Santa Rosa, CA – February 4, 2019 – “Given all that Sonoma
County has endured in the wake of the horrific 2017 wildfires and the bitter aftermath;
the region is well on its road to recovery, and all credit goes to the goodwill
of its people – friends, neighbors and strangers – who joined together to put
others first above all else.”
That uplifting message was
delivered by the Chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, David
Rabbitt, during the 2019 State of Sonoma County on February 1st.
“The State of our county
is strong,” declared Board Chair David Rabbitt. “It’s strong because of the tenacity
and perseverance of its residents – residents who are quite literally rising
from the ashes to rebuild their homes and communities.”
Rabbitt delivered a
speech in which he said the 2017 wildfires provided a new way of doing business
differently and more efficiently for the County. He cited Permit Sonoma as one example of how the permitting process was
streamlined to shorten wait times for permit issuance from months to weeks, and
reduce fees by a third or more.
The County also took an unprecedented step of asking residents
to help identify vacant or underused land that could accommodate housing. Thanks
to those residents, 60 available land prospects were submitted that could
potentially result in openings for an additional 2,000 housing units.
Keynote speaker, Dr. Jerry Nickelsburg, a Senior Economist
at the UCLA Anderson Forecast, highlighted the importance of immediacy when tackling recovery.
“I looked at permits in
the nine months before the Tubbs fire and the same nine months of last year,
and there is a net increase of 1,765 permits. That is really moving fast,” said
Nickelsburg. “If you look at recoveries from wildfires throughout the west,
this is phenomenal.”
Bold new initiatives have
been introduced to further expand housing and parks, improve roads and transportation,
and the quality of water. These include:
the Renewal Enterprise District (RED) to allow the City and County to access funding
for housing through state and federal partners.
an additional $11.5 million to maintain the quality of regional and city parks through
the passage of Measure M by voters.
over $3.6 million for new park extensions, improvements, and public access.
investing in the resurfacing, paving and maintenance of our County roads.
in the SMART Larkspur rail extension, set to open Fall 2019, and obtaining full
funding for the segment linking the Sonoma County Airport and Windsor.
Lake Sonoma, our largest source of water, through the addition of a fire camera
a new helicopter to help law enforcement in their ability protect and save
lives in the face of danger.
Supervisor Rabbitt also
noted that Sonoma County must continue to move forward, facing challenges
head-on and collaboratively.
“When our County was
faced with adversity, hardships and tough times, we did not throw up our hands
in defeat. We came together, neighbor helped neighbor, stranger helped stranger
and began the hard work of rebuilding hand-in-hand. That is strength – That is
why we proudly say we are ‘Sonoma Strong!’”