Bowing to intense political pressure from a group of Santa Rosa neighborhood activists, the chairwoman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has agreed to guarantee that a treasured undeveloped meadow near their homes won’t be paved over after the county sells the sprawling site of its old hospital complex to a housing developer.
Early in 2002, I asked then-Mayor Mike Martini if he would like to take a short hike on land that was coming up for a Santa Rosa zoning decision. I knew Martini casually because our kids went to school together. Like a lot of my neighbors, I had concerns about a developer’s plans to build houses on land where we had taken innumerable walks and where my children had spent many hours exploring. He accepted my offer, so on a rainy day I showed him the land.
For 15 years, hikers entering a bucolic open space area tucked in northeastern Santa Rosa have passed a sign reading “Paulin Creek Open Space Preserve. This property is protected through a partnership …” — a partnership involving Sonoma County, the Open Space District, the county Water Agency and the city of Santa Rosa.
This last week Press Democrat reporter JD Morris reported on the current situation as it regards to Paulin Creek's Parcel J. His balanced article showed that Parcel J is part of the overall sale to William Gallaher but explained that the development of Parcel J was subject to an environmental review. County officials seemed confident that the environmental review would ultimately protect Parcel J. To read the full article click here.
The Friends of Paulin Creek are against even selling Parcel J to Gallaher and are committed to gaining environmental easement for the parcel. Only through this will this remarkable preserve be forever protected from future development.
Back in 2006, still with the Press Democrat, current mayor Chris Coursey took up the cause of Paulin Creek when developer Mike Sass was considering the area for development. Describing the area as "a revelation" Coursey was very much on the side of keeping parcel J a preserve.
Currently Coursey is not involved in the decision to sell Parcel J to a developer, but in order to finalize the deal his approval will be needed.
A 2004 report The Paulin Creek Preserve Management Plan detailed the wonders of Paulin Creek and was to guide the City of Santa Rosa and the Open Space District in management of Paulin Creek.
The plan clearly stated that all three parcels were apart of the Paulin Creek Preserve and not just the two which are currently protected as open spaces. After much talk nothing was ever done to protect parcel J which along with parcels N, O, and P make up the Paulin Creek Preserve.
In 2002 Paulin Creek was due for development until the city of Santa Rosa and county officials intervened and bought the parcel from developer Mike Sass. Paulin Creek has remained under county control ever since.