Downtown needs help
EDITOR: I am a lifelong resident, and it is sad watching downtown Santa Rosa decline. It was formerly rated a Top 10 place to live, but it needs help. Here are a few suggestions that would spruce things up.
First, get rid of the bums. Sorry, folks, tolerance has gotten us into this mess. Rehab, jail or move along are viable solutions. People don’t feel safe and don’t want to deal with it on their night out.
Second, the Tiananmen Square look is terrible. Take a clue from Healdsburg, Sonoma or any of the hundreds of towns with similar public spaces: benches, grass, more trees and a water feature would change everything.
Third, drop the parking fee. Nothing is more galling than being 10 minutes over because dinner ran long and having to pay a $40 ticket. Removing the fee would also encourage people to linger and spend money.
Which leads to my final suggestion. Start supporting businesses. Allow tasting rooms. Maybe local shops get a tax break. More events, farmers markets, food trucks, whatever. They all bring people downtown to create critical mass, which leads to a thriving downtown.
T. WALTER WILLIAMS
EDITOR: It was a masterful stroke of distraction on May 24 to release “preliminary” point-in-time count data instead of addressing problems in the Continuum of Care (“Funding process for crisis faulted”). To have the front page and a glowing editorial the next day is notable.
It is important to note that the homeless census improvements (ironically) are the result of many millions of federal dollars to address COVID. The local service system needs transparency and dollars to improve housing. Furthermore, the note that we had 4,539 homeless people 11 years ago at the bottom of the Great Recession doesn’t have relevance today. Using the past five-year average is more appropriate.
The editorial set forth the cringe worthy statement, “It’s no secret that a significant proportion of homeless people have substance abuse and mental health issues that can make them resistant to accepting help.” This is a terribly inaccurate frame of reference. Homelessness is a housing problem. Mental illness and substance abuse are not correlated to homelessness as construed. Housing availability and affordability are the problems. Yes, people who have substance use disorders and behavioral health concerns need help, so we should hold county leaders and ourselves accountable to that too.
GERRY LA LONDE-BERG
The public suffers more
EDITOR: A letter questions the wisdom of imposing a “pay last” policy on Congress when it fails to agree on a budget or debt ceiling (“Ill-advised punishment,” Monday). The point is made that some members of Congress are not independently wealthy and would suffer financially if such a policy were enforced. And some are willing to agree to reasonable solutions but would be punished because others are not.
Fair point. Some members of Congress are so wealthy that they pull the median value of assets up to over $1 million (according to Wikipedia), but others have only modest assets or even debts that exceed their assets. And some are reasonable and willing to compromise when others are not.
But when Congress doesn’t do its job, for whatever reason, the rest of us suffer. The punishment falls on people who maintain highways, provide police and fire protection, serve in the military, supply goods and services to the government or bought government bonds as well as people who depend on Social Security and Medicare that they paid for during their working years.
So if Congress can’t agree, a pay last policy will cause some members to suffer. But the public will suffer a great deal more.
EDITOR: Reading about the abundant senior population was a welcome reminder of a significant group that can provide positive influences (“County trending older,” May 26). I’m a member and have been for many years. My husband and I are thriving in a senior community and chose it because it met more of our criteria than any other. The greater Santa Rosa and Sonoma County community is not so high on our list, however. We came from Silicon Valley where, because of newer development, far more attention has been paid to the Americans with Disabilities Act, and there is less ageist attitude than we have encountered here.
This area has become a tourist community in terms of facilities and attractions and some attitudes. We would enjoy going downtown, but parking is scarce, and we feel less than welcome. We were symphony members when we first came, but the venue is not ADA friendly, even though the parking is. We find the malls outside downtown work better for us and are grateful for them.
Because of inflation, and the possibility of harder times to come, fewer tourists may arrive. We, the able and prudent seniors, will still be here. Include us and our ideas in planning and solve the problem before it rears its ugly head even further.
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