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Burned by complacency

EDITOR: Staff Writer Martin Espinoza’s article missed the root cause of why thousands are leaving (“Many survivors forced to leave,” Tuesday). Substitute the word “complacency” for “October wildfires.” Complacency in power line management caused fires to ignite, complacency in forest management allowed those fires to coalesce and become unstoppable, complacency in emergency response systems and infrastructure resulted in unprecedented loss of life and property, complacency in addressing an acute housing shortage provided no affordable safe havens, and complacency in not keeping insurance coverage current resulted in insufficient resources to rebuild.

Even after this catastrophe, residents are ignoring existing laws to reduce fuel loads, and the county has no sense of urgency about implementing reliable warning systems. For those of us who lost our homes and have committed to rebuild, we are finding it much more difficult to recover than expected. Most people don’t have the wherewithal to build a home even in the best of times, let alone after being traumatized by this avoidable event.

We all need a major paradigm shift from “victims” to “leaders” to eliminate the systemic complacency that is at the core of our community.

GREG PECH

Santa Rosa

Indictment side effects

EDITOR: This is written by a retired doctor with some alarm. I read of the indictment of Dr. Thomas M. Keller (“Doctor indicted in drug case,” Wednesday). I don’t question the indictment, but I worry about what will happen to his “patients.” Suddenly they are without their opioids, and many will plunge quickly into withdrawal. Will they turn to much more dangerous street drugs? Heroin? Fentanyl? Because these drugs aren’t dosed or labeled correctly, I fear some may overdose and die. I hope that many will seek care at local medical facilities and seek treatment programs like suboxone or other medically assisted treatment.

DR. DAVID H. ANDERSON

Geyserville

Kunde for SRJC

EDITOR: As vice chair of the Santa Rosa Junior College Foundation, I have gained a deep appreciation for the role of solid board leadership at our community college to ensure this institution can endure and thrive through times of disruptive change in education policy and finance. That’s why it’s critical we re-elect Jeff Kunde as our SRJC trustee for the Sonoma Valley.

Over the past 12 years, Kunde has devoted thousands of hours to projects and initiatives that will keep SRJC on a strong strategic course as it enters its second century.

Kunde’s opponent, John Kelly, in his brief tenure on the Sonoma Valley school board, has been subject of a district investigation and forced to publicly apologize for his abusive treatment of a female staff member. By his conduct, Kelly has demonstrated he is temperamentally unfit to serve in a forum that relies on mutual respect and personal integrity.

Kunde is fundamentally committed to the college and approaches his position with the kind of thoughtfulness and vision the position requires. Please help secure the future of this critical community institution by re-electing Jeff Kunde to the SRJC Board of Trustees.

STEVE PAGE

Sonoma

Reverse the gas tax

EDITOR: A recent Press Democrat editorial and publications by politicians ask us to let the gas tax increase stand. It appears that the last giant gas tax increase occurred in 2010 under several bills collectively known as the “fuel tax swap.” The bottom line is that the state tax on gasoline was nearly doubled from 18 cents per gallon to 35.3 cents per gallon.

Other people say that gas tax revenue is down because cars get better mileage. State figures show that for 2009-10, we consumed 14.8 billion gallons, producing $2.7 billion in taxes. The next year, 2010-11, the taxes collected amounted to $5.2 billion, or nearly double. What did the politicians do with that giant increase? And why do they need more of our tax dollars?

Five years later, gas tax revenue is $5.4 billion.

Vote to reverse the gas tax increase and ask your representative about where all of the last increased gas tax money went to. No one seems to want to tell me the answer to that question. I wonder why.

ROBERT GRUNDMAN

Rohnert Park

Housing for Healdsburg

EDITOR: Measure P was put on the ballot by the Healdsburg City Council with a 5-0 vote, along with widespread community support. It allows the construction of an average of 50 multi-family rental units per year, provided rents are permanently restricted to within 120-160 percent of the area median income. This picks up where affordable housing leaves off, covering families of four making from $101,000 to $134,000 per year.

Measure P doesn’t involve any public funding. It allows the City Council to require these units to be part of new development. Units built under Measure P cannot be second homes — builders must enter into a regulatory agreement with the city to manage their rents and screen tenants based on income level. This would help address the housing needs of families, our workforce and older adults wishing to downsize and continue to live in Healdsburg.

The City Council recently voted to restrict hotel development in downtown Healdsburg. I believe this decision, along with Measure P, represents a vision for the future of Healdsburg — a vision to move the focus of development away from tourism and back to the residential. I hope you share in this vision, and vote yes on Measure P.

SHAUN McCAFFERY

Healdsburg

You can send a letter to the editor at letters@pressdemocrat.com

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