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Events of recent months, including the long-awaited annexation of Roseland and the fire losses in Fountaingrove and Coffey Park, have focused attention on the boundaries of Santa Rosa and how the city has grown in clumps and chunks along the edges through the past six decades.

It started with Montgomery Village, which added 14,000 people to the city’s population in just one day in 1955. For comparison’s sake, we note that Roseland will add 7,400. But today’s topic is Oakmont, where annexation was much less complex. There were no residents to say yea or nay when Santa Rosa annexed it in 1963.

Riding the new wave of adult communities that blossomed nationwide in the 1960s (think Sun River or Leisure World, or, closer to home, Temelec), Oakmont was the creation of Sacramento Valley developer H.N. “Nor” Berger who proposed 600 homes on the parcel along Sonoma Highway that had been the Annadel hop yard in earlier times.

It was 7 miles from Santa Rosa — closer to Kenwood, in fact, than to the city limits — but it became, officially, part of the City of Santa Rosa in a flurry of unparalleled municipal maneuvers. It was a strip annexation, Highway 12 being the connection.

As you might imagine, there was a fair share of outrage from Rincon Valley, which was still rural, an area with the clear evidence of old prune orchards and sheep ranches, with enough “old-timers” to be considered an entity unto itself.

The newer Rinconites, who built along the east side of Santa Rosa Creek believing they would be country dwellers, went semi-ballistic as well.

They stood before the council and warned that this move would turn Highway 12 into a strip mall — and that it was just wrong in so many ways.

Still, the Oakmont annexation was much tidier than anything before or since. Consider that we have been talking about annexing Roseland for more than 20 years, working out the myriad details. Oakmont — 1,527 acres of Annadel Farms, fronting on Sonoma Highway — was proposed for annexation in March and approved in August. Five months, start to finish.

Timing, as usual, was everything. Seated in arguably the most beautiful spot in Jack London’s beloved Valley of the Moon — with the standout mountains of the Mayacamas, including the sentinel Hood Mountain and Sugarloaf on one side and the wooded hills that would become Trione-Annadel on the other — development of that land would undoubtedly be contentious in today’s “green” county.

But the Battle of Bodega Head, considered the beginning of the environmental movement here, was just ending. There was no Open Space District, no Land Trust, no Urban Boundary.

This new idea in the valley took its share of lumps from the outset. The rules said that at least one of the residents had to be over 45, and there could be no children under 18; this in the ’60s, the decade when youth took charge. At 45, one could be lumped with the “prunies” and the “fogeys” by those in their increasingly self-assured teens and 20s.

If you were here, you will remember the Croakmont jokes and the quizzes about how many of vehicles on 12 were ambulances.

The first 200 homes — and an 18-hole golf course — were completed within a year.

As it happened, my family’s backyard neighbors in the middle of town, Judge Les Manker and his wife Helen, were the second residents of Oakmont. The first couple came from the Midwest.

The Mankers loved golf and signed up immediately for a house on the 11th fairway. There were two, maybe three, other early residents who came from elsewhere in the county, but they were anomalies.

Oakmont buyers came from somewhere else.

Indeed, the early advertising blitzes were aimed at the East Coast, particularly areas where golf was big: New Jersey, Virginia and the Carolina shores.

Most of these new Santa Rosans were affluent, well-educated and had interesting backgrounds — many former captains of industry, doctors, lawyers and a substantial number who had achieved varying degrees of fame in their pursuits such as scientists, authors, at least one opera singer and a former White House secretary.

They really didn’t consider themselves Santa Rosans. This early Oakmont, off by itself, was a tightknit community of comfortable people, almost old-fashioned in aspect, where neighbors looked after each other, stopped on the fairways to visit and had potluck suppers.

Anne Fitzgerald was a reporter for the Kenwood Express, a semimonthly newspaper published by Bob Lynch’s Sonoma Index-Tribune in the ’80s.

Kenwood “took in” Oakmont with a joy that eluded Santa Rosans. There were two Oakmont columnists in the Express, and Anne spent some of her journalistic energy writing about interesting people who lived there.

The Press Democrat’s coverage was not so folksy. There were ongoing stories of the protests (shared by Kenwood) over PG&E’s towers and high lines cutting a swath across the valley. It was an issue that lasted 15 years before the courts allowed the line — still there, still clearly visible. And there were occasional feature stories in the PD. Some on well-organized community charity and at least one, in 1980, pointing out the conservative political views and the lack of ethnic diversity.

The constant battle with nature has made headlines as well. There was a spate of dying deer, with suggestions that it came from the deer eating oleander planted in residents’ yards, and a state-authorized pig hunt in the ’80s when wild pigs came out of the hills to root up the golf course greens.

Still, from the first, Oakmont residents have been charmed by the otters who swim in the creek along the golf course and fiercely protect their favorite birds with signs saying “We brake for quail.”

(Resident Georgia Hess’s column in the Express was called “Quail Talk.”)

No longer just a neighborhood, Oakmont is not as cohesive as it was in the early years.

Predictably, in a community of residents accustomed to being active (and often, authoritative) problems can arise. (I am told at Sea Ranch, they have what they call PIPs, for Previously Important People.)

With growth and all these skills comes a spirit of independence that can produce a community that makes bold tries for self-governance with more rules as time passes.

The powerful homeowner’s association is now surrounded by small neighborhood organizations, each with its own agenda.

Conflicts occasionally make headlines — most recently the Great Pickleball Controversy, which downtown neighbors tend to find amusing. (But then, they don’t have pickleball players thwacking away just beyond the back fence.)

All this is to say that Oakmont, which started out looking like an afterthought on the city map, has grown beyond Nor Berger’s wildest dreams.

The Big Change of recent years is Santa Rosa’s “discovery” of Oakmont. A surprisingly large number of longtime Santa Rosa residents — some born-and-raised, others who been here three decades or more tucked into the hills of Montecito and Holland Heights — have found their not-too-big, not-too-much yard and dwellings in — yes — Oakmont.

Even before the relocation rush from the firestorms, people who made Croakmont jokes in the ’60s now praise the ease of living, the beauty of it, the safety (“I can walk early morning or very late at night and feel safe”).

Others, drawn to the amenities by the rigors (?) of aging, tend to be apologetic (“I can’t believe we’re actually living in Oakmont, but, you know … ”).

Sure, the traffic can be daunting at rush hours — and they are adding to it, since many of them are still working. How much more will these people change Oakmont?

With more and more of Santa Rosa’s longtime lawyers, doctors, teachers and businesspersons moving in, slowing their pace, (maybe even trying pickleball?), Oakmont is no longer a stand-alone afterthought on a map of Santa Rosa.

And it’s only taken 55 years.

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