Teachers vote to strike; homeless count; pool delayed, and more

Posted on October 1, 2022 by Sonoma Valley Sun


Sonoma Valley Unified School District’s average wage for teachers is $74,043. The statewide teacher pay average last year was $85,856. The Valley of the Moon Teachers Association wants a raise for members. The district is holding out. The union says more than 95% of its members have authorized a strike. “The district does not value our teachers like the rest of California,” said Laura Monterosso, Sassarini teacher and VMTA co-president. “The priorities in the district are upside down, and those closest to the students are prioritized last.” SUVSD’s total available funds are the highest in at least five years, the union contends, and have increased by more than $26.5m in the last five years. Bernadette Weissman, Sonoma Valley High School teacher, is the VMTA bargaining chair.  “With a catastrophic teacher shortage facing our profession, and after two horrific years of pandemic that were met with sacrifice and flexibility, the district’s actions towards teachers are unnecessary and disrespectful.” Though a strike is authorized, the union has not set a deadline, and negotiations continue. Play nice, everyone, and make good choices!

Sonoma County each year attempts to count its number of homeless, sending people, mainly volunteers, into the field to compile The Homeless Point-in-Time Count. A total of 2,893 homeless individuals were counted during the one-day census taken on Feb. 25, 2022. The methodology seems sketchy – these are homeless that happen to be found and agree to talk to a stranger on one random winter day. Regardless, the numbers show a five percent increase. Buy hey, says the county, “Overall, the number represents a significant decline in numbers over the past decade.” 

An ugly, racist Sonoma housing policy has been discovered by the Sonoma Valley Collaborative – and it’s still on the books. The advocacy group came across the embarrassing artifact during research of the City’s Housing Element. The planning document states that there are no known historic patterns of segregation by race and ethnicity, persons with disabilities, familial status, age or income. That is incorrect, says the SVC. The deeds of many Sonoma parcels still retain racially restrictive provisions in writing, though these provisions are no longer enforceable. One such document concerns a house on 4th Street East. It was built in 1966 in the “Frugoli tract”, which covers 25 or more parcels across almost 10 acres. When it sold in 2018, this language still appeared in the deed: “no persons of any race other than the Caucasian Race shall use or occupy any building or any lot, except by domestic servants of a different race domiciled with an owner or tenant.” Cringe. Says the SVC, “We in Sonoma don’t need to be defined by this history, but we should acknowledge it and commit to policies that will achieve a fair housing future.”

Word is, the new pool at Sonoma Valley High School is swamped with construction problems. Something about the wrong pipes in the pool’s filter system, sending wastewater back up the drains of the Special Ed building, overflowing toilets and causing damage to two of the class rooms… Good school news (finally): the construction project at Woodland Star is back on. Though demolition and site work had been done over the summer, the project was, the district said, “temporarily suspended” just days before the new school year. It came as an unwelcome  surprise to Caroline Hopewell, school director. But now she’s been told by the district that “the project is no longer suspended” and that work can begin as soon as the construction firm can get to it, whenever that might be. Even the good news is on a time-delay. 

Has your car’s catalytic converter been stolen yet? One recent victim was Steve Meloan, who watched a replay of the heist on his security camera. “This was no lone-wolf opportunistic crime, but a precision and well-oiled operation.” The first car circled past at 3am, not even stopping, clearly testing for anyone being awake, or motion-activated lights. At 3:20am, a different car approached, parking just across the street, a figure getting out and briefly checking our car. This was seemingly the final go/no-go drive-by. Ten minutes later, the original car returned. Two figures emerged with flashlights and equipment, clearly coordinated and moving purposefully. “The actual screech of the electric saw only lasted five seconds – with almost surgical precision. Then they were back in their car with the Cat, switched off their headlights, and slowly drove away.” The footage was unable to identify faces or license plates. According to the Sheriff who took the report, there was another car hit that same night, just a mile away… Meloan notes that catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed in California – from 1,300 reported thefts in 2018, to more than 52,000 in 2021. That is a 1,215 percent increase. 

Springs John said he felt oddly calm before a 49er game. “And that’s what makes me nervous.”


One thought on “Teachers vote to strike; homeless count; pool delayed, and more

  1. This is very interesting Val bc it’s not only about that one segregation phrase, but that the City Housing Element site inventory and polices and programs are also contingent on the notion that there is no problem and no need to integrate the highly segregated, single family zoned Above Moderate income, white east side. The “character” and “fabric” there, turns out, is the result of systemic segregation. Perhaps now the east side will need to take some upzoning for lower-income site inventory. Glen Ellen is in the same position re the County Housing Element, a tax credit Highest Resource Opportunity Area, 90+% white and super wealthy where “rural character” and “historical character” will have to bend to accommodate more lower-income housing in the County 6th cycle Housing Element. Why? Bc segregated white wealthy areas need to be integrated and if they are in urban service areas, they need denser upzoning. All the state housing laws that local control character protectors (NIMBYs) hate, like “no net loss” and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing will make sure it happens.

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