Stewart's original project was submitted prior to SMART being funded. The voters in their wisdom approved SMART knowing it would have an impact on the future planning of Santa Rosa. The best course for this site is to work in partnership with the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District to seize the demand that will be created when trains begin running in order to spur vital economic growth in our core area and create housing and jobs that are available for the entire community. Activity brought by the train will lead to increased interest in this site and a better climate for the right development to take place.

The right kind of development reflects the needs and concerns of Santa Rosa. A project that creates good-paying jobs, is built to the highest environmental standards and includes housing affordable for working families of all ages, will be greeted with the widespread community support that embedded these principles in the original project sought by SMART. The City Council, by rejecting the scaled-back proposal, has enabled the community, SMART and developers to realize these goals.

The City Council chose to look forward with its vote, planning for a complete project where a robust community asset that supports transit and the downtown economy is viable.

<NO1>The Santa Rosa community has been highly engaged in helping to plan for a better Santa Rosa. <NO>During the development and approval of the Downtown Station Area Plan, hundreds of residents, business owners, workers and planners participated in developing the plan and the zoning changes designed to spur development of this property and area. Only a holistic approach that fully develops this area and involves retail, commercial and residential components will be successful.

This vote demonstrates that the City Council is willing to hold firm and honor all the long hours at meetings and the high level of interest the residents of Santa Rosa put into creating a clear and vibrant vision for Railroad Square.

Jack Buckhorn is the business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 551 in Santa Rosa. Stephen Harper is co-chairman of the Sonoma County Housing Advocacy Group.