Politics on Tap
The shape of the county Board of Supervisors may have taken a turn in the past few weeks, as Third District Supervisor Shirlee Zane seems to be settling down in favor of very modest restrictions of vacation rentals, which could be an indicator of her stance on curbing winery events and other activities that have been generating vocal concern in recent years.
The Fifth District race got more interesting with Efren Carrillo’s Jan. 27 announcement at the annual State of the County breakfast in Rohnert Park that he is not seeking re-election. Former state senator Noreen Evans had earlier announced her intentions to run for Carrillo’s West County seat. Candidates have to wait until Feb. 15 to formally file for the race with the county Registrar of Voters.
In the First District race, so far limited to incumbent Susan Gorin and returning challenger Gina Cuclis, the fundraising goes on, with Gorin recently announcing she’s gathered over $100,000 and expects to spend up to $200,000.
Money speaks in politics, and Gov. Brown’s first preliminary 2016-17 budget figures show $78.8 million will be set aside to begin closure of the Sonoma Developmental Center, with the expectation that the venerable home will be shuttered by 2018. Many people in the know say that 2018 is a target date, one that could be extended if it takes longer to find or build acceptable housing for the SDC’s approximately 450 extremely fragile residents.
Meanwhile, the county’s Open Space District is keeping a dialog going with the State’s Office of General Services that will be responsible for the disposition of the state’s property at SDC after current operations cease, according to Misti Arrias, who works for the District. The fact that the 900 acres of state land at Eldridge hasn’t been declared surplus is a positive sign, Arrias said. Local groups are hoping to save most of those open lands for state and local parks and for wildlife conservation.
Money is also at the heart of the ongoing struggles of rural residents to have the local roads brought back into at least minimal repair, and the news going forward isn’t good. The California Transportation Commission, which decides how state gasoline taxes are spent, cut more than three-quarters of a billion dollars out of the road repair funds available to counties for the next five years. That’s going to register at the county’s summer budget deliberations.