News Briefs

Sonoma News Briefs

Parcel Tax Falls Short

SANTA ROSA Bonds, yes; taxes not so much. That was the split on five education-related ballot measures this week, as voters came through with the two-thirds majority needed to pass school bond measures in Bennett Valley, Geyserville, and Calistoga, but fell short on a pair of parcel tax proposals in Santa Rosa. Measures C and E both collected a little more than 55 percent in support, which offered some consolation, said Santa Rosa School District Superintendent Lew Alsobrook. “If Bill Clinton or Bob Dole got 55 percent of the vote, they’d call it one of the greatest mandates of the century. We get 55 percent of the vote and nothing happens,” he sighed. Alsobrook said a closer miss might have been harder to take, and that he cannot pin the failed vote on any particular factor. “There are a hundred reasons. It’s difficult to pin it on one or two or three,” he said.

The special election effort cost the district $200,000, money the superintendent characterized as “an investment” that didn’t pay off. Now, the district administration will study the detailed election returns and decide whether or not to try again. “We don’t feel that badly,” Alsobrook said. “We’re in the education business and it was a learning experience.”

Urban Limit to Voters

SANTA ROSA As local voters put one set of issues to rest Tuesday, the Santa Rosa City Council agreed to place another matter before the electorate, voting 4-1 to place the question of establishing an “urban growth boundary” around the city on the November 1996 ballot. Only Dave Berto voted against the idea, which was vigorously opposed by many of the area’s most influential business and development interests. The details of the proposition will still need to be worked out, however, and the council has scheduled a Nov. 21 study session for that purpose. Environmentalists and other advocates of the urban limit lines have been working in most Sonoma County cities to get such decisions before local voters, who can enact limits that would remain in place for 20 years, rather than being amendable by the City Council several times each year. Opponents cite that rigidity as a flaw in the measures. Santa Rosa is the first local city to commit to placing the question before its voters. The Petaluma City Council recently rejected a bid to do so in their city.

UFW Boycott Announced

SALINAS The United Farm Workers of America approved the endorsement request from Gallo Vineyard workers in Sonoma County for a boycott of E&J Gallo Inc. The boycott announcement follows a ruling by Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Hugh Rose, who recently dismissed for lack of evidence an appeal by Gallo to throw out the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board certification of a 1994 election favoring UFW representation of workers at Gallo Vineyards in Healdsburg. “Now we hope to get the ALRB to file a complaint against Gallo for refusing to bargain in good faith,” says Tanis Ybarra, UFW regional director. A Gallo spokesman was unavailable for comment.

Homeless Services Approved

PETALUMA The city’s Community Development Commission voted unanimously Monday to spend $90,000 for a new daytime homeless shelter. The proposed site for the new facility is behind the Petaluma Kitchen, a program in place to serve lunches to the needy, at Payran and D streets. The shelter would provide homeless single adults with drop-in facilities, such as laundry, shower, telephones, and employment assistance. Counseling and 12-step meetings would also be provided on-site. The new shelter will be funded by the city’s housing budget. The Planning Commission will now hold a public hearing and must approve a conditional use permit for the location.

Outdated Playgrounds Targeted

PETALUMA City officials plan to spend $300,000 to replace children’s playground equipment deemed too dangerous at local parks. Playground structures over a certain height, such as tall slides, will be ripped out and replaced by “safer” equipment. Renovations should be complete by next spring. The changes are being made partly to comply with new safety guidelines set by the U.S. Product Safety Commission. Certain popular structures in Kenilworth Park and Lucchesi Park already are targeted for removal.

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