I have owned property in Monte Rio since 2000 and have been a resident since 2006. The small-town atmosphere, greenery, stunning beauty, great weather, and liberal progressive values were important to me. I have always recognized the potential of our hamlet and have worked to bring about change for the better. When I hear comments like, Monte Rio used to be such a vibrant awesome place, but look at it now, I cringe and get more motivated. I have lived in cities that had responsive government. People took pride in their neighborhoods. It seemed that Monte Rio on the other hand had been a victim of neglect and apathy. Government based in Santa Rosa didn’t want to come all the way out here to address issues. The Sheriff Department would hand you a pamphlet and say why don’t you file a civil lawsuit yourself if you have a complaint? You would also hear how understaffed every agency was and how the latest fire, flood, fiscal cutbacks, or whatever, would mean the neglect would continue. I heard from a CHP officer that they were too scared to drive to a location because our roads are so narrow, curvy, and hilly. I’d also hear agencies blaming other agencies and passing the buck. When the irrigation system needed repairing at our Park & Ride lot, the county finally agreed to send someone out after being unable to determine who owns the lot. When the guy came out he called me and said he couldn’t locate the water cut off and did I have a contact with the railroad? No, I didn’t as the railroad left Monte Rio in 1936. Fortunately, things are changing. We have new residents moving in with different expectations, businesses are trying to prosper, and improved governmental agencies are trying to work together and be more responsive.
Two of my biggest issues have been dealing with blight and the state of our roads. We used to have abandoned vehicles and junk on our roads, our properties, our river, forests, and in our Park & Ride lot. This is better now due to continual efforts. Our economy is heavily tourism dependent. Whether it’s downtown Monte Rio or in front of the Welcome to Russian River sign, blight is not acceptable. I worked with former Supervisor Efren Carrillo on roads before he or the county even saw maintaining roads as a priority. Through our efforts our downtown Monte Rio roads were repaved. We are beginning to see the results of new road funding, however in some cases the limited funding could be better spent such as allocated to different roads or sections of roads.
After RRROC (Redevelopment) ended, former Supervisor Efren Carrillo wanted a successor, so community issues could still be addressed at a local level and have government support. Russian River Alliance was formed to meet this need in 2012 and now has representatives from community groups from Guerneville to Cazadero working on addressing local issues.
I am hoping the MAC (Municipal Advisory Council) will be a successful mechanism to build on and continue the progress that has been made over the last few years. We need safe, vibrant, welcoming streets in our community. We need a feasible, reasonable solution to our wastewater issues. We need to strengthen our neighborhoods. We need the Pink reopened. It takes tenacity, persistence, and common-sense to get there. It takes an engaged community. Let's make it happen together.