Fountaingrove residents ask for increased patrols as more teens flock to ‘top of the world’
Linda Dias’ living room window provides the perfect panoramic view of Sonoma County.
During the day, she can make out Fountaingrove Lake and much of Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park from her home perched on top of Skyfarm Drive in Fountaingrove. Sunsets are unobstructed, with the skyline defined by distant rolling hills in west county. It was the same view that led her parents, both real estate brokers, to buy the house 19 years ago.
Her father, a former recreational pilot who was permanently grounded after a heart attack, was especially fond of the vista, as it reminded him of being airborne, said Dias, who moved into the home after the October 2017 wildfires destroyed her own.
“He wanted a new house in his older age and loved the view,” Dias said of her father, who died months before the fires. “He loved looking at the clouds.”
Her father wasn’t the first to take notice of the spectacular view from the street, as Sonoma County youth have passed down a tradition of visiting the area at sundown for decades, locals say. Its expansive views have led teens to dub the area as the “top of the world.”
But the destruction of nearly every home on Skyfarm Drive from the 2017 firestorm has resulted in an increase in visitors, including teens coming in larger numbers late at night, Dias and other homeowners who are rebuilding said. They said the problem has been compounded by the number of unattended empty lots and homes under construction, some that have been broken into or vandalized overnight while construction crews are away.
Dias estimates she and her family have called the Santa Rosa Police Department about visitors at least three dozen times during their two-year stay. Her neighbors say they’re seeing more trash and have heard cars racing in the area, a new occurrence since the fires.
Neighbors have gone to police and local officials to ask for increased patrols in the area in recent months, a topic reinvigorated late last month when a Santa Rosa teen died in a fatal crash at Skyfarm Drive and Thomas Lake Harris Drive. The July 1 crash injured the teen’s friend and led to vehicular manslaughter charges for the 16-year-old driver.
The three Maria Carrillo students had been hanging out at the “top of the world” prior to the crash. As they headed down the hill, the driver blew through a stop sign at the intersection, possibly while driving over the speed limit, police said.
“It’s upsetting to me and my son, and all of us,” Dias said of the crash. “I feel like the police should have been up here shooing these kids away.”
Santa Rosa Police Capt. John Cregan said the department instructed officers who patrol the area to check on the neighborhood between other calls after listening to residents’ concerns during two public meetings, one held by the county in April and the other by the city in May. Residents told officers they were seeing unoccupied homes and properties vandalized, as well as people leaving behind trash and trespassing on sites under construction.
Officers in the last two months conducted 57 calls for service to the neighborhood that includes Fountaingrove Parkway and Thomas Lake Harris, Skyfarm and Cross Creek, Cregan said. More than half of those calls were initiated by officers, who did proactive security checks of home and properties, as well as traffic stops of suspicious vehicles.