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Can Newsom build on pandemic lessons to end homelessness?

Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to address the homeless crisis by converting thousands more hotel rooms into housing for people who are homeless.

Two cyclists struck on High School Road

Two bicyclists, a 12-year-old boy and a middle-aged man, were riding along the right shoulder of High School Road when they were hit by a drunk driver, who then crashed his car into a tree.

Sonoma Water moves to reduce Russian River water usage by 20%

From Sonoma West Times & News

Local elected officials, agriculture groups and a slew of water experts from various organizations from Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties met virtually on May 10 for a drought summit to discuss mitigation measures, resources and solutions in response to the extreme drought emergency that the Russian River watershed and much of the state is facing.

WSCUHSD board to approve new vice principal, finalize layoffs

From Sonoma West Times & News

The West Sonoma County Union High School District board’s regular meeting at 6 p.m. on May 12 looks to be a busy one, with the board setting the seal on final layoffs and discussing the contract for a new vice principal for the consolidated high school.

Find out how you can help your community at Sebastopol’s first Community Needs Summit

Want to know what’s happening in the world of Sebastopol nonprofits and service clubs—who’s doing what, who needs what, and how to get involved? Then you need to be at the Sebastopol Community Needs Summit on Wed., May 12.

What happened at the Sebastopol City Council meeting on May 4?

In which the Sebastopol City Council bans fireworks, raises development fees, and encourages water conservation.

UPDATE: Red Flag Warning extended til Tuesday night

From Sonoma West Times & News

The National Weather Service Bay Area issued a Red Flag Warning for North Bay and East Bay hills, extending from late Friday night to Tuesday evening.

Over half of county’s eligible population now fully vaccinated, students now getting their turn

From Sonoma West Times & News

According to the most recent county vaccination data, as of May 5 the county has administered 467,642 of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. A total of 275,985 residents, about 67% of the eligible population, have received at least one dose. 204,615, or about 50% of the eligible population, have been fully vaccinated.

Former Sebastopol mayor pleads not guilty to child sexual assault charges

From Sonoma West Times & News

Former Sebastopol mayor Robert Jacob plead not guilty to 11 charges related to child sexual assault.

Burn permits suspended

The suspension of burn permits is happening earlier this year than it has in years past, signaling increased fire threat throughout the region.

A hedgerow for pollinators grows at the grange

Over the last year, grangers and local beekeepers have built a 630-foot hedgerow at the Sebastopol Grange to support local pollinators.

Arias selected as general manager of Ag + Open Space

From Sonoma West Times & News

In a statement released May 3, the board of directors of the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space) announced it will consider the appointment of Misti Arias as general manager during its May 11 meeting. Arias was selected following a national search and has served at Ag + Open […]

WSCUHSD board calls special meeting to discuss postponing rebranding

From Sonoma West Times & News

The West Sonoma County Union High School District board will discuss Superintendent Toni Beal’s request to consider postponing the campus rebranding of Analy High School and Laguna High School.

The end of the Elphick Road Plant Stand 

Kiyomi said she never got a whole lot of feedback from people about the stand, so the outpouring of sorrow, sympathy, and anger over the closure from people on Instagram, Facebook and Nextdoor was a bit of a shock. Happily, the anger wasn’t directed at her, but at the miscreants who were the immediate reason for the closure.

Bear spotted in south Sebastopol

The Sebastopol Police today confirmed what had rumored around town for a couple of days: a bear has been spotted in southern Sebastopol.

Sonoma County is updating its community wildfire protection plan and seeking community input

From Sonoma West Times & News

Fire Safe Sonoma is hosting a set of workshops in early May to solicit input on the update of the Sonoma County Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP), which was last updated in 2016.

Libraries open up – a bit

At the end of April, the Sonoma County Library began the slow process of reopening county libraries.  Eleven regional libraries, including Sebastopol and Guerneville, will open twice a day, for one-hour sessions, at less-than-normal capacity.

A grim fire season outlook and a parched county: ‘All of these ingredients are not in our favor’

From Sonoma West Times & News

This summer is shaping up to have all of the key ingredients of an early and dangerous fire season. Exceptionally dry brush coupled with severe to extreme drought conditions in Sonoma County has fire chiefs worried about the potential for large wildfires, especially along the ridgetops of the coastline where it’s unusually dry for this time of year.

Sebastopol City Council to consider prohibiting fireworks and reviving city life

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Sebastopol City Council will discuss reviving public life again at its upcoming meeting Tuesday, May 4 at 6 p.m. The meeting, held over Zoom, will also include a public hearing on an ordinance to prohibit fireworks and a resolution on water conservation measures.

Home Gardener Produce Exchange has big plans for the coming season

The Home Gardener Produce Exchange at the Sebastopol Grange is meant to both build community and cut food waste by sharing and trading the bounty of local home gardens. This year they’re asking local gardeners to grow an extra row of food crops to share, trade, or donate.

Rotary Sunrise’s silent auction for the Russian Riverkeepers Clean Team starts May 2

Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise is doing a silent auction from May 2 through May 16 to raise money for the Russian Riverkeepers’ Clean Team and their work keeping the Russian River and its tributaries clean and healthy.

High school district and El Mo supporters dispute the use of state and federal COVID funds

From Sonoma West Times & News

El Molino supporters have repeatedly claimed that incoming COVID-19 relief funds can be used to help prevent the high school merger of Analy and El Molino this fall. However, local education officials have disputed the claims, insisting that state and federal funds coming in for COVID-19 relief wouldn’t allow the district to use the funds to make up for non-COVID-related costs.

The wires may be there, but the dollars aren’t: Analysis shows why millions of California students lack broadband

Which kids have internet access follows a stark pattern: Across urban and rural areas alike, public schools with more students in poverty were far more likely to serve households that lacked a basic broadband connection at home in the months before school went online.

County proclaims local drought emergency, requests state and federal aid

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution on April 27 proclaiming a local drought emergency and requested Gov. Gavin Newsom to seek a presidential disaster declaration for the parched region.

County launches vegetation management project grant program

From Sonoma West Times & News

The County of Sonoma began soliciting grant applications for its vegetation management grant program, which will provide access to $2-4 million for local fire prevention for the 2021 wildfire season for eligible applicants, which include nonprofit and community organizations, fire departments and more. The funds are a result of the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) settlement awarded to the county as a result of the 2017 Sonoma Complex Fires lawsuit.

County to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccines

The county’s decision to resume using the one-dose vaccine reflects updated recommendations from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that recommend the use of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.

Council approves concept, future home for ‘Sebastopol Spire’

From Sonoma West Times & News

Local artist Ned Kahn has a clearer path forward for his art piece “Sebastopol Spire,” which is being commissioned by the city of Sebastopol. After going back to the drawing board to find a different site for the piece following a February council meeting, the Sebastopol City Council unanimously approved both the concept and future site […]

El Molino alums hold weekend protest against WSCUHSD consolidation

From Sonoma West Times & News

A small band of El Molino High School community members protested the school’s consolidation with Analy High School late Saturday morning in the downtown Sebastopol area Saturday, April 24.

What’s the basis of El Mo supporters’ lawsuit against WSCUHSD?

From Sonoma West Times & News

An in-depth explanation of the suit by El Molino supporters against the West Sonoma County Union High School District.

Long-awaited Suffragist Exhibit opens to the public at the West Sonoma County Museum

The West County Museum was all set to open their Suffragist Exhibit in March 2020, when the world shut down for more than a year for COVID-19. Like everything else, the museum closed its doors, and for the past year, the exhibit has stood draped and unvisited behind the museum’s stone walls, perfectly preserved, like sleeping beauty’s castle. Last weekend, the drapes came off and the doors opened, and the museum welcomed its first physical visitors to the Suffragist Exhibit, which was curated by longtime museum volunteer Mary Dodgion.  

Peacetown volunteers and Analy students clean up the Peace Garden for Earth Day

What did you do for Earth Day? Jim Corbett of Peacetown, along with four students from Analy and other volunteers took the day to weed and beautify the Peace Garden next to the Sebastopol Community Center annex.

Don’t miss the Trees Exhibit at Sebastopol Center for the Arts

Looking for something soothing to do on this rainy Sunday? Mosey on over (virtually, of course) the Sebastopol Center for the Arts’ Tree exhibit. 

PG&E conducting aerial patrols starting Monday

From Sonoma West Times & News

Beginning Monday, April 26, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will be conducting aerial patrols of gas transmission pipelines in the North Bay. Residents may notice a helicopter flying as low as 300 to 500 feet, or a fixed-wing aircraft following the transmission lines in Sonoma County.

Governor declares drought emergency in Sonoma and Mendocino counties

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on April 21 declared a drought emergency for parched water systems along the Russian River watershed that serve hundreds of thousands of Californians in two counties.

Lawsuit filed against WSCUHSD over closure of El Molino High School

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Community Alliance for Responsible Education (CARE) has filed a lawsuit against the West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) with the Sonoma County Superior Court over the board’s March 10 vote to consolidate Analy High School and El Molino High School into one school.

Former Sebastopol mayor arrested for sex crimes gets pre-trial release

From Sonoma West Times & News

Conditions of his pre-trial release include wearing a GPS-monitoring device, having zero contact with minors, and turning all his electronic devices over to law enforcement for review.

County’s cannabis update may be headed for a detour

From Sonoma West Times & News

Narrow planning commissioners vote calls for a more comprehensive environmental impact study

What happened at the Sebastopol City Council Meeting on April 20?

In which the city council approves a new site for a new piece of public art, learns about the limits of its power over housing developers, gets the scoop on all city services, and sends a letter of support to the Windsor City Council in its efforts to oust Dominic Foppoli.

WSCUHSD chief business officer resigns

A sudden resignation adds fuel to an already fraught moment in the history of the high school district.

Map Your Neighborhood looks ahead to a dangerous fire season

With wildfire season approaching during a drought year, emergency planning with your neighbors has never been more important. Map Your Neighborhood can help.

Free evacuation tags available

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department is giving away evacuation tags to residents living in unincorporated Sonoma County and their contract cities, Sonoma and Windsor. Evacuation tags are a new tool to help first responders more quickly ensure that neighborhoods are evacuated during a disaster.

Youth protest in Sebastopol against Daunte Wright’s killing

From Sonoma West Times & News

Roughly 20 people gathered in front of the Westamerica Bank at the intersection of Main Street and Bodega Avenue late Friday afternoon, April 16, in Sebastopol. They gathered to protest the killing of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in Minnesota.

Sebastopol Business Round-Up: What’s new in town?

Now that things are opening up again, we thought we’d take a look around and see what’s new in the local business community. New businesses include Homebody Refill, The Vitality Center, Wineworks, Farmer’s Insurance. Some other local businesses have made big changes, and some, alas, have closed.

Sebastopol City Council Preview

At the April 20 meeting of the Sebastopol City Council, the council will hear a presentation on new state housing laws, consider the placement of a new piece of public art by Ned Kahn and hear the annual Level of Service report (an exhaustive review of the status of General Plan elements and city services). They will also consider a statement requesting the resignation of Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli.

Unofficial Apple Blossom Parade takes to the streets

From Sonoma West Times & News

There was a small, unofficial Apple Blossom Parade today in downtown Sebastopol by folks who just couldn’t bear to skip the parade another year.

Synopsis of the April 6 Sebastopol Council Meeting 

In which the Sebastopol City Council takes a stand against anti-Asian violence and fireworks — and in favor of giving CoMission more money.

Sebastopol City Council approves $20,000 for CoMission ahead of summit

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Sebastopol City Council approved an amendment to the city budget to give CoMission, the city’s community vitality contractor,  an additional $20,000 to fund its work through June 30.

Ferdinandson selected to head consolidated WSCUHSD high school

From Sonoma West Times & News

Current Analy High School Principal Shauna Ferdinandson was selected to head the high school that will be formed as a result of the consolidation of Analy and El Molino High School this fall.

Sonoma County offices to reopen for in-person service on April 19

Most Sonoma County government offices will reopen for limited walk-up service starting on Monday,  April 19.

Past Sebastopol mayor held on 11 child sexual assault felony charges

From Sonoma West Times & News

Former Sebastopol mayor Robert Jacob now faces 11 felony charges of child sexual assault, up from five since city police arrested him Saturday morning.

Sonoma County doctors dispel COVID vaccine myths following pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine

The North Bay — Sonoma, Marin and Napa Counties — region has the highest vaccine hesitancy rate of the entire Bay Area at 23%, according to a recent vaccine hesitancy survey conducted by the Bay Area Council. About 57% of those polled said they have not been vaccinated and 21% said they “definitely or probably” won’t get vaccinated.

Analy welcomes second cohort back, Laguna students return for day two

From Sonoma West Times & News

Balloons bunched together like white and blue grapes formed an arch above Analy High School’s front gates to welcome its second cohort of students on their first day back in class on Tuesday morning, April 13. Nearby on Taft Street, Laguna High welcomed back its one cohort of students returning to campus for their second day under the hybrid model of in-person and distance education.

County halts Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution

From Sonoma West Times & News

“At the recommendation of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the CDC and the California Department of Public Health, Sonoma County has paused further allocation and use of the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) COVID-19 vaccine while its safety is reviewed by federal authorities,” said Dr. Urmila Shende, the county’s vaccine chief.

UPDATE: Fatal collision involved alcohol

From Sonoma West Times & News

The crashes involved three vehicles and the two surviving drivers “were found to be under the influence” and arrested while an investigation seeks to determine whether the deceased driver was also intoxicated.

Unwelcome and tough to evict: California’s costly, uphill battle against invasive species

It’s nothing less than an invasion. Interlopers are coming into California by land, by sea … and by FedEx.

Help choose the library’s new mascot

Who should be Sonoma County Library’s mascot? Choose the critter that you think would best represent the library and help them promote library services and literacy!

WSCUHSD board to vote on new principal for consolidated high school

From Sonoma West Times & News

At this week’s school board meeting, the high school district will reveal the name of the candidate who has accepted the principal position for the consolidated high school. El Mo supporters were disappointed (though not surprised) to see that the board’s agenda doesn’t include a re-vote on consolidation.

Students return to El Molino for what may be the final semester in Forestville

From Sonoma West Times & News

As West Sonoma County Union High School District shifts to a hybrid learning model, students stepped foot on campus at Analy and El Molino high schools to attend in-person classes for the first time this school year.

Police arrest former Sebastopol mayor Robert Jacob on suspicion of sexual assault on a minor

Sebastopol police officers arrested Robert Jacob, the city’s former mayor, on suspicion of five felony and one misdemeanor sexual assault crimes against a minor.

PRIMARY SOURCES: A tale of two letters

The West Sonoma County Union High School District sent the following letter to several news organizations and its feeder school districts, explaining the reasons it decided to consolidate Analy and El Molino high schools. A group opposed to the consolidation, the Community Alliance for Responsible Rural Education, wrote a detailed letter in response. Here are their two letters.

Jam’s Joy Bungalow declares ‘Free Food April’ for those who can’t pay

Jamilah Nixon, the owner of Jam’s Joy Bungalow, has declared “Free Food April,” offering to provide a delicious meal to those who can’t afford to pay (no questions asked) during the whole month of April.

Have the swallows at the Community Center Annex recovered?

You might recall a story published in Sonoma West two years ago about the destruction of a barn swallow colony on the Community Center Annex building down on Morris Street. If you’ve been wondering whether the colony ever recovered, here’s some good news from Veronica Bowers of Native Songbird Care & Conservation.

‘Do not get complacent’: County celebrates orange tier, looks ahead to yellow

As Sonoma County inches into the orange tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy and more parts of Sonoma County’s economy open up, local officials are continuing to urge caution and promote the continued use of masks and social distancing. In a county briefing on April 7 about COVID-19, Fifth District Supervisor and […]

UPDATE: Dozens rally for a revote against consolidation

From Sonoma West Times & News

Roughly 50 members of the West Sonoma County Union High School District community assembled in front of the district office in Sebastopol Thursday afternoon, April 8 at 3 p.m. for a “United Rally to Revote” demonstration, urging for the district board of trustees to revote against consolidating Analy and El Molino high schools.

Vaccine passports in California? Answers to your questions

Now that more than 7.5 million Californians have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Newsom administration has set a goal of reopening the state’s economy by June 15. So what does the state plan to do when it comes to proving that people are vaccinated?

Hunter Valencia is Sebastopol’s next Local Who Makes a Difference honoree

The newest Locals Who Make a Difference honoree, Hunter Valencia, is a devoted community volunteer — and the son of outgoing Local Who Makes a Difference Elizabeth Smith.

County moves to orange tier

From Sonoma West Times & News

The state of California announced on April 6 that Sonoma County is once again switching tiers in the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy framework, shifting from the red tier to the less restrictive orange tier. Revised guidelines associated with the orange tier are effective at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7.

Laguna Farm lives on despite closing CSA program and move from Cooper Road

From Sonoma West Times & News

Laguna Farm has ended its community-supported agriculture (CSA) program and farmstand on Cooper Road in Sebastopol, but the farm lives on, according to former co-owners Jennifer Branham and Ignacio Romero.

California sets June 15 goal for full reopening

Reopening by then will largely depend on two criteria: Vaccine supply must be sufficient for anyone 16 and older who wants a shot and hospitalization rates must remain low and stable. The mask mandate would remain in place, however.

Despite creeping case numbers, county poised to hit orange tier this week

From Sonoma West Times & News

It was mostly good news this week in the county’s April 5 COVID-19 briefing: vaccination allocations are about to increase, and the county is poised to slip into the orange tier. However, there are still a few points of concern going forward, primarily the slight rise in case rates for the first time in weeks.

WSCUHSD approves COVID-19 Safety Plans to reopen in hybrid model in mid-April

From Sonoma West Times & News

On March 30, the West Sonoma County Union High School District board approved the COVID-19 Safety Plans (CSPs) required for each of the district’s three schools to reopen in a hybrid model in less than two weeks. The trustees also authorized facilities director Jennie Bruneman to purchase roughly 450 laptops for the incoming freshmen this fall to use for their four years in the district.

Two dead in Bodega Head crash over cliff

From Sonoma West Times & News

A driver and passenger from Dublin were found dead after reportedly driving a Toyota over the cliff at the West Bodega Head parking lot into the rocks about 100 feet below

Sebastopol City Council Preview

From Sonoma West Times & News

At the next Sebastopol City Council meeting, scheduled for April 6, the council will be discussing fireworks, increased funding for CoMission and will be discussing whether or not to establish a committee to review city financial policies as they pertain to Community Benefit Grants and sponsorships.

Finally some good news for California nursing home residents

After a devastating sweep that killed more than 9,000 residents and workers, COVID-19 has nearly disappeared from California’s nursing homes.

Recall effort on the rise against WSCUHSD trustees who voted for consolidation

From Sonoma West Times & News

An effort is underway to recall the three trustees of the West Sonoma County Union High School District board who voted on March 10 to approve a plan involving the potential consolidation of Analy and El Molino high schools.

Planning commission hosts Innovative Housing series

The Sebastopol Planning Commission will be hosting a series of presentations on innovative housing models in the Spring of 2021, as the city explores how to increase its stock of affordable housing.

UPDATE: El Molino Lions win the 56th Golden Apple Bowl

From Sonoma West Times & News

The best high school football rivalry in Sonoma County will be renewed tonight, Friday, April 2, in what could be the final meeting between teams.

Graton Day Labor Center launches campaign to lobby for just immigration reform

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Immigrant and Indigenous Women’s Coalition of Sonoma County and the ALMAS/Graton Day Labor Center commemorated César Chávez Day on March 31 by launching a local campaign to push Congress and President Joe Biden to pass a just path to citizenship legislation.

Kilgore discusses new role as Sebastopol police chief

From Sonoma West Times & News

Sworn in on the first day of March, Kilgore said he plans to oversee the department’s growth and collaboration with the Sebastopol community for the next 11 years at least.

J&J vaccine encounters glitch as state expands eligibility

Gov. Gavin Newsom said today that California will still receive safe shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after a nationwide batch was discarded because of a manufacturing problem. The news couldn’t have come at a worse time as California dramatically expands vaccine eligibility to people 50 and older starting today.

A missing 12-year-old girl from Sebastopol has been found

A missing 12-year-old girl from Sebastopol, who had reportedly run away from home, was found yesterday after two tense hours.

Forest activists seek more protections for ancient tree

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Guerneville Forest Coalition — a nonprofit group of Guerneville community members, business owners and landowners — is raising concern over a proposed 224-acre Timber Harvest Plan and logging operation in the Silver Grove area near the 2,000-year-old Clar Tree, an ancient redwood that is the tallest tree in Sonoma County.

Sebastopol-raised rapper J. Lately discusses new album and hip hop journey

From Sonoma West Times & News

Hip hop artist J. Lately lives in Oakland now, but experiences like growing up in Sebastopol and living on the road touring for months gave him a taste of the open space and freedom at the heart of his latest album.

County officials announce vaccine milestone, call for an increase in supply

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to the state on March 27, asking for an increase in vaccine allocations for the county. While county officials are emphasizing that county allocations of the vaccine have remained flat over the past month, it also announced this week that 25% of county residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and 45% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Sonoma County is on track to the orange tier but future vaccine allocations look low

From Sonoma West Times & News

Sonoma County is on course to move into the orange tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy by the next week or so if case rates continue to decline and if state efforts to vaccinate those in disadvantaged communities continue to increase, according to Sonoma County officials.

WSCUHSD board to consider approving COVID-19 Safety Plans

From Sonoma West Times & News

The West Sonoma County Union High School District board will consider approving COVID-19 Safety Plans for Analy, El Molino and Laguna high schools at its special board meeting Tuesday, March 30.

After marathon hearings, next county cannabis ordinance update vote is April 15

From Sonoma West Times & News

The marathon hearing sessions pitted members of the local cannabis industry seeking a more streamlined permit process against potential rural neighbors seeking larger property line setbacks and protections from odors, water use impacts and crime.

Sebastopol demonstration honors victims of anti-Asian violence

From Sonoma West Times & News

A small group of demonstrators with signs gathered on the corner of Main Street and Bodega Avenue in downtown Sebastopol at noon on March 28, to honor survivors and lives lost to recent and historic anti-Asian violence.

Easter Egg Hunt TO GO hasn’t even happened yet, but already it’s a smashing success

Organizers of the Sebastopol Family Easter Egg Hunt TO GO were originally planning to give out around 150 bags filled with Easter eggs, but said so many families registered for the free event that they’re going to do 100 extra bags.

Captain Mike Elson promoted to assistant fire chief

Sebastopol’s new assistant fire chief, Mike Elson, has been with the Sebastopol Fire Department for over 30 years.

The Mystical Positivist celebrates 10 years of exploring spiritual thought and practice

The long-running podcast and KOWS radio show is dedicated to taking a rationalist (though not materialist) approach to spiritual topics.

Bodega Bay Fire considers charging or curtailing services amid fiscal emergency

From Sonoma West Times & News

The district’s board of directors declared a state of fiscal emergency on March 11, after Measure B’s defeat in early March pulled down BBFPD’s intended financial bridge to consolidate with Sonoma County Fire District.

Supervisors allocate chunk of PG&E settlement funds for vegetation management

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors plans to spend between $2 million to $4 million in Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) settlement funds for vegetation management for fire protection in high risk areas and key ecosystems.

Drug overdose-related deaths rose during the pandemic

From Sonoma West Times & News

Greater than expected deaths occurred by drug overdose in both sexes in ages 18-34, 55-64 and 75+ and in African American, white, non-Hispanic and Latinx residents. Specifically, greater than expected deaths by overdose occurred in folks living in Rohnert Park, Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley.

County case rates continue to decline as orange tier possibilities draw closer

From Sonoma West Times & News

Sonoma County’s COVID-19 case rate and testing positivity rates continue to decline. The county may be able to move into the orange tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy within the next two to three weeks.

Could these bills help California build more affordable housing?

California housing is crowded, expensive and difficult to find, but if a package of bills proposed by prominent Senate Democrats becomes law, some cities could look very different a decade from now.

Senior Center readies for re-opening – and they’ve got a survey

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Sebastopol Area Senior Center is developing reopening plans and seeks input in a survey due April 5.

Sebastopol wins big in Bohemian’s “Best Ofs”

For such a little town, Sebastopol always wins big in the annual Best Of awards from the North Bay Bohemian. Here’s the list of Sebastopol winners.

Sebastopol Rotary Club awards community grants

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Rotary Club of Sebastopol has awarded over $15,000 to organizations serving western Sonoma County through 12 community grants.

Ag + Open Space awards $5.8 million for community open space projects

From Sonoma West Times & News

Sonoma County Ag + Open Space recommended funding of over $5.8 million for new recreational projects within or near urban areas throughout Sonoma County.

COVID-19 Rent Relief portal now open to both renters and landlords

Californians who have experienced a financial hardship because of the pandemic and who are most at-risk of eviction can now apply for the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program to help pay past due rent. The program is open to both renters and landlords.

Ninety-five percent of the area’s vineyard and wine production workers have been vaccinated

From Sonoma West Times & News

Nearly 8,000 of the area’s vineyard and wine production workers have been vaccinated through a joint effort between the Sonoma County Winegrowers, the Sonoma County Vintners, the Sonoma County Farm Bureau and local community health centers.

What’s going on with Woodmark Apartments?

From Sonoma West Times & News

Woodmark Apartment developers have requested permission to go through a streamlined approval process mandated by a new state law that fast-tracks affordable housing developments and allows them to bypass some local development approval hoops.

New waste regulations coming down the line

From Sonoma West Times & News

By 2025, SB1383 calls for a 75% reduction in the organic material disposed in landfills and an increase of 20% in the edible food recovered from sources such as restaurants and grocery stores.

Bite-sized Apple Fair being planned for summer

From Sonoma West Times & News

Since 1973, Farm Trails has been putting on its annual Gravenstein Apple Fair — until COVID-19 hit, that is, and the 2020 fair was canceled. Now, Farm Trails is planning to put on a one-day, “bite-sized” event on Aug. 14.

Faces of West County: Art Moura

From Sonoma West Times & News

Art Moura is the sort of guy who hasn’t met an old wooden table leg, or a broken ax handle, that he can’t make into a piece of art.

Synopsis of Sebastopol City Council Meeting of March 16, 2021

In which the council decides what to do with all those leftover suffrage flags and banners, how to change the planning commission and how much money to give the Gravenstein Apple Fair.

West County Trail reaches downtown Forestville

Sonoma County Regional Parks has completed and opened an extension to the regional West County Trail in downtown Forestville, officially linking the community to Graton, Sebastopol and Santa Rosa via a paved walking and biking path.

Get ready for ‘Bike to Wherever’ Day

The pandemic has changed everything, include Bike to Work Day. Now that so many folks are staying at home to work, the Bike to Work Day has been rechristened  ‘Bike to Wherever’ Day and the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition (SCBC) is putting the emphasis of this popular yearly event on National Bike Month. 

The Slow Cat treasure hunt is on!

Fun for local kids: Find stickers, mark their locations on a treasure map and win prizes.

Officials stress the importance of safety with school reopenings

From Sonoma West Times & News

As school districts across the county prepare to open their schools for in-person and hybrid learning, the county’s weekly COVID-19 discussion brought together a panel of health officials and teachers and school administrators to discuss school reopenings and the importance of keeping up with health guidelines.

Rising seas, worsening wildfires endanger California parks

Of all the existential threats California parks face — dwindling budgets, more visitors and costly, long-deferred maintenance — now comes a climate-driven conundrum: When is a park no longer a park? When its namesake trees disappear in a barrage of lightning strikes? When its very land is washed away by ever-rising seas?

WSCUHSD aims to hire new principal for Analy/El Mo combo

From Sonoma West Times & News

The West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) has yet to determine the new name, mascot and colors of the consolidated high school launching this fall, but the school may have its principal by April 14, according to Director of Human Resources Mia Del Prete at the March 16 special board meeting.

WSCUHSD to rebrand high school

From Sonoma West Times & News

The West Sonoma County Union High School District voted to move forward with rebranding the ElMo-Analy combo high school to create some sense of unity among former arch rivals.

Benedetti car wash is headed to Sebastopol Avenue

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Sebastopol City Council gave the hotly debated Benedetti car wash the greenlight after nearly three hours of discussion at its extended March 2 public hearing and deliberation. The owner had initially applied for permission to build the carwash back in 2019.

Annual Congressional Art Competition for high schoolers – Call for Submissions

From Sonoma West Times & News

Congressman Jared Huffman’s (D-San Rafael) office announced this week that the annual Congressional Art Competition has opened — the competition is open for digital submissions from high school students in the state’s Second Congressional District, which covers the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border. Entries are due by April 23.

City and County Set June 1 Deadline for Private Fire Debris Removal

The County of Sonoma and City of Santa Rosa have set June 1, 2021, as the deadline for completion of private cleanup of fire debris. The deadline pertains to all residential property owners in Sonoma County who had homes destroyed by the 2020 Walbridge, Meyers or Glass fires and submitted applications for the private debris […]

Sebastopol City Council to consider changes to planning commission and apple fair

From Sonoma West Times & News

The scope of the Sebastopol City Council’s March 16 meeting at 6 p.m. over Zoom reaches from a waste reduction Senate bill, potential changes to the Planning Commission’s composition to a request to sponsor a modified Gravenstein Apple Fair and a lot more.

WSCUHSD to consider rebranding for its high schools

From Sonoma West Times & News

The West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) board will convene for a special meeting March 16 at 6 p.m. over Zoom to address the question of identity that rises in the wake of its divided March 10 vote to consolidate Analy and El Molino High Schools, shifting student populations to different campuses this coming fall.

Sonoma County to move to red tier on March 14

From Sonoma West Times & News

After months of living in the state’s most stringent tier of the color-coded, four-tiered Blueprint for a Safer Economy, Sonoma County will finally get to move into the red tier at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, March 14.

Cannabis town halls sort out grower and neighbor differences

From Sonoma West Times & News

The critical differences of opinions between commercial cannabis growers and rural neighbors are beginning to come into focus as the county is hosting a series of virtual town hall meeting on its major updates to its Commercial Cannabis Cultivation Ordinance, first written in 2016 and updated almost annually since.

Analy and El Molino to consolidate, Laguna students to move to El Molino campus

From Sonoma West Times & News

It’s official. El Molino High School students will head to Analy High School this coming fall. The West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) board voted 3-2 to consolidate the schools during a meeting on March 10 in the face of an ongoing financial meltdown.

Depending on metrics, Sonoma County could move into the red tier next week

From Sonoma West Times & News

Sonoma County missed being a candidate for moving into the red tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy by 0.1%, according to Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chair Lynda Hopkins, and now county health officials say the county may be able to move into the red and out of the most restrictive purple tier by next week, depending on county metrics.

Sebastopol service clubs and nonprofits seeking to join forces

From Sonoma West Times & News

Groups like the local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, Masons, Lions and nonprofits typically have their own projects, fundraising campaigns and volunteer opportunities but seldom join forces in longer-term partnerships. That’s about to change.

Detectives seek leads on homicide in Camp Meeker

A suicide report turns into a homicide investigation in Camp Meeker.

Bidding wars and overblown fears: The curious case of the California exodus

A new report released Thursday by the California Policy Lab, a research arm of the University of California, found “no evidence of a pronounced exodus from the state,” nor data to suggest that large numbers of wealthy residents are leaving.

Sonoma Clean Power launches “Bike Electric” program

From Sonoma West Times & News

Sonoma Clean Power (SCP) is launching a new program focused on connecting income-qualified customers in need of clean, personal transportation with incentives for electric bicycles (eBikes).

High school district to consider hybrid model in April, potential merger in Fiscal Recovery Plan

From Sonoma West Times & News

The March 10 board meeting of the West Sonoma County Union High School District (WSCUHSD) offers a lot to digest, from possibly reopening for a hybrid learning model in April to including the potential consolidation of Analy and El Molino high schools onto one campus in the district’s Fiscal Recovery Plan.

Sebastopol council endorses Climate-Safe California Campaign goals

From Sonoma West Times & News

At the March 2 city council meeting, the city of Sebastopol united with 700 other agencies, nonprofits and elected officials to advocate for bolstering state action on climate change by passing a resolution to endorse the Climate-Safe California campaign’s goals.

Sebastopol’s mayor has had the same pet – a tortoise – for 56 years

When animal lovers say that having a pet is a lifetime commitment, they’re usually thinking 15 to 20 years for a dog or cat, maybe 30 years for a horse. Then there’s Sebastopol Mayor Una Glass who’s had her pet, Tommy the Tortoise, for 56 years and counting.

New challenges arise for educator vaccines

From Sonoma West Times & News

“As with so many things in the age of COVID-19, the vaccination rollout is complicated and subject to changes and setbacks. These delays are disappointing for all of us as we know that getting school employees vaccinated is a top priority in order to safely reopen our schools,” the letter from the Sonoma County Office of Education begins.

Measure B’s apparent defeat leaves BBFPD on the verge of layoffs

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Bodega Bay Fire Protection District (BBFPD) board went into closed session Friday afternoon, March 5, to find its footing after Measure B’s apparent defeat sent the district into what Assistant Fire Chief Steve Herzberg recently called a crisis point.

County to hold virtual town hall series on cannabis ordinance updates

From Sonoma West Times & News

The latest — and possibly greatest — Sonoma County land use battle is about to reengage when public hearings begin next week over the county’s proposed updates to its Commercial Cannabis Cultivation ordinance.

WSCUHSD’s first students return for reopened special education class

From Sonoma West Times & News

West county teacher Adam Alcorn welcomed back West Sonoma County Union High School District’s first student cohort, a Severely Handicapped Special Day Class, to return to campus for in-person instruction last week.

ELECTION UPDATE: Measures A and B defeated

The Sonoma County Registrar of Voters posted its most recent count of ballots for Measures A and B at 2:36 p.m. on Friday, March 5.  Although mail-in ballots delivered this week pushed the number of yes votes for both measures higher, it wasn’t enough in either case to reach the two-thirds majority required to pass.

Sonoma County draws closer to red tier as case rate continues to decline

From Sonoma West Times & News

The themes of the Sonoma County COVID-19 briefing on March 3 were staying in business in the time of COVID and when the county will get to the red tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

Mayor cuts the red ribbon on Libby Park’s new playground

Mayor Una Glass, Councilperson Sarah Gurney and other city officials were joined by representatives of Sebastopol’s two Rotary Clubs, Michael McGlothin and Dan Rasmus, to celebrate the official opening of Libby Park’s new playground.

Necker’s Notes is no more

Fans of the long-running city council round-up (and send-up) known as Necker’s Notes were saddened this week when correspondent John Necker sent a notice to his subscribers that he was hanging up his spurs.

Measure B still too close to call, but its chances of passing are slim

From Sonoma West Times & News

As of 10:55 p.m. on March 2 (the time of the last official count), 60.21% of voters supported Measure B, while 39.79% opposed the measure. Measure B needs a two-thirds majority to pass. There are still more than 2,500 votes to be counted, but Measure B would have to win an extraordinarily large percentage of those (around 80%) to win.

Measure A extremely unlikely to pass

From Sonoma West Times & News

Voters seem to have given the proposed West Sonoma County Union High School District parcel tax a simple majority, but not the two-thirds majority it needed to pass. While the election is not yet certified, it looks nearly impossible for the measure to pass, even as mail-in ballots continue to be counted.

Measures A and B likely to be defeated; high school consolidation seems inevitable

The results for Measures A and B are in, with all districts reporting, and it appears that both have gone down to defeat. Although both measures won a plurality of the votes, neither have reached the required two-thirds needed to pass.

Elizabeth Smith uses her early struggles to help families and children build resilience

Sebastopol’s current ‘Local Who Makes a Difference’ honoree is community service powerhouse, but the road she took to get here was long and hard.

California’s new COVID-19 vaccine system kicked off this week

As of yesterday, when Blue Shield took over distribution of vaccines in California, all counties in California are now playing by the same vaccination rule book. 

Sebastopol City Council Preview

From Sonoma West Times & News

At tonight’s meeting, the Sebastopol City Council will welcome the city’s new police chief, discuss a climate campaign proposal, and continue the extended public hearing on the proposed Benedetti car wash.

A look at both sides of Measure B, a TOT tax for west county

From Sonoma West Times & News

If a teacher, a firefighter and a hotel owner walked into a bar in west county, they’d have a lot to talk about concerning Measure B, a proposed 4% rise in the TOT tax for the region.

A look at both sides of Measure A, a $48 parcel tax for the high school district

From Sonoma West Times & News

West county voters will drive the destiny of a West Sonoma County Union High School District parcel tax in the fast-approaching March 2 special election. Measure A, proposing a $48 annual parcel tax for three years, is expected to capture $1.15 million a year for the district if two-thirds of the voters approve the levy.

OPINION: Measure B – West County Funds for West County’s Future

It is time for tourists to fairly contribute towards the impacts they have on West Sonoma County. The impacts from tourism have reached a tipping point, placing undue burden on our fire and emergency response system, and on the ability of our schools to prepare our future workforce. Measure B seeks to amend these two areas of impact from the tourism industry in a fair way, by adding a 4% tax to overnight stays, called a TOT tax, to fund emergency services and education.

OPINION: Measure B is bad policy and I won’t stand for it

For much of the last 11 months, I have had three of my four hospitality businesses closed. I’ve had to get creative to pay the bills, negotiate with landlords, apply for more loans. It’s nearly a year of dealing with COVID, the hardest year of my life … I can’t believe we are even considering an additional tax on hospitality which will only slow our recovery and hurt family-owned businesses like mine.

County creating redistricting commission

From Sonoma West Times & News

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors announced earlier this week that it’s establishing a 15-member commission to aid the supervisors in redrawing supervisorial district boundaries, once it receives results from the 2020 Census. Those who are interested in applying to join the commission, which is expected to start meeting in May, have until March 23 to fill out an application.

Celebrating 25 Years of ‘Poem for the Day’ with Larry Robinson

Larry Robinson has been providing a poem a day for readers in west county for 25 years. How does he choose? He said, “I try to find one that helps people to find some perspective and courage and heart in hard times.”