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Welcome to the Sonoma County Gazette ARCHIVE of PAST EDITIONS. Our NEW WEBSITE is up and running, so GazExtra is serving as your path to archived articles. Thanks for being part of our Sonoma County community...stay in touch...e-mail me - VESTA


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sonoma County Vacation Rental Rules Under Scrutiny


Vacation Rentals Under Scrutiny

By Nic Pereira, Spa Dad and Son and Camille LeGrand, Russian River Getaways

If you live in unincorporated Sonoma County, there may be a quiet (or not so quiet) powerhouse of the local tourism industry in your neighborhood. Vacation rentals are single family homes, rented short-term to visitors whose spending in the county approaches $90 million dollars a year. While the vast majority of these homes are positive parts of their communities, a few bad apples have generated a litany of complaints ranging from noise to traffic and garbage.

There are no county guidelines governing the operation of vacation rentals despite their having been a part of the tourism landscape for decades and disgruntled neighbors complain they have no means to deal with the half-dozen or so problem homes. So, for what in any other instance would be a nuisance property, the county Board of Supervisors, led by District 1 (Sonoma Valley) Supervisor Valerie Brown, have decided to enact broad restrictions with the potential to seriously damage the county’s tourism industry, particularly in District 5 (West County), where two-thirds of the vacation rentals are located.

Vital to the Local Economy

 
With much of the original tourist lodging either destroyed via fire, flood or neglect, or converted to low-income housing, vacation rentals now represent the majority of guest accommodation in the 5th district. 


When first brought before the Board of Supervisors Permit and Resource Management Department, PRMD claimed that vacation rentals were taking away low-income housing stock. They dropped this claim when it was pointed out that most of the vacation rentals could hardly be described as low-income housing, but not before causing speculation that the Highway 101 corridor municipalities, through PRMD, were surreptitiously trying to kill the tourism industry on the Lower River in order to create bedroom communities without the need to invest in infrastructure. 


The current PRMD strategy is to claim that vacation rentals are an illegal activity because of the “permissive use” nature of the county’s zoning ordinances – “permissive use” meaning that if it’s not explicitly permitted in the zoning description, it’s not a legal use of the property. This is going to be a difficult position to defend since the county has been collecting Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) from these properties for decades. If these homes have never been legal, will the county be returning its millions in ill-gotten gains?

Task Force Formed


After that initial hearing, a task force of vacation rental managers, Supervisors Brown and Carrillo, PRMD, NORBAR (the realtors association), the Tax Collector, and some angry neighbors collaborated, resulting in a proposed vacation rental ordinance unveiled in January 2010. A public workshop then invited comments on this proposed ordinance and the affected businesses supported it in principle, with the understanding that there were still many details to be worked out, especially with regard to enforcement. While the ordinance was a huge overkill to deal with a few problem houses, if the Board of Supervisors wanted regulation, at least everyone involved was on board.


New Ordinance Drafted


PRMD went silent after that workshop. In late May, PRMD released the new draft ordinance. This ordinance bore little resemblance to the January 2010 proposal - it was drafted without regard for any economic consequences, it is draconian in its provisions, inserts an entire septic red herring that was never part of any discussions, and appears to have as its intent the gradual elimination of most vacation rentals - one complaint and the vacation rental permit could be revoked for a year. 


The ordinance was set for hearing by the Planning Commission. At the June 10 hearing, the Planning Commission rejected the proposed ordinance and sent it back to PRMD to come up with something simpler and without the negative economic consequences, with the next hearing set for August 5.

Essential to River Tourism

Vacation rentals are vital to our local economy, especially in the river area. Vacation rentals bring over 30,000 visitors here every year. Without these, the loss to our local restaurants, bars, stores, and services would be substantial; indeed, many could not survive. Without vacation rental income, many homes here will fall into foreclosure or undergo forced sales, dragging down all property values.

The vacation rental management companies support many ancillary service businesses: contractors, handy folk, cleaners, pool and hot tub maintenance companies, dog sitters, yard maintenance workers, electricians, and plumbers, to name a few. In addition, the vacation rental companies provide concierge services as well, supporting kayak rentals, personal chefs, and wine tours, among many others.

While it is reasonable for the county to find some way to prevent the few problem houses from continuing to operate as nuisances to their neighbors, we could only wish that they would find a way to curtail all nuisance neighbors, not just the handful that happen to be vacation rentals.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jenner, California: The Little Town That Did


Jenner…The Little Town That Did

By Vesta Copestakes

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ~ M. Mead

How many times do we sigh deeply when forces larger, and better funded, than we are, undesirably affect our lives? This is the story of a small group of dedicated people who, for years, fought the giant, then won. Their persistence in strategy and response, combined with attention to detail, were vital to their successful outcome, but most importantly, they were united in their cause as they combined their individual talents.

When I met with Jenner residents Sharon Chang, David Kenly, Kathie Lowrey and Elinor Twohy, to recount how their “Little Town That Could” had struggled to save its watershed in the early years of the last decade, they spoke about the aspects of their town’s involvement in the process that would lead ultimately to the acquisition of the Jenner Headlands. From the start, they repeatedly mentioned John R. Twohy, who no longer with us, had been a vital contributor to their success and an inspirational leader of their team.

Although the action started in the late 1980s, the story really began in 1964 when Jenner Water Works owner Mr. Bressie protested a plan to divert Jenner Creek in order to support a proposed 200 home development in the hills above town. Nothing came of that plan, but in 1979, a timber harvest plan fouled the upper reaches of Jenner Creek with silt, and Sharon Chang, then co-owner of Jenner’s water system, realized that a complex and expensive filtering system was then necessary to guarantee clean water for the town. In the late 1980s, under the Safe Drinking Water Act, grant funding was approved to improve the water system. In 1990, the system was sold to Sonoma County to protect against diversion by the uphill ownerships. 


Even then, many in the town were relatively unaware of how their surface water collection system was and could be affected. The causes of this problem weren’t clearly understood until Sharon Chang read the geologist’s report accompanying the 1999 proposal for yet another timber harvest plan. It was this document that revealed not only failures to remedy past actions, but many major reasons why timbering should not be conducted in the watershed as proposed.

But that wasn’t the end of the story – it became the beginning.

Jenner’s water system relies entirely upon surface water collected from the town’s watershed. If you’ve been following water articles in the Gazette over the last several years, you know how important preserving a watershed is for good, clean water. In the case of Jenner, with water collected entirely from the surface, the supply is more susceptible to contamination than water filtered through earth and rock. The first sign of trouble is muddy water.


John and Elinor Twohy, Sharon Chang, and David Kenly, as members of the Jenner Water Citizens Advisory Committee (a group of local citizens appointed by the Board of Supervisors to provide oversight to the water system), encouraged a multi-agency review team to visit the hills above town to find reasons why the water had become cloudy. Plenty of reasons were found and noted. Many were because past projects had not been completed in ways that protect and sustain healthy watersheds. Earth had already been moved, streams crossed with skid roads, resulting in erosion that continually silted Jenner’s tributary streams. 


The primary upstream landowners, Sonoma Coast Associates (SCA) then submitted plans to build three large holding ponds, diverting water from Jenner Creek. The plans stated they’d be for watering livestock, but when the JWCAC compared the amounts of water actually available with what sustainable land use requirements for a livestock operation might be, it was noted that the numbers simply didn’t work. It was also noted that, years prior, SCA had advertised this land for a master plan community, complete with resort hotel, golf course, and commercial areas. If these holding ponds weren’t stopped, Jenner would be without water. They proved that these holding ponds would destroy Jenner’s creek and water supply, and the project was stopped.

Victory and relief didn’t last long enough to savor and relax.


By early 2000, SCA and Russian River Redwoods, both owners of the Jenner watershed lands, applied for two Timber Harvest Plans to cut 33% of the watershed, all on steep unstable slopes mapped with well over 50% underlain landslides. Once again, if Jenner were going to survive, these plans had to be stopped.


Protesting two concurrent THPs in Jenner’s watershed, the JWCAC brought in private and agency scientists and advocates to compile data and regulatory argument that would stop the timber harvests as they were proposed. Biologists, geologists, foresters, fisheries experts, wildlife advocates, and other environmental scientists all gave input. 


Whether with lengthy written documents or in many meetings, the JWCAC produced argument and data to defend the watershed. This was all brought to the timbering regulating agency, the California Department of Forestry, yet all for naught. CDF approved the first of the THPs, and harvesting became imminent.


At this point, the only hope for Jenner was in postponing harvesting, but how? The JWCAC had discovered a requirement in the Forestry Practices Act that harvested lands be returned to original condition. The JWCAC demanded that such a return be quantified by data, not by the arbitrary assessment of a reviewing official. In June of 2001, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board issued orders to both timber companies for in-stream monitoring programs, and Jenner’s residents realized they had opportunity to delay the process and assure verifiable quality through a verifiable and scientific data collection program.

Many of the town volunteered to be a part of an in-stream monitoring program, that after years, would establish a baseline reference to which watershed affecting activities, such as timbering, would be held accountable. 


After more than a year of protesting that the plan was unsafe, and with monitoring orders and promise of reliable baseline data in hand, the JWCAC, the Jenner Community Club, and Sonoma County continued the protest by filing a lawsuit against CDF, asserting that approval of this THPs was flawed and illegal, providing no protection for a vital watershed. They had the tools to prove it.


This is where the tide turned. By 2003, well into the THP, Jenner was awarded grants to pay for monitoring. Many of the citizens volunteered to join a program requiring regular data collection, a program that proved far more reliable than automated alternatives. This continued seasonally on a daily basis with volunteer citizen commitment that hadn’t previously happened in Jenner. The grants supplemented dedication while helping pay for these expensive data evaluations. Additional equipment was purchased and installed upstream, increasing the quality of information gathered. The monitoring program was a success.


Delays in actual harvesting continued. By 2004, with no reasons given, CDF withdrew approval of the Timber Harvest Plan. What’s important is that never before in CDF history has a Timber Harvest Plan been stopped once approved.


Jenner had won its argument, and the watershed was saved from one THP. Nevertheless, victory had shallow aspects. Since the case had never gotten to court, what would have been a favorable ruling was not to be, and with that, the opportunity to set case law that could protect other watersheds was lost. Those in Jenner who had struggled for so long to save their own watershed could only wish that CDF would alter the ways it approves THPs, especially by taking into consideration cumulative impacts over time and founded on reliable, quantitative baseline data. The threat to Jenner of two THPs in the watershed brought strong awareness that, included in such assessments should be the cumulative impacts upon the entire watershed, not just the area of the THP. Events in the forest know no arbitrary boundaries other than ridge tops and watercourses.


When various factors led Sonoma Coast Associates and Russian River Redwoods to stop moving forward with their plans, the years from 2004 to 2010 took on a whole new light. Many of Jenner had long realized that the only escape from the threat of uphill development of any nature would be acquisition of the lands (hopefully for preservation in perpetuity), or development rights at the very least. They approached many, from then Fifth District Supervisor Mike Reilly and Sonoma County’s Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, California’s Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Sonoma Land Trust. Nothing could be done, however, without a willing seller.


Suddenly, in April of 2005 and after the unexpected announcement that the landowners might be willing to negotiate a sale, Sonoma Land Trust came in to save the day, following a fruitful meeting of Mike Reilly with the watershed’s owners. After years of trying to raise enough money to purchase the 5,630 acres of land above Jenner, the SLT succeeded. Jenner’s watershed, as an integral part of the Jenner Headlands acquisition, became protected forever. This stunning land above the mouth of the Russian River is now owned and studied by organizations sharing the common goal of preservation and public availability.

The Little Town That Could
will be celebrating this extraordinary success on Sunday, August 8th, at the Jenner Community Club. Invitation is extended to all to share in that celebration. Starting at 4 pm, there will be a barbecue, followed by words of appreciation and acknowledgement, then capped with the skilled and immensely entertaining vocal talents of Teresa Tudury. Participants in this effort will be there to share details of their story, hopefully to encourage others who feel up against such daunting challenges. This tiny town of just over 100 homes and a hand full of caring people proved that success can be found when efforts are united toward a common goal.

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CAMP MEEKER: Building the Bonds of Mutual Support


As summer gets good and rolling, things are humming along nicely in our sylvan glade. There’s blue in the sky, water babbling in the brook, a steady stream of supper clubs, weddings, community potlucks, and pancake breakfasts to give us excuses to get out of the house, and the outside world stays politely outside for the most part.

No, really. Hard times have a way of focusing one’s attention, and the Camp Meeker community is focusing on building the bonds of mutual support and culture that will carry us through. It takes a village, and we got us a village.

Did I mention culture? Local resident and cellist extraordinaire Zoe Keating has a new CD, “Into the Trees” and a new baby. Go to www.zoekeating.com for all the pertinent details. Camp Meeker is just silly with artists and musicians, but Zoe is special even in this august gathering.

Culture ties us together. So does history. The history project moves along, gathering momentum. There are some families with deep, deep roots in Camp Meeker, and stories. It doesn’t have to be some grand spectacular happening. People of Camp Meeker today want to know what it was like to live here in the eighties, the seventies, the sixties. If we don’t get it down on paper these stories are going to be lost. There’s my email address up there next to my picture. Use it! taustin660@comcast.net

On to more current matters. Wastewater issues are currently on the back burner in Camp Meeker, but that won’t be true forever. The dread specter of AB 885 lurks in the weeds at the county level, and while nothing is going to happen on that overnight, it behooves us to have our ducks in a row by the time anything does. Our neighbors in Monte Rio are facing much the same situation, and they have formed the Monte Rio Wastewater Task Group to research alternatives to the Sheridan Meadow sewer system that caused so much angst the last time it was proposed. 

The Task force consists of a number of Monte Rio residents, along with Supervisor Efren Carrillo. A meeting was held last April where various guests presented information on some of the alternatives to a centralized sewer system. I know this was several months ago, but Camp Meeker veteran Gene Koch sent me the minutes to this meeting, and it was such a trove of detailed information that I found it worthwhile to share with you.

In fact, there is so much detail that I really can’t do it justice in this brief space. Therefore I will give you the (lengthy) URL to find the pdf, and just hit the high points. The document can be found at:
http://www.sonoma-county.org/cdc/pdf/rd/rr/mrww_task_group/notes/notes_2010_04_19.pdf

The guests at this meeting were five local engineers who each made a presentation about a sewer alternative: Tristan Bounds of Orenco Systems made a presentation about the Orenco Effluent Sewer and AdvanTex treatment systems. Jeff Loe of Lescure Engineers made a presentation about wastewater treatment systems installed at a riverfront mobile home park and at Jordan Winery and Vineyards. Rick McCauley of Superior On-Site Solutions made a presentation about the Hoot aerobic treatment system. Richard Dinges of Lescure Engineers made a presentation about producing disinfected tertiary effluent from secondary aerated lagoon effluent. Finally, Dan Wickham of SludgeHammer made a presentation about the SludgeHammer system that uses an aerobic bacterial generator.

After the presentations, there was a Q & A session where the local experts asked detailed questions about each system, about the pros and cons, about construction costs, about reliability and maintenance, about regulatory issues, about centralized vs. decentralized systems, about decentralized systems with centralized management.

Intrigued? Good. It was worth it to take up all that space with that long website URL. Just remember, if you are reading the print edition you will need to somewhat laboriously type the URL into your web browser. Or you can go to the online Gazette at: www.sonomacountygazette.com. If you are interested in the nuts and bolts of wastewater, it’s a good read.

If the link above does not work any longer - here is the text of the Meeting Notes:

Monte Rio Wastewater Task Group Meeting Notes
April 19, 2010 6:30 pm Monte Rio Community Center

Task Group Members Present:
Dan Fein, Ken Wikle, Jim Quigley, Lee Torr IV, Rich Holmer, Chuck Burger, Gary Getchell, Steve Mack, Preston Smith, Rene DeMonchy.
Task Group Members Absent:
Doreen Atkinson, Suzie Baxman, Supervisor Efren Carrillo
Staff Present:
Kathleen Kane – Community Development Commission (CDC)
Jane James – Transcriptionist;

Other Speakers:
Tristan Bounds, Orenco Systems, Inc.
Jeff Loe, Lescure Engineers, Inc.
Rick McCauley, Superior On-Site Solutions, LLC
Richard Dinges, Lescure Engineers, Inc.
Dan Wickham, SludgeHammer Group, Ltd.

Presentation – New Technologies
Tristan Bounds of Orenco Systems made a presentation about the Orenco Effluent Sewer and AdvanTex treatment systems.

Jeff Loe of Lescure Engineers made a presentation about wastewater treatment systems installed at a riverfront mobile home park and at Jordan Winery and Vineyards.

Rick McCauley of Superior On-Site Solutions made a presentation about the Hoot aerobic treatment sytem.

Richard Dinges of Lescure Engineers made a presentation about producing disinfected tertiary effluent from secondary aerated lagoon effluent.

Dan Wickham of SludgeHammer made a presentation about the SludgeHammer system that uses an aerobic bacterial generator.

Q & A

Lee Torr IV asked about costs for the Orenco systems. Tristan Bounds clarified that the pumping cost would be $1/month. The difference between effluent sewer and grinder systems is horsepower for pumps (.5 HP and 2 HP, respectively). Grinder pumps use more electricity and are therefore more costly, and life expectancy of the 2 HP pumps is shorter at 8 yrs vs 25 year life expectancy for .5 HP pumps. But the pump that can be used will depend on specifics of situation.

Rene DeMonchy asked Lescure if technology from Orenco and SludgeHammer systems works so well to clean up effluent, why did Graton do treatment ponds instead? Jeff Loe and Richard Dingles clarified that the Graton pond system was existing when they took it over, so they needed to upgrade what was there. The intent with that system and pasteurization for disinfection is for reclaimed water sales. It will be recycled back to user groups. The area is bisected by a flood-prone creek. A berm was recently built higher to keep flood waters out. The effluent is dispersed onto land with redwood trees, and they also have a discharge permit and will sell treated water to the agricultural community. The system is about 120,000 GPD for mostly residential units. The cost to abandon existing ponds and start over with another type of system would have exceeded cost to upgrade existing system. No downtime required during upgrade process. Final total cost not yet known because still under construction.

Steve Mack asked about flooding impact on subsurface drip systems. Will that be acceptable to Regional Board?

Dan Wickham noted that on-site treatment systems can perform as well as Santa Rosa city system, which is allowed to discharge directly into River. So surface discharge should be ok.

Richard Dinges referred back to Stinson Beach system discussed at meeting in March, and the use of an isolation valve that could be closed when a flood was imminent to prevent water infiltration. Saturated soil was an issue there.


Lee Torr IV observed that all systems discussed are NSF 40 rated and that’s good, but can’t get approval in Monte Rio if disposal aspect is below 10 year flood plain. Has that requirement changed? He noted that community was told they weren’t eligible to do surface discharge.

Steve Mack clarified that, because the on-site system is doing the treatment, rather than the leach field, it could be allowed.

Chuck Burger asked all presenters several questions that led to the following responses:

The standard footprint of their systems without dispersal fields is the size of septic tank. It was noted that all systems have roughly same size tanks.

In Sonoma County all of these systems would require 2 tanks.

All systems can go under water completely – all water tight.

Earthquake impact could break collection system, disrupt power, and cause failed embankments.

Drip tubing is very flexible. If installed in a field area is flexible, heavy machinery should not be driver over it; it won’t break, but it might get pinched and cut off flow. Drip tubing is buried 6-10 inches, so you’d have to compact it pretty hard before you would cause damage to it. Normal yard usage is fine. No horses or large cattle or tractor tires with cleats. Lawn mowers ok.

Abuses of systems, such as someone dumping chemicals into the system, can be identified fairly easily in each property has its own tank, which has a structure that the solids settle and float out, so you could note abuses by change in that structure if you have historical info on the system. With gravity or grinder systems, you don’t have as much opportunity to identify such issues. For larger centralized plants, periodic abuses would probably get diluted and not be noted.

Dan Wickham noted that a community can have centralized management over a decentralized system. The community needn’t have a centralized system.

Lloyd Guccione noted that the presentations were good. He asked if communities that are hooked up to centralized systems might want to go to their system, and what would be the cost to the community to do that? Presenters responded that some have looked at the alternatives, but if they have a system that is working, there wouldn’t be a reason to incur the cost to replace. If they have a failed system, they might want to look at these. Mr. Guccione noted the Forestville system as an example, that is antiquated and needs constant maintenance. He asked if it might be the cost effective in such a situation to make a change. Presenters agreed that it might be, but that many times it is not up to them to make such a decision, which is sometimes complicated by CC&Rs, homeowner association boards, etc.

Lee Torr IV stated that he thinks there is now an opportunity to advance to new technologies that weren’t available before. The Sweetwater property on top of hill was never studied (400 acres with 700 ft elevation change at top and 400 ft at lower part). It has shale ground, not best, but didn’t have option of drip irrigation before. He noted that the effluent needs to be moved as far from River as possible.

Dan Fein noted that most of the lots in Monte Rio don’t have enough space to adequately dispose of water and asked if there are decentralized treatment with centralized management examples? Jeff Loe noted that, similar to Oddfellows, Monte Rio could have STEP and STEG system with operation done by wastewater district. A lot of monitoring can be done telemetrically. It is preferred to have a central entity operating a system.

Dan Fein asked if, on systems like HOOT system, are there economies of scale for communities? Presenters responded yes, a community could have multiple houses on one larger system with equalization tank. If 2000 home community, could design it for clusters of connections. Economies of scale always work.

Dan Fein asked about the life expectancy of these systems. All presenters agreed that the septic tank will last 30-40 yrs. Dan Wickham noted that an aerobic tank will last much longer.

Individual components have different life expectancies (like pumps, floats, level detectors, controls) but smaller cost than replacing system. Also comes down to level usage. Those parts will wear out faster.

Lloyd Guccione asked if an education program goes along with installation of system? Are people with tanks more careful than those on central system? What kind of training is given to homeowner so they get the optimum potential of system? Presenters noted that every NSF system must come with homeowner’s manual. Booklet shows operation of system, copies of permit, drawings, pictures of construction site. Mr. Guccione ask about information regarding care of system, what types of detergent to use, etc? Presenters said they provides a list of “dos and don’ts”. Homeowners pay attention because it’s a big expense to have a new septic system installed and they want it to last a long time. Also, an operation and maintenance manual is available, but some systems require a professional maintenance provider to maintain.

Rene DeMonchy asked if each property that has one of these systems with effluent being treated to a beneficial level and then pumped somewhere, presumably uphill, for disposal, what infrastructure is needed - a pump in each unit up to woods, or into a centralized area, and then uphill? Presenters responded that pressurized systems at the lot with a pump would be used to pump to central location for secondary treatment, then pump from there to disposal area. Could use more than one dispersal area, and can “gang” the technologies as needed for a specific situation.

Plan for next meeting and closing Topic: Reflect on what heard at last 5 meetings and begin planning for summer forum 5/17/10 and 6/21/10, 6:30 pm, Monte Rio Community Center

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BARRISTER BITS: Cell Phone Laws


Q. My chiropractor told me that police officers are exempt from California’s cell phone laws. Seems a bit unfair that the men and women in blue can chat away on their cell phones, and then freely hand-out tickets to us. Does this ring true?


Signed: Aligned and Hands-Free

Dear Aligned: By now, one would think that the cell phone laws would be well-tested and understood. Yet, since the laws took effect over 1 ½ years ago, confusion abounds. There are two primary sections of the California Vehicle Code that are in play--one for drivers over 18 years (CA Vehicle Code sec. 23123) and the second one for drivers under 18 years old (CA Vehicle Code sec. 23124). Because it is a state statue, the law applies to any driver within the borders of our Golden State…residents and tourists alike.

The smartest way to obey the law is to avoid using a cell phone while driving so there is no grounds for dispute. Some Californians have been cited for simply picking up their cell phone to check the time. The citation is hard to fight in court as it is often your word against the police officer’s word. Bottom line: If you are over 18 and driving, you must use a “hands-free” device. Translated, you must use a Bluetooth or the speaker feature on your cell phone, as long as the phone is not in your hand (although it can be in your lap).
 

As with any law, there are exceptions. For example, you can “hand-hold” your cell phone if you are on private property, or if you need to make an emergency call. “Emergency” is a call to the police, fire, or your doctor. Calling your partner to grab an extra tofu at Andy’s is not considered an emergency.
 

The law also provides an exception for certain vehicles, such as commercial motor trucks, farm vehicles, tow trucks, and yes…”emergency services professional” while operating an authorized emergency vehicle—which is broadly defined and includes our police, sheriffs, fire departments, etc. So, your chiropractor is right—police are exempt as long as they are operating an authorized emergency vehicle, like their police car.
 

Now, if you are under 18, you are not allowed to use the cell phone at all—not for texting, calling, videos, anything…even if it is “hands-free”. Nada. No cell phone use at all allowed.
 

What are the fines? $20 for the first offense and $50 for the second. So by now you may be thinking, “That’s not so bad, I can risk it”! But wait…once you are ticketed, other “fees” will likely be added, such as a “conviction assessment”, a court security fee and a traffic administration fee. By the time the tally is final, the first offense typically will cost you around $142 bucks! Plus, to add salt to the wound, the conviction will go on your driving record (although currently you will not be assessed any “points”). One survey estimates that the CHP issued 234,000 tickets through 2009 for violating the cell phone laws.
 

As of this writing, the original author, State Senator Joe Simitian, has introduced SB 1475 which adds even more punch. If passed, the new law would increase fines to $50 for the first offense and $100 for the second, plus will cost the driver One (1) Point on their driving record. The introduced legislation would also ban bicyclists from talking on a cell phone without a headset.
 

So glad you asked the question. I think while driving I’ll just hum the “Roadhouse Blues”…“Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel”!

DEAR READERS: Do you have a legal question that is burning on your mind? If so, please email me. Names will remain confidential. Every inquiry may not be published, although we will publish as many as possible. This Q & A Legal Column is intended as a community service to discuss general legal principles and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Debra A. Newby is a resident of Monte Rio and has practiced law for 28 years. She is a member of the California, Texas and Sonoma County Bar Associations. She maintains an active law office in Santa Rosa and emphasizes personal injury law (bicycle/motorcycle/motor vehicle accidents, dog bites, trip and falls, etc.) and expungements (clearing criminal records). Debra can be reached via email (debra@newbylawoffice.com), phone (707-526-7200), fax (526-7202) or pony express (930 Mendocino Avenue, Suite 101; Santa Rosa, 95401).

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ARTIST PROFILE: Pam Selvaraj


Artist Profile – Pam Selvaraj

Meeting Pam Selvaraj is like stepping into a palace of vibrant color and artist composition. Forget that I am in a tract neighborhood of Northwest Santa Rosa – I am transported to a land that is part India, part England and a great deal of enthusiastic American creativity. Pam’s art is the essence of this fantastical paradise.

Saturated secondary colors jump out from the canvas and grab my mind. Abstract shapes hint at biological origins. Everything is very alive. Pam Selvaraj is very alive – and is thankful for it each day.

Pam may have been born in Chennai, India and raised until age 13 in the United Kingdom but she is undeniably American in appearance, demenor and attitude. The transplant from the metroplitan Edinburgh to the rural Hillsboro, West Virginia was an adjustment but as most teenagers, she fully acclimated to her new country and environment. She was introduced to the bold and fanciful depictions of life and landscape of Vincent Van Gogh in high school and wanted to follow in his footsteps. But when it came time to choose a course of study, she selected Biology at Marshall University near her home – relegating art to elective classes and the status of hobby. 

After graduation she sought out the glamour and excitement of the big city in Miami. For nine years Pam pursued her career as a field representative for Beckman Coulter, a medical instrument manufacturer, and lived the life of a successful young professional. Art fell to the wayside as she married, established herself professionally and availed herself of the life that Miami offered. She and her husband, Jeff Goodwin, relocated to Sonoma County as a career move and life was good.

Everything changed when in 1995 Pam discovered a lump and was subsequently diagnosed with breat cancer. Cancer at any age is scary and daunting. Cancer in a thirty-something is devistating. Rather than lament her misfortunes, Pam embraced the experience of breast cancer as an enrichment to her life. She and her husband purchased their home, got a dog and reintroduced art into her daily activity. Pam was going to live each day to the fullest no matter how few or many those days were. As a fifteen year survivor, Pam has lived with the uncertainty that is always present but she has used that threat to make her time more meaningful. She does this by pursuing a deep passion - ART.

The story of Pam Selvaraj is expressed in all of her paintings. The colors are vibrant and can be found in the sari fabrics that her mother still wears. Intricate designs in scratch board or paints can be traced to Pam’s Eastern roots. The abstracts have a biological nature that must reflect the technical education and professional endeavors that are a large part of Pam’s makeup. Pam discusses the maturation process of her paintings as she coexists with them before they leave her home. Every piece is a part of her and they, Pam and the art, need to go through a separation process of close association before finding new homes.

During her illness, Pam began taking classes at Santa Rosa Junior College (and like most Sonoma County residents sings the praises of our gifted and giving fellow residents who teach at SRJC). On a business trip she discovered Chaim Soutine, the little known early 20th century artist, whose saturated colors and raw strokes are strong influences in modern art. Pam traveled to the Oakland Museum to study the art of the Bay Area Figurative Movement and the Society of Six. She especially draws on Selden Gile.

Pam shows her art with a group of friends she met in her SRJC classes. Their group is Intertwined Art and they can be found at www.intertwinedart.com. She seeks out inspiration at every opportunity through museum visits, book browsing or art related conversation. She cannot stop producing art and developing in approaches. In July and August, Pam’s paintings will be on display at Frame of Mind. The show is It’s Genetic! and it is a perfect metaphor for Pam’s life and art. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 10 from 4pm to 6 pm at 6671 Hwy 116 in Forestville. If you cannot attend the opening, stop by to see the show during normal business hours.

You can email your comments to shulaproperties@gmail.com. Read what other things Barbara is up to at www.MyWineCountryVillage.com.

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ADVICE: Mitch Darnell on Boundaries


Dear Mitch:
I’m writing this to you because I’m tired of being a push-over. Throughout my entire life, I have lived to please others (especially my families). I was taught at young age to always help others especially families when they are in need of help. Whenever someone needed something or asked something of me, I would drop whatever I’m doing and do whatever they asked of me. There are many times when my kindness is not even rewarded with a simple “thank you”. I don’t expect anything in return, but sometimes it would be nice to know that you’re appreciated.

From now on, I need to start living my life for me. I need to put myself first, and offer my assistance under my terms and conditions. I will set boundaries within my limit. Is this being selfish? I don’t intend to isolate myself from everyone, just limiting my services. I hope I can go forward with this without feeling guilty and still have their respect. I would very much like your direction on this decision, Mitch.

Thank you,
Nervously Stronger
Folsom, CA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Stronger,

“Your current healthy boundaries were once unknown frontiers.” – Author Unknown

CONGRATULATIONS on setting boundaries for yourself!!

~ Have you CELEBRATED yet?!... Yes, CELEBRATE!! Celebrate challenges, and your growth!!

Honoring yourself by setting boundaries is something to acknowledge! Go hit that Roman Spa in Calistoga which I mentioned in the last column! Or, do what you consider a treat FOR YOU!!

Now, re: How to set and honor your boundaries without upsetting the loved ones!

~ I recognize that I challenge my readers to evaluate the nature and quality of their relationships, and to identify what “love” is in their variety of associations…

Meanwhile, we don’t necessarily want, or need to, terminate relationships just because they’re not entirely “on the same page”, do we?! We’re already in a very bifurcated lifestyle – Separated from loved ones by lifestyles, by our beliefs, our commitments… our paradigms! We can end up very lonely if we eliminate connection with everyone who doesn’t entirely “match” our philosophies or our needs, can’t we?!

Perhaps you already recognize that the struggle here is within your “self”…

… One piece is identifying your definition of “helping others”, and of “when they need help”. Your boundaries will become empowered the more you recognize when you truly ARE needed, and what REALLY constitutes HELP!

This sort of insight development can be quite daunting. Learn where YOU “start” and “end”, and where others “begin”… Respecting “self” and “others” while simultaneously honoring the facts that:

• We’re all interconnected ~ Co-Occupants of a Bio-Psycho-Spiritual Energy Paradigm

• We can’t be responsible for the entire energetic paradigm, yet what we think and how we behave sends ripples throughout – Affecting many…

➢ Deep inside, you know what constitutes your responsibilities to yourself and to others. Find reasons to access and listen to your intuition...

AND:

➢ There are answers as to what you should do - when and where… in meditation’s silence

• Guilt is ego-centric… Destructive, divisive and NOT honoring of healthy love

➢ You DESERVE to take care of YOU! Saying “no” can be the best thing one can do sometimes!

➢ Saying “yes” can also really feel good! There is honor, connection, self-esteem and intimacy in truly helping another!

➢ Others’ needs – There’s a quandary…

° An incredible reality:

You’re either part of the solution, or part of the problem!

° Develop your boundaries to INCLUDE those you love…

° Recognizing that you can only do your best

° Allowing that your job is not to keep others from their lessons

° While honoring healthy traditions and family relationships

° Lovingly allowing yourself to make plenty of normal, human mistakes!

Please honor your feelings around not being recognized/appreciated. You deserve your feelings, and may wish to use this as a discussion point with your family. Either way, you want to make boundary decisions centered in love – For yourself and your family… NOT from a place of hurt or anger!

Ultimately, “living my life for me” means a powerful interdependence – Where you’re non-ego-centric, and you ARE focused on the paradox of “we” and “me”!...

Last Truism: Life loves to push us… To show us that our capacities are MUCH larger than we believe! … That It’s All Opportunities To Learn!

Namaste,
Mitch
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mitch Darnell, MA, OM
Relationship Coach & Wedding Officiant
tel: 916/247.1655; Online: www.ForeverInspired.net
eM: ForeverInspired@surewest.net

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OUR COUNTY: Adopting a Budget


Facing an unprecedented budget shortfall, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adopted a balanced budget on June 22nd. Our action concludes more than a week of public hearings and months of work to responsibly reduce the $61.6 million gap created by the struggling economy. The adopted Budget maintains core services, adopts a prudent fiscal path for the next year and lays the groundwork for a county re-design effort. The total adopted budget is $1.18 billion and reflects a 7.4% reduction from the FY 2009-2010 County Budget.

The $61.6 million gap was closed by using $27.0 million in permanent program reductions, $10 million in carryover funds, $11.7 million in reserve funds for one-time purposes, $6.7 in increased revenues, $2 million in pension cost savings and $4.2 million in employee contributions.
 

The budget reduces the number of county full time equivalent positions by 237 and will result in 61 layoffs. The Board established a number of service restorations funded by employee contributions in the form of unpaid leave or Mandatory-Time Off (MTO) which equates to salary savings of approximately 3%. Those restored programs include: The Sierra Youth Camp, community oriented policing services, Regional Park maintenance, domestic violence victims support, and drug and alcohol treatment counseling.
 

The Board preserved funding for the Human Services Commission which supports a variety of local non-profits. By using federal stimulus funds, the Board preserved two Veterans Services officers which were slated for elimination. Veterans Service Officers help local veterans access state and federal benefits.

Although this budget is complete, we must begin the process to engage the community on the shape of the County looking forward with fewer resources. Next year we will face challenges. Economic development and finding new ways to grow our economy must be our priority. Our County remains an innovator and I am confident we will re-invent our government to better serve our community.
 

Another challenge looms in the months ahead, dependent on the State of California’s budget decisions which may include further diversions of local funds.
 

During the past few years, we have seen a dramatic increase in demand for safety net services for people living in Sonoma County who have been impacted by the housing collapse, high unemployment, and other effects of the deep recession. As a result, many are turning to our social services for the first time in their lives. High demand and decreased funding create a challenging and stressful equation both for those seeking assistance and service providers.
 

While June has been mostly all about the budget, it’s also been a month with some unfortunate outcry over comments that I made during a Board discussion about the waste hauling RFP on June 8th. While I hesitate to give this “issue” more air, suffice it to say that I stand behind my statement that the County of Sonoma should not be awarding contracts to firms from Arizona due to their misguided immigration law, SB1070. Fellow Fifth District resident, Chris Kerosky, wrote an excellent opinion outlining the many problems with Arizona’s law and the unacceptable consequences which its requirements impose on legal residents, civil employees and local government.
 

In addition to the factor that Republic Services is based in Arizona, this contract award came despite the fact that a Sonoma County Engineering firm bid $250,000 less than Republic. In my opinion, it is in our interest to award the contract to the lowest capable bidder, especially when that company is locally owned.

Please join me at a Neighborhood Town Hall with Sebastopol City Councilmember Kathleen Shaffer on July 22nd from 7-8:30pm at the Sebastopol Library. I appreciate Kathleen’s invitation to join her in discussing items of concern to Sebastopol residents.

With the budget wrapped, and moving toward a conclusion on July 13th, it’s time to prepare to celebrate our Nation’s birthday on the 4th of July. Whether you’re on the field at Analy High School for fireworks on the 3rd, at the Water Parade in Monte Rio on the same evening, or at the Coast for Bodega Bay’s famed firework display, I hope you and your family enjoy the bounty and choice that our community has to offer.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Ask EcoGirl: Preventing Future Oil Disasters


Dear EcoGirl: My heart is breaking watching the Gulf oil gusher. How can we help prevent such disasters in the future? Signed, Weeping

Dear Weeping: You're not alone in your response. Many of us are horrified at the unfolding Gulf devastation, and hope to never see anything like it again. Unfortunately, though, our demand for oil is pushing drilling into riskier regions, so we'll likely see increasing eco-calamities until we solve the underlying problems.

Certainly, the remedies start with holding BP accountable for its actions and improving drilling regulation. However, we also need to recognize that petroleum is inherently harmful to people and ecosystems throughout its life cycle.

And, since we all use petroleum in our lives and our society, we have a responsibility to help stop the damage.

But what can we do? My column last month offered tips for reducing our largest direct use of oil, passenger cars. (See www.patriciadines.info/EcoGirl3j.html.)

This month, I'll explore how we can reduce our indirect oil use, and help steer our culture in a wiser direction.

Reducing Our Indirect Oil Impacts

Most consumer products require notable amounts of oil for their production, transport, and disposal. Here are some important ways to trim those impacts:

1) Prioritize local, natural, and durable products. Buying local reduces the fuel needed to transport goods; choosing natural avoids petroleum products, including plastics and petrochemicals; and getting durable items avoids disposables and better uses each product's eco-costs.

2) Buy less, reuse, and recycle, to cut our total oil consumption, get full benefit from the oil we do use, and lighten our net burden on the earth. (More about this is at www.storyofstuff.com.)

Encouraging Wiser Policies

In addition to individual action, we need to insist that our leaders constructively address the escalating eco-collapses that put all our lives at risk. Our current shared frustration can motivate us to make the vitally-needed large-scale changes, but only if we act quickly, intelligently, and in large enough numbers.

Many government actions are being suggested; here are three essential ones:

1) Rapidly ramp up renewable energy sources, while significantly cutting total energy usage to meet that smaller supply.
The luxury of the oil age is ending, because of pollution and supply constraints. But we can minimize the pain of hitting these limits by proactively transitioning to wiser ways. We have the technology and community interest; we just need the commitment to change.

Note: This means solar and wind power, not "clean" coal (which isn't) or nuclear (which is too costly and hazardous).

2) Shift government subsidies from fossil fuels to clean energy. The U.S. oil and gas industry receives between $15 and $35 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies, according to Greenpeace. This helps keep oil prices artificially low, tilting our individual decisions towards self-harm. But, instead of funding our own demise, we can invest in our well-being, by adjusting what we reward.

3) Implement a cap-and-dividend program,
so that the marketplace reflects the real costs of fossil fuels and we each have the funds to adapt. This approach makes much more sense than the easily-manipulated complexities of cap-and-trade. (See www.capanddividend.org.)

Learning the Key Lessons

To help nurture our cultural shift, I suggest we also receive and pass along these core lessons from this experience:

1) The environment is vital to our everyday survival, and when it's harmed, the ripples often travel far.

2) The expected eco-crises can happen suddenly and irreversibly;
they won't necessarily be gradual or fixable.

3) Disaster prevention is cheaper, easier, and more effective than cleanup.

4) We'll all be living with the result of our collective eco-choices.

If we can integrate these insights into our everyday culture, perhaps this painful event can be the wake-up call our country finally hears. But if we keep delaying action, we'll increasingly feel as the Gulf folks do &emdash; desperate, hopeless, and angry about the lives and income lost because of our own foolish actions.

The real bottom line is that we can (and must) meet humanity's needs without disabling nature's precious life-giving ecosystems. We each can help create that better world by what we do today.

For more information and actions, see www.patriciadines.info/EcoGirl3k.html.

Ask EcoGirl is written by Patricia Dines, Author of
The Organic Guides, and Editor and Lead Writer for The Next STEP newsletter. Email your questions about going green to
EcoGirl@AskEcoGirl.info for possible inclusion in future columns. View past columns at www.AskEcoGirl.info.

You can also become a Facebook fan of "Ask EcoGirl", to show your support and stay in touch! Join at www.facebook.com/AskEcoGirl.


"EcoGirl: Encouraging the eco-hero in everyone."

© Copyright Patricia Dines, 2010. All rights reserved.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hands Across the Sand Sonoma Coast July 26, 2010


Protecting our Ocean & Coasts Today
July 26, 2010
Sonoma County People Who Care line up along the beaches to honor our oceans

Sacrificing our oceans in order to increase global warming? 
Polar bears, sea birds, sea mammals, fish, and lots of people, say "That's crazy!"

275 show up on small local beach to draw a line in the sand and fight for the ocean. 
800 other groups around the world participated.


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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sonoma County Cat Special - $30 each


$30 CAT & KITTEN ADOPTION SPECIAL
EXTENDED THROUGH JULY 3, 2010

Even after a successful weekend of adoptions, Sonoma County Animal Shelter has more wonderful cats and kittens waiting to be adopted. We’ve extended the special adoption fee of $30 through Saturday, July 3, 2010. There are five locations throughout the county from which to adopt cats and kittens:


Sonoma County Animal Shelter - 1247 Century Ct., Santa Rosa (707) 565-7100 

Western Farm Center - 21 W. 7th St., Santa Rosa (707) 545-0721 
Animal Farm - 1425 Fulton Rd., Santa Rosa (707) 544-7387 
49er Pets - 375 Southwest Blvd., Rohnert Park (707) 795-1242 
Homegrown Pet Supply - 6119 Old Redwood Hwy., Windsor (707) 838-7387

The reduced adoption fee includes an examination by a veterinarian, feline viral testing, vaccinations, spay or neuter surgery, flea treatment, de-worming, microchip, collar, I.D. tag, and travel box. Photos of all adoptable cats and kittens are available at www.theanimalshelter.org.


According to Cathy Fenn, Shelter Supervisor at Sonoma County Animal Care & Control, “Thanks to those of you who made it out and adopted a cat or kitten into your family this past weekend. If you think you missed out, we have great news, the $30 adoption special has been extended to Saturday, July 3, 2010. There are more than 80 wonderful cats and kittens to choose from. Summer is a perfect time to adopt.”


Sonoma County Animal Care and Control is open Tuesday through Saturday, noon – 5:30 p.m. Adoptions can be processed until 4:30 p.m. daily. Sonoma County Animal Care and Control’s mission is to protect the health and safety of people and animals, investigate and prosecute animal cruelty, abuse and neglect cases, educate the public about responsible domestic animal ownership, rescue pet overpopulation through spay/neuter programs, provide a safe environment for animals in need and place adoptable animals into caring homes. Sonoma County Animal Care and Control enforces local, state, and federal laws pertaining to animals, and operates a full-service animal shelter serving more than 5,000 animals annually. 


For more information, visit www.theanimalshelter.org or call 707-565-7100.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ADVICE - Tired of Being a Pushover?

Dear Mitch:
I’m writing this to you because I’m tired of being a push-over. Throughout my entire life, I have lived to please others (especially my families). I was taught at young age to always help others especially families when they are in need of help. Whenever someone needed something or asked something of me, I would drop whatever I’m doing and do whatever they asked of me. There are many times when my kindness is not even rewarded with a simple “thank you”. I don’t expect anything in return, but sometimes it would be nice to know that you’re appreciated.

From now on, I need to start living my life for me. I need to put myself first, and offer my assistance under my terms and conditions. I will set boundaries within my limit. Is this being selfish? I don’t intend to isolate myself from everyone, just limiting my services. I hope I can go forward with this without feeling guilty and still have their respect. I would very much like your direction on this decision, Mitch.
Thank you,
Nervously Stronger
Folsom, CA

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Stronger
,

“Your current healthy boundaries were once unknown frontiers.”
– Author Unknown

CONGRATULATIONS on setting boundaries for yourself!!

~ Have you CELEBRATED yet?!... Yes, CELEBRATE!! Celebrate challenges, and your growth!!

Honoring yourself by setting boundaries is something to acknowledge! Go hit that Roman Spa in Calistoga which I mentioned in the last column! Or, do what you consider a treat FOR YOU!!

Now, re: How to set and honor your boundaries without upsetting the loved ones!

~ I recognize that I challenge my readers to evaluate the nature and quality of their relationships, and to identify what “love” is in their variety of associations…

Meanwhile, we don’t necessarily want, or need to, terminate relationships just because they’re not entirely “on the same page”, do we?! We’re already in a very bifurcated lifestyle – Separated from loved ones by lifestyles, by our beliefs, our commitments… our paradigms! We can end up very lonely if we eliminate connection with everyone who doesn’t entirely “match” our philosophies or our needs, can’t we?!

Perhaps you already recognize that the struggle here is within your “self”…

… One piece is identifying your definition of “helping others”, and of “when they need help”. Your boundaries will become empowered the more you recognize when you truly ARE needed, and what REALLY constitutes HELP!

This sort of insight development can be quite daunting. Learn where YOU “start” and “end”, and where others “begin”… Respecting “self” and “others” while simultaneously honoring the facts that:

• We’re all interconnected ~ Co-Occupants of a Bio-Psycho-Spiritual Energy Paradigm


• We can’t be responsible for the entire energetic paradigm, yet what we think and how we behave sends ripples throughout – Affecting many…

➢ Deep inside, you know what constitutes your responsibilities to yourself and to others. Find reasons to access and listen to your intuition...

AND:

➢ There are answers as to what you should do - when and where… in meditation’s silence


• Guilt is ego-centric… Destructive, divisive and NOT honoring of healthy love

➢ You DESERVE to take care of YOU! Saying “no” can be the best thing one can do sometimes!

➢ Saying “yes” can also really feel good! There is honor, connection, self-esteem and intimacy in truly helping another!

➢ Others’ needs – There’s a quandary…

° An incredible reality:

You’re either part of the solution, or part of the problem!

° Develop your boundaries to INCLUDE those you love…

° Recognizing that you can only do your best

° Allowing that your job is not to keep others from their lessons

° While honoring healthy traditions and family relationships

° Lovingly allowing yourself to make plenty of normal, human mistakes!

Please honor your feelings around not being recognized/appreciated. You deserve your feelings, and may wish to use this as a discussion point with your family. Either way, you want to make boundary decisions centered in love – For yourself and your family… NOT from a place of hurt or anger!

Ultimately, “living my life for me” means a powerful interdependence – Where you’re non-ego-centric, and you ARE focused on the paradox of “we” and “me”!...

Last Truism: Life loves to push us… To show us that our capacities are MUCH larger than we believe! … That It’s All Opportunities To Learn!


Namaste,
Mitch

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Mitch Darnell, MA, OM
Relationship Coach & Wedding Officiant
tel: 916/247.1655; Online: www.ForeverInspired.net
eM: ForeverInspired@surewest.net

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Hands Across the Sand - STOP Off-Shore Oil Drilling

Saturday, June 26th - link hands with people around the world to send the message "NO to offshore oil drilling, and YES to Clean Energy".

Coastwalk California joins with the international movement http://www.handsacrossthesand.org
Hands Across the Sand to deliver the message emphatically!
Join us:
Sat., June 26th
11:00 AM: Gather at the Doran Beach Whale sculpture (201 Doran Beach Rd, Bodega Bay CA 94923, off Hwy 1 in Bodega Bay)

11:30 AM: Special speakers including Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, and Richard Charter, Senior Policy Advisor for Marine Programs for Defenders of Wildlife plus other surprise guests!

Noon: Join hands and form a line along the beach in solidarity with people around the world opposed to offshore oil drilling


On Saturday, June 26, Americans and the people of the world will join hands in solidarity on beaches and in parks and cities. We are united against the dangers offshore oil drilling present to our oceans and marine wildlife, fishing industries and coastal economies.

Hands Across The Sand’s mission is to change our energy policy away from its dependence on fossil fuels and into the light of clean energy. The aim is to convince our leaders to abandon expanded offshore oil drilling and adopt policies that encourage clean and renewable energy sources.

“The image is powerful, the message simple,” said event founder Dave Rauschkolb. “No to offshore oil drilling, yes to clean energy. We are drawing a line in the sand against offshore oil drilling along America’s beaches and in solidarity events across America and around the world. No one industry should be able to place entire coastal economies and marine environments at risk with dangerous, dirty mistakes.”

Hands Across The Sand was founded by Dave Rauschkolb in October of 2009. He organized a statewide gathering on February 13, 2010, to send a message to Florida’s legislators and Governor Crist that Floridians did not want them to lift the bans on near and offshore oil drilling in Florida’s waters. Thousands of Floridians representing 60 towns and cities and over 90 beaches joined hands to protest the efforts by the Florida Legislature and the US Congress to lift the ban on oil drilling in the near and off shores of Florida. Thousands joined hands from Jacksonville to Miami Beach and Key West to Pensacola Beach. The lifting of the near shore ban would have brought oil rigs as close as 3 miles from Florida‘s shores. Shortly after the event the Florida Legislature tabled the effort.

Hands Across The Sand is endorsed by national and international environmental organizations including Sierra Club, Audubon, Surfrider, Oceana, Greenpeace, Defenders of Wildlife, Alaska Wilderness League, Ocean Conservancy, Friends of the Earth, Environment America, 350, moveon.org; Center for Biological Diversity and cleanenergy.org

This is a peaceful gathering of the people of America and the world. We have done so much for so long to protect our fragile coast. It is time to stand together again.

Help support Marine Sanctuary Expansion Bills: HR223 and S212 = protection forever!!

Coastwalk California, local sponsor
Rue Furch
707.829.6689

& Steve Dyer, event co-organizer
lorstevxx@yahoo.com
707.792.7726

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

California Gray Whales Declining


California Gray Whale Cows and Calfs 
hit Disastrously Low Numbers.

A paper by Dr. Jorge Urban and others from the Universidad Autonoma de Baja California Sur, La Paz, Mexico details a serious decline in cow and calf numbers across all Baja Lagunas where Gray Whales give birth and raise their young. *

Dr. Urban has detailed the worst decline in l5 years. According to the paper, there is no explanation for the decline in terms of the status of the Baja Lagunas ( San Ignacio, Ojo de Liebre, Magadalena Bay).

CEO of the California Gray Whale Coalition, Sue Arnold, says that in face of this evidence, any quota set by the IWC Scientific Committee would be an act of gross environmental irresponsibility. “We’re hearing the same story up and down the west coast”, she says. “Declining numbers, very few cows and calves, and at least 10% of the population is emaciated”.

“Whilst it is clear that cow calf numbers hit a major decline in l999/2000 and in the 80’s, this decline is directly linked to the disappearing sea ice as a result of climate change. Whales are seeking food wherever they can find something to eat. As specialist feeders, with the longest migration on the face of the earth, these whales are up against almost impossible odds.”

Coalition National Director, Doug Thompson, describes the decline as “catastrophic” not only for the whales but for the economy of coastal cities which rely on whale watching up and down the west coast. “We’re hearing from expert scientists that the Gray Whales are suffering a major decline. The only group of scientists who appear unconcerned by this information is the National Marine and Fisheries Service(NMFS) who have a mandatory responsibility to protect this population. The public deserves an explanation as to why NMFS is ignoring all the indicators of major concern.”

The California Gray Whale Coalition calls upon the public and West Coast state and federal politicians to urgently contact the Deputy US IWC Commissioner, Douglas DeMaster at: douglas.demaster@noaa.gov and demand that the US IWC delegation requests a moratorium on any quota of Gray Whales at the IWC meeting in Morocco.

*HISTORICAL CHANGES OF GRAY WHALES ABUNDANCE IN SAN IGNACIO AND OJO DE LIEBRE BREEDING LAGOONS, MEXICO. Jorge Urbán R1, Alejandro Gómez-Gallardo U.1, Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho2 and Steven L. Swartz

For further information contact National Director, Doug Thompson, 650-322-4729; - CEO Sue Arnold, 808-428-3169
IWC Scientific Paper SC-62-BRG -36

CALIFORNIA GRAY WHALE COALITION
P. O. Box 50939
Palo Alto, CA 94303
650-322-4729
www.californiagraywhalecoalition.org

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What's REALLY Going on with the Climate?


Climate Protection Campaign Hosts Community Gathering, 
Wednesday, June 30 2010
 What’s Really Going on With the Climate? 
A Scientist’s Perspective
Co-sponsors: Unitarian Universalist Congregation 
of Santa Rosa and the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy

The Climate Protection Campaign, the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy and the Seventh Principle Working Group of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation Santa Rosa invite the community to mingle with friends, network with new folks, and learn about recent developments in Climate Science as well as recent attempts to undermine the scientific evidence.

This free event will be at the Glaser Center, 547 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa, Wed., June 30, 5:30pm-7:30pm.

This month’s speaker, Carl Mears is a board member at Climate Protection Campaign, as well as a senior scientist at a local company, Remote Sensing. His specialty is merging climate information gathered from different satellites together, determining the accuracy of the resulting datasets, and comparing the results to other measurements of climate change and predictions of climate models.
 

Mears was a major contributor to Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences, the first released report from the US Climate Change Science Program. He also contributed to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report Working Group one report, Climate Change 2007 - The Physical Science Basis. The IPCC Fourth Assessment is the largest and most detailed summary of the climate change situation ever undertaken, involving thousands of authors from dozens of countries.

These events are potluck style: for fun and a sense of community, attendees are asked to bring something to share - finger food or something to drink such as wine or beer.

Our previous events have been very well received, and we hope to continue to expand community involvement throughout this series of events.

For more information, please contact Lora Neffson (707) 525-1665 x114, or lora@climateprotectioncampaign.org.

The Climate Protection Campaign has been working since 2001 to advance practical, science-based solutions for achieving significant greenhouse gas reductions.

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Sudden Oak Death in Sonoma County


Results are in from a county-wide sudden oak death (SOD) survey. Dr. Garbelotto, UC Berkeley Forest Pathologist, will present the results and talk about their significance in Sonoma County. This survey, called a SOD Blitz, was organized by the UC Master Gardeners and was carried out by 70 Sonoma County volunteers in mid-April of this year. California bay laurel leaves, symptomatic for SOD, were collected from California bay trees in several areas of the county and sent to the Berkeley Forest Pathology lab for diagnosis.

Saturday, June 19th, 2010 
11:00 a.m. - Noon 
UC Cooperative Extension
133 Aviation Blvd., Suite 109


Background
Sudden Oak Death (SOD), a serious exotic disease, is threatening the survival of tanoak and several oak species in California. Currently SOD is found in the wildlands of 14 coastal California counties, from Monterey to Humboldt. While patchy in distribution, with each passing year, the swath of infection continues to become more contiguous. Researchers have discovered that Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes SOD, spreads most often on infected California bay laurel leaves. Symptomatic bay leaves are often the first sign that SOD has arrived at a location, and generally precedes oak infections. Some management options are available (sanitation, chemical preventative treatments, bay removal), but they are effective only if implemented before oaks and tanoaks are infected; hence, timely detection of the disease on bay laurel leaves is key for a successful proactive attempt to slow down the SOD epidemic.

“Our greatest defense against this aggressive invasive plant disease is to take proactive measures. By doing so, we can optimize our chances of containing it where it is found and protecting those areas that have not yet been exposed to it. Without a cure, treatment and prevention strategies are our best defense,” said Mark Stanley, chairman of the California Oak Mortality Task Force.

Caused by the plant pathogen Phytophthora ramorum, Sudden Oak Death is severely impacting woodlands throughout central California. Since the 1990s, P. ramorum has killed more than a million oak and tanoak trees in California.

For more information on Sudden Oak Death and P. ramorum, contact the UC Master Gardener Desk at (707) 565-2608.

Lisa Bell
Agricultural Program Assistant
Sonoma County UC Cooperative Extension
133 Aviation Blvd., Suite 109
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
(707) 565-2050
lkbell@ucdavis.edu

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Roy Rogers Guerneville Benefit Concert cut short

Life is Precious. 

Tonight while enjoying an inspired performance by Roy Rogers at the Rotary benefit concert in Guerneville, the power blew and Roy Rogers left the stage with chest pains, needing emergency treatment. Last we saw him was on a gurney with an oxygen mask on his face being put into an ambulance. Please wish him well. He was hot, the night was hot so who knows if that was all too much. We'll wait and hope for the best.

Thank you Roy!

UPDATE from Gaynell Rogers...

Roy Rogers Show Cut Short Due to Chest Pain
Recovering Well in Santa Rosa Hospital

At Saturday nights benefit concert in Guerneville (Sonoma County, California) after the power went out during the show, Roy Rogers suffered severe chest pain and was taken by ambulance to Sutter Hospital in Santa Rosa.  A quick on their feet Emergency Team & Cardiology unit assessed the pain, diagnosed and treated a mild heart attack.  A stint was inserted quickly and he is now resting and recovering well.

“God pulled the plug on the power so that he wouldn’t have to pull the plug on you,” said long time fan and co-writer Donna Johnston.

As the Doctors told Roy  - “It wasn’t your time.”

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Sonoma County Democrats Observe Vote Count

VOTE COUNT OBSERVATION GOING INTO FULL SWING

During the 2008 Presidential Election, the Sonoma County Democratic Party geared up to observe the vote count at the ROV offices, with several hundred people working in shifts for about three weeks.

Last year, we did a limited observation and had planned to do the same this year. However, two things have changed:

1) Printing errors in the 2nd Supervisorial District created confusion, and

2) There is a very close race in the 7th Assembly District.

The local party began gearing-up for a full-scale vote counting observation process Thursday, June 10.

This Call to Action is being issued to ask for your participation in this important and very interesting process. Few people actually understand the workings of our democracy at this level and those who participated in 2008 found the experience to be very satisfying.

If you participated in 2008 or 2009 observation activities, you can expect to receive a call from Alice Chan or one of her volunteers very soon.

If you want to volunteer this year, please let me know by providing your name, contact information and availability during the week by sending me a Facebook Message. I will forward your information along to the organizers, who will call you for scheduling.

Please feel free to pass this along to your networks.

Thank you for your continued support. Your local party is dedicated to fair campaign practices and our efforts to observe and document the vote count is an important part of that commitment.

All my best,
Stephen Gale
Chair, Sonoma County Democratic Party

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Cloverdale Heats up Friday Night Live

ORGONE’S 
COSMIC GROOVE POWERS 
UP THE NIGHT
…DOWNTOWN CLOVERDALE 
AT THE PLAZA

LA-based Orgone brings its heavy brand of raw funk power to the Friday Night Live stage in downtown Cloverdale. With funk, soul, afrobeat, and deep rhythms, Orgone is known for searing live sets and original instrumentals.

The original 5-member band put their own gritty takes on tunes by the likes of the JBs, the Meters, Booker T. and the MGs, Grant Green and Funkadelic among many others. They grew fast to include a powerful three-piece horn section and a fiery soul singer, Fanny Franklin.

RELIX magazine says, “Their music is terrifically unfussy, big slabs of grizzled R&B, greasy as fatback and thick as a very particular kind of smoke…recalls the majesty of Sly & the Family Stone.” XLR8R raves “lead singer Fanny Franklin fits in very nicely between Sharon Jones and Amy Winehouse. Orgone’s sound is…organic, rooted in soul, funk, boogaloo, and jazz, with a classic appeal that’s…contemporary, smooth and soulful.

Friday Night Live fans should come ready to get down and party. Expect one non-stop cosmic groove!

Friday Night Live festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. with the Cloverdale Certified Farmers Market which offers fresh local produce, arts, crafts and food, or sample local restaurants offering early bird and late night specials. Music starts at 7 p.m. Arrive early for limited seating or bring your own lawn chair. Craft beer, local wines, non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. Friday Night Live respectfully asks that you help us comply with the conditions of our ABC permit by not bringing outside alcoholic beverages to the concerts and disposing of any alcoholic beverages purchased at the shows before you leave.


Friday Night Live is produced by the Cloverdale Arts Alliance with underwriting support from the City of Cloverdale and a number of generous local businesses and winery sponsors. The Orgone concert is underwritten in part by Antiques & Uniques. Winery sponsors are Hanna Winery and Long Gamma. Major sponsors for the 2010 series are Furber Development, A&M Satellite/Dish Network, Lagunitas Brewing Company/Miller Lite, Redwood Credit Union and Real Goods Solar. Media Sponsors are Cloverdale Reveille, KRCB-FM and KZST-FM.


Out-of-town visitors can receive a lodging discount by calling Historic Inns of Cloverdale at (800) 894-1737 and mentioning Friday Night Live. For more information visit www.cloverdaleartsalliance.org or call (707) 894-4410. Or www.orgonespace.com; www.myspace.com/orgone.

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Forestville's Bob Burke Goes to Heaven


Everyone's Hero - Bob Burke
is Welcomed into Heaven on June 10th, 2010

This is something everyone will agree on - whether you believe in Heaven or not - Bob Burke deserves to sit with angels in Heaven because he was an angel on earth.

My name is Gayla Gilliland and I work for Cattlemens Steakhouse. Also I was a near and dear friend of Bob Burke's. His funeral is scheduled for June 22nd at 10am at St. Rose Church in Santa Rosa. There will be a rosary held on June 21st at 7pm at St. Rose Church in Santa Rosa. If you have any questions please feel free to give me a call or email. Have a wonderful day.
gayla.gilliland@beststeakinthewest.com

Lucky for him, he got the recognition he deserves a mere week before he died of a heart attack in his home. Disability Services & Legal Center (DSLC) honored Bob with the 2010 Independent Living Legacy Award and I am certain this will be celebrated in is honor at Burke's Canoes on June 30th at 6pm. Come to Forestville at the intersection of River and Mirabel Roads, sit under the majestic Redwoods and honor this man who honored every single person he touched.

Bob Burke has influenced the lives and hearts of thousands of people over the last 40-plus years. This one man started a personal mission to give kids who are sick and disabled some fun and a social life that is hard to come by. Every Wednesday throughout the summer he'd have a BBQ down by the Russian River at Burke's Canoes, owned by Bob and his siblings. In the winter months he'd have families and friends gather at bowling alleys, pizza parties and anything he could do to make life fun, at least now and then, for kids so sick life just isn't fun on a daily basis. These events made people laugh, spend time with others in their often isolated lives, and connect to share stories, ideas, solutions as well as love and appreciation.


Every year Bob worked with leadership groups from El Molino and Analy High school to help raise funds for his program. This not only brought in needed money, it also contributed to the lives and education of young people so gave Bob another opportunity to help youth.


Bob held fund raisers throughout the year to raise money for his cause. The biggest and best-known tradition in West County has always been the Christmas Holiday Dinner hosted and donated by the Gonnella family at the Union Hotel in Occidental.  People came just to be part of the fun, the tradition, to enjoy local school choirs, socialize with friends and donate money to Bob's personal mission. The Forestville Chamber of Commerce would change the date of their monthly meeting every year just to accommodate Bob's dinner so everyone could attend.


Bob brought Santa Clause to every Forestville Holiday Tree Lighting until his health started to impinge on his ability to sit for hours and greet children. He brought the Easter Bunny to the Forestville Easter Egg Hunt year after year - just for fun and to be part of his home town community. The Burke family has been an integral part of Forestville history for generations and Bob has been their Family Angel bringing his abundant love to people who need it most.


Bob Burke's Kids Program has been under the nonprofit umbrella of West County Community Services who help with the many volunteer efforts it takes to do Bob's good work. Please contact them if you would like to volunteer - donate money in Bob's honor or be part of what it will take to continue Bob's mission into the future.

When a Memorial Service has been scheduled - I'll let you know - or contact me:
Vesta Copestakes
vesta@sonic.net


Bob Burke's Kids Program - WCCS
PO Box 602
Forestville, CA 95436
(707) 887-2222
www.bobburkeskids.org


West County Community Services
P. O. Box 325
Guerneville, CA 95446
(707) 823-1640
www.westcountyservices.org

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