Supervisor candidates offer cures for rural road woes

Since purchasing their Sonoma Mountain Road property in 1999, Ken and Karen Adelson have grown frustrated watching the narrow two-lane road deteriorate to rock and dirt in some places.

"It's a dreadful stretch, not just for motorists but for cyclists and anyone who walks up there," said Ken Adelson, who is a lawyer.

The couple are keeping close tabs on the 1st District supervisor's race and at what the five candidates propose to fix and maintain roads. The issue resonates not just in Sonoma Valley and eastern Santa Rosa, but across the county, where the voices of complaint get louder with each new pothole.

The question is: with a maintenance backlog of $120 million and only $4.5 million dedicated to long-term road upkeep, does anything the 1st District candidates suggest stand any chance of finding support among the public or generating enough money to put a dent in the problem?

Three of the five candidates in the race say part of the solution lies in asking county residents to raise their taxes.

"We're going to have to put that choice in front of the voters," Sonoma Valley energy consultant Mark Bramfitt said. "This is really a case where we simply don't have enough money."

Bramfitt mentioned an increase in property or parcel taxes, or a new assessment district, as well as higher gas taxes statewide.

Gina Cuclis, a Boyes Hot Springs communications consultant, said the problem with road conditions "is so large that it's going to take multiple funding streams and solutions."

She specifically mentioned increasing the county's hotel bed taxes by 2 percent and applying that money to roads.

Santa Rosa Councilwoman Susan Gorin said she supports the current Board of Supervisors taking a look at possibly raising bed taxes or creating a new road maintenance district. But she would not say whether she supports either of those options.

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