Jun 25, 2020
by Duane Dewitt
Why Roseland? How about 2 more Basketball courts and 2 more Soccer fields at Southwest Community Park, as well as 2 new Volleyball courts there? Please keep these questions in mind as you read this short review of some 30 years of Roseland history. It has been at least 35 years that local land developers have been doing the 35,000 foot up aerial view of how they want to profit from developing the lands to the southwest of Santa Rosa. “Land sharking” it is called by some who are in the game of land use politics in Sonoma County.
In 1984 the County Board of Supervisors in conjunction with the state Department of Toxic Substances declared a McMinn Ave. State Superfund site at the intersection of McMinn Ave. and Sebastopol Rd. in the heart of north Roseland. Roseland School was in the zone which reached both east and west along Sebastopol Rd. Roseland School District consisted of only two schools then with Sheppard School on West Ave. and Roseland School having the only playing fields in the entire 1.2 square mile Roseland community. There was also a half-court Basketball court at the small sliver of parkland on South Davis St. at Earle St. in east Roseland. This was the ONLY Park in all of Roseland for over 50 years. It came about because of the building of Highway 101, not because of Santa Rosa’s benevolence towards Roseland.
Back then there were hundreds, if not thousands, of children in Roseland in need of places to play. But the area to the west of Corby Ave. was not in the city yet, though South Davis Street was in the city, so the city DID not look to provide for the needy residents of Roseland. Talks between the city, county and developers about annexations and land uses were occurring back then, as always, because land sharking is the life blood of the local economy. Plus, money is the “mother’s milk of politics” so the expansion of Santa Rosa into Roseland started with the new “Auto Row” on Corby Ave. in southeast Roseland in the 1960s and 70s.
The city took the sales tax revenue from those auto sales and used the money inside the city limits while ignoring the needs of Roseland residents. Olive Park was in city to the north east part of Roseland, but there were no playing fields there other than the grass. This was later changed up when a small play area for children with sand also was added. A Gazebo structure and a new Restroom were also installed. Those became an attractive nuisance for homeless
As more people moved into Roseland the city gradually annexed about half of the area while also encircling the community. This was done in order to develop houses to the south and west of Roseland beginning in 1995. Elsie Allen High School was built first opening to students in 1994. Santa Rosa did not take the entire Roseland community into the city at the time citing the costs. But the city and Roseland School District encouraged more people to move into the area as it helped to bolster the pursuit of funding from various governmental sources to be used by the city and the school district. Never has the city or the school district put a priority on the needs of our children to have places to play.
When Roseland residents participated in the planning for the Roseland Village redevelopment a majority advocated for an acre of GREEN Space to be put in near the intersection of West Ave. Instead the city and county bureaucrats have stiffed the kids and now are pushing for concrete. At so-called “public hearings” the officials turn a deaf ear to the community. Now an out of town entity will be putting in some “temporary” spots to drink and eat with no consideration for kids. About the decisions being made before any “public hearing” this is occurring because the city has a “dictator of development” known as the Zoning Administrator.
Local residents who disagree with this administrator’s decisions are out of luck because local concerns cannot override the dictator. Appeals are futile and Santa Rosa points out they have preempted any possibility for authentic community engagement because of the “Resiliency Ordinance” passed by the city council after the Tubbs fire. Now almost three years on the city also has the Kinkaide fire Crisis and the Homeless crisis declarations in place. Essentially these now allow the Zoning Administrator to rule Roseland. Many of those food carts and what once were illegal vending activities in Roseland have been blessed by administrators.
Perhaps we can interest our zoning administrator in green spaces and parks otherwise our kids will suffer. Vendors first. Kids last. SAD!
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