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Highway 12 Video Tells the Story of "Government Failing"

Tim Wetzel put together a three minute, 20 second video that makes the case clear about long-delayed project

 

The delayed Highway 12 project, to fund upgrades to the stretch of road between Agua Caliente Road and Boyes Boulevard, has a new deadline: Monday, Oct. 8.

That's the date the Department of Finance is set to give their final recommendations to Gov. Jerry Brown on allocation of the redevelopment funds arrested in December when the state courts dissolved the local redevelopment agencies.

Hoping to sway the decision, local filmmaker Tim Wetzel has put together a short video, filmed on location last month, that makes a compelling case for the completion of the project. With his single-camera shoot, which took just 10 days to complete, he shows the danger to pedestrians, cyclists and even drivers that exist on the stretch of road on a daily basis.

You can view it with this article, online at Youtube, or follow the Facebook page.

"I've been watching the project's delays since the first of the year," said Wetzel, a former "prop guy" in feature films, who moved to Sonoma in 2004. "When I came back after being away all summer and nothing had happened, I realized I have a tool I can use to add to the effort."

The project has been appealed to the state three times, and each time denied, most recently in April. At that time, the state said that improvements to Highway 12 totaling $11.3 million do not qualify as enforceable obligations because “agreements contracts or arrangements between the County and the former redevelopment agency are not enforceable obligations.”

"I think Tim's video is excellent," said Boyes Hot Springs resident Gina Cuclis, who is now running for the county Board of Education. "It's a clear, concise summary of the situation. It truly takes a visual medium to really tell the story.

"The video shows how the half-done project, which was in the redevelopment plan for 30 years, is government failing at what should be its most fundamental job."

First district Sonoma County Supervisorial candidate John Sawyer, currently a Santa Rosa City Council member, also responded. "I think the video shows in vivid detail all the reasons we should be moving forward with that project," he said.

Calling the Hwy. 12 Project "the poster child" for what redevelopment funds should be used for, he expressed little hope that the Dept. of Finance -- which he called "a paralyzed department" -- would be able to salvage the project. "I'm always optimistic, but in this case they have taken so much time, in the end I’m afraid it's going to be disappointing."

Susan Gorin, the other candidate for the 1st District supervisor, is also in favor of the project's completion - which she called "the top priority for the 1st District" -  and cited the video as "remarkable in identifying the need for this project to be completed as soon as possible."

"Local government understands how to spend our tax dollars efficiently, addressing our most pressing needs," Gorin said. "It is time for our children and families to be safe when they are walking to schools and shopping for groceries."

When asked who local citizens should be directing their phone calls and email, Sawyer responded, "Quite frankly, I'm not sure who's listening. Why not focus on the governor?"

"I have no idea if the director of the Department of Finance will even care enough to watch it," said Cuclis.

  • Ana J. Matosantos  was appointed Director of the California Department of Finance by Governor Jerry Brown in January 2011. Her phone number is (916) 445-4141
  • You can contact the Department of Finance’s Local Government Unit, which is responsible the dissolution of the redevelopment agencies, by emailing Redevelopment_Administration@dof.ca.gov or phoning (916) 445-1546.
  • Governor Jerry Brown's office can be reached at (916) 445-2841, or contacted from this page on his website.
  • There is still an online petition to which you can add your signature and comments at thepetitionsite.com.
kathryn page October 05, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Thank you Tim!!!!! I live near the Sonoma Mission Inn and have experienced, on my bike, the dangers of 12. It's my dear community, and I see the dropping of this project as just another--though officially justified--way that minorities get the short end of the stick.
richard vandenbrul October 05, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I read that numerous "public servants" in California retire on $100,000 plus pensions plus retiree health care. Maybe lessor benefits would provide funds for highway 12.
Dee Baucher October 05, 2012 at 09:09 PM
Well made video with good depiction of the need to complete the Hi 12 project. These are controversial issues about funding and the choice for this individual project. Couldn't/shouldn't the same video be made with depictions of the El Verano neighborhoods, where the streets remain without sidewalks or bike lanes, and without other improvements for many more decades than the Highway 12 area? The Boyes Springs/Fetters/Agua Caliente areas are the areas of new immigrant families... and El Verano is a neighborhood where our previous middle class/working class families lived. (Many now also displaced by the newcomers.) If the numbers used in this video are correct, and the 15,000 people (largely new immigrants) of this area are correct, then perhaps those who have profited financially from the growth of this population have a responsibility to fund the Highway 12 project. It does not seem fair for the average middle class taxpayers (like those in El Verano without sidewalks and bike lanes,etc.) to be forced to pay for the improvements to infrastructure that are required for the newly populated areas, where immigration has been largely influenced by the requirements of a specific industry. Perhaps it is time for our county officials to demand an equitable solution, so that those industries who glean billions from the newly immigrated labor, also contribute fairly to the actual sustenance for that labor.
Tim Wetzel October 05, 2012 at 10:18 PM
Highway 12 is a state highway and therefore subject to different kinds of rules than city or county roads and streets. This has created a tangled mess of jurisdiction and makes Hwy 12 a different kind of case. Hats off to those who have worked hard for so many years to untangle the bureaucracy to even make the project possible. This plan was originally okayed in 1984, according to the county website which has a timeline as well as the all the versions of the plans. The El Verano area was part of the highway project, and that segment was completed in 2010, with sidewalks, streetlights, safety markings, signs and bike lanes.
Dee Baucher October 05, 2012 at 11:18 PM
The segment of Hi 12 that was completed in 2010 is part of Boyes HS, not El Verano. The Redevelopment Funds were designated by our "county leaders" for the Hi 12 corridor, with its economic interests, rather than other equally deserving, and equally unsafe areas. Those are the types of controversial issues that remain unresolved.
Leslie Tallis October 06, 2012 at 06:10 AM
Great video Tim. As a tax paying, middle class, non-immigrant who has lived in the Springs for 10 years, your video is welcome. I walk and drive my son to the Sonoma Charter school and frequently experience the things mentioned in your video. We know many families who walk their children to school daily and put up with the safety hazards. I hope your video brings additional awareness to the numerous safety concerns of all people who use the HWY 12 corridor.
Tim Pine October 06, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Please join the community at: https://www.facebook.com/Highway12Project
Gina Cuclis October 06, 2012 at 11:57 PM
To clarify how redevelopment funding works: El Verano, except for maybe a bit depending on what you consider El Verano, isn't in the redevelopment area. Redevelopment areas reside within specific boundaries from which tax increment money is collected and then spent back into those areas. Redevelopment is, or was, a tool to create economic development by removing blight in commercial areas.
Dee Baucher October 07, 2012 at 02:06 AM
To Gina Cuclis: That's exactly my point; the original plan was to do the Hi 12 project with Redevelopment Funds.... now that those funds (and that whole very controversial gimmick) are gone, the funds to complete the project will likely be obtained from taxpayers...who had no voice in determining the priority of this project, compared to other equally important ones, as mentioned above. I do not doubt the necessity of the Hi 12 project... I just do not believe it should necessarily have been given priority, over others. And I believe that other sources for the revenue (also as mentioned above) should be explored by our county officials.

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