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.
"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.