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For decades, Roseland residents have been working hard to improve Roseland. Many have thought the current preliminary efforts for the annexation of Roseland to Santa Rosa, with a Roseland specific plan being done by Santa Rosa city planners, would better their community and provide a brighter future.

But Santa Rosa city staff planners have also been working behind the scenes to move Santa Rosa’s “Skid Row” from Wilson Street over into Roseland starting before annexation happens. The process to relocate and expand the Redwood Gospel Mission apparently has been underway for at least three years while the steering committee for the Roseland specific plan just found out about this at a Santa Rosa Planning Commission meeting on June 9.

City planners have been working with the Redwood Gospel Mission to put hundreds of transients over into the Roseland area at a planned “rehabilitation” facility on Roberts Avenue next to the SMART railroad tracks. Roseland already has a serious drug problem where dealing and attendant crime are relatively common in comparison to the rest of Sonoma County.

Since the mid-1960s, Santa Rosa and Sonoma County politicians have not performed honestly. We are volunteer members of the Roseland Annexation Steering Committee. As such, herein we can only present generalities; the city’s paid planners are responsible for the specifics.

The Santa Rosa Planning Commission has held numerous meetings over the previous two years.

There are numerous residents of single-family, one-story homes who are frightened of pre-approved plans by apartment and condominium builders, such as Burbank Housing, that plan to build multi-story complexes that directly abut their houses. City officials often listen to these concerns.

But Santa Rosa has a cavalier attitude of disrespect toward Roseland residents. Arbitrarily, and with no period of public input, many years ago Santa Rosa moved its city limits westward and southward to include large swaths of Roseland.

Roseland became a kind of dumping ground, a deliberately designed ghetto. In reality, the city’s Planning Department has performed a kind of fast shuffle, or what is sometimes known as a ‘shuck and jive,” through this steering committee process.

One example that came to light at the start of the presentation to the city Planning Commission at City Hall was the Roberts Avenue “bait and switch.” Instead of providing this road’s extension from Roseland’s northeast under Highway 12 to the new SMART station, the Redwood Gospel Mission would be relocated to this part of Roseland.

It’s a pattern impossible to ignore. Another example is the crisis faced by Victoria Drive residents who have only one way to exit their homes. Unless and until there is a Bellevue Avenue overpass built linking Roseland to Santa Rosa Avenue, a long circuitous route will be their only hope.

As the old saw goes, there are many ways to to catch a thief. To use an Old West analogy, the city Planning Department has cut the poor residents of Roseland off at the pass.

Soon there shall be four seats on the City Council, namely those of Julie Combs, Gary Wysocky, Erin Carlstrom and Ernie Olivares, opening up. This needs to be an issue in this year’s City Council election.

F.H Baumgardner and Duane Dewitt are members of the Roseland Area Projects Steering Committee.

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