Sonoma County and Santa Rosa officials negotiating terms of Roseland annexation say they are close to reaching agreement, so close that they see the possibility of annexation happening by the end of the year.
"The next step is getting an annexation proposal out to the community," County Administrator Bob Deis said.
Both the county Board of Supervisors and the Santa Rosa City Council have items on their agendas today for discussion of annexation negotiations. Both sides say talks during five negotiating sessions have progressed so well that it is time to set a date in July for a public meeting on annexation of Roseland to the city.
Deis said officials could return to county supervisors and City Council members with annexation plans late this summer. The rest of the annexation process could take up to 180 days, depending upon the Local Area Agency Formation Commission's process for public hearings and the need for an election.
Steven Greenberg, a consultant who serves as co-chairman of the Roseland Roundtable group, said Monday that there might not even be an election if city and county negotiators draw the Roseland annexation map to include such a large area that LAFCO's threshold for written protests won't be met, thus avoiding the trigger for a public vote.
"Annexation by the end of the year would be a push, but it will be done before the next city council election," Greenberg said. "It is going to cost a lot of money to the city, but it is not going to cost less if they do it 10 years from now."
Over the past two decades, the unincorporated Roseland area has become increasingly urbanized with residents demanding more city-style services, including sidewalks, gutters, curbs and streetlights.
City officials have been reluctant to take on new areas that require heavy expenditures on infrastructure and that place added burdens on law enforcement. Meanwhile, county officials have been reluctant to agree to piecemeal annexations, such as those that have made the area between South Wright Road and Corby Avenue look like a patchwork quilt of jurisdictions.
LAFCO, the intergovernment agency that approves annexations, has stepped in to declare that all of Roseland must be annexed but that annexation can occur over a period of time.
One focus of current negotiation involves whether the Roseland annexation should be expanded to include "islands" of unincorporated areas as well as others that are likely to be absorbed into the city limits in the future.