MACs – Municipal Advisory Councils
On Sept. 25, the Board of Supervisors approved the formation of both the Sonoma County Coast and Lower Russian River Municipal Advisory Councils. The application process for both are now open.
For the River MAC, representatives will be selected through a community ballot process. Each district will elect one representative, except for Forestville and Guerneville, which will elect two representatives (based on population). Applications for individuals interested in running for a MAC seat are due by Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 5 p.m. Applications can be found online at the MAC websites, at the county administration office or by request. Complete applications may be mailed to the county administration office or emailed to email@example.com
For the Coast MAC, some coastal communities have chosen a ballot selection process, while others have decided to nominate their own representative. Each coastal district will field one representative, except for Sea Ranch/Annapolis and Bodega Bay, which will each have two representatives. Those interested in serving on the Coast MAC may contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance. All nominations for the Coastal MAC are due by Wednesday, Oct. 24 at 5 p.m.
Representatives for both MACs will be announced on Wednesday, Nov. 21, prior to the holiday weekend.
The amazing Jenner Headlands Preserve is officially open to the public. The completion of the entryway to the 5,360-acre preserve and adjoining Pole Mountain was celebrated Friday, Aug. 24, followed by the official opening on Sept. 7. The preservation of this majestic tract was the vision of the Wildlands Conservancy, Sonoma Land Trust and the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District.
The new infrastructure and path allow visitors traveling on Highway 1 to walk up a short grassy hillside rising 1,000 feet from Highway 1. The visitor site provides access to the Sea to Summit Trail, a 15-mile loop that rises to an altitude of 2,200 feet at Pole Mountain, the highest point along the Sonoma County coast. A less intimidating hike, but an incredibly beautiful option, is the 5-mile loop that includes Hawk Hill and majestic vistas. Picnic tables, bathrooms, and walking paths encourage passersby to stop and take reprieve along one of the most beautiful spots in the world.
Thanks to the Wildlands Conservancy and their staff for investing the time, vision and dollars into this spectacular, well planned and executed public space.
With the winter months looming ahead of us, the county and many of Guerneville’s nonprofits are gearing up to provide services that help our homeless population find shelter.
West County Health Centers continues to provide its homeless health outreach. Their services include medical care, behavioral health care, specialty referrals and substance abuse treatment for roughly 260 patients, according to WCHC executive director Mary Szecsey. WCHC is still looking to move its dental operations into Sebastopol, but final move dates are still up in the air. According to Szecsey, WCHC is waiting for completion of the final improvements to the Sebastopol site. Once the improvements are done, the dental building in Guerneville will be repurposed as home to the organization’s homeless healthcare as well as housing locator services provided by West County Community Services.
Fire and emergency services
With our new normal, fire season is stretching out months longer than before. We’re working to play catch up with issues like heavy fuel loads while planning ahead to ensure a healthy and bright future for our fire agencies (and ultimately the constituents we both serve). It’s not easy work and it’s definitely not quick, but I am happy to report that we’ve secured nearly $1 million in funding for our county fire agencies, with the bulk going directly into West County. In an effort to maintain service levels, the fire ad hoc committee, composed ofSupervisor David Rabbitt and myself, is poised to recommend spending $820,000 on our fire services to the Board of Supervisors. That chunk would provide funding to the Bodega Bay ($200,000), Cazadero ($250,000),Russian River ($80,000) andTimber Cove ($90,000) fire protection districts.
Road Construction – Good News for Bad Roads
The 2018 summer roadwork season was a busy one, with many west county roads seeing repair. In west county, portions ofRiver Road, Austin Creek Road, Green Valley Road, Harrison Grade Road, Ferguson Road, Furlong Road, Fort Ross Road, Bohemian Highway, Bodega Avenue/Highway, Annapolis Road, and Willowside Road were all improved, thanks to funds from our road maintenance program. In addition, CalTrans repaved Highway 116 through Sebastopol, making for a less pothole and stressed-riddled drive through town.
That said, we still have many roads in need of emergency repair, including Coleman Valley Road, Old Cazadero Road, and Bay Hill Road as well as a long list of rural roads which are very distressed.
We’re working to develop a list of West County’s worst roads for our next two-year road re-pavement cycle, which will be approved in early 2019. I’m proud we’re making progress but there is still plenty of work to be done since we’ve dealt with decades of under-investment in our rural roads. Now we’re playing catch-up.
To nominate West County’s worst roads, email your personal pavement pet peeves to Lynda.Hopkins@sonoma-county.org.
Sonoma Water (AKA the Sonoma County Water Agency) finally received approval from California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the Fife Creek sediment removal project, which means that we will be able to clear out the creek bed before it rains to prevent excessive flooding on Armstrong Woods Road.
We also continue to work to re-open roads that have experienced major slides. Some of these roads required significant geotechnical analysis and design work. We are planning to begin construction on Caz Highway (to reopen it to two lanes) in early 2019.
For the slide on Bohemian Highway, we finally received the Streambed Alteration Agreement a few weeks ago and are still awaiting the final permit. Those permits will allow work up to Oct. 15 and can be extended beyond that date if needed and weather permits. We hope to be able to get some work in before then, but unfortunately, our work depends on permitting processes beyond our control.
We are also working to repair the slump on Coleman Valley. Specifically, we are planning a short-term repair for the end of October to repair the culvert and re-open the road to two lanes, and we are also working on a long-term solution, including consultation with a geotechnical consultant.
Finally, we are working on planning out a new bridge for Monte Rio. The current structure is unsound and at risk of failing in an earthquake or even a substantial flood event. The first community meeting on the topic was held on September 28 to discuss the alignment of a new bridge. Stay tuned: future community meetings will be held to discuss design, including bicycle and pedestrian amenities.