Santa Rosa's District 7 is our home, but we also have significant challenges. From affordable housing to road conditions, it's up to us to find solutions and make sure our community is a place where everyone can prosper.
More Affordable Housing
While we have construction projects underway in Santa Rosa, we still face a shortage of housing that is affordable for working families. We can support local and nonprofit affordable housing builders with reduced fees and decreased barriers to deliver more housing as quickly as possible. I also want to work with local high schools and colleges to create apprenticeship programs for residents to learn a trade, become employed and increase the number of local construction workers. For renters, I want to educate landlords and tenants about tenants’ rights to improve communication and reduce disputes. We should explore current city-owned properties that can be used to create more affordable housing units, strategically placed in various parts of the city.
Our homeless population has grown in the past three years. The city has attempted multiple strategies but found little success. More must be done. I want to create a voluntary registry program to ensure that everyone is being provided services to support them with their individual needs, such as substance abuse and mental health. The city should provide safe places to park and camp without taking space away from other community members’ sense of safety or taking away recreational areas. These sites should be placed around the city and not be focused in specific areas like District 7. Shuffling our houseless residents from site to site is not working. I want to increase both individual and family shelters, including men with children.
Police Reform and Accountability
The city has a role to play in ending our police department's use of excessive force, insufficient accountability when complaints are made, not responding to residents with empathy, and a culture where some officers feel they are above the law. We should increase educational training to support police officers, and we need to shift funds into other mental health and community programs, to help reduce the burdens on officers. Increased diversity in our police force, to represent the population of the community, will also help. I want to audit current police calls, responses needed, mental health calls, call outcomes, and request input from community members regarding their satisfaction with the outcome of specific calls randomly. When officers overstep thier bounds, we should have a police oversight committee to review complaints against the police, with authority to enforce necessary actions to address issues immediately and decrease recurrences. This will not be easy or quick, which is why I will work with all agencies involved to build bridges among the police, community and civilian leadership to deliver 21st Century policing.
COVID Economic Recovery
With the loss of many small businesses due to COVID, we’re losing employees as well as sale tax revenue, which makes up 33% of the city’s annual budget. Small businesses are the backbone of our community and help make our city appealing to residents. I will have regular meetings to address concerns of small business owners and develop a cooperative and supportive atmosphere in District 7. We can also promote diversity in our businesses, providing mentorship and community resources to connect successful business owners with aspiring entrepreneurs. We can work with small business owners to remove obstacles to growth in zoning, permitting, and licensing.
The current condition of roads in District 7 is abysmal — they are outdated, mangled, dangerous, costly, and entirely unacceptable. Damaged sidewalks, missing bike lanes, and potholes are scattered throughout District 7. In order to keep both drivers and pedestrians safe, improvements and repairs need to be made. I will advocate for quality materials that last, continual maintenance of roads once improvements have been made, and more bike lanes and wider walkways for healthier alternative travel and recreation, especially during COVID.