Sunday Letters to the Editor

A national failure

EDITOR: The July 18 headline in The Press Democrat — “Total Failure of Policing in Texas” — should have read “Total Failure of Americans to Protect Our Children.” Yes, the police could have done more, but the real cause of these repeated school shootings is the easy access to semi-automatic weapons. Republicans plus a Democrat should be ashamed of allowing the sale of these weapons in our country. The shooting in Uvalde haunts me, the innocent children cowering in the classroom and their last moments filled with terror. Shame on all of us for not doing better to protect them.



Let the riders decide

EDITOR: I’m confused. The Joe Rodota trail is supposed to be closed, but there are people camping on it 24/7. Why can they be there but not the rest of the audience? People camping on the trail presumably come and go for food and supplies, some using bikes. But the rest of us can’t use it? When encampments appeared on Ninth Street and Sixth Street in Santa Rosa, those streets were not closed to the public.

Bert Whitaker, county park manager, said cyclists can use Sebastopol Road because there are bike lanes. There are fewer roads in Sonoma County that I would choose to ride on than the busy Sebastopol Road with its many business and school lanes. Also, to get to Sebastopol Road, cyclists must use Dutton Avenue, which has no bike lanes, or Stony Point Road, which is notoriously dangerous for bikes.

Let cyclists and pedestrians decide if they want to use the trail, rather than maintaining it for the exclusive use of a few people. If an encampment were to arise in Spring Lake Regional Park, would the park be closed to the public for the exclusive use of a few?



Endangering cyclists

EDITOR: The recent closure of the Joe Rodota Trail is yet another nail in the coffin for local cyclists. Those looking to leave Santa Rosa to explore eastern Sonoma County were cut off in 2020 by the closure of a small right-of-way from Channel Drive to Oakmont, forcing cyclists to navigate a dirt road built by residents of Oakmont or risk their fate on Highway 12.

Now, and similarly, with the Joe Rodota Trail closed, those looking to enjoy West County must put their love of biking ahead of their own safety by riding major highways with little or no shoulder.

Shame on local government officials elected in the hope that they make decisions that improve our lives (i.e. without endangering them).



Rethinking ballot measures

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: The Santa Rosa City Council is about to approve two actions that will create opportunities to continue leading our city toward democracy, inclusiveness, and equity. We refer to their preliminary decision to seek voter renewal of Measure O as currently written and voter approval of council member and mayor salaries.

Measure O and its campaign must focus on what the sales tax has accomplished and can accomplish if it is restructured for more transparency and innovation. Do not resort to catastrophic warnings about what will happen if it is not adopted. Give new and engaging examples of what it can do: increase community policing; focus on crime prevention by strengthening neighborhood preparedness and responses; civilian police oversight; and ongoing funding for the InRESPONSE mental health support team.

In addition, we believe that the proposed salaries for the council are too high. Raising wages too high calls for a response from voters and justification for people to vote against renewing Measure O. Increases need to be adjusted to better match those whose needs they serve.




A car-free street

EDITOR: There were so many happy faces last Sunday as hundreds of people – young and old – took to biking, walking and skating through downtown Petaluma for the county’s first-ever Ciclovia. For a few hours, Petaluma Boulevard was closed to allow residents to enjoy the public space without the interruption of cars.

Ciclovias (Spanish for “bike lanes”) have been launched in Bogota, Colombia, where more than 70 miles of streets are open to people every Sunday. They have spread to cities across the United States and the rest of the world. We are thrilled that Petaluma is the first.

Let’s hold more car-free events in Sonoma County to provide people with safe places and healthy opportunities to ride bikes, play outside, and gather with friends and the community.

Santa Rosa, will you be next?



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