Personal background and what led you to serve on the Planning Commission?
[Dick] – I grew up in Boston and went to school in New England and upstate New York. I worked in the food business and that took me to Cincinnati, San Francisco, Fullerton, Wapakoneta (Ohio), and Minneapolis. I am married to a lovely lady from Marin County and we have three good kids and two really great grandchildren. My wife and I have lived in the City of Sonoma for 20+ years.
I serve on the Planning Commission because 1st District Supervisor Mike Cale called me one afternoon and said "…you are on the Planning Commission." Subsequent Supervisors Brown and Gorin have agreed so here I am.
Is the Planning Commission your first position of service to the community?
[Dick] – No. I originally was on the Sonoma County 2020 General Plan Development Committee working with Greg Carr. In earlier community service not in Sonoma County I have been an elected City Councilman, Planning Commission Chair; Fire Commissioner (my favorite job but they wouldn't let me ride in the fire trucks); and in several finance positions. In business I had lobbying responsibilities in Washington D.C. and one of the highlights was being thrown out of Senator Ted Kennedy's office.
Highlights of working on the Permit Sonoma Planning Commission?
[Dick] – Lots of specific project highlights but overall it's been the caliber of both the PRMD staff and virtually all of the appointed Commission members. It's a lot of work but with Jennifer Barrett's strong leadership it's been fulfilling and sometimes fun.
20 years from now, how do you how do you envision Sonoma County?
[Dick] – Great question and critical issues that I worry about. My comments apply primarily to the 1st District, and in general to the full County. Our growth is inevitable but needs to be anticipated and planned for. I worry about housing, both the social impact of the new multi-million dollar homes in the community and, more importantly, the lack of housing for the "average Joe" and the family. The feeling of "Marinization" of the Sonoma Valley is palpable.
There will be increasing pressure to relax urban growth boundaries and develop into open space as the population grows and this pressure has already started. We need to closely work with the very important ag interests (including cannabis) to ensure their continued viability. Ag, open space, and preserving our natural and scenic resources are the critical test to determining the genuineness and living quality of our County.
We need local governments, a Board of Supervisors and a PRMD with determination, foresight and guts to plan now for the next 20 years. It won't be easy but with strong leadership we can do it. Leadership is the critical variable.
What is your favorite spot in Sonoma County?
[Dick] – Bodega Head. It reminds me of the Northern New England coast.