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Golis: For Santa Rosa, urgency, as defined

  • Sebastopol Road passes through the heart of Roseland. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

After the shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez, city and county officials promised to bring new urgency to efforts to annex the Roseland neighborhood to the city of Santa Rosa.

Last week, city officials announced that it would take four years and $1.4 million to complete the job.

So much for urgency. Four more years of talking won't do much to discourage the widespread impression that Santa Rosa leaders don't understand how rapidly their city is changing.

If you think city officials are moving at a glacial pace because that's how they do most things, you wouldn't be wrong. Urgency, as defined at Santa Rosa City Hall, has always seemed to have a different meaning than it does for other folks.

In the city's defense, there's nothing easy about pulling together the pieces of a successful annexation plan. Together, city and county officials will be obliged to work through tough issues, including:

• What specific areas will be annexed? Will the annexation include commercial areas that generate sales tax to help pay for the annexation?

• How will the neighborhood develop in future years?

• What will be the costs of improvements — sidewalks, streets, street lights — and of ongoing city services?

• Where will the money come from? And how will the costs be apportioned?

Along the way, Roseland voters must be persuaded to embrace an annexation plan. And Santa Rosa residents who don't live in Roseland must come to understand that annexation serves the long-term interests of the entire city. Since there will be costs associated with annexation, that won't be easy.

“That's one of the reasons it hasn't happened to date,” Mayor Scott Bartley told Staff Writer Kevin McCallum. “It has always collapsed under the weight of the task.”

Last week, city Community Development Director Chuck Regalia argued that annexation shouldn't proceed until Santa Rosa has the resources to provide Roseland public improvements and public services equal to every other neighborhood.

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