Smith: The coast is a monument to Bill Kortum

The "Follow This Story" feature will notify you when any articles related to this story are posted.

When you follow a story, the next time a related article is published — it could be days, weeks or months — you'll receive an email informing you of the update.

If you no longer want to follow a story, click the "Unfollow" link on that story. There's also an "Unfollow" link in every email notification we send you.

This tool is available only to subscribers; please make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.

Please note: This feature is available only to subscribers; make sure you're logged in if you want to follow a story.


We spoke not long back of the 50 people portrayed on an exterior wall of The Press Democrat building in Santa Rosa for having been lauded as those who did the most to shape Sonoma County in the 20th century.

Bill Kortum’s likeness is up there, naturally.

Sage and steadfast, the Petaluma veterinarian was acknowledged among the PD’s “50 Most” as “the undisputed dean of Sonoma County conservationists, and arguably the father of California’s modern environmental movement.”

The tireless advocate of opening Petaluma’s hillside Lafferty Ranch as a park and preserving the character of the county’s “heritage roads” often remarked that he lost more battles than he won. But he did win, the greatest of his many victories growing from his work to protect the state’s coastline from Malibu-like development.

“Every community needs a commons,” he said. “Without being able to share the coast, the only commons we have in California is the freeways.”

With his passing last weekend, it’s tempting to place, somewhere on the Sonoma Coast, a memorial to honor his struggle to keep every possible inch of it wild and public. But he wouldn’t want anything else man-made erected there.

Those undeveloped, ungated bluffs and coves and beaches, they’re all tributes to this man.


AT ARRIGONI’S, Raja Naber stood at what’s been his primary post these past four decades, behind the neighborly cafe’s counter and alongside the espresso machine.

Customers’ response to the bittersweet revelation that he and brother Jacob will close and retire on Wednesday afternoon, Christmas Eve, Raja said, has been truly overwhelming.

“They make us cry.”

Unable to sell Arrigoni’s, the roots of which reach back to the turn of the last century and to old Santa Rosa’s Bacigalupi Market, the Nabers have leased the space at 4th and D streets to someone who’ll create what promises to be a tasty wood-fired Neapolitan pizza place.

Already, Raja misses the best part of Arrigoni’s: the people.

“I have to give them thanks for all these many years.”


TO LUTHER, from Santa:

Winter smiles are fully abloom among the volunteers who tend the Luther Burbank Home & Gardens.

A surprise gift came to their association from a family that celebrates the season of giving by making a donation to a cause chosen by one or another of the grown children.

As a college student, a son had visited the living, historic landmark in central Santa Rosa that in 1884 became Luther Burbank’s home and experimental greenhouse. The place quite clearly left an impression on the young man.

At his suggestion, his family went onto and perused the association’s wish list. They agreed to help replace old roofs on the Burbank home and carriage house.

The family, which asked not to be identified, donated $10,000. That’s about half of what the re-roofing is expected to cost.

LBH&G volunteers thrilled by the donation also are about as expectant as kids on Christmas Eve because the project to replace the historic treasure’s long stretch of redwood picket fence is fully funded and the posts could start going in just about any day.

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and

Show Comment

Our Network

Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Emerald Report
Spirited Magazine