The Future of Our Friendly City: Rohnert Park Town Hall Meeting

July 5, 2018
Finance Director, Betsy Howze using post-its and brainstorming
Mingling with residents before the meeting
Finance Director, Betsy Howze using post-its and brainstorming
Mingling with residents before the meeting
Jessica Pereira
Author
Jessica Pereira

"Feedback for us is like water for a plant, it's necessary." City Manager, Darrin Jenkins explaining the significance of contributing your thoughts to the City Council of Rohnert Park. This made me feel that although I am still a student, I could contribute valuable insight to our council. The more students that attend these events, the more likely that certain issues can be resolved. This town hall meeting was important in particular because they are beginning the development of the new general plan which will be implemented from 2020 until 2040. Additionally, ongoing topics were touched upon such as code enforcement, housing, and a future downtown Rohnert Park.

The meeting started off with refreshments and time to mingle with other residents. A director of almost every commision committee board sat at each table so that they could participate with us during the meeting while the council sat upfront to answer questions. Pam Stafford, mayor of Rohnert Park, was excited to get this conversation started, "We think of this as a wonderful opportunity to show pride for your city and participate." Jenkins went over future plans such as the general plan. The general plan is a consistent blueprint of how the city will make decisions towards its physical development. Although the new general plan will not be implemented until 2020, it takes two years to develop it, hence this meeting. Jenkins also brought up downtown Rohnert Park which will be located by the Golf Course. There are plans to open a variety of non-chain restaurants and services while promoting the use of the SMART train. From a student perspective, I think that a downtown would be a great way to promote Rohnert Park as a student-friendly area.

This talk led to the main task of the meeting, sharing the issues and opportunities in Rohnert Park. Everyone was encouraged to list at least one issue they currently have and one opportunity for our town. My table covered a lot of issues regarding housing for students and the senior community. Being a current student at SSU, the rest of my table was very interested to hear my thoughts on these subjects. I found their interest in what I had to say refreshing for I could tell that they care just as much as I do. The main conversation that came out of this activity were the topics my table talked about as well as parking. The City Council answered individual questions to end the meeting and emphasized how important our input is, "What makes the city run is money and that money is your money. It's how we spend it."

I really liked how the meeting was executed and feel that democracy was clearly defined for everyone's needs were addressed. Our thoughts and opinions are vital to this city and I'm excited to see what the future of Rohnert Park will become.

Read an overview of the general plan and an overview of downtown Rohnert Park.

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