Annually, your Advocacy Council determines its projects for the year that will be most helpful to our members.
Our Legislative Agenda is what we are currently focusing on with your elected officials.
Local Legislative Agenda
|Downtown Santa Rosa
The Chamber envisions Downtown as the vibrant core of a healthy city. In order to support Downtown, the Chamber will:
- Continue to support the reunification of Courthouse Square in a way that provides the least disruption to Downtown businesses, including completion of the project in a timely matter.
- Participate in efforts to address the problem of homeless Downtown, including participation on the city’s Homeless Task Force and working with the City to increase police presence Downtown.
- Work collaboratively with the City on parking, with an emphasis on involvement in the progressive parking study and advocating for additional signage for parking garages.
- Advocate for better Downtown directional signage.
- Work with Railroad Square merchants, the Santa Rosa Plaza and the City of Santa Rosa to prepare for the arrival of the SMART train to Railroad Square.
- Coordinate task force work with the Chamber’s Downtown Association.
|Energy & Natural Resources
Energy and natural resources are integral to the health of our local and regional economy and include conservation; maintenance of infrastructure; achieving efficiency of water, locally produced and procured energy usage and funding. The Chamber specifically recognizes water supply, quality, storage and infrastructure are continuing critical issues for our region.
- Surface water supply, storage and distribution. Our region is dependent on stored water in upstream reservoirs. California remains in a 3-year drought with snow pack and state-wide reservoirs at historically low levels. Our region has received sufficient rain in December 2014 to raise water levels in our local reservoirs that may eventually lead to release of stored water for flood control requirements. These requirements are based on archaic formulas in Federal law. The Chamber will work with other organizations and our Federal representatives to change the laws to provide a scientific-based decision-making process that balances water supply with flood control.
- Groundwater regulations. The Chamber supports recent regional efforts to characterize our groundwater resources. New State and local regulations on groundwater resources may detrimentally affect our Members’ rights and ability to responsibly use this common resource. These regulations must have stakeholder involvement and be carefully considered. The Chamber will continue monitoring the Groundwater Management Act and the development of the groundwater agencies being formed in Sonoma County.
- Energy and water improvement of efficiency of use. The Chamber recognizes energy and water efficiency of use can have major and positive impact to our economy and our Members. The Chamber will work to support those conservation efforts that conserve our natural resources while not having a negative impact on our economic health, and advocate for the use of recycled water within the City.
|Economic Development & Land Use
Land Use is a core area of Chamber efforts in local and regional policy, ordinances, regulations that affects all levels of business, industry and enterprise. The City Council, City Planning Commission, County Board of Supervisors, County Planning Commission, Design Review Boards and other departments and commissions make policy and enforce regulations that have major economic impact on business community and are a focus of continued Chamber monitoring, liaison and collaboration.
- Permitting and new real estate and business development at both City and County levels has historically been challenging. The Chamber encourages collaboration between City departments and related commissions/boards including Design Review and Planning. The intent is to make the City and County business friendly governments with business friendly department staffs as well as to develop a more collaborative relationship with those staffs in part by increasing understandings of processes by the Chamber staff. Additionally, permitting issues, including delays, costs and restrictions occur at both the Santa Rosa City and Sonoma County. The Chamber is committed to working together with City and County officials to improve their processes to include expedited permits, lower impact fees, advocate against commercial linkage fees and minimize unnecessary delays.
- Support initiatives that increase all housing, but particularly our stock of workforce housing. One of the key elements of growing our economy is our ability to attract and retain a skilled workforce. Current housing costs are put that that goal at risk and we need to develop mechanisms that encourage the private sector to build housing so that the housing market will not be a reason that local companies are unable to hire a competitive workforce.
- City of Santa Rosa annexation of the Roseland and several other smaller areas. There is a 3-year timeline for the potential annexation of the large and important Roseland area. However, the City needs to submit their application to LAFCO. Prior to submittal, the City Council must approve continued support for this effort, based in large part on the financial costs of the annexation. City staff, with consulting help, will provide cost estimates to the Council in early 2015.
- Support a winery permit ordinance that is supportive of economic retention and growth for the wine industry.
- Monitor and provide input as needed on issues affecting the tourism industry, including an increase in TOT and/or regulations surrounding vacation rentals.
- Monitor and provide input to Sonoma County’s Community Separators.
The Chamber believes in the critical importance of a transportation infrastructure to a thriving economy. Therefore, in 2016 we will support programs and activities that will improve our infrastructure. Specifically, we will work to:
- Recruitment of airlines for eastbound service. We will work with the Sonoma County Airport to mobilize the business community when needed to build the case for eastbound service. We will also advocate as needed for additional funds at all levels to expand the terminal to accommodate more flights and airlines.
- Completion of the Highway 101 narrows. We will work with the Sonoma County Transportation Authority to play a supportive role in advocating for additional funds to complete this critical transportation corridor in our region.
- SMART- The Chamber will work closely with SMART Management/Board to coordinate with the various municipalities, major employers located along the project corridor and the Sonoma County transportation and transit agencies to address specific issues such as “first and last mile” connections between the rail and home or work destinations.
- State Route 37. Monitor progress on the possible widening and raising of State Route 37 and advocate for possible private financing, particularly around a multi-modal approach, including extending SMART eastward and adding ferry service out of the Port of Sonoma.
- Monitor and provide input on the Sonoma County Transportation plan.