I am so proud to be urging people to “follow the money” when it comes to what good Measure M tax dollars have done for our community. And thanks to the voters in November, that good will be continued for another 20 years! Look-none of us like taxes but the ability to have a steady stream of funding for City roads, City sidewalks, City bike paths, and City pedestrian pathways is huge! Not only are the nine Sonoma County Cities benefiting from Measure M funded projects, obviously the County is a huge beneficiary as well.
I recall countless hours debating and discussing with folks that did not want to pass the “reformed” sales tax measure until such time as the existing Measure M expired in 2025. My debating point was that it takes a long time for an idea to get funded, which can lead to the design, which leads to land acquisition/easement right of way procurement, leading to permit issuance, and finally going to bid in segments. Construction is the last step, and the construction takes many years to get to. So, if we had waited, we would have a lag time of years in some cases where no construction takes place. This was a very nuanced argument that was always going to be difficult for the “layman” to understand that is not part of our industry. Getting that message across to voters was my job in 2020. I am very very proud that BoDean, Ghilotti Construction Company and others stepped up to fund our minimalist campaign and the voters got the positive message. We will be reaping the benefits of the Go Sonoma Act for decades to come!
We are all well aware of the Measure M tax dollars that have gone into the widening of Highway 101. That is the “sexy” part of the tax dollars. Those projects have provided great paying jobs for suppliers and contractors for many years as we get closer and closer to completing the widening of the Narrows and alleviating traffic bottlenecks that I remember quite well from 15 years ago or so. Some of the lesser-known projects impact people’s lives nearly as much. I decided to “toot our horn” a little bit from our successful backing of the Go Sonoma Act from last November and simply remind us that not all the tax dollars are going to Highway 101 widening. There are some smaller but vibrant projects that change our communities for the better as well. Sometimes the “seed money” comes from Measure M tax revenues and other funding sources then become viable (like grants, or private development dollars) and these projects get funded with only 50% or less coming directly from Measure M tax dollars. And keep in mind, that citizens of Sonoma County are not the only ones that pay those sales tax dollars-tourists happily “hoist that load” as they visit wine country and the Russian River area with their purchases of motels rooms, meals, cases of wine, etc.
Let’s remind ourselves how this sales tax thing can work to our advantage on smaller, community-based projects.
Case in point:
The Foss Creek pathway is a Class 1 (off -street) paved bike and pedestrian pathway. · On October 2, 2006 Healdsburg City Council adopted the Foss Creek Pathway Plan establishing the alignment and design standards for design of a multi-use path alongside the railroad (NCRA/SMART) from Front St. (Russian River) to the City’s northern limit. The plan broke the pathway in to 5 reaches. link
Construction has been complete for Phases 1 through 6 extending from the at-grade railroad crossing at Front Street near the west bank of the Russian River to the Carson Warner memorial Skatepark adjacent to Grove Street have been completed. Measure M has funded approximately $1,410,000 of the total $3,274,771 used in completing Phases 1-3 and 6. Phase 4 was completed by Sonoma County Transit and Phase 5 was completed by Private development.
On May 1, 2017 Healdsburg City Council approved a professional services agreement with Coastland Civil Engineers of Santa Rosa in the amount of $299,000 for the design of Foss Creek Pathway Phase 7 (Segments 7 and 8) · On June 17, 2019 Healdsburg City Council approved the project Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration and staff subsequently submitted applications for the required environmental permits (Regional Water Quality Control Board 401 Water Quality Certification, US Army Corps. 404, and California /Department of Fish and Wildlife 1602 Streambed Alteration) · On May 18, 2020 Healdsburg City Staff received 401 Water Quality Certification from the North Coast Water Quality Control Board completing the environmental permitting phase. Additional environmental permits received included a Streambed Alteration Agreement from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and 404 Clean Water Act authorization from the US Army Corps of Engineers. · On September 8, 2020 Healdsburg City Council awarded a construction contract in the amount of $2,631,649 to Rege Construction, Inc. of Cloverdale, CA. · A Notice to Proceed with Construction (Procurement of Materials only due to the onset of winter) was issued November 9, 2020.
While I wish Rege would join the ECA, I am happy that a local firm got the job, and that the pathway will continue to get built pursuant to the vision laid out in 2006. Yep-here we are issuing a contract for Phase 8 with Phase 9 to still come, and it is 15 years after the initial plan was approved. This goes to show you how long it takes to make a difference in the community and the length of time these projects can take.
Please click on this link to see the detail of this community pathway complete with aerial pictures and plan sheets. Courtesy of our friends at SCTA that shared this information with us at the last SCTA/RCPA Citizens Action Committee meeting last month. I am proud to serve on that committee as a “watchdog” to ensure our tax dollars are going to the right places and not being diverted. I urge you to utilize SCTA as an example of how proud we can be to “follow the money”. They do a great job and will continue to do so because you all helped pass the tax measure in November!
That’s all folks!
General Membership Meeting on March 16, 2021:
Our friends from RCPA and SCTA will be joining us for a spirited discussion on Climate Change issues and actions at our upcoming March 16 General Membership Meeting from 12-1:30pm. Thank you to Stony Point Rock Quarry and BoDean for sponsoring this GMM with such important information to get. Watching what is happening in Texas and other states might erase any doubt that our climate issues are real and getting more extreme. Let’s all show up for this Zoom meeting on March 16 and learn. Thanks, BoDean and Stony Point Rock! Look for more info further down this newsletter