For 60 years, Roseland residents have lived under the jurisdiction of a county able to provide only a rural level of services while increasingly encircled by a city that couldn't afford to give them much better.
But Sonoma County's largest unincorporated island, and at 6,000 residents its most populated, is at the center of talks that could have Roseland residents calling Santa Rosa home.
For the past two years, city and county officials have been discussing what is seen as Roseland's inevitable transfer to the city. Negotiations have intensified in the past several months.
On Tuesday, the City Council and county Board of Supervisors will receive updates and be asked for direction on how to proceed.
"This is a confirmation point," said Councilman Mike Martini, who has been involved in the talks. "We've been marching down a road, and now we want to make sure the troops are with us."
There is one huge stumbling block. It is money, specifically how much it will cost to provide municipal services to a neighborhood raised on a rural level of service.
A report prepared by city consultants says that providing police, fire and other services will cost $33.5 million more than the city gains in tax revenue in the first 10 years after annexation.
Most of that deficit, about $27 million, is attributed to a higher level of policing proposed by the city. A county consultant said the figures are inflated and put the overall deficit at $7.3 million.
Both sides expect to have their consultants get together amid hopes they can reach agreement on what the actual deficit will be.
The city report also says that annexing Roseland and a 167-acre tract on the west edge of Santa Rosa surrounding Wright Elementary School will require $108 million over the next 20 years to match the infrastructure - streets, utilities, parks - found in the city.
However, city officials say that isn't their primary concern, noting plenty of funding methods - redevelopment money, federal grants and development fees - probably will be available for those upgrades.
Martini conceded "there is no benefit to the city at all" if financial considerations are the only factor when it comes to Roseland.
"But we need to consider the community," he said. "The residents there already consider it a part of Santa Rosa and they have the expectations to have the same level of services."
Once the consultants determine what the cost is likely to be, negotiations will determine how much each side pays. Both sides hope to have an agreement by June 30.
City Manager Jeff Kolin said he's optimistic "we can come up with creative solutions ... to close the gap."
Neither city nor county officials doubt the annexation of the 476 acres of Roseland remaining in the county eventually will occur. The city annexed 300 acres 10 years ago under pressure from a county land use agency that contends such islands don't make logistical or economic sense.
"More and more people realize it's ridiculous to have this unincorporated island," County Administrator Bob Deis said.
"It's very inefficient," he said, alluding to the fact that county workers provide law enforcement and maintain roads and other infrastructure in an area surrounded by the city.
"It's irrational to have two local governments involved in the same neighborhood," said John Lowry, executive director for Burbank Housing Management Corp., whose plan to build 250 low-income units is stuck on hold until Roseland's fate is decided.