Last year was a great year for the Russian River Alliance!
Since 2008 the Alliances have been all about building community: Infrastructure improvements such as new roads in Monte Rio, blight remediation, community concerts, Spanish classes, Park & Ride lot maintenance, air quality improvements, LGBT HRC MEI ratings, homeless issues, law enforcement and government relations, low flow, wastewater solutions, and more.
We work on issues that are important to the lower Russian River community and we are action and results oriented.
The Russian River Alliance is an umbrella organization comprised of community groups working together for the betterment of all. Our primary member organizations are the Guerneville and Monte Rio Community Alliances. We also have other groups as members such as Chambers, homeowner associations, special districts, etc. We are one community and need to work together to accomplish our common goals.
Businesses and residents can join either the Guerneville or Monte Rio Community Alliances depending on your location. You can also follow all groups on the web or on Facebook. We also keep you up to date through Nextdoor. Some issues, for example Wastewater Solutions only effect Monte Rio, while other issues effect everyone such as Low Flow, Air Quality, Water Quality, Blight remediation, homeless solutions, tourism impacts, etc.
Unlike individual groups, chambers, special districts, homeowner associations, etc. we work together providing one voice for the entire area.
As the River area changes, people are expecting better services and accountability from our government, and from the tax dollars we and our tourists pay. We are also now operating in a proactive mode to protect what we treasure and what makes us such a desirable and unique area. We have made solid strides here on many fronts this past year. Locally, the future looks bright and we look forward to working together with our new Supervisor Lynda Hopkins.
We have advocated for and obtained better roads, blight remediation, better air quality, and in 2016 the county finally has obtained a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Municipality Equality Index after several years of efforts.
Change doesn’t always come quickly, but with persistence it does come.
Now more than ever we need to be proactive and highly engaged to protect our interests.
-Monte Rio Wastewater: The State imposed deadline for addressing our wastewater issues is approaching. If we as a community do not come up with acceptable local solutions, the State will implement ones that probably will be more stringent and costly. Not being able to renovate, expand, or build new construction certainly has a major negative impact on our local economy, our businesses, and our residents. We are looking at reasonable solutions that are small in scale such as possibly Hoot systems. These self contained systems are not too expensive and do not require leach fields. There should also be money available in the form of grants and low interest loans, and we may be able to get volume discount pricing on systems. Some other nearby communities such as Fitch Mountain in Healdsburg are also in the same situation so we can work together on finding solutions.
-Low Flow (or Fish Flow): The idea behind Low Flow is that with lower water releases from the reservoirs, the water that is released will be colder (as the water remains deeper in the reservoir), which is necessary to support a good salmon spawning habitat. As the local Lower Russian River economy is highly dependent on tourists coming to enjoy our River, any permanent Low Flow would have a big impact on us. We already have seen the effects of toxic algae killing dogs and scaring away tourists. Local community groups are united in fighting the proposed Low Flow and we will get a better solution for us, as well as for the salmon population.
-Tourism: We are working to insure that our tourism industry remains strong, yet also does not negatively impact our quality of life here. TOT (transient occupancy taxes) has just been increased from 9% to 12%. We expect to see some of this money coming back to our communities to improve infrastructure (roads) and mitigate some of the negative effects of tourism. In the past, most of the taxes have gone to advertising for more tourists and not back to the communities that are impacted.
-Air Quality: Due to a preponderance of people heating with wood burning stoves or having open burning in yards, our air quality at times is terrible. We are fortunate to have great natural air quality with our location being so close to the coast, and need to insure our air quality is not unhealthy for our residents or detrimental to our tourism industry. Through education and better enforcement, people are becoming more aware of health issues, the impact on the quality of life for our residents, and the impact on tourism. Burning cleanly mainly involves burning dry material and giving it sufficient air intake. There should be minimal smoke emissions if burning in compliance with regulations. Burning cleanly also costs less as it provides more heat for the money spent.
-Nextdoor.com: This is your best way to stay in touch with your neighbors and what is going on locally. We now have over 700 neighbors registered River-wide from Rio Nido to Cazadero. If you have physical mail delivery at your home or business you can register on-line at Nextdoor.com If you have a PO Box and no physical delivery at your address you will need to request an email invite from an existing Nextdoor member, as Nextdoor typically verifies residency via your physical street address. If you do not know an existing Nextdoor member, you can email me with your address and I will have your local Lead contact you directly.
We are always looking for good people that want to make a difference. Please contact us with your suggestions, and feedback. Please consider supporting us with your membership dues which are only $25 a year. As a 501c3 non-profit organization, your membership dues and all donations are tax deductible.
Lastly, I want to acknowledge and thank my fellow board members Mark Emmett, Jeniffer Wertz, and Marina McTaggart, our generous sponsors County of Sonoma, The Heck Foundation, AutoCamp, and all of our dedicated members for all they do for the community day in and day out.
Best wishes for a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year.
Chuck Ramsey, President
P.O. Box 904, Monte Rio, CA 95462