Santa Rosa City Council Candidates 2020

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition cannot endorse candidates for public office, but we are able to share information so that you can arrive at your own conclusion. Below are Santa Rosa City Council candidates’ responses to our questionnaire on bicycling in Sonoma County. We have made no content changes. Thanks to the candidates for their time and thoughtful answers!

Note: Chris Rogers and Jack Tibbetts are the only Santa Rosa candidates who are current members of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.


EDDIE ALVAREZ
Has not submitted a statement


DUANE DE WITT

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

Yes. I often ride bicycles in Santa Rosa. It is dangerous in my area where deaths of cyclists have occurred.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

Bad roads with dangerously close traffic near cyclists. We need separate bike paths.

If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

I have been advocating for a Southwest Greenway and bike path along Roseland Creek in Southeast Santa Rosa for close to 20 years. I will keep trying.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

We need to get the Cross town bike and pedestrian bridge over Highway 101 done near the Santa Rosa Jr. College campus leading to the Coddingtown area. Also need to get the city of Santa Rosa to help with paths for bikes along many Roseland roads. I will always keep trying for this.


ERIC CHRISTENSEN

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

I would ride for recreation. I used to love riding. When the kids were young, we’d bike everywhere with them. We have spent many hours on the Joe Rodota trail, riding from our house in Courtside Village to Sebastopol and back. Back in the day, we’d ride into Sebastopol and grab an ice cream at the now-gone McDonalds. The kids loved it. Good times. When the homeless started taking up residence on the trail, I didn’t feel it was safe allowing the kids to ride alone, so they stopped. Sad now that I think about it, but prudent as there had been a couple of bad encounters. When I started my first company, I also found myself riding less and less. I miss it. I miss the fun I had with the kids. Exploring the outdoors, the exercise, it was all so great. There’s not much of an opportunity for me to go biking these days, if anything I tend to walk more, but I absolutely remember the wonderful experiences I shared with my family and would encourage people, especially families, to do it.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

Traffic everywhere. So congested these days. I used to work for Industrial Light & Magic, a George Lucas company in Marin. Hours and hours spent in bumper to bumper traffic. The Smart train, while seemingly flawed at the management level, could have been a good solution for me, but even today, it’s not a complete solution. Yet as more and more people start working from home, there may be less need for vehicles if the City can promote enough resource opportunities throughout the districts. Having stores and restaurants within a small bike ride from homes would be amazing. The City should be encouraging that kind of business growth. It’s a direction the City can certainly promote more and more. By creating vibrant neighborhoods with bustling business resources we will keep people out of their cars and riding bikes or walking to restaurant and stores.

If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

Again, helping promote local businesses in each district would be monumental in keeping people out of their cars. I love the idea of being able to ride a bike down the street to a good restaurant. As a business owner in Santa Rosa, I feel there’s a lot of work we can be doing towards promoting local businesses. Also, if we think of the districts as legs on a chair and the city as the complete chair, the stronger our districts are, the stronger our city will be. I also believe there could be marketing efforts showcasing how fun and convenient it is to ride to local businesses. I am not exposed to a lot of information in regards to the trails, where they take you, what’s at the end of each trail, and where I could ride with my family to eat, etc. On the highway we see signs telling us about restaurants at the next turnoff, can we do that on trails? Have the signs sponsored and apply the funds collected to keeping our trails clean and safe? We also need to promote safe trails by making sure there’s no transients living in our public areas that would create concern for City riders (especially our youth). People need to feel a sense of personal safety as well as having some confidence that if they leave their bike somewhere it would not be stolen or vandalized. So perhaps more secure bike parking rack opportunities where people could lock up their bikes and not be worried about theft. Better street safety throughout the City, like the green bike lanes now, and resident information on driver and bike safety guidelines. At every City sponsored event, have some bicycling advocates out there touting the benefits and overall appeal of biking in our City. I think when most of us think about biking, we just want a fun safe experience with no concern towards personal or property safety. I’d love to sit with advocates and hear from them how the City could do more in these particular areas.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

I am a huge advocate for safe and secure streets, bike lanes, and parks. People will not partake if they are concerned for their safety. So it plays into one of my top priorities to make sure all people are following the laws of the City. By having people living on trails or in parks/other recreational areas, the general public doesn’t often feel safe and secure utilizing those spaces for their intended purposes. This is not acceptable. In order to encourage families to ride, we need to create a sense of security in our City to allow for this type of recreation. So that being said, it ranks pretty high in the standpoint that I am 100% for creating the safest City possible for recreational and transportation bicycling opportunities.  I also like the idea of finding funding to improve bicycle transportation that doesn’t just rely on taxpayer dollars but can also be done so without commercializing our trails and getaways too much. I really would love to see how businesses and bikers can come together to create additional opportunities for each other. One of the reasons a city collects taxes is to pay for improvements to that City for the residents. So new safety infrastructure needs, new trails, more secure bike racks, and resident education are all examples of how the City can step up to assist. Let’s just do so in a manner that doesn’t create unnecessary tax burdens for everyone else in the form of new sales taxes. Let’s explore strategic partnerships with businesses and environmentalists to further enhance bicycling opportunities for our City that benefits everyone.


AZMINA R. HANNA

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

I enjoy bicycling but do neither at this time. I have not felt safe riding on streets the past few years. Growing up in Santa Rosa, we were able to bike from my area near W. 3rd at Dutton, all the way to Spring Lake, cutting over to ride trails in Annadel, up to Lake Ilsanjo, then back home before dark. Ah: to be young and fit!

Santa Rosa’s newly carved out District 5, was filled with homeless encampments along the CA-101 underpasses this past spring. Prior to this, the challenges with personal safety, vagrancy, trespassing, and theft were very real and unfortunately not good for cycling.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

There has been a heavy investment to improve transportation options. While the SMART train was a pain point for many, its adoption still appears to be a challenge, even though it’s helpful to bicyclists utilizing commute alternatives in transportation. Santa Rosa’s main issues continue to go back to our dramatic population increase. Bicycling should be enjoyable and safe. However, drivers routinely run solid red lights; have little regard for other drivers—let alone pedestrians, skateboarders, bicyclists, and scooters/wheelchairs. Bike lanes have helped greatly, however a cultural shift is necessary for drivers to be more mindful and respectful. We must support our SRPD’s enforcement of traffic laws and other infractions that endanger people and utilize technology.

Supporting the development of a local economy where the majority of workers are not reliant on large work trucks as sub-contractors and contractors or as commuters. The ability to bicycle to work is liberating and definitely a goal for a more green community and a robust circular economy. Many bicycle-friendly communities have found a way to “tread lightly” and it shows in the regard for preservation of historical districts and cultural assets, to cite cities throughout Europe or even closer, towns like Larkspur in Marin County.

If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

I’d love to be able to ride over to City Hall: that would be fantastic! Realistically, if it’s not safe on the streets, buy-in is difficult. Bikes are expensive and are often stolen; slim profile, public bike storage locations throughout the city may help. I support a budget for more police officers to enforce traffic laws and bike cops can help deter theft. I like awareness campaigns and incentives for small businesses: we need to keep them around and encourage more to invest in Santa Rosa. When people can live near where they work, we can reduce our dependence on cars and trucks. Public restrooms are necessary and must be maintained. With COVID-19 precautions, economic instability and general unease in the air, we are all apprehensive and experiencing mental health challenges: We’re human. Getting outdoors on a bike is one way to alleviate stress and regain some measure of control. We have many unhoused actively bicycling as a primary means of transportation. Is our city ready for bike shares? I also enjoy seeing bicycle cops and feel it’s a great way to reconnect law enforcement with the community.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

We have such a beautiful region and the quality and safety of our roads keeps it accessible to all. Filling potholes and bad roads throughout District 5 would lend greater support to the extension of Measure M: I would like to see the work completed. Keeping parks clean and accessible for the next generation of bicyclists—those K-6 not yet ready for streets, translates to greater support for our code and law enforcement officers. Working with the bicycling community to develop a more inclusive culture, where bicycling is viewed and respected in the ways that we imagine involves awareness campaigns and outreach.

 

Many residents and new homeowners of this District are reliant on work trucks professionally as contractors and subcontractors; in their downtime, many continue to enjoy big truck culture. I’ve seen that translate into an appreciation for mountain biking when I was a teen in the late ’80s–early ’90s.

Bicycling is an important component of residential communities and the creation of a vibrant, memorable youth as well. I want to help create positive memories of Santa Rosa. I’d like to see more youth and women feel safe enough to ride around town, beyond certain “safe” neighborhoods.  How does bicycling fit into that model in Santa Rosa, with the demographic and socioeconomic breakdown of our population growth? These are questions I hope to answer if elected.


JORGE INOCENCIO

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

Yes, I ride recreationally on the weekends. In particular, I enjoy riding the Joe Rodota Trail from Santa Rosa to Sebastopol sometimes continuing into Forestville and back down via Occidental road. My experience riding bicycles in Santa Rosa is OK but it is clear that our cycling infrastructure needs improvement. There are many crossing near and along the JRT that are difficult to navigate and could use better planning.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

Santa Rosa’s biggest transportation challenge is traffic. My district in particular is growing very fast and many of the roads have not been upgraded to handle the greater load. Addressing traffic in my district will require using alternative modes of transportation and incentivizing carpooling and other methods that reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Promoting the usage of bicycles as a primary form of transportation is a great way to improve traffic.

One of my main visions is improving infrastructure in my district. Improving cycling infrastructure such as creek trails, safer crosswalks, dedicated bike lanes, and improved highway crossings is the first step to increasing bike usage in Santa Rosa.

 If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

I would work to improve infrastructure while making sure that bikes and pedestrian paths are a key part of the improvements. Promoting the use of our current creek trail system is another way to encourage more cycling.  Participating in events like bike to work day and occasionally biking to city council meetings would be a way that I can personally encourage people to bike to work.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

My main concern is improving equity in Santa Rosa in particular for District 1. Bicycle and pedestrian safety and infrastructure are big components of equitable transportation systems. I believe that the city can promote existing trails along its creeks while building out future infrastructure without spending too much money.


DANIELA PAVONE

 Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

When I first moved to Santa Rosa in 2008, I really got into mountain biking through Annadel and thoroughly enjoyed how muddy I often ended up getting. Once I started working regularly I had less time for those adventures but my boyfriend (now husband) and I took leisurely rides all through town, exploring different paved trails but staying off the County roads. Unfortunately, we were living in an apartment complex that only had a carport and while his bike was locked up, it was stolen. So, we waited until we were living in a single family home to get him another one. When we did, we were living in Glen Ellen and we rode all around that area and loved it. When our son was born we were living in Sebastopol, put a seat on the back of my husband’s bike, and heard him chuckle the entire ride. We moved to Santa Rosa three years ago, a month before our daughter was born. Our son is now learning how to ride a pedal bike all by himself and our daughter loves racing down the sidewalk on her push bike. We live in a small little pocket where people rarely race down the street so the kids are making wonderful memories riding their bikes in the street. When they get a little older we look forward to family rides to show them their city from the seat of a bicycle.

 What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

The biggest transportation challenge is that there are too many cars on the road. Overall, I think the City does a very good job promoting bicycle use and with the updated Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, has a lot of good ideas to continue making bicycling a practical and pleasant method of transportation and enjoyable activity. Specifically, I think the protected lane, especially in the vehicle turn area, like at the corner of Humboldt and College, is a fantastic feature that does not significantly impact traffic but adds a great deal of safety for cyclists. I also think the painted green lanes, especially at freeway entrances, are a more clear demarcation for vehicles to remember to look out for cyclists. These safety features and extra steps that the city takes to protect cyclists will show them that it is a safe place to ride, which will only encourage more people to do so. I know that some people are hesitant to ride to a specific location for fear of their bike being stolen. I haven’t met a single person who has been riding regularly as a means of transportation, that parks (and locks) their bike outside and has not had it stolen. It is a real problem that needs to be addressed. If people felt more safe leaving their bike somewhere, I know they would ride even more.

I also think the SMART train should run more on the weekends so that it is not just a commuter train but also a way that families could easily travel to another town for the day. The city of Santa Rosa had a bike sharing program a few years ago which I was very excited about, until it launched. It was so difficult, cumbersome and impractical I was unable to participate, despite my desire to do so. I think we need to design a bike sharing program that is easy to use so people will actually participate. Maybe connect it to the SMART train so you could take the train from, for example, Santa Rosa, to Petaluma, hop on a bike and ride into town. When your day is done, return the bike at the SMART station and take the train home. I think having this type of program might make people use the train to commute more too.

 If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

I think the city is doing a good job promoting bicycle safety. I think it needs to be doing a good job ensuring the safety of your bicycle. Whether that is with better bike racks, manned bike enclosures, or some other creative solution. If we can ensure people the chances of their bike getting stolen, even if locked to a bike rack, is less than it is now, I think more people would ride. I would really like to work with the Coalition to come up with a solution to this problem.

 Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

Santa Rosa is a tourist destination. Not just because of the wine and beer but because it is a beautiful place to be and ride a bike. Climate is a top priority of mine and getting more people out of cars and onto bicycles is a big help in addressing that issue. It leads to less pollution, less wear and tear on the roads, and a healthier citizenry. People need to feel safe as they ride their bicycles through our streets. This city already has a strong cycling community and a detailed plan for expanding that existing infrastructure. If we are going to be serious about tackling climate change, we must do so at all levels, including this one. For that reason, promoting cycling and bicycling safety is near the top of my priorities.


CHRISTOPHER ROGERS
Has not submitted a statement


NATALIE ROGERS

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

I cycle for recreation along with my family. At times it is difficult to cycle with my young son because the path that we take to the Joe Rodota Trail is difficult to ride on for the both of us. The sidewalk is broken, has overgrown trees/plants, and in some areas is missing sidewalks.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

I would definitely like to see an easier path for riders who need to go to multiple places around Santa Rosa. Right now we have multiple bike paths, but they are not connected, which makes it both difficult and dangerous to get around. Cycling is a way to contribute to a healthy environment, but also helps us be healthy community members. I feel my best when I am able to be active, release some steam after a long day, and enjoy this beautiful county we call home.

If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

If elected I would like to see increased safety measures to keep cyclists safe, such as no right turn on red for busy intersections, ways to safely connect trails on current bike paths, increase the number of paths that we have in the city, encourage more citywide bike-to-work days with incentives and social media outreach, and overall help Santa Rosa be a more bike friendly environment.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

Safety and the environment are very high on my priority list, and both can benefit from more cycling. Also as I suggest above, if we can invest in connecting existing trails to each other, we can increase cycling usage citywide if it’s easier to get around using a better bicycle network. Making the connections could help a lot for not much more money.


HARRISON “JACK” TIBBETTS
Has not submitted a statement