kelso bought the place in the 1960s and under his ownership it seemed to preserve layers of Americana from several generations. A newer jukebox played recent (45 rpm) records and an old Wurlitzer played 78s from the Big Band era. The bar was a big curved wooden edifice from an old Matson steamship luxury liner.

The bar’s furniture changed frequently because Don was a pack rat. Things would come and go. Some nights there might be a truckload of office furniture piled all over because Kelso had been to a bankruptcy auction.

I’m sure Skippy’s neighbors were glad to see it go if only because it seemed to suffer from a century of deferred maintenance. It was bulldozed a couple of years ago after the neighborhood got a court order telling Kelso he had to get rid of his voluminous junk collection.

Another lower river landmark, Pat’s, Guerneville’s oldest café and bar which has been a Main Street fixture since the 1940s, also closed its doors last year, but customers hope it’s not the last call. New owner David Blomster plans to reopen the renovated restaurant as Pat’s International, serving a globally eclectic menu, but there won’t be a bar like the old dark cave illuminated with beer signs and the glow of televised sports. Those days are gone, said Blomster, but he knows they’re not forgotten.

“It’s good to be missed,” said Blomster, an artist who’s remodeling Pat’s and seems to know that he’s working with a local landmark.

“It is mine,” said Blomster, “but I can still be respectful of the history.” When it reopens, “I think it will feel very familiar.”

Frank Robertson is a member of the Sonoma West Publishers staff.

One-on-one with the new county sheriff – Sonoma West

Mark Essick talks about building transparency through community connections 

Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick isn’t wasting any time to implement his people-first approach in his new role as the top county law enforcer.

LOOKING FORWARD – Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick looks out over the city from his office in Santa Rosa, 2796 Ventura Ave. Less than a month into his new role, Essick is moving forward with his top priorities for 2019. 

“The first three weeks has been a whirlwind,” Essick said. “Basically right now, when people are asking me to come meet with their groups, I say yes.”

Building community connections has taken up most of the sheriff’s schedule since Jan. 5, when he was officially sworn into office. Essick, a Cloverdale resident and former captain for the sheriff’s department, has given 24 years of service to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

On Jan. 24 Essick spoke to Sonoma West Publishers about his new position and what the next steps are for the department in 2019. The following are questions and answers from that interview.


BREAKOUT – “As you work your way up the pyramid, it builds transparency. It’s a culture I want to permeate throughout our organization, one of engagement and familiarity.”

You’ve said one of your top priorities is improving connections and relationships with the community, what does that look like for you?

Essick: I would say it’s a multi-pronged approach. It’s a mixture of my availability and being out there and being involved with the different groups in our community. Whether it’s Los Cien, Sonoma County Alliance, the Farm Bureau … I’ve reached out to some groups that I think are traditionally underserved. I’ve reached out to all the tribal organizations in our county and asked for meetings with them and their leadership.

The other approach is community policing. It all kind of ties in together, and that is putting the same deputies on the same beat assignment or same zone assignment on a consistent basis. So that if you live in Geyserville, you can be assured that the deputy that works the day shift in Geyserville is the same deputy on a regular basis. You can get to know that deputy by name and by face. It builds accountability because that deputy is going to have to look you in the eye on a regular basis. It builds familiarity, builds trust, and I think those are all kind of foundational items. As you work your way up the pyramid, it builds transparency. It’s a culture I want to permeate throughout our organization, one of engagement and familiarity.

You mentioned reaching out to the tribal communities, what are some of the other underserved communities you’ve been reaching out to?

Essick: We have somewhere between 27 and 29 percent Latino population in this county, and that (outreach) is an effort that is already well underway. It’s something I want to continue to build on and strengthen.

The other community that is really big in our county and is really important to me is our LGBT community. I don’t think I would’ve been successful as a sheriff if I hadn’t gotten their support.

The way I plan on engaging in that community is making sure I am available, making sure that community knows that I take hate crimes and crimes against people because of their identity and their sexuality very seriously, and just reassuring them that I will be there to investigate those and advocate for them.


BREAKOUT – “…it’s conceivable that you could be in a housing unit and you could have someone in there for drunk driving, you could have someone in there for a violent crime, maybe a robbery, and maybe even someone in there for a homicide, depending on the circumstances. You classify those inmates and house them in areas with like-inmates based on their behavior not on their charge.”

What are some of the other stand out priorities that you have for 2019?

Essick: We are working on a special project in the jail right now. We applied for a pilot program through the National Institute of Corrections (NIT) to do what’s called SIM or Strategic Inmate Management. It’s a cultural, philosophical change in the way you operate a jail.

When we built that jail across the street in 1989, it was cutting edge. It was one of the first direct-supervision jails in California. From the officer station you can see every single cell. We don’t have bars in our jail. The officer station is not isolated. It’s almost the idea of taking community policing and putting it into a detention setting.

Strategic Inmate Management takes the concept of direct supervision and just enhances it and reaffirms the principal and enforces kind of that interaction.

Here’s why it’s a challenge: our jail was drastically changed when AB 109 passed. (AB 109 is a state bill in response to overcrowded state prisons, which transfers responsibility for supervising repeat, nonviolent offenders from state prisons to county jails.) We went from being a county jail to having to house inmates that were previously housed in state prison. On an average daily basis, there are about 250 people in our jail who would normally be serving state prison sentences. They generally tend to be more sophisticated inmates, people who have been to prison before. They generally tend to be older, in poorer health and have higher incidence of mental health issues. AB 109 really threw a wrench into local jail management.

You take a building that was architecturally designed for short-term stays and you put people in with long-term stays and you run into problems. We’ve had to adapt and bring in programs and bring in professionals from the outside to try to keep the inmates engaged. We educate them. We offer GED classes. We bring in K-9 Companions (service dog training). We had to get creative on how to engage them.

What has changed since the $1.7 million settlement Sonoma County agreed to pay to former Sonoma County Jail inmates who said they endured physical assaults and verbal abuse by correctional deputies?

Essick: There was a lawsuit by several inmates about a policy that was known as “yard counseling.” After I had won the election but was still in a position of a captain, I consulted with Sheriff Rob Giordano who was the leader at that point, and I told him that it was my intention that as soon as I took office that I was going to abolish the yard counseling policy. He agreed with me, and so we abolished the yard counseling policy prior to me taking office.

Part of that response was applying for this pilot program with the NIT. Strategic Inmate Management really is a way to manage inmates through behavior. You manage an inmate based on their behavior while in custody, not based on their charges. It’s kind of one of the concepts of direct-supervision. It’s conceivable that you could be in a housing unit, and you could have someone in there for drunk driving, you could have someone in there for a violent crime, maybe a robbery, and maybe even someone in there for a homicide, depending on the circumstances. You classify those inmates and house them in areas with like-inmates, based on their behavior not on their charge.


BREAKOUT – “I think part of the CIT training is that even when someone is armed, really some of the basics of the training is to slow down everything.”

How are deputies trained to respond to someone with mental health issues?

Essick: It really depends on the circumstances. We have two things at the sheriff’s office that were implemented years ago, and I was actually involved in the implementation of it and I continue to support it today.

The first one is called CIT, or Crisis Intervention Training. That is a mental health awareness and de-escalation training that we put every one of our deputies through. To date we have put over 500 people through this training in this county. It’s a four-day class taught by clinicians and professionals that teaches deputies the signs and symptoms of mental illness. It teaches them about some of the resources available in this county. It teaches real-life de-escalation techniques. At the very end of the class, we put all the trainees in the class through real, live-action scenarios. We bring in actors, who act out certain types of mental health issues, and the deputies have to resolve the issue without using force. It’s been a huge success.

The second part of that is what we call a mobile support team, or MST. It is a team of clinicians that is run by Sonoma County Mental Health, and they are available from 2 p.m. to midnight seven days a week. They are two clinicians in a car driving around. If a deputy goes to a call, establishes that a scene is safe, no weapons involved and determines that this is a mental health crisis, that deputy can radio for the mobile support team to be dispatched to the area. Initially it was just the 101 corridor that we had it on. Now we’ve expanded to Guerneville and Sonoma Valley.

What is the protocol for deputies responding to a scene where someone is armed?

Essick: We have to take public safety as the primary track. We have to address the weapon first. I think part of the CIT training is that even when someone is armed, really some of the basics of the training is to slow down everything. Let’s not rush in, of course unless someone is using that weapon to hurt people. If the person is contained, it’s to slow down and take your time. If it’s an active shooter or active violent situation then we have to go back to our most basic training, which is public safety, and we have to address that threat.


BREAKOUT – I would have to look primarily to the administrative division and the patrol division for that $2 million in cuts. It will have an impact in services, there’s no doubt about it.”

There is a projected shortfall for the sheriff’s department, how will you adjust the department to that?

Essick: I have received some budget guidance already from the county administrator. From what I understand, the county administrator is asking all county departments and offices to look at a 2.2 percent cut.

Our budget is about $180 million, but our general fund impact is about $90 million. The balance of that comes from special funds like Prop. 172 that provides sales tax revenue for public safety and some other revenue streams.

So 2.2 percent of $90 million works out to about a $2 million cut. It’s going to be a challenge. I’m not going to sugarcoat that. We have already cut the jail in the past recessions to the point where overtime is high. I don’t have any room to cut the jail and that’s half the operation. About half of our budget goes to the jail.

I would have to look primarily to the administrative division and the patrol division for that $2 million in cuts. It will have an impact in services, there’s no doubt about it.


BREAKOUT – “It is a multi-pronged approach. If you just oust people, then they just go somewhere else. It’s getting those services available to them.”

How do you plan to address the growing homeless population?

Essick: Homelessness is a huge issue. This county has spent millions of dollars and years trying to tackle this problem. I think it’s partnerships. It’s not just law enforcement. It’s other government agencies. It’s community benefit organizations and nonprofits, and it’s a 360-degree, multi-pronged approach.

Where we’ve had some success, like in the summer in Cloverdale, is when we got case workers out in the field, which consisted of the HOST program (Homeless Outreach Service Team). The idea is to interact with people who are transient or homeless needing assistance. They offer services. They offer mental health (services). They offer alternatives.

We give time. We don’t just go in and scoop up a homeless camp and throw everything away. The sheriff’s office generally gives at least five days. We look at environmental impact, and we will post the camp and say, “Hey, we are coming back in five days to clean up the camp because of the environmental damage that is going on here.” Then in five days we come back, typically with general services, and we will pick up garbage. If we find valuables, we book those in for safe keeping, and the idea is try to remediate environmental problems.

It is a multi-pronged approach. If you just oust people, then they just go somewhere else. It’s getting those services available to them.

SB 1421, opening officer misconduct records to the public

Breakout – “The advice that we’ve been given by county counsel, is that SB 1421 is retroactive, which means it does cover existing records that were in existence prior to Jan. 1, 2019.”

A new open-records bill, SB 1421, went into effect on Jan. 1 requiring that agencies must release officer records related to police use of force resulting in death or great bodily injury, sexual assault on the public while on duty or dishonesty-related misconduct. Are you willing to release records dated prior to Jan. 1, 2019, to the public when requested?

Essick: The advice that we’ve been given by county counsel is that SB 1421 is retroactive, which means it does cover existing records that were in existence prior to Jan. 1, 2019. We are qualifying records that are retroactive. There are a couple different law firms and attorney groups that are contesting it, and we may have to wait to get a direction from the courts. The bill’s author (Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley) clearly intended it to be retroactive. We are working right now on those records. We have a few public records act requests that we have received. We are going through those records. We have to redact some personal information, not just of the deputies, but of other parties involved. We are on track to release those records soon.


BREAKOUT – “I think that’s one of the great things about the contract: it’s truly the town of Windsor’s contract, and what their leadership wants up there, we will provide.”

The town of Windsor has a service contract with the sheriff. How would you categorize the current relationship between the town and the department?

Essick: I think it’s very positive. We’ve had the town of Windsor contract since 1992. I think it’s been incredibly beneficial for the town of Windsor and for the sheriff’s office.

We have a great place to develop some of our future leaders in a different environment outside the sheriff’s office. I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done in Windsor and the very tight relationship that we’ve had with the city government in Windsor.

I’m not aware of any concerns from the town council, or city manager, or the chief. I’m in regular contact with the (police) chief to hear about what the trends are, what the concerns are. I’m familiar with every single member of the Windsor Town Council. I’ve spoken to all of them. I feel like the relationship is really good.

Are there any changes in the way the department handles policing in Windsor you would like to see?

Essick: I think that’s one of the great things about the contract, is that it truly is the town of Windsor’s contract and what their leadership wants up there, we will provide. We are a service provider. They are truly in the driver’s seat. We simply fulfill the contract that they’ve asked us to. 

New MAC representatives briefed on open meeting protocol – Sonoma West

Sonoma Coast and Russian River Municipal Advisory Committees meet for transparency training

Newly elected members of the lower Russian River and Sonoma Coast municipal advisory councils (MACs) gathered last week for counseling on how — and how not — to conduct the public’s business.

“You are all now a legislative body,” which comes with responsibilities for upholding transparency and public access, Deputy County Counsel Linda Schiltgen told the new MAC members at an orientation meeting in the Monte Rio Community Center.

Legislative status means all MAC’s official business must be “open and public” in accord with California’s Brown Act, the state open meeting law named for legislator Ralph M. Brown, Schiltgen said.

The nine-member MACs will start meeting in February and March to advise the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on issues and projects within the MACs’ represented areas.

About three dozen people attended last week’s orientation hosted by Fifth District Supervisor Lynda Hopkins’ Field Representative Amie Windsor. (Lynda Hopkins was absent on maternity leave and gave birth to a son, Linden, last Thursday.)

The river MAC’s first meeting is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 25, with the time and place to be announced, Windsor said. The coast MAC will start meeting on March 7, time and place also to be announced later this week. Both meetings will include a formal swearing-in of the new representatives.

The coast MAC comprises the Sonoma Coast communities of Valley Ford, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Jenner, Timber Cove, west Cazadero and the Sea Ranch. The Lower Russian River MAC area includes Forestville, Hacienda, Rio Nido, Pocket Canyon, Guerneville, Monte Rio and Cazadero.

The MACs will meet six times a year according to a schedule now being worked out, Windsor said. Both MACs have their own websites where agendas, schedules and other information will be available online.

Sebastopol Police and Sheriff's Log, Jan. 21-27 | News – Sonoma West

Sebastopol Police Log

The following are excerpted from Sebastopol Police Department and Sonoma County Sheriff’s daily log entries.


2:26 a.m. Possession of controlled substance paraphernalia, controlled narcotics and violation of probation at Cooper Road and Gravenstein Highway South. Arrest made.

3:05 a.m. Rape involving victim incapable of giving consent at Sebastopol Avenue and Morris Street. Pending investigation.


4:27 a.m. Bench warrant,

misdemeanor and outside agency warrant, misdemeanor at Petaluma Avenue and Sebastopol Avenue. Arrest made.

10:05 a.m. Corporal injury inflicted to spouse or cohabitant, damage or destruction of wireless communication device and vandalism/property damage at Fellers Lane and Gravenstein Highway. Arrest made.

2:06 p.m. Vandalism at Valentine Avenue and Zimpher Road. Juvenile arrest made.

3:04 p.m.  Assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm with means of force to cause great bodily injury, violation of an order to prevent domestic violence and cruelty to an elder or dependent adult at Gravenstein Highway North and Hurlbut Avenue. Pending investigation.


9:39 p.m. DUI (alcohol) at Petaluma Avenue and Sebastopol Avenue. Arrest made.


2:50 a.m. DUI (alcohol) and possession of a controlled narcotic at Cleveland Avenue and Healdsburg Avenue. Arrest made.

10 a.m. Eavesdropping at Analy Avenue and North Main Street. Pending review by District Attorney.

10:42 a.m. Battery on person at Vista Court and Valley View Drive. Pending review by District Attorney.

2:02 p.m. Petty theft, receiving known stolen property and violation of probation at Gravenstein Highway North and Soll Court. Arrest made.


11:32 p.m. Bringing a controlled substance into a prison, possession of a controlled narcotic, alcohol-related disorderly conduct and violation of probation at Sebastopol Avenue and South Main Street. Arrest made.


7:15 p.m. Violation of probation at Pleasant Hill Avenue North and Bodega Avenue. Arrest made.


12:01 p.m. Display of false registration, driving without a license and no proof of insurance at Petaluma Avenue and Walker Avenue. Arrest made.

4:22 p.m. Transient sex offender registration violation, fight in a public place, offensive words in a public place at McKinley Street and Laguna Park Way. Arrest made.

Sonoma County Sheriff’s Logs


1:05 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Main Street and Tyrone Road, Monte Rio. Contacted.

1:43 a.m. Suspicious person at Church Street and Fourth Street, Guerneville. Contacted.

1:50 a.m. Disturbance (unwanted guest) at Church Street and First Street, Guerneville. Completed.

9:37 a.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Highway 116 and Fern Road, Guerneville. Contacted.

11:36 a.m. Petty theft at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Arrest made.

12:17 p.m. Disturbance at Ben Way and Seaview Road, Timber Cove. Contacted.

4:03 p.m. Suspicious vehicle at Highway 1 and Stone Crop Reach, Sea Ranch. Contacted.

9:03 p.m. Disturbance at Highway 116 and Solaridge, Guerneville. Contacted.

10:19 p.m. Illegal entry at Highland Avenue and Sunset Avenue, Guerneville. Completed

11:28 p.m. Suspicious person at Park Avenue and Old Redwood Highway, Monte Rio. Agency assist.

11:28 p.m. Disturbance at Highway 116 North and Redwood Glade, Monte Rio. Completed.


1:06 a.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

7:06 a.m. Forgery reported at Scanlon Road and Cazadero Highway, Cazadero. Civil situation.

8:15 a.m. Burglary at Church Street and First Street, Guerneville. Contacted.

10:22 a.m. Suspicious person at Armstrong Woods Road, First Street and Main Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

11:59 a.m. Suspicious circumstances at Wilshire Drive and Stutz Lane, Forestville. Contacted.

12:19 p.m. Call for help at River Road and Main Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

5:03 p.m. Fight at Rotunda Way, Canyon Two Road and Canyon Three Road, Rio Nido. Gone on arrival.

7:18 p.m. Disturbance at Willow Road and Canyon Two Road, Rio Nido. Contacted.

8:18 p.m. Disturbance at River Road and Main Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

8:38 p.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Mesa Grande Terrace and Monte Vista Terrace, Duncan’s Mills. Homeless related.

11:50 p.m. Suspicious circumstances at Highway 116 North and C Street, Monte Rio. Contacted.


7:56 a.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Monte Vista Terrace and Vista Way, Monte Rio. Contacted.

8:56 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at Bohemian Highway and Church Street, Monte Rio. Contacted.

5:43 p.m. Disturbance at Guerne Way and Drake Road, Guerneville. Contacted.


5:33 a.m. Welfare check at Bay Avenue and Hay Lane, Rio Nido. Transported.

6:57 a.m. Petty theft at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

1:34 p.m. Suspicious person at Mill Street and Main Street, Guerneville. Citation issued.

2:38 p.m. Drinking in public at Mill Street and Main Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

2:04 p.m. Resisting a peace officer at Mill Street and Main Street, Guerneville. Citation issued.

4:12 p.m. Bomb/explosive disposal reported at Pacific View Drive and Furlong Court, Jenner.

5:05 p.m. Fight at Neeley Road, Highway 116 and Drake Road, Guerneville. Gone on arrival.

5:11 p.m. Suspicious vehicle at Drake Road and Drake Road Extension, Guerneville. Homeless related.

5:17 p.m. Disturbance at Neeley Road, Highway 116 and Drake Road, Guerneville. Contacted.

6:19 p.m. Suspicious circumstances at Woodside Road and Canyon Road, Forestville. Contacted.

7:16 p.m. Violation of probation at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Arrest made.

9:15 p.m. Burglary at Hazel Way, South Street and Main Street, Monte Rio. Report taken.

10:58 p.m. Traffic stop at Foothill Boulevard and River Road, Guerneville. Advised.


3:19 a.m. Traffic stop at River Road and Bonita Avenue, Guerneville. Citation issued.

9:27 a.m. Auto burglary at Heron Drive and Surfbird Court, Bodega Bay. Report taken.

10:19 a.m. Wanted person at Coleman Valley Road and Bohemian Highway, Occidental. Arrest made.

12:45 p.m. Burglary at Center Way and Guernewood Road, Guerneville. Contacted.

3:54 p.m. Petty theft at Pole Mountain Road and Austin Creek Road, Cazadero. Contacted.

8:53 p.m. Suspicious vehicle occupied at Greenwood Lane and Green Valley Road, Graton. Contacted.

10:04 p.m. Traffic stop at Eagle Nest Lane and River Road, Rio Nido. Railroad incident.

10:09 p.m. Traffic stop at River Road and Bonita Avenue, Guerneville. Reprimand and release.

10:50 p.m. Warrant service at River Road and Orchard Road, Guerneville. Arrest made.

11:46 p.m. Suspect contact at Pocket Drive and Highway 116 North, Guerneville. Arrest made.


1:07 a.m. Suspicious vehicle at First Street and Mill Street, Guerneville. Contacted.

8:54 a.m. Petty theft at Mill Street and Fourth Street, Guerneville. Contacted.

9:24 a.m. Illegal entry at River Road and Main Street, Guerneville. Homeless related.

9:30 a.m. Disturbance at Martinelli Road and Main Street, Forestville. Civil situation.

9:45 a.m. Disturbance at Highway One and Johns Street, Valley Ford. Contacted.

3:03 p.m. Suspicious circumstances at Highway 116 North and Solaridge Road, Guerneville. Contacted.

5:19 p.m. Rescue reported at Jetty Campground and Doran Beach Road, Bodega Bay. Advised.

10:40 p.m. Verbal disturbance at Austin Creek Road and Kramer Road, Cazadero. Resolved.

10:48 p.m. Disturbance at Wee Way and Drake Road, Guerneville. Contacted.

11:06 p.m. Verbal disturbance at Wee Way and Drake Road, Guerneville. Contacted.

11:09 p.m. Disturbance at Rotunda Way, Canyon Two Road and Canyon Three Road, Rio Nido. Resolved.