News Briefs


Let There be Lights

A Dillon Beach family is quietly resisting a homeowner association’s order to remove the single strand of Christmas lights outlining their Marin County coastal home. Chris and Larry Grace and their six-year-old daughter, Alegra, say they’ll take down the lights the day after Christmas and not before. But association officials say that rules have been in place for two decades: outdoor lights for safety or security but not for holiday decoration. A neighbor’s complaint triggered the request that the Graces remove their holiday lights. The issue will be discussed at the association’s January meeting.

Back to School for Tigger

A lawsuit sparked in part by socks bearing the cartoon image of Winnie the Pooh’s Tigger character has been settled by mutual consent, with the Napa Valley Unified School District agreeing to create an “opt out” provision for any future school dress code. The district will also pay the $95,000 attorneys’ fees incurred by the five families (representing six students) who brought the suit, as well as the district’s own costs (not yet tallied) for outside legal services. The six students’ records will be expunged of any dress-code violations. The lawsuit challenged Redwood Middle School’s longtime “appropriate attire policy” limiting students to eight specific solid colors in cotton twill, chino or corduroy. The plaintiffs argued that this was in fact a public school uniform, which under state law must have an “opt out” clause. “We didn’t have any objection to a dress code that complied with the statutory criteria, but they went beyond that,” explains plaintiffs’ attorney Sharon O’Grady.

Monte Rio Sewer Stopped

The Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management District (PRMD) is recommending against a controversial plan to build a sewer system in Monte Rio, because the estimated price tag jumped from $11.2 million in 2003 to more than $20 million today. “Construction costs have increased dramatically to the point where we no longer have adequate funding to move the project forward,” explains PRMD director Pete Parkinson. The proposed sewer plant would have served 586 residential and commercial properties, at an annual cost of $1,200 each. Opponents argued that the system was too costly, would encourage development and wasn’t needed. Monte Rio resident Bruce Maher wants the county to conduct studies to see if failing Monte Rio septic systems really are causing poor water quality in the lower Russian River, as the county claims. “Without knowing where the problems are, we’re chasing our tails,” Maher asserts.