The Cinco de Mayo clash and the report of the pending sale of the Roseland Village Shopping Center have focused community interest on Roseland.
Press Democrat columnist Chris Coursey contrasted the riots and the pride of the business leaders and citizens in his column " Time is ripe for Roseland renaissance." The people are ready to participate in promoting cultural, business and community opportunities on Sebastopol Road. It is this attitude that will end riots and bring about positive community involvement.
The Sebastopol Road corridor is 49 percent in the c ity of Santa Rosa and 51 percent in the county. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors designated it a redevelopment area over 20 years ago to create funds to stimulate change. Those who live there or who have watched the area all these years haven't seen much stimulation. The population is now more than 30 percent Spanish-speaking. There hasn't been much official adaptation to that change either.
The city of Santa Rosa's Southwest Redevelopment Area wraps around Roseland. This area has seen growth in homes, many built as affordable. It has a new community health clinic, a city park and plans for construction of a community center, fire station and library. The city is taking a proactive stand and using its redevelopment authority to make things happen.
In contrast, little is happening in the portion of the southwest that is administered by the county's redevelopment agency.
We've had many recent meetings with elected officials, staff and citizens addressing the connection between a run-down physical community and social and economic issues in Roseland.
The county and city lag far behind citizens in planning for Roseland. Why? The answer is simple. The county won't fully improve Roseland, as the city will one day annex the area. The city claims it cannot afford to provide services and "cherry picks" only bare parcels for annexation, ignoring the neighborhoods.
In May, the county requested that LAFCO (the agency that approves annexations) not allow any properties in the Roseland or Southwest Redevelopment Areas to be annexed to the city unless they had a plan to annex all of it. LAFCO agreed.
Who wins? No one. Who loses? The citizens of Roseland and the southwest area. Those living in the area understand city and county neglect.
There is some light. Santa Rosa has funded a planning study of Sebastopol Road to try and bring about the community's vision for a safe, affordable, vibrant neighborhood. Citizens want mixed development on Sebastopol Road, parks, trees, an international and Latin flavor, and a street where people can mingle safe from rioters and police alike.