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  1. TopTop #31
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: COURTHOUSE SQUARE: Does Anyone Know Jen Schallert Cox, Author of the RENT CONTROL Peti

    She's on Facebook. I just sent a friend request, and encourage you to do the same.

    Quote Jennifer Novascone wrote: View Post
    We are attempting to locate Ms. Jen Schallert Cox, author of the Rent Control petition as it pertains to Santa Rosa's affordable housing crisis? ...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-08-2016 at 12:20 PM.
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  3. TopTop #32
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Courthouse Square

    My response to BECKY JANSSEN that I'll respond to in the PD:

    Because you're uninspired by the trees in Courthouse Square says more about you than the trees. It's really about perception. And it seems that your inspiration will come from an "architecturally designed urban space" at the price of $10+ million, while people go homeless. This also says a lot about your priorities, and how easily you align with the SR city council members. Unfortunately, many people and children sleep unprotected from the harsh elements. I wonder how they perceive the proposed Courthouse project.

    Imagine for a moment that your mother, father, child or any loved one is at the mercy of this decision. If that doesn't inspire you, then maybe you can imagine yourself being homeless. There are many previous home owners who had good paying jobs, now on the street. They also never imagined it could happen to them. To "inspire" your imagination, take a walk in the middle of the night when temperatures drop to below 40, and you're out in it with no insulated coat from REI. Bring into your memory anytime you've ever felt biting cold, and couldn't get to your warm home fast enough. It seems that compassion is not your strong point for trees or people.

    Quote JimmyL wrote: View Post
    Another point of view from today's PD: Uninspiring trees...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-08-2016 at 12:19 PM.
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  5. TopTop #33

    Re: COURTHOUSE SQUARE: Positive News on Strategy to Move Controversial ISSUE to PUBLIC Vo

    We NEED your help, and we need it right away!

    Did you e-mail and/or speak to the Santa Rosa City Council in opposition to aspects of the Courthouse Square project before their disastrous vote on Jan. 26? If so, we need copies of your messages or presentations.

    Why do we need to gather these letters? To substantiate to relevant authorities that the City Council received messages of opposition (to the parking spaces, the tree-cutting, traffic implications, etc.) prior to their yes-vote on the Courthouse Square project on January 26, 2016. We believe we'll be able to use these letters legally to stop or slow down the City in their their plans to break ground at the square. Your letters may contribute, for instance, to demonstrating that the California Environmental Quality Act, aka CEQA, was violated.

    Anything sent to the Santa Rosa City Clerk is especially important, because those items are supposed to be part of the public record. For whatever reason, they have not yet been made available to the public so we aren't able to access them that way. That's why we need you to send them to us.


    We have only 30 days after January 26, 2016 to make our case--meaning we must have all the evidence gathered no later than Feb. 25.


    Please send a copy of your letters to me. Who am I, you might ask? Some of you will recognize me from my username occupyboston, my handle up until that original thread was closed. I've now lived here long enough that I thought it was time to change my username. (Plus, people were finding it confusing, wondering if I was writing from Boston, etc.) So I have a new username from the Joni Mitchell song. I'm working with others trying to stop the project from going forward.


    It's easy. Just go to your Sent folder to find any e-mails or presentations you sent to City Council on this issue. (Their e-mail address was: [email protected].) Then forward (or paste) the dated copies to me via Reply Privately.


    THANK YOU for taking the time to help the cause this way!

    Janet (aka occupyboston)
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  7. TopTop #34
    podfish's Avatar
    Supporting Member

    Re: Courthouse Square

    Quote Shandi wrote: View Post
    ...Imagine for a moment that your mother, father, child or any loved one is at the mercy of this decision....Bring into your memory anytime you've ever felt biting cold, and couldn't get to your warm home fast enough. It seems that compassion is not your strong point for trees or people.
    sorry, but that logic is really counter-productive for me. Part of it's the same argument vegetarians use vs. carnivores - "how can you fail to see that animals (trees) deserve the same compassion as humans?" - and another part is "how can you spend money on XXX when there's a need for YYY". If you're going to go the latter route, why is there such an outcry demanding road repair (to pick a hot-button issue) when we have homeless people on the streets?

    The day they admit that the reason they're not spending money on the homeless or other human needs is because they need it for construction expenses is the day that argument starts to make sense. It's again a false analogy with family-scale economics. If I spend money on car repair, it might make it harder to make my rent. Governments don't budget that way. They will never take money not spent on infrastructure and instead spend it on human services.

    The right-to-life of trees seems an equally difficult case to make.
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-09-2016 at 12:41 PM.
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  9. TopTop #35
    sharingwisdom's Avatar
    sharingwisdom
     

    Re: URGENT Letters of Opposition to S.R. Courthouse Square: P.O. Box 12, Cotati, CA 94931

    I sent my letter to all city council members by email which is similar to the below. Would it work better to send a printed copy to Jennifer too? And does there need to be a letter for each council person or can one suffice?

    Quote Jennifer Novascone wrote: View Post
    ...We will serve your letters to the Santa Rosa City Clerk at our peaceful protest, or serve it yourself (with us) on a day to be announced by next week...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-09-2016 at 01:03 PM.
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  11. TopTop #36
    tommy's Avatar
    tommy
    Supporting member

    Re: COURTHOUSE SQUARE: Positive News on Strategy to Move Controversial ISSUE to PUBLIC Vo

    IMO, this is sadly becoming a tempest in a teapot. This is a WACCO idea!

    It's a great idea to unify Courthouse Square. Santa Rosa has been wanting to do it for 30 years. Right now, it's two halves of a whole, split by a major traffic thoroughfare. I think unifying the Square will force traffic onto 101, away from the heart of the City.

    The idea of linking the expenditure to Affordable Housing, while laudatory, is fantasy! It's a bait & switch idea. What are you smoking? That's not the way affordable housing gets built. Affordble Housing takes years to build, acquire the land, permits, funding, etc. Even if the City decided not to unify the Square, they would not earmark the $10M automatically for Affordable Housing. The City has many pressing needs, and a shortage of money. It would have to go thru the normal budgeting process. Trying to tie these two things together is like taking a half of an apple and a half of an orange and saying we now have a whole fruit.

    Why is there not more Affordable Housing? It's because our economy is based on private enterprise, not on the government running everything. The average cost of building a 2 bedroom unit in Sonoma Co is around $350k. To finance all that money, would cost you $1600/month, at long term rates, which does not make it affordable. It requires a subsidy. The current political climate does not welcome more government spending or higher taxes to fund the subsidy. Even in California, Gov Brown recently vetoed bills to fund Affordable Housing through tax credits, which would have given investors an incentive to fund Affordable Housing, through reduced taxes. My understanding is Brown vetoed it because of the reduction in tax receipts.
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-09-2016 at 01:12 PM.
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  13. TopTop #37
    lauren's Avatar
    lauren
     

    Reunification of Old Courthouse Square-- a better plan

    I believe that the reunification of Old Courthouse Square is a good idea. I do not like the existing plan. There are others who agree because the square will be filled with streets and cars, with almost nothing left for people to walk and stroll,or much grass, or room for events. Also, the loss of the Heritage redwoods is sad; they are very old and can't grow back to that size in a few lifetimes.

    I have a vision of what could be:
    *** I have an alternate way they could make the square, which should keep everyone happy; even the retailers who think they're going to get more business if there is more parking on the square. And, it would cost a lot less because of reduced tree removal costs and no extra construction of 2 more streets, stop lights, etc.
    I see a plan where ~ 60-80 parking spaces can exist, there would be no extra streets in front of the businesses, but plenty of parking right there, a big square for events and people, and ~ 3-5 medium sized redwoods that would have to go. The Heritage redwoods could all stay.

    Now envision this:
    Angled parking slots all across the north and south ends of the reunified square, lining 3rd and 4th. That means that on 3rd St., ~ 30-40 slots could fit and another ~30-40 slots on 4th. Most of that area right now is street (Mendocino Ave.- 4 lanes) and wide sidewalks.

    On 4th St., I see 3 med.redwoods that would have to go down, but cutting them would be easy because they are out in the wide open area. There might be a couple more, but it's a lot less than what they are proposing.
    I am thinking that people would LOVE to sit outside in front of the restaurants lining the square on the east and west.No cars parked right in front of their faces.

    The square would be a decent size to sit or stroll and much more usable for events and for the city's people (174,000 pop.)

    That's it! No extra streets, traffic signals, etc. The Heritage redwoods are saved, the fumes from the cars will be at the perimeter (the existing plan will bring fumes right into the middle of the square).

    Cars going down 3rd St. would come from the east and slide in the slots and park , and the opposite would be true for the cars going down 4th , sliding in as they head east, coming from the west. It would be beautiful, useful, and cost effective.

    What will be left for the people,after all the car spaces and extra streets, in their flawed plan is TINY. It will be almost all cement, cars parked and cars whizzing by, not much park land for the people. It will smell bad. It will look bad. The Heritage trees will be gone.
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-10-2016 at 02:00 PM.
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  15. TopTop #38
    Jennifer Novascone's Avatar
    Jennifer Novascone
     

    COURTHOUSE SQUARE: Financial Feasibility Inquiry Santa Rosa CFO: Debbi Lauchner

    Hello WACCOBB readers,

    Below is an email reply I submitted to City of Santa Rosa CFO, Debbi Laucher in response to helpful references she made to me in a public email exchange. I hope this post helps educate the public as to the system of protocols used by our city government.

    Greetings Ms. Lauchner,


    First, I want to thank you for your reply. My responses to your email are in red text.

    Please forgive my sense of wordy deliberation, as sometimes the best answers come from asking the question several times and in different ways. I suppose that the best answers to my questions come from the City itself in how it governs itself for the people of Santa Rosa. I hope you will direct this email to the correct departments to answer parts that do not pertain to you.

    Ms. Lauchner referenced and confirmed my older inquiry, that per The California Debt and Investment Advisory Commission (CDIAC), Guideline 17 states that "The Commission’s stance is that public agencies solicit public participation in their tax-exempt leasing decisions". I replied: "Yes. Last week I printed this guidebook, and will study to better familiarize myself. I'd like to see this guideline put into play with city taxpayer and voter participation, including my own. Similar to how the city engaged public participation over the city square aesthetics, I'd like to review the city's financing scheme in the same manner, including a financial feasibility study of the Courthouse Square, CHS reunification, and all of the necessary protocols that a study of this kind takes into account in order to help citizens have confidence in how their taxpayer dollars are being spent. I see how well the city demonstrated this in subcommittee meetings, with written comments of support and opposition to the square before the resolution. But disappointed that the "snap-shot" of public opposition comments were not made public at the publicly held City Council meeting on January 26, 2016; only the positive input was notated in the minutes".

    QUESTION to Ms. Lauchner: Will the City of Santa Rosa City Council and Finance Department form a similar subcommittee and public comment group-study to allow taxpayers and voters to participate in the formation of the financial scheme used for reunification of CHS? If so, "how" can we go about getting involved right now? If NOT, then please help us understand why we would not be allowed to participate?

    QUESTION to Ms. Lauchner: Does the City Council and Finance Department ascribe to heir own "financial ethics charter" pertaining to the submission of financial feasibility reports to the public and fiduciary duty to the public regarding large expenditures, like CHS? If not, then why? Why would the city not be held to a fiduciary duty for reporting financial feasibility studies?

    For example: Is the City of Santa Rosa governed by any financial laws or ethics of fiduciary duty for reporting of financial feasibility study on CHS by a government oversight (entity)? If so, what are the charters or name(s) of the oversight entities to help make sure that taxpayers and voters may exercise their right to financial transparency and due diligence regarding the CHS expenditure? Our goal is to learn what entity compels the city to provide financial analysis; expected revenue stream, economic report, ROI, payback of the CHS expenditure?

    Links I found that may speak to this:

    MARKET AND FEASIBILITY STUDIES: A HOW-TO GUIDE

    https://pages.uoregon.edu/rgp/PPPM613/downloads/How%20to%20do%20a%20Market%20Analysis.pdf


    California Society of Municipal Finance Officers Dedicated to Excellence in Municipal Financial Management

    https://www.csmfo.org/about/code-of-ethics/

    Ms. Lauchner referenced that City Council held a study session on September 22, 2015 regarding project and financing options available to the City. I replied: "Yes. And I say this without being flippant: Support and opposition was given via public comment by Ms. Suzanne Ell, CPA. Was she required to file a "Letter of Opposition" within 30 days to the City Council? May I point that question to your City Attorney to answer? We do not know the City's policy in this".

    Ms. Lauchner referenced that City Council approved that Certificates of Participation would be considered as the preferred mechanism of funding for Courthouse Square. I replied: "Yes. With due respect; what is the city's stance when a public comment opposes? My point: what is the utility-purpose of a public comment of opposition to City Council meeting decisions if it cannot effect change? Does the opposition serve a purpose to do nothing more than to notate opposition? Or must the city respond to the comment of opposition? For if a taxpayer or voter opposes, then what remedies does he/she have to challenge a decision? Please advise, and perhaps this one is in the City Charter or the City Attorney can answer. I'm speculating that a citizen can petition a change by gathering wet signatures, or use legal course. I need confirmation of what avenues we may take for asserting our opposition to a funding scheme with lack of feasibility report".

    Ms. Lauchner referenced that on December 12, 2015 a Community meeting was held on Courthouse Square reunification: I replied: "Yes. Public comments of opposition were not reported in public video meeting before City Council on January 26, 2016, only support".

    Ms. Lauchner referenced that on January 9, 2016 a Community meeting was held on Courthouse Square reunification. I replied: "Yes. Public comments of opposition were not reported in public video meeting before City Council on January 26, 2016, only support".

    Ms. Lauchner referenced that on January 26, 2016 Council Meeting held a approving final design for project. I replied: "Forgive me: I'm trying to understand. If there was public opposition to the project moving forward, then how would that have had to be enacted, per the City Charter or guidelines, for public to intervene with opposition? Other than legal or wet signature petitions for ballot vote, is there a protocol the City requires citizens to use who oppose decisions?

    Ms. Lauchner referenced that the City provided an online survey for additional public comments. I replied: "Yes. But these final opposition comments were NOT reported at the January 26, 2016 City Council meeting. Respectfully, may I ask "why" they were not reported and represented as part of the citizens voice of opposition? If they had been reported, then would the comments of opposition held any weight in putting off the resolution? If so, then how? If not, then "why"?

    Ms. Lauchner referenced that the Finance Department has not pursued financing for this project, and that while the final design has been approved, an engineering estimate for the project is pending. Once the engineering estimate is provided, Finance will pursue financing for a portion of the project. The approved financing mechanism is Certificates of Participation. I replied: "Yes. but there was public opposition comment to the COPs. How would Ms. Suzanne Ell have made her comment count"?

    Ms. Lauchner referenced that Finance is also working with local banks to explore alternatives. That Finance is looking to achieve the most flexible financing package with the best terms possible. She referenced further, that any financing will need to be approved by the City Council in an open session that has been duly noticed. And, in addition, that Finance would expect to get permission to proceed from the Council at a public meeting in March or April in order to keep the project on the current timeline. I replied: "Yes. Thank you. May I ask, "how" can city taxpayers and voters impact the decision of funding if some oppose and others support? My point: we want financial due diligence and a feasibility study on expected revenue stream, economic impact, ROI, payback, etc. in this expenditure. How can we compel the City of Santa Rosa City Council and Finance to provide this to its citizens before moving forward with a funding scheme? This goes back to terms like the City's "fiduciary duty", and "ethics and transparency" to voters and taxpayers".

    I replied: Lastly,
    We note that $300,000 of the gas tax street improvement fund was transferred tot he CHS project. Is that permissible, as fungible-interchangeable?

    https://qcode.us/codes/santarosa/

    Chapter 3-40 SPECIAL GAS TAX STREET IMPROVEMENT FUND.

    Respectfully, Jennifer Coleman
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-10-2016 at 02:06 PM.
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  17. TopTop #39
    rekarp's Avatar
    rekarp
     

    Re: Courthouse Square

    Isn't this woman entitled to her opinion? Rather than argue with her position you attack her personally, question her priorities, and imply that she doesn't care about homeless people (which despite the campaign for signatures, has nothing to do with reunification of the square).

    She could just as easily say that your response has more to do with you than with the homeless.

    Ron

    Quote Shandi wrote: View Post
    My response to BECKY JANSSEN that I'll respond to in the PD...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-10-2016 at 12:53 PM.
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  19. TopTop #40
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: COURTHOUSE SQUARE: Financial Feasibility Inquiry Santa Rosa CFO: Debbi Lauchner

    Wow, Jennifer, you would make a great attorney! I feel honored to have you so passionately involved in putting the city of Santa Rosa, and the City Council on notice that some things aren't so easily swept under the carpet, because someone's watching and finely tuned in to the nuances of legal details that slip by the average person until their rights have all but disappeared. (Like frogs in water brought to a boiling point so slowly that they don't notice until it's too late.) I hope that someone up high in the food chain notices that you're a force to be reckoned with! You have my heartfelt appreciation for digging into the details of this dis-regard for any opposition to this 10 million plus project from tax paying voters. They may as well announce that "No opposition is allowed, and will be disregarded." But that would mean being honest, and even lowly city officials aren't well known for that.

    Quote Jennifer Novascone wrote: View Post
    Below is an email reply I submitted to City of Santa Rosa CFO, Debbi Laucher in response to helpful references she made to me in a public email exchange...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-10-2016 at 02:06 PM.
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  21. TopTop #41
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Reunification of Old Courthouse Square-- a better plan

    Seems reasonable and very creative. How can this be presented to the city council? Is a visual draft possible?
    I wonder if they would even be open to that because it could cut out some profits from their business allies who stand to gain a bit of that $10 million plus. Money is the bottom line, at least in the short term. I doubt if the small businesses would gain much in the long run, or if that's even the ultimate goal.


    Quote lauren wrote: View Post
    ...I have an alternate way they could make the square, which should keep everyone happy; even the retailers who think they're going to get more business if there is more parking on the square...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-10-2016 at 02:04 PM.
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  23. TopTop #42
    Jennifer Novascone's Avatar
    Jennifer Novascone
     

    Re: COURTHOUSE SQUARE: Financial Feasibility Inquiry Santa Rosa CFO: Debbi Lauchner

    Thank you Shandi!

    Its comments like yours that keep me and the rest of our group staying this course for all of us, really and truly. We will continue to challenge the City Council and Finance to be accountable for their actions. Even more, to challenge our voters and taxpayers to wake up and get angry. We are NOT $10 million dollar chumps.

    We implore all Santa Rosan's to print out and sign our sample letter, or one of their own. Respectfully, DON'T put if off another day, or be complacent, as if you think you cannot effect change. We are ferociously POWERFUL when united!

    PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER NOW:

    City Council and Finance,

    I demand that you furnish an independently audited financial feasibility study as it pertains to the reunification of Courthouse Square project. For the study must be evidenced to be fiscally safe, sound, and transparent BEFORE moving forward with this enormous expenditure of my taxpayer dollars!

    (your signature)


    Thank you for Your support! ~ Jennifer

    Quote Shandi wrote: View Post
    Wow, Jennifer, you would make a great attorney! ...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-10-2016 at 02:07 PM.
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  25. TopTop #43
    podfish's Avatar
    Supporting Member

    Re: COURTHOUSE SQUARE: Positive News on Strategy to Move Controversial ISSUE to PUBLIC Vo

    Quote sealwatcher wrote: View Post
    You make a good argument for the status quo, Tommy. ....in rejoinder I offer this: When a city's priorities are so skewed that a scheme to reunify courthouse square to keep business viable takes precedence over the human needs of that city, there remains little of the civilising impulse that once led to the formation of cities...
    you're deliberately missing the point, I think, and making an inference that's not backed up by what he said.
    - he's not arguing for the status quo. That's just an attempt to make him sound unwilling to consider change
    - this has never been and is not a question of killing trees vs. feeding/housing people. God knows I've posted slathers of words regarding the imperative to prioritize human needs over economics; I'm not blind to that. But just like even Gerald Ford could (often) walk and chew gum at the same time, cities can and do provide services for their population AND develop infrastructure, both at the same time. If the goal is to change the balance of resources, spending more on people's needs and less on infrastructure, fine! That's not the question here. No-one's bothered to even try to make the connection, actually, they've just flung the words out and hoped the uncritical reader gets the impression that the issue is starving the poor.
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  27. TopTop #44
    Jennifer Novascone's Avatar
    Jennifer Novascone
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Hello everyone,

    No matter which way the city spends our money, and what faction deserves it more than another, let me at least ask if anyone agrees on this point:

    We have a $10 million dollar expenditure for Courthouse Square, which invests in an expected revenue outcome; I demand that this investment MUST be rationalized by a financial feasibility study. Downtown revitalization will not be a field of dreams if we don't analyze and critically think about the expected financial outcome.

    Terms like "fiduciary duty", "breach of fiduciary duty", ROI, payback, expected revenue stream, economic impact, due diligence, ethical transparency, and the rainbow of other terms that go into making safe, sane, sound investments with taxpayer dollars; SURLY I'd like to know that we, as a community are in agreement on this manner of cogent thinking?

    Many of us invest in schemes. I don't imagine those of us who are good at managing our money rush into a large investment without a sober pause of data gathering to make responsible choices.

    How in the world can a city not be accountable to do the same?

    I have had two conversations with one city council member about this very topic. Both times that member has told me that the city has no predictive date to quantify a feasibility study on the square!!! Hence, one cannot be supplied.

    "If we build it they will come" is not only based upon intrinsic value. This is unacceptable and in my opinion bordering upon CRIMINAL negligence to mismanage funds this way [if] the city goes this route. One council member even quoted on video at a meeting that this project is "worth the gamble", despite not knowing how many years it will take to payback. WHAT?

    What the heck are we doing with a council that thinks this way? Is this really their agenda?

    Jennifer
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  29. TopTop #45
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Jennifer, It seems obvious that some people really don't care how their tax money is spent, and believe that they have no say in it, so they willingly bend to the will of the city's decisions. They aren't willing to do what you have done even if they had the intelligence to pursue it. Also, there are people who like the plan that's been voted on, disregarding any opposition. Also, there are people who don't find the trees "inspiring" and would prefer a modern streamline look. There are others who would link hands to protect the trees, regardless of what might happen to them in a peaceful demonstration. Think jail, tear gas, or other opposition to the right to gather in protest. A majority of people are not up for that. The last time I went to a protest was about the war in Iraq held in San Francisco. The only way I can protest anymore is with my words, but I will not argue to change anyone's mind. I will support those, like yourself, who are putting forth a great amount of effort to put the city on notice.

    Also, many people have other priorities to spend their time on, which is anyone's guess...the Super Bowl, standing in line for lottery tickets, or standing in line for up to 12 hours for a limited amount of signature beer from the Russian River Brewing Co. These are the priorities of many in our county.


    Quote Jennifer Novascone wrote: View Post
    ...We have a $10 million dollar expenditure for Courthouse Square, which invests in an expected revenue outcome; ...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-11-2016 at 01:43 PM.
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  31. TopTop #46
    lauren's Avatar
    lauren
     

    Re: Reunification of Old Courthouse Square-- a better plan

    Quote Shandi wrote: View Post
    Seems reasonable and very creative. How can this be presented to the city council? Is a visual draft possible?
    I wonder if they would even be open to that because it could cut out some profits from their business allies who stand to gain a bit of that $10 million plus. Money is the bottom line, at least in the short term. I doubt if the small businesses would gain much in the long run, or if that's even the ultimate goal.
    I am not a draftsman, but I will try to do it. There certainly would be a much larger grassy area and I'm not sure if the fountain would have to be moved at all. Maybe, with all the money saved, there could be more in store for helping the homeless move out of that area to a safe and warm place to be.That's what everyone wants; the homeless want to be safe and warm somewhere, the retailers want to be in business without loiterers, and shoppers and strollers want peace and safety . The safe place needs to be elsewhere.
    I believe the businesses would be helped by an inviting town square, because people would want to frequent it and would eat and shop and stroll, given the extra parking right there, on either side of the square. There are only a few parking spaces on that block as it is.I can see everybody's point of view.
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  33. TopTop #47
    Jennifer Novascone's Avatar
    Jennifer Novascone
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Quote Shandi wrote: View Post
    Jennifer, It seems obvious that some people really don't care how their tax money is spent, and believe that they have no say in it, so they willingly bend to the will of the city's decisions...
    Hello Shandi,

    My comments to you at bottom of post, as I want to make sure WACCOBB readers don't miss the update. You are my last for comment... BUT not least. :-)

    Up ahead:

    --- We will begin posting on Craigslist this weekend in a more proliferate manner to raise public awareness. MOST OF ALL, we will target education over opposition of the City's funding scheme and LACK of an independent firm to perform a financial feasibility report on the square project.

    --- We will hone our argument down to urging public to oppose the square based on lack of feasibility and financial transparency. This is the one point that I think most everyone will be most apt to agree upon and support with opposition.

    --- Taking part in organizing a peaceful protest with financial opposition, as well as renters who feel betrayed by City Council in allocation of money for the square verses housing. I will let you and everyone know when and where that will take place, even those who cannot make it, if only to elicit being there in spirit.

    --- Researching law on Brown Act and State Attorney General website. In essence, do voter-taxpayers to have a right to demand, as well as approve or oppose financial feasibility reports when requested?

    --- Looking into enlisting an email blast campaign to hit demographic voters (especially RENTERS) who have been feeling tossed under the bus in favor of the square.

    Lastly, I want to mention that since money is fungible, it can be said that voters-taxpayers may be powerless in making sure funds go to a specific need (like housing). However, the most damning thing for City Council (at re-election time) may foretell that some; perhaps small or large factions of voters do hold perception that earmarked taxes are supposed to be used as advertised. When that perception feels betrayed, for example that Courthouse Square may be more important than housing, OR any other city improvement that they personally hold dear... then the disenfranchisement begins!

    So it can be said that people have lots of different places where they want their taxpayer money to be allocated. That's a good thing, as there is a need for conflict to push-pull in order to get things done. A phrase I coined years ago:

    "Conflict is society's check and balance system" --- Jennifer Coleman 2000


    For Shandi: Oh boy your last paragraph really said it! One silver lining though, is that the Russian River Brew "beer release" line was a great place for Norma, the tree petitioner to collect low hanging fruit (signatures from beer patrons). I was down at Courthouse Square (park) last Saturday for a strategy meeting and told Norma about the hundreds of people standing in line. She must have garnered at least 100 signatures within one hour.

    Thank you for your support! ~ Jennifer
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-11-2016 at 01:44 PM.
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  35. TopTop #48
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Full steam ahead for the "SMART TRAIN of Santa Rosa Voters (beer drinkers)" that didn't realize what a perfect position they were in to hear about the decision by Santa Rosa City Council to spend their tax money on the Courthouse Square project, without even a nod to any objections voiced. Thank you, Russian River Brewery!! And "Thank you, Norma" Jennifer, I don't know who the others are on your team, but I want them to know that I appreciate their willingness to support your selfless efforts and dedication in getting to the bottom of this disregard and disrespect from Santa Rosa City Council members for Santa Rosa citizens by freely deciding to spend their tax money without taking any objections into consideration. (excuse the run on sentence)

    I wonder how many even knew about this. I wouldn't have known if not for the original post on Wacco. Although I'm not a Santa Rosa resident, I'm behind you and your support team all the way, in whatever way.


    P.S. Message to dissenters: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but insults and put downs never reach home, (with me).

    Quote Jennifer Novascone wrote: View Post
    Hello Shandi,

    My comments to you at bottom of post, as I want to make sure WACCOBB readers don't miss the update. You are my last for comment... BUT not least. :-)...
    Last edited by Barry; 02-11-2016 at 09:50 AM.
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  37. TopTop #49
    Eden Man's Avatar
    Eden Man
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Here is what I sent to the City Council on January 26.

    We might want to come up with our own Plan, with a Good Name, like the Good Plan, to counter the existing dead end plan, which is too small to feed anything, but the morgue.

    And that Good Plan would be to shut down 4th street, to all traffic, 365 days a year, from the Library, right on down to the Mall, to all motorized vehicle traffic.

    No Cars. No Trucks on that Street, and No Cars and Trucks on the side streets, or to access the Library basement delivery area. That can all be shut down, and built over. They do not need that. And they should never have built that. That is what needs to be ripped out, or paved over.

    We are looking at 6 Big Blocks, count em 6, along with 31/2 or 4 Big Parking Lots, which can all be Accessed, for deliveries,from those existing 3rd Street and 5th street Parking Lots, which could be used, as Delivery Zones, with some Manual Carting About, to be sure. But that is good exercise.

    Let us put this Good Plan forward, which we can all get excited about, instead of picking at what is so little, which is too much like woodpeckers looking for bugs. Give me a Break. It is not just about the Redwoods.

    This is the Good Plan we want to put forwards. The Good Plan has been tried in other places, like in Germany, where the business people put up a lot of resistance.

    They fought for their lives. And then it went through. And then it was so successful, because there was so much foot traffic, that they were thrilled about the final results, and everyone was happy, because it revitalized that town.

    Yes, we do have an alleyway, for pedestrians, but we are not talking about shoving the kind and loving people down into some alleyway.

    We need to take back the Streets. And we can do this with an Integrated Plan. The Good Plan. One that is Human Scale.

    The other plan to de-humanize our town will just have to be given the Axe, along with that awful subterranean delivery area at the Library, which is only a good place to find a dead body laying around. - T


    Noceti, Catherine Good Morning, Thank you for taking the time to express your thoughts with the City Council.
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  39. TopTop #50
    Jennifer Novascone's Avatar
    Jennifer Novascone
     

    Re: COURTHOUSE SQUARE: Does Anyone Know Jen Schallert Cox, Author of the RENT CONTROL Peti

    Hello everyone,

    Below is a NEW and much better explained opposition to the funding scheme of Courthouse Square. We hope that some of you in support of the Reunification might have a second look at this posting, which speaks to the questionable manner of financing the square project.

    Thank you for your support!

    REGISTERED VOTERS of SANTA ROSA

    It's NOT TOO LATE!
    STOP the Questionable FINANCE Scheme of Courthouse Square!

    Tell City Council you OPPOSE the funding of the Courthouse Square Reunification Project until they hire an INDEPENDENT consultancy firm to perform a financial feasibility study. CITY TAXPAYERS deserve to know if this project is a sound investment before breaking ground!

    WHAT VOTERS DON'T KNOW MAY HARM THEM WITH TAX IMPLICATIONS

    City Council has FAST-TRACKED this project. They have under-reported vast public-survey opposition to the Square. They are considering a finance scheme that requires NO VOTE, but has tax consequences to TAXPAYERS, called "Certificates of Participation." COPs are a way to finance projects, which make it look like TAXPAYERS are not paying—BUT really are.

    Our goal is to slow PHASE II of City Council's final decision to FUND this project in order for VOTERS to participate in decision-making over use of COPs which BLOCK our vote! If the reunification of Courthouse Square is such a benefit for citizens, then why not put it to a VOTE? Either way TAXPAYERS will fund this project, so why is City Council considering COPs?

    ADDITIONAL POINTS OF PROTEST

    · Contest Courthouse Square Plan Design, as City Council ignored the overwhelming opposition expressed by citizens in the public survey to the removal of mature Heritage Redwood trees.

    · Advocate that $10 million dollars would be better spent to alleviate human suffering resulting from Santa Rosa's critical housing shortage and skyrocketing rents.

    TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

    COPs are a method of leveraging public assets & borrowing all or a portion of the value of a public agency’s equity in those assets in order to finance other assets, LIKE COURTHOUSE SQUARE. Taxpayers pay through the city as an off-the-books type of bond and/or lease-back of a city asset, LIKE CITY HALL. Taxpayers may pay $670,000 per year COP's X 30 years = $20 MILLION or more.
    Last edited by Barry; 02-13-2016 at 04:04 PM.
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  41. TopTop #51
    Roberta Llewellyn's Avatar
    Roberta Llewellyn
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Yes, protest the money expenditures for trashing the square and removing the sacred redwood tree's...tree's are much more significant than parking spaces and parking can be achieved other ways...great idea to close off the square from Fourth Street around...the money spent on this project for parking spaces needs to be allocated for affordable housing and this is a serious issue and will become even more serious if it is not addressed. Save the tree's and save families from homelessness!
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  43. TopTop #52
    prowess88's Avatar
    prowess88
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Let's find out exactly what day and tie ourselves at least 1 or more to each tree and refuse to budge. That will make it a news worthy protest!

    Quote Jennifer Novascone wrote: View Post
    ...Trees will be slated to be cut ASAP. I'm sure the City is being tight lipped about the exact day of cutting to prevent public protest...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-15-2016 at 12:21 PM.
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  45. TopTop #53
    Glia's Avatar
    Glia
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    what would get their attention -- and buy some time to stall this car-centric plan is a lawsuit.
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-15-2016 at 12:21 PM.
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  47. TopTop #54
    Jennifer Novascone's Avatar
    Jennifer Novascone
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Hey there!

    Yep. So far, no cutting for Monday. Since we don't trust the City to let the public know, we call another person who has tabs on the situation. If we hear any news, then we will be certain to post here and everywhere.

    Ya know. In the WORST of situations I just would like to think that City Council would have the common sense to test this $10 million turned $20 million project (after interest) with a financial feasibility study. Is that too much to ask? If Courthouse Square is such a benefit, then why not ask the citizens to put it to a vote? Either way Santa Rosans will pay for this project through the "general fund" of the proposed "certificates of participation".

    Debt is debt. This time it is just a matter of calling it something else so it doesn't smell like debt. BTW: COP's have been called "tax exempt" and that makes voters think they aren't going to be "taxed", which is semantics and misleading if not clarified. So "tax-exempt" in this case really means that the COP's are tax exempt to the investors who purchase the COP from an Intermediary who works with a Trustee that holds the lease to the City asset. CONFUSING ehhh? And I probably still have no idea. LOL. So anyone who wants to straighten me out on this, please do so nicely okay?

    moving on though...

    The $10 million dollar proposed Courthouse Square debt is just renamed something else called a "lease-back". Hence, the term lease-back is put into a different accounting column which still has the citizens paying as if they were taxed. COP's are used when a local government knows it CAN'T GET THE VOTE for TAXATION. So just think of yourselves as unwitting participants of a new tax MINUS the referendum! Heck if we have no choice in the matter, at least let us know if the project is destined to fail or succeed by showing the voters a FINANCIAL FEASIBILITY STUDY. Doesn't that last sentence sound so bizarre to even have to say to our trusted officials?

    CERTIFICATES OF PARTICIPATION DEFINED as Proposed by Santa Rosa

    COPs are a method of leveraging public assets (like Santa Rosa City Hall) & borrowing all or a portion of the value of a public agency’s equity in those assets in order to finance other assets, LIKE the Reunification of COURTHOUSE SQUARE as reported in the Press Democrat. Taxpayers pay through the city General Fund as an off-the-books (non voter approved tax) dressed as a lease-back of a city asset, LIKE CITY HALL. Taxpayers may pay $670,000 per year COP's X 30 years = $20 MILLION or more. SOURCE PRESS DEMOCRAT https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/4...alk?artslide=0

    Take care and please stay tuned as we prepare for the upcoming City Council meeting to OPPOSE the funding scheme. WE NEED ANYONE WHO WANTS TO ATTEND to let us know by sending a private reply to Jennifer Novascone with a phone number if possible. This makes for much easier organizing.

    AND... this should go without saying. WE WILL NOT share names or phone numbers of those who simply want to connect with us at City Council meetings in a show of solidarity. If there are some of you want to participate in any way, but cannot be seen at City Council, well, we get that too.

    This is just a little ole grass roots effort that we believe will take off and slow things down long enough for citizens to wake up and smell the fear. This is our goal. Not too lofty, but definitely REALISTIC to coddle the notion and grow it to a critical mass... and then to a quantum shift!

    More to come on that in another commentary. Thank you for your support!
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-15-2016 at 12:22 PM.
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  49. TopTop #55
    Jennifer Novascone's Avatar
    Jennifer Novascone
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    THANK YOU for this inspiration!

    We have word from a legal source to confirm what others have been saying: the City does not have its tree cutting permits as of yet. We are told that if tree cutting begins on the Heritage Redwood trees, or any trees at the square, that the arborist must show permits to anyone who asks. Most of all, we can hope that the mitigation measures to work around bird nesting will kick in high gear and become too onerous for the City to work around Mother Nature. It's for the birds! This will buy us much needed time to oppose the plan on other points of finance that are still in discretionary stages. OPPOSE, OPPOSE, OPPOSE.

    THOSE WHO OPPOSE PLEASE SHOW @ City Council meeting on February 23, 2016 between 5 and 8 PM. We need Santa Rosa voters in bodily presence and/or vocal presence to give commentary of opposition. Any of you reading this who reside AND are registered to vote in Santa Rosa, please send your RSVP to attend, and we will send you a reminder Peaceful Protest flyer and "opposition letter" for you to bring to the meeting.

    OUR NEW EMAIL ADDRESS IS: [email protected]


    Also, we have some people on the square who will keep us posted on what activity takes place regarding tree cutting, so we citizens can mobilize to protest. We need all the media coverage we can get, so we can continue opposing the square on other matters, as in lack of financial feasibility study for the $10 million dollar reunification of the square, and the use of certificates of participation as a form of no vote taxation to fund courthouse Square. Please keep in mind that the city could just as easily ask voters to pass a tax, which would cost MUCH less in interest than using COP's. However, COP's are known to be used mostly when city governments KNOW THEY CANNOT GET a public VOTE to pass a tax. So they are allowed to pass this $10 million dollar high interest expenditure without our vote!

    Thank you for your support!
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-16-2016 at 02:07 PM.
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  50. Gratitude expressed by 3 members:

  51. TopTop #56
    Jennifer Novascone's Avatar
    Jennifer Novascone
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Strategies for Santa Rosa Voters and Taxpayers to SLOW DOWN CITY COUNCIL FROM PASSING Courthouse Square:

    We welcome anyone with a long attention span to learn. Really, this is NOT HARD AT ALL. It's quite a series of simple concepts.

    ON THE TREE END OF THINGS:


    1. Making sure trees are not cut during nesting season. If they are, then the City's Mitigation Plan must be used to prevent damage, injury or death to the birds. Lets hope that stops them.

    2. Making sure arborists have tree cutting permits by asking on site. If not, we shut em down!

    3. Pending CEQA and EIR conflicts and pending lawsuits that have been filed regarding Heritgae Tree protection, and the Courthouse Square being deemed a "park". (but these take time). DO NOT let that give us pause for thinking anything is under control. Because it's DEFINITELY NOT.

    ON THE CITY FINANCE END OF THINGS:

    1. Sheer opposition at the meetings with letters of opposition. Voters must BELIEVE IN THEIR POWER and barrage the heck out of City Council with email and letters of opposition to the funding scheme and the tree removal.

    1.a. We're enlisting the help of the "California Debt Advisory Commission", aka CDAC to point out and perhaps facilitate guidelines to City Council by "soliciting public participation". Because its the ethical thing to do. See pages 41 to 50 for an eye opener.

    1.b. Asking for help from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association on the question of "Certificates of Participation", COP's and guidelines for local government. There are laws to propose change here. In that ANY TYPE OF LONG TERM INDEBTEDNESS must be put to public vote.

    Then within those letters of opposition we must demand:

    2. To INVOKE the City Charter to find any places we can assert pressure.

    For example, the City Charter has an "Annual Budget Review: SEE CHARTER ITEM # 28.

    PER COP GUIDELINES BELOW: we're checking [if] City Council must report on its budget in this manner: Of course, we will want to confirm if City Council can bypass reporting of COP financing this year... and save the reporting for next year when its too late for voters to oppose.

    Below is a great PRIMER for VOTERS to learn:


    A key characteristic of a tax-exempt lease that distinguishes it from bond indebtedness is a nonappropriation clause. The nonappropriation or fiscal funding clause means that payments of the lease are dependent upon an annual appropriation by the governing body. This differentiates the lease from indebtedness because with the nonappropriation provision, the present-year government’s action does not bind succeeding ones to pay the obligation. However, the non-debt classification of lease-purchase financing does not eliminate the need to fund lease payment expenditures nor does it eliminate the responsibility of the government to disclose the obligation in its financial statements.

    COPs Procedure

    The general procedure for issuance of a COP is as follows:

    The County (or in this case city) identifies the leaseable asset, the purpose for incurring debt and the amount of debt to be incurred.
    The County leases or transfers the leaseable asset to a Lessor.
    The Lessor leases the asset back to the County.
    The Lessor’s right to receive lease payments are transferred to a Trustee.
    The Trustee executes Certificates of Participation which are sold to members of the public.

    All of the steps in the leaseback arrangement are performed together giving the appearance of one seamless transaction.
    (but they actually take some time, as in four months or so) .

    3. To be a part of pubic hearings held on this controversy with the funding scheme, as a specific finance plan has not been finalized. We need to find appendices to our city, if any that would tell us under what circumstance can voters and taxpayers request a public hearing. As an example, the link above relates to Seattle, Washington and surrounding "counties".

    4. To be a part of public study sessions regarding discussion of the fiance schemes.

    THEN as public hearing and study sessions are taking place:


    5. To demand that a public survey take place, JUST AS THE CITY afforded the public survey for the aesthetics of the Courthouse Square design plan. So WHY NOT for the finance scheme survey?

    6. To demand a financial feasibility study on the square to determine if its a sound investment of taxpayer dollars.

    7. To demand that a public vote take place to either approve tax by vote or by COP's

    Definition of Certificates of Participation (COPs):

    a method of leveraging public assets and borrowing all or a portion of the value of a public agency's equity in those assets, like CITY HALL in order to finance other assets, like COURTHOUSE SQUARE. Borrowing equity in CITY HALL by way of Certificates of Participation is paid by taxpayers through the city's General Fund at a higher interest rate then a VOTER APPROVED TAX. This finance scheme is as an off-the-books AND a NO VOTE type of taxation. "A $10 million project, if fully funded with such certificates, would cost the city’s general fund about $670,000 per year for 30 years, or a total of $20 million." Source: Press Democrat, Sept. 15, 2015.

    Thank you for your support!
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-16-2016 at 02:08 PM.
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  52. Gratitude expressed by 4 members:

  53. TopTop #57
    Shandi's Avatar
    Shandi
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    Jennifer,

    You continue to surpass my original views, admiration, and respect. My only hope is that enough Santa Rosa voters will see your dedication, the call to action, and then be willing to commit to discovering their power in the face of an authority rarely questioned. Let's get back to "Question Authority!" It still applies, and even more so now.

    Quote Jennifer Novascone wrote: View Post
    Strategies for Santa Rosa Voters and Taxpayers to SLOW DOWN CITY COUNCIL FROM PASSING Courthouse Square...
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-16-2016 at 02:46 PM.
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  54. Gratitude expressed by 4 members:

  55. TopTop #58
    Diane Darling's Avatar
    Diane Darling
     

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    I am so impressed by the good work being done on this issue. When I became aware of the City Council's misguided plan and attended a city council meeting, I was disgusted, insulted, discouraged and angry. I wrote my observations here and to all the local papers and felt that I would just avoid downtown SR while the massacre and installation (of a little piece of San Jose) was in progress. But you folks rise up and do the good work! The research offered here, the spirit of community, is most inspiring.

    I have a suggestion that would begin the process of reunifying the square without making any permanent changes that we will regret but be stuck with: just block off the street. Put some of those cement barriers they use during Wednesday Market across Santa Rosa Avenue. Cost: less than $100. Then deal with the traffic nightmare.

    A year later, having observed how the people utilize the space, design a park that we want. One that has play space, restrooms, shady seating, living ground cover, well managed trees, other plantings (food gardens?), both fountains intact, handicapped parking, dynamic art installation space, accommodations for farmer's markets, book fairs, rallies, parties.

    Or take down the barriers and restore traffic flow, if the rerouting turns out to be the disaster it promises to be. Local merchants are unhappy about their sales declining and have been offered fairy gold (44 parking spaces, controlled leisure space) in return for their support of the City Council's plan. In reality, people are not shopping because they can't. Those who can go to Napa, Sonoma, Marin shops.

    Will we get real on this matter? Stay tuned!

    Thanks for your work, folks. ~ Diane Darling
    Last edited by Bella Stolz; 02-16-2016 at 02:46 PM.
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  56. Gratitude expressed by 6 members:

  57. TopTop #59

    Re: Contesting the Approved Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Reunification

    THE TREECUTTERS ARE AT THE SQUARE. PLEASE COME TO THE SQUARE.

    (This is according to an e-mail I just got from someone in our group 11 minutes ago. I'm writing at 9:37am, Tuesday.)

    Janet
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  58. Gratitude expressed by 4 members:

  59. TopTop #60
    Jennifer Novascone's Avatar
    Jennifer Novascone
     

    UPDATE!!! Santa Rosa Courthouse Square Redwood TREES WILL BE CUT WEDNESDAY MORNING!!!

    The Trees are being CUT as of this Writing!!!


    PLEASE...

    If there's ONE thing you can do to show support, even if you are not a Santa Rosa resident, it would be to show up NOW.


    WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT at Santa Rosa Courthouse Square...
    downtown Santa Rosa at Fourth Street and Mendocino!!!



    Many thanks

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