Lichau Neighborhood Meeting

Road Repair and Flooding Fix

April 17, 2017, 6:00 p.m.

SOMO Village Event Center

1100 Valley House Drive, Rohnert Park





·       Welcome and Introductions – Supervisor Gorin

·       History and Background – Sonoma County Water Agency

·       Recent Events – Sonoma County Transportation & Public Works

·       Emergency Services Response Protocol – Rancho Adobe Fire, Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office

·       What Next:

Damaged Road – Transportation & Public Works

Maintenance of the Creek:

Sonoma County Water Agency

Resource Conservation District

·       Next Steps

·       Questions

·       Wrap Up 

SOSroads sent six road policy questions concerning road repair, maintenance and funding to each candidate who is running for county supervisor this year. The initial elections will be held on Tuesday, June 7, with mail-in ballots being distributed during early May. If no candidate receives 50% in the June election, a run-off will be held in November between the two candidates who garner the most votes.

We have compiled the full responses from each of the three candidates for First District supervisor (Gina Cuclis, Supervisor Susan Gorin and Keith Rhinehart) here [click to see] and the five candidates for Fifth District supervisor (Marion Chase, Noreen Evans, Lynda Hopkins, Tom Lynch and Tim Sergent) here [click to see].

We also sent the questionnaire to Supervisor Shirlee Zane who is unopposed for reelection for her Third District seat. She declined to respond to the questionnaire and wrote “she has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to addressing the roads issue here in Sonoma County.”

SOSroads and the Hessel Grange hosted a Road Summit and Candidates’ Forum for the candidates for the Fifth District on May 5 at the Hessel Grange Hall near Sebastopol. SOSroads provided background information on Sonoma County roads and sources of road funding and the candidates discussed possible solutions that address the county roads crisis. You may view SOSroads’ presentation here.

Vote Yes on Measure A
Voters Should Approve a "Trust but Verify" Tax
Craig S. Harrison and Michael Troy
Save Our Sonoma Roads
The condition of many of Sonoma County’s roads and streets is deplorable.  Almost two-thirds of county roads are poor (pavement condition index 25-49, on a scale of 100) or failed (PCI below 25).  Crumbling roads cost motorists $800 per year in worn or flat tires, bent rims, ruined suspensions and lousy gas mileage.
Recently county residents nominated 57 roads and streets to be named “worst” on the Road Warrior blog.
They described various roads as “meteor-blasted moonscapes;” “worse than a third world goat path;” and a journey “on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.”  Especially bad roads had pot holes circled with spray paint and labelled “no fishing.”
Measure A, which raises the sales tax by 1/4 percent (25 cents on a $100 purchase), is an opportunity to achieve a county-wide integrated road system where the pavement, both in cities and on county roads, is in good repair.  It will raise $20 million per year, over half of which will be allocated to city streets.  Repairing roads today instead of letting them completely deteriorate will save money in the long-run because repairs may cost as much as ten times more if we do nothing now.
Measure A requires annual audits that show where each dollar is spent and implements the supervisors’ October 2014 Long-Term Road Plan. While revenue is needed for 20 years, requiring re-approval of the tax after five years enhances accountability.  If revenue is diverted elsewhere, voters will not renew the tax.  The proof will be in the pavement.
There are no practical alternatives to a sales tax increase.  Our situation is a result of a perfect storm caused by a decline in the purchasing power of gas taxes by half and decades-long neglect by the county.  Neither Congress nor the California legislature seems interested in increasing gas taxes to address statewide infrastructure problems.  We are on our own.
For over three years SOSroads has been asking supervisors to adequately fund the restoration of our county roads.  During the past three budget cycles the current supervisors have greatly increased funding and have improved 150 miles of the county’s 1,382 mile road system.  Unfortunately few city councils have made similar financial commitments.
Some are concerned that the new revenue might not be spent on roads because it is a general tax that cannot be legally committed to a specific purpose.  State law provides that a general tax needs only majority approval.  A specific tax, which could be devoted legally to roads, needs approval by two-thirds of the voters. It is difficult to get two-thirds of Sonoma County voters to agree on anything.
We understand pension reform concerns. We support additional pension reform, but in many respects the county’s hands are tied pending statewide developments. Voter-approved pension reforms in San Jose and San Diego face expensive and lengthy court challenges. Efforts to put pension reform on a statewide ballot have been stymied.  Meanwhile our roads and streets continue to deteriorate and the cost of eventually fixing them escalates.  This problem is not going to disappear on its own.
If Measure A is approved, SOSroads will ask the supervisors to enter immediately into a contract with the Sonoma County Transportation Authority to administer the revenue. We will monitor how funds are spent and carefully review the annual audits to ensure transparency.  Ultimately if funds aren't spent on roads, SOSroads will lead the opposition to renewing the tax and will oppose any supervisor who fails to put roads first.
Measure A warrants your vote because of its “trust but verify” features.
The authors are the co-founders of Save Our Sonoma Roads, an all-volunteer organization that advocates for improved roads and streets.  
This article was published as a guest opinion in the following Sonoma County newspapers:
Petaluma Argus Courier
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Healdsburg Tribune
Windsor Times
Cloverdale Reveille

Measure A Endorsed by Local Newspapers

The Press Democrat, Argus Courier and Sonoma Index-Tribune have all endorsed Measure A. While funds raised from the 1/4 percent sales tax increase go to the county general fund (to be split 56/44 percent between the cities and county), the county supervisors have gone on record for using 90 percent of the funds for desperately needed road repairs and 10 percent for transit-fare assistance for veterans and college students. 

The supervisors have also expressed their intention to continue the increased commitment of general fund money for road repairs as outlined in the Long-Term Road Plan they adopted last year.

Here are links to each of the newspaper endorsements:

Press DemocratPD Editorial: Yes on A: County roads need the help
“We [the Press Democrat] will be among the many organizations keeping close watch on how these tax dollars are spent.  So will SOSroads (Save our Sonoma Roads) which formed in 2011 when the local road crisis became apparent. ‘They will hear a lot if they go back on this,’ said SOSroads co-founder Michael Troy.”
Argus Courier: Vote yes on Measure A
"But why should we trust a politician’s promise? For one thing, the sales tax includes an annual audit to show how the money was spent. There would be no chance of our leaders renewing the measure in five years when it expires if they fooled us once. They will also have a difficult time running for reelection with the shards of a broken promise embedded deeply in the soles of their feet."

Sonoma Index-TribunePoint/Counterpoint: Yes on A
“Road repair has been underfunded for years, and . . . the roads need fixing. Just ask your shock absorbers.  We recommend a YES on Measure A.”


Frequently Asked Questions About the 1/4¢ Sales Tax for Streets and Roads 
Q: Measure A is a general tax measure. Doesn’t that mean that there is no requirement to spend the funds on high priorities like roads? Isn’t Measure A just a blank check for the politicians?
A: Measure A is a general tax – and that’s precisely why elected officials were careful to include strong accountability provisions to keep voters firmly in control of spending decisions. Measure A requires annual audits be made available to the public and requires elected officials to come back to the voters in just five years to extend the tax. If our elected officials don’t spend our tax dollars wisely, we can simply refuse to renew the tax.
Q: Why didn’t the Board of Supervisors make Measure A specific tax, restricted only to fund roads?
A: Everyone agrees that roads are our highest priority. That’s why the Board of Supervisors made Measure A a general tax measure, because general tax measures have a higher chance of gaining voter approval than specific tax measures. 
In short, Measure A is our best chance to provide funds that can make our roads safer. And it includes tough accountability requirements, such as annual audits and requiring voter approval to keep the tax from expiring after five years.
If voters approve the measure, SOSroads will lobby the supervisors to immediately enter into a 5-year contract with the Sonoma County Transportation Authority to administer all of the funds.
Q: How will we know that the funds will be spent on roads – both in the county and in our local cities?
A: All five Supervisors have expressed their intent to use the funds generated by Measure A for roads. Measure A requires that annual audits be made available to the public so we can see how the funds are spent each year. If they use the funds for other purposes we can choose not to renew the tax after just five years.
Still have questions? Read more about why Sonoma County streets and roads are so bad and how the 1/4¢ sales tax will help restore our roads. Click here

2012 Supervisorial Candidate Positions on Road Issues

April 30, 2012

SOSroads, a Sonoma County-wide citizens group, was formed to advocate for appropriate allocation of public funds to roads. The Board of Supervisors has neglected county roads for decades, during both economic booms and recessions.  Except for 198 miles of high priority roads, the supervisors have no plans to rebuild, repave or do anything but fill potholes on almost 1,184 miles (86 percent) of our county roads.  Without a pavement preservation program, the Department of Transportation says that the orphaned roads will deteriorate to a point where the pavement will be ground up, the roads will become dirt, or they must be completely rebuilt. 

SOSroads believes that budget priorities must be changed.  With three elections for the board of supervisors this year, voters have an opportunity to redirect their county government.  To assist voters in making informed decisions, SOSroads requested that the candidates for the three supervisorial elections provide written responses to the following questions:

1.       Is Sonoma County responsible for maintaining all county roads? If not, what criteria would you use to determine which roads are not a county responsibility? What standard should be used for defining  "maintenance?"

2.       What current spending would you cut to provide more general funds for roads?

3.       What measures do you support to provide funds for roads and what principles would guide your decisions?

The unedited responses to those questions are provided below by supervisorial district.  SOSroads is pleased that all candidates are thoughtfully trying to address this issue and that the improvement of the county road system has become a major issue in the 2012 campaign. Click on the candidate's name for their statement. 

1st District

Mark BramfittValley of the Moon Water District - Vice-President and Mechnical Engineer State of Calif.

Gina CuclisSonoma County Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Advisory Board and Community Volunteer

Susan Gorin - Santa Rosa City Councilwomen and former mayor

Joanne Sanders - Mayor of Sonoma and business owner

John Sawyer - Santa Rosa City Councilman and business owner

3rd District

Tim Smith - Former Rohnert Park Mayor and owns law practice

Shirlee Zane - Sonoma County Supervisor

5th District

Ernie Carpenter - former Sonoma County Supervisor

Efrin Carrillo - Sonoma County Supervisor

Veronica Jacobi - Energy management and conservation business owner