After the shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, city and county officials promised to bring new urgency to efforts to annex the Roseland neighborhood to the city of Santa Rosa.
Last week, city officials announced that it would take four years and $1.4 million to complete the job.
So much for urgency. Four more years of talking won't do much to discourage the widespread impression that Santa Rosa leaders don't understand how rapidly their city is changing.
If you think city officials are moving at a glacial pace because that's how they do most things, you wouldn't be wrong. Urgency, as defined at Santa Rosa City Hall, has always seemed to have a different meaning than it does for other folks.
In the city's defense, there's nothing easy about pulling together the pieces of a successful annexation plan. Together, city and county officials will be obliged to work through tough issues, including:
; What specific areas will be annexed? Will the annexation include commercial areas that generate sales tax to help pay for the annexation?
; How will the neighborhood develop in future years?
; What will be the costs of improvements — sidewalks, streets, street lights — and of ongoing city services?
; Where will the money come from? And how will the costs be apportioned?
Along the way, Roseland voters must be persuaded to embrace an annexation plan. And Santa Rosa residents who don't live in Roseland must come to understand that annexation serves the long-term interests of the entire city. Since there will be costs associated with annexation, that won't be easy.
"That's one of the reasons it hasn't happened to date," Mayor Scott Bartley told Staff Writer Kevin McCallum. "It has always collapsed under the weight of the task."
Last week, city Community Development Director Chuck Regalia argued that annexation shouldn't proceed until Santa Rosa has the resources to provide Roseland public improvements and public services equal to every other neighborhood.
But county Supervisor Efren Carrillo cautioned against waiting too long. Having already annexed commercial areas and new subdivisions in southwest Santa Rosa, he said, the city is party to a tacit agreement to finish the job.
On both sides, this posturing serves as the latest testimony that each fears the other will escape its fair share of the costs.
For elected officials on both sides, the hard reality is this: While Roseland is important, other neighborhoods, communities and interest groups will continue to make their own claims on limited dollars.
This wouldn't be the first time that Roseland negotiations broke down over how to share the costs. (It also wouldn't be the first time that the impacts of annexation have been studied.)
The city believes a county government responsible for the conditions that exist in Roseland today shouldn't be able to walk away from its obligations.
The county believes that only the city can guarantee urban services to Roseland.
There is one other complication: Over the years, Santa Rosa city government and Sonoma County government have been known to talk past each other. Their size and overlapping jurisdictions make them natural rivals. They have different histories and different cultures, different structures and different constituencies.
One represents many communities and expanses of rural areas. The other represents the county's largest city. The county is governed by a full-time Board of Supervisors elected from large districts. The city is governed by part-time City Council members elected at-large. The county has an elected sheriff; the city, an appointed chief of police. And so on.