Once upon a time, the mayor of Santa Rosa and a supervisor representing west Sonoma County wrote a Close to Home column on these pages in which they pledged to come together on a long-awaited action plan for the annexation of Roseland.
"The issue is not whether Roseland should now receive urban level services but rather how the transition can be achieved in a rational and fiscally responsible fashion with agreement of the residents," the late Bob Blanchard and former Supervisor Mike Reilly, who represented the Roseland area, wrote.
That was 5? years ago.
It's no secret what has occurred in the months and years since then. As the economy imploded, government revenues plummeted and resources disintegrated.
Yet, it remains the shame of the city and the county that Roseland, a developed community of roughly 7,000 residents in an area about 900 acres in size, has not been brought inside the borders of Santa Rosa.
Furthermore, it's an embarrassment that there are more than 50 other pockets of unincorporated Sonoma County — so-called islands — sprinkled throughout the Santa Rosa area, most of them on the west side of town.
There are parts of the community where residents on one side of the street are within the city's boundaries while those on the opposite side are in unincorporated county territory. It's a situation that creates confusion when police, fire and paramedic crews respond to an emergency call. It also can create unnecessary conflicts when residents on one side of the street are held to a different standard for remodeling than those on the other. And who fixes a pothole that's in the middle of the street?
Santa Rosa and the county have long agreed that annexation of Roseland as well as these other islands needs to occur. Where they've disagreed is in determining the sharing of revenues needed to extend service to the residents of the area.
As Blanchard and Reilly noted long ago, the challenge is how Santa Rosa can "provide additional services to the Roseland area without any decrease in services to other residents nor hampering the county's overall ability to provide services as well."
It's a given that tax and other revenues generated from the Roseland area will be less than the cost of providing services to that part of town — and that the city and the county will need to come to terms on the added expense to the city. But it's also a given that there will never be the perfect time nor the perfect agreement to ensure annexation. But it needs to occur anyway.
On Thursday and Friday of this week, the Santa Rosa City Council will be holding their goal-setting sessions. We encourage the City Council to make this a top priority in the months to come.
At the same time, we also encourage the Board of Supervisors to move this up on their priority list and renew efforts to work with the city in coming to agreement on annexation.
The residents of Roseland and these other islands are not well-served by the current Byzantine system of boundaries. It's long past time to move annexation from a regional goal to an accomplishment.