Plans and money to improve Roseland neighborhood in Santa Rosa remain elusive
Sonoma County’s largest Latino leadership organization reminded local government officials they have not been able to fund a marquee housing project and permanent library in Roseland during a Friday luncheon focused on the neighborhood’s future.
The event, hosted by Los Cien, brought more than 200 Latino community leaders together to examine the future of Roseland. Before and after its annexation into Santa Rosa in November 2017, the neighborhood has lacked investment and engagement, and government officials who spoke Friday acknowledged their past failures and future struggles.
“To be honest, I feel just a little sheepish standing up here, because I represent a government that has not stepped up the way it should to serve all members of the community,” said Margaret Van Vliet, executive director of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission.
Van Vliet presented an update on the Roseland Village project, which is intended to bring 175 apartments — 75 of which are to be restricted to low-income residents — into the heart of Roseland on Sebastopol Avenue.
The development would slot into 7 acres that currently house a Dollar Tree discount store, the temporary Roseland library branch and parking lots. Plans for the project, which also includes a public plaza, food court and permanent civic building, will go before the City Council on Tuesday for an appeal hearing stemming from a dispute with a nearby property owner.
Roseland Village, which will cost tens of millions of dollars, continues to lack full funding, Van Vliet said, but work to build the infrastructure and roads needed to support it will begin later this year while officials continue to seek additional development dollars.
“Despite a flurry of public meetings and surveys and different things over the last few years now, there’s really been very little activity on-site, leaving what I imagine is a feeling of empty promises where dilapidated buildings and the Dollar Tree still stand,” she told the audience at the Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa.
At least Lana Adlawan, public services manager for Sonoma County Library, had some good news to share: The library district recently signed a six-year contract for a new home for the Roseland branch, which has been sharing space with the Boys and Girls Club of Central Sonoma in an old furniture store on the future site of the Roseland Village development.
The library served more than 26,000 people and hosted more than 300 events last year despite only being open 27 hours a week, mostly in the mornings, Adlawan said. The move to a building on 470 Sebastopol Road, which includes a salon and the former offices of the Highway 420 medical-marijuana delivery company, will give the library nearly twice as much space and allow it to expand to 42 hours per week, she said.
The library only has enough money to pay for the first year of its six-year lease, she said. A few hundred thousand dollars from the city and county will help fund its operations in the short term, she said, but a permanent Roseland branch will cost millions that lack an obvious source.
Another cannabis company, Phenotopia, is planning to open in the shopping mall across the street, and community leader Nohemi Palomino listed the proliferation of dispensaries in Roseland as one of residents’ many concerns.