Sun In-Depth Report ~ Sonoma Valley Sun


Meet the MAC — a voice for the Springs

Posted on April 25, 2019 by Sonoma Valley Sun
                                  Art by Michael Acker

The newly-sworn-in Springs Municipal Advisory Council should have the ear of the Board of Supervisors, giving the Springs its first official voice since the demise of the Redevelopment Advisory Commission. The Sun asked the seven MAC members to talk about their role and their hopes. Although appointed by a committee headed and chosen by First District Supervisor Gorin, rather than elected, the new representatives expect to be heard. As one of them told the Sun, “We better be more than nodding heads.”

Ryan Lely, council chair

Goals: Review of current public services — public works, health and safety, and planning). Graffiti abatement, neighborhood clean up, tree plantings, public art projects. Community building, such as fairs, educational forums.

Experience: Born and raised in the Springs neighborhood. Served as the Residential Tenant representative for the Springs Redevelopment Advisory Commission, then appointed to the Springs Community Advisory Team that helped develop the Springs Specific Plan. Currently in fifth year as the Springs East representative on the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission, three as chair.  

Comment: “I love the community in which I live. I value its diversity, its character, and its residents that strive to keep it unique while also welcoming in thoughtful change. I know there are individuals and groups that have worked in the community longer than I (La Luz, Vineyard Workers Services, Springs Community Alliance, to name a few), and I look forward to working with representatives of these organizations to best find ways to improve, celebrate and be a voice for everyone that lives here.”

Maite Iturri, co-chair

Goals: Housing, health and transportation are primary areas of concern for the Springs community. Access to services and creating a healthy and affordable living environment. Improve the quality of life, particularly for the disenfranchised and underserved.

 Experience: Has worked, lived and raised a family in the Springs for 25 years. Grew up in a multilingual home with an immigrant father and American mother.

Comment: “Studying issues that families and children encounter and understanding their root causes has always been my motivation. Examining what has worked in other communities and collaborating with organizations and individuals to find viable solutions in our Valley is what I hope to bring to the MAC. This is an opportunity for us to help bring people together. We need to work on this together if we are going to be successful.”

Avram Goldman

Goals: Address blight along the Sonoma Highway. Create a desirable area for new businesses and help current business owners enhance their businesses. Engage the community in participating in the development of the Springs and its needs. Create a central Plaza where the community can gather. Bring more art and music to the community.

 Experience:  Sixteen-year resident of Agua Caliente. Forty years management and sales career in real estate serving a number of communities, including locally. Has served on a number of local boards.

Comment: “The Springs is alive and well. We represent all the best of Sonoma Valley with our deep history, beautiful natural surroundings and our diverse community. With several exciting projects on the drawing board including new businesses, restaurants and housing—we have a great future in front of us.”

Ellen Conlan (no photo)

Goals: Allow a greater voice for the Springs area, and provide greater clarity in what decisions are being made, who is making them, and what the benefits will be.. Green spaces, gathering places, thriving businesses, walkable and bikeable streets, affordable housing, healthy creeks and streams, and a clutter-free, blight-free, safe community.

Experience: Member of the Springs Redevelopment Advisory Committee (RAC) until it was disbanded by the state. Involved with the Springs Community Alliance since 2011.

Comment: “For generations our community has been underserved by our county leaders. Conditions in the Springs were created from neglect and poor planning. That is beginning to change. To the County I say, ‘Your job is not to tell us to expect less, your job is to tell us how we can create the community we want.’ I have an agenda, and it’s to serve our community, not to serve the county’s agenda.

Iris Lombard

Goals: Address housing issues, including the un-homed, and transit and congestion. Bring people together, face to face and in conversation, to create mutual understanding, concern and cooperation.  

Experience: Has lived in the Springs over 40 years. Involved in community activities, including the “Elder Salon,”  a discussion group (no age limits) she and her husband organized five years ago, and as a volunteer tutor for people studying to become U.S. citizens.

Comment:  ”I have seen much change in the Valley, and the County.  It does bring a longer range perspective to some of the issues that we are experiencing.  I love it here — there are so many interesting people, so much texture and layering in our community and physical environment.  The area has been an affordable, mostly working class place for a wide range of people, for a long time. I’m concerned that if we are not careful, that will not be the case going forward. ”

Ray Willett

Goals: A centrally-located community plaza. Alternative transportation opportunities for bicycle, pedestrian and transit. Affordable and mixed-use housing, Locally-owned small businesses, farmer’s market, community events, park space and other recreational areas. Safety along Highway 12. Preserve the rural and historic character.

Experience: Lives in the Springs with wife and son. TBE Architecture, which he founded in 2016, operates in the Springs. I am a CA Licensed Architect and Certified California Naturalist.  

Comment: “I feel that what qualifies me most is an open heart and an optimistic attitude. I’m excited to serve, and look forward to working with the community and other council members to make the Springs a better place for all to live, work, play and visit. I believe that diversity needs to be protected and nurtured as a resource as we come together in a more formal way to plan our future.

Omar Paz

Goals: To bolster communication channels between Latino and other underrepresented communities to ensure a fair and  accurate representation of the entire community’s needs, and to bring project and outreach ideas from the perspective of a young adult. I hope to bring a vibrant energy to this process that translates into community bridge building and action. My end result is a continual growth in community pride, service, and voice for the Springs.”

Comment: “I hope to establish the MAC as a credible and effective body of representatives who have the community’s interest, values, and wellbeing in mind throughout our work. I would also strive for language justice and access to input from  populations who might not be familiar with or have a resistance to local government processes. My end result is a continual growth in community pride, service, and voice for the Springs. “

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA