SANTA ROSA (CBS SF / AP) — An official says that 17 months after a massive wildfire destroyed hundreds of homes in a Wine Country neighborhood, 70 percent of the properties are under construction or have been rebuilt.
Gabe Osburn, Santa Rosa’s deputy director of development services, tells the Press Democrat reconstruction in Coffey Park has ramped up in recent months.
An October 2017 fire destroyed 1,422 homes in the working-class community in Santa Rosa.
By October 2018, a year after the fire, only 21 houses had been rebuilt and 520 were under construction. Today, 191 homes in Coffey Park have been completed, while another 689 are under construction.
Jeff Okrepkie, president and founder of neighborhood support group Coffey Strong, says he expects some 700 rebuilt homes to be occupied by midsummer.
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
A man in California decided to throw a “party” with a bunch of naked mannequins in his yard, taunting a neighbour who had called city officials and complained about the height of a fence.
SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — A pedestrian was fatally struck early Wednesday on Santa Rosa’s Stony Point Road — the fourth fatality on the roadway since last summer.
Santa Rosa police said the man was crossing Stony Point near Barndance Lane at 7 a.m. when he was struck by a silver Chevrolet Cruze.
The force of the impact threw the man into a mailbox, impaled his backpack into front fender of the car and sent one of his shoes airborne across the street.
The car, meanwhile, suffered a broken windshield and front end damage.
Investigators said that the driver, Esteban Garcia Martinez, an 18-year-old resident of Santa Rosa, was northbound on Stony Point Road. It was dark and raining heavily at the time and Martinez was traveling approximately 40 mph.
Based on Martinez’s and witnesses’ statements, the pedestrian was crossing Stony Point Road from west to east. He was not in a designated crosswalk. Martinez immediately stopped his vehicle just north of where he collided with the victim and was cooperating with police.
Several motorists called 911 to report the crash and arriving officers discovered the man lifeless on the roadway. Paramedics declared him dead at the scene.
The victim has been identified as Richard Anthony Burns, a 53-year-old resident of Santa Rosa. Autopsy results will indicate if drugs or alcohol were a factor in the collision.
Martinez was not impaired at the time of the collision. Police said that Burns was walking outside of the crosswalk at the time of the accident.
The major westside city route was closed for several hours. It has been the scene of multiple fatal pedestrian crashes in the last several months.
Max Lippincott lived with Burns as his housemate.
“Yeah we joke like we’re playing Frogger. We joked, but it’s not funny anymore,” said Lippencott ruefully.
Lippincott used to laugh about the danger of crossing Stony Point Road to and from the nearby market.
“Normally, what we do is come to the end of the sidewalk, which they need to continue,” said Lippincott.
The sidewalk on the road literally ends. On the other side of the road, there is no sidewalk at all. And there is no crosswalk on the street for the better part of a mile.
This kind of situation, a road that simply does not make much sense for pedestrians, appears to be claiming lives.
“I’ve been in the Traffic Division for almost three years. I can tell you we’ve had a significant increase in pedestrian fatalities,” said Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Summer Gloeckner.
Stony Point Road has seen its share of those fatal accidents, including three in late 2018 near the Occidental intersection. Gloeckner acknowledges that the infrastructure surrounding this road is not pedestrian friendly.
“This is more of a rural area,” she said. “The sidewalk only goes so far. Further south ,you go kind of the more county environment.”
And yet this is the direction people are building, moving and living. For anyone not in a car, good luck getting around.
“Yeah, trying to walk and bike — in this area anyway — it’s a dangerous,” said Lippincott, now handling the loss of her housemate. “We heard the sirens and stuff. No clue that it was him.”
SANTA ROSA (KPIX 5) — A North Bay homeowner who was forced to cut down his new fence after complaints has decided to give his neighborhood quite a show in his front yard.
The peep show of naked mannequins in the front yard Santa Rosa resident Jason Windus’s Peterson Lane home was set up in response to a city order to hack his brand-new fence in half.
“I think it’s hysterical!” laughed Santa Rosas Valerie Palmer. “I think it’s great.”
“It’s weird, ’cause they’re naked!” said one kid who lives in the neighborhood.
Windus explained that he didn’t expect to get so much attention.
“I wasn’t planning on it being a big publicity stunt,” he said with a laugh.
The unusual display stemmed from having to get rid of the six-feet tall fence he put around his property.
“I put this fence together for my dogs so that they had a place to run,” said Windus. “As you see, I got a big dog. I got two of ’em, and they can just clear this fence no problem.”
But someone complained that the corner lot fence was blocking sight lines at the nearby intersection, leading Windus to erect the strange mannequin garden party.
“You want me to cut my fence down? Now you get to see what’s behind the fence,” said Windus.
Windus even reserved a chair for the “nosy neighbor” who complained to the city.
Locals had a variety of reactions to the installation.
When asked if it made her feel uncomfortable, nine-year-old Natale Bacigalupi shrugged: “Uhh, I don’t know.”
Others found it amusing.
“I like his style,” said neighbor Tracy Terrell. “In time of adversity, he chooses humor.”
Windus runs a local moving company. The mannequins were left over from an old haul-away job.
“It was just a little joke,” said Windus. “A lot of people would get very angry about having to cut their fence down. I throw a naked party in my yard!”
And when he was asked what the neighbors thought of the display?
“Not one negative response. Believe that?” said Windus.
“Maybe the city’ll look at the ordinance again and change it,” said Palmer. “Otherwise there might be a lot of these around.”
The city of Santa Rosa released a statement saying fences on corner lots are limited to three feet in height so drivers at the stop sign can see oncoming cross traffic.
They told KPIX on Tuesday that they gave Windus two options: either reduce the fence height in its current location, or move it back 15 feet toward the home to allow for the required sight lines.
SANTA ROSA (CBS SF) — Police in Santa Rosa are looking for a truck involved in a deadly hit-and-run collision early Friday morning.
It happened just after 1 a.m. on westbound Highway 12 at Middle Rincon Road. Officers found a man lying unconscious on the shoulder.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Westbound highway 12 was closed for several hours during the investigation but has since re-opened.
Police said the vehicle they’re looking for is a blue 2006 Mitsuibishi Raider pick-up truck that is missing the grill and passenger side headlight.
CLOVERDALE (AP) – A Northern California high school teacher has been arrested on suspicion of refereeing a classroom fight club that resulted in multiple student injuries.
The Press Democrat reports 41-year-old Federico Vargas, of Santa Rosa, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of five counts of endangering a child and 13 counts of contributing to the delinquency of minors.
The Cloverdale Police Department says Vargas created “a `fight club’ style atmosphere” at Cloverdale High School by allowing students to fight and even refereeing the fights.
Investigators say more than one student was injured, including a teen who required medical treatment.
Cloverdale Unified School District Superintendent Jeremy Decker says school officials contacted police last week after learning of the alleged fighting “due to the serious nature of these allegations.”
Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.
SANTA ROSA (KPIX) — The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors on Thursday unanimously approved $2.5 million that will be used to remove debris from flood-damaged areas.
So far, state and federal governments haven’t committed to help pay for the massive clean-up from Russian River flooding in Sonoma County. That’s why local officials are stepping up as their constituents face a public health emergency.
“And it’s just so hard for people who just lost everything to walk down the road and just see this trash, which it was not trash just a week and a half ago. Before that, it was all of the things that they lived with every day,” said Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins.
Hopkins represents the lower Russian River region that includes some of the low-lying areas that were hit the hardest by the flooding. Thursday morning, she asked her colleagues to approve funding that would help remove the toxic debris that is littering neighborhoods.
“This is critical. We have to get our streets cleaned up so our communities can get back on their feet, said Hopkins. We’re a very resilient community in the lower Russian River. This isn’t the first flood, it won’t be the last. But we do need to address the current health hazards and environmental hazards that are there so we can start getting back together.”
Right now, there are centralized Dumpster locations for residents to drop off uncontaminated debris throughout the county.
Some residents of the Guerneville, Monte Rio and Rio Nido areas have been taking debris to dumpsters at several collection sites, but hazardous waste has been accumulating in the right-of-way and mixed with construction material and solid waste.
The removal of 2,000 tons of debris at drop-off sites will have cost $1 million by Saturday or Sunday, Transportation and Public Works director Johannes Hoevertsz said.
With the approved $2.5 million, debris will soon be picked up directly from the curb.
The debris collection sites will close Saturday, and curbside collection using the county’s provider, Recology, will start Monday.
Sonoma County’s Emergency Services Director Christopher Godley cautioned that there are dangers to curbside collection of large debris materials. He said there have been traffic accidents.
Three Recology teams will work the entire week, but a second collection sweep may be needed, Hoevertsz said.
“We hope to be finished two weeks from now,” he said.
“There were a lot of i’s that needed to be dotted and t’s that needed to be crossed, and I think that we found a path forward,” said Hopkins.
About two dozen people spoke during the two-hour special meeting.
Some said lower Russian River residents are overwhelmed by damage or loss of their homes and properties. Others are concerned about rats living in debris piles spreading to homes and causing an infestation.
“People are walking around in a daze,” one woman said.
Two speakers said some residents just solved the debris problem by dumping it in their yard.
As of now, Sonoma County won’t be receiving any money from FEMA because a federal disaster hasn’t been declared. That would require President Trump to sign a disaster declaration.
SANTA ROSA (CBS SF / AP) — A Press Democrat newspaper carrier was killed after he was run over by his car while delivering newspapers in Santa Rosa over the weekend.
Santa Rosa Police say the man was exiting the driver’s seat while the car was in reverse.
Police Sgt. Marcus Sprague tells the newspaper officials found his body underneath the car Saturday.
Police declined to identify the man and his employer, pending notification of his family.
Troy Niday, chief operations officer of Sonoma Media Investments, which owns The Press Democrat, confirmed the man killed was an independent contractor who had been delivering newspapers for the company on and off for the past 15 years.
The newspaper says it is not publishing the carrier’s name to allow time for family to be contacted.
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.