The Press Democrat   April 30, 2002




Cloverdale residents will gladly accept the award for being the ``most optimistic community in California'' and for good reasons. But not for the reasons George Rose enumerates in his Close to Home column, which appeared on the Forum page of the April 22 Press Democrat. To imply that Sonoma County will soon look exactly like Tracy in the Central Valley, and to suggest that the root cause of that outcome is the fault of the city of Cloverdale is questionable, at best.

Rose's assumptions are fundamentally faulty, and he appears to be ill-informed about the planning that has taken place over the past 15 years in Cloverdale. To be fair, the citizens of Cloverdale recognized more than a decade ago that there was the potential for our little town to become a bedroom community. Through a comprehensive community visioning process involving literally thousands of hours of neighborhood meetings, group forums and study sessions, a blueprint for development emerged and is now manifested in Cloverdale's general plan and its award-winning economic development strategy.

Rather than creating a new community or transforming their existing one, as Rose proposes, Cloverdale residents have clearly said they are seriously intent on preserving the historic character of their town -- a history which embraces a lifestyle of living and working in the same town, as opposed to becoming a bedroom community. Cloverdale's success in maintaining a jobs/housing balance is expressed by the latest census numbers, which show that while the working-age (20-64) population of Cloverdale has increased by 1,132 in the past 10 years, the community has also created 754 new jobs to accommodate those job seekers, rather than put them all in single-occupancy vehicles every morning headed for points south.

Rose's assertion that ``thousands'' of people will commute from the Cloverdale Depot to jobs in ``Marin and points south'' shows his ignorance of the most recent data from the Sonoma/Marin Area Rail Transit Commission (SMART). According to SMART, in the year 2020, there will be 413 passenger trips to and from the Cloverdale Depot, and 83 percent of those riders will commute within Sonoma County.  Indeed, the depot is a testament to the planning effort by the citizens of Cloverdale and Sonoma County to avoid the traffic congestion that plagues the rest of Sonoma County and the Bay Area. The Cloverdale Depot will provide a way to minimize the regional impacts of those residents of Cloverdale who do work elsewhere.

Finally, Rose expresses rude and argumentative opinions, which he states as fact. For the record, Cloverdale has more than ``a few'' Victorian-era homes, none of which are ``rickety'' as he says, and four of which are award-winning bed-and-breakfast inns. His characterization of the 111-year-old Cloverdale Citrus Fair as ``tacky'' strongly suggests a viewpoint ignorant of the value of a family-oriented event which has its roots in community volunteerism.

And Rose's implication that residents of the Del Webb Clover Springs development are first-time homebuyers and will provide a pool of commuters truly expresses his ignorance of that part of Cloverdale, which is populated by citizens aged 55 or higher, most of whom are retired.

What seems to be difficult for Rose to comprehend is the impact a collective vision can have in a community. Cloverdale's residents long ago recognized the intrinsic value of their small-town lifestyle and are determined to preserve it. Our community is distinctive, but is also a significant player in regional planning efforts. Rather than becoming another bedroom community for remote work centers, I believe Cloverdale will be a community where its citizens can walk to work, where residents know their neighbors and whose people share a common vision not only for the future of Cloverdale but for the future of the region.


Bob Jehn is the Mayor of Cloverdale.