City’s Ordinance Problem
Downtown Healdsburg may soon have another luxury hotel, thanks to an error by city staff in publishing notice of a 2018 ordinance that would have prohibited the hotel. Unfortunately, the error wasn’t a one-off.
The city’s 20 most recent ordinances—going back to April of 2022—are all invalid due to public notice publication errors. The city council members know about this problem, yet they have failed to deploy a simple fix.
State law requires publication of city ordinances to occur in a newspaper published and circulated in that city if there is such a newspaper. If there is no such newspaper, publication may occur in a county newspaper. Healdsburg has an eligible city newspaper—the Healdsburg Tribune—which means city ordinances are valid only if published there.
None of Healdsburg’s 20 most recent ordinances were published in the Healdsburg Tribune, but were published only in our county newspaper, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Thus, all 20 ordinances are invalid.
This is no mere technicality. The purpose of the ordinance publication law is to ensure that notice of newly enacted ordinances reaches the broadest possible number of local residents. This is more likely to occur in a city’s community newspaper than in a county newspaper.
The 20 invalid Healdsburg ordinances address an array of important local issues—for example, commercial cannabis sales and taxation, green building code standards, safe firearm storage, adoption of updated state construction code requirements and a change of zoning to allow construction of the Foley Family Community Pavilion.
They even include an ordinance passed two months ago—itself a do-over of the 2018 ordinance restricting new hotel construction in Healdsburg’s downtown core—because of the error in publishing the 2018 ordinance.
City staff should have published the do-over ordinance in the Healdsburg Tribune, but wrongly published only in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Consequently, the city still lacks a valid permanent ordinance restricting downtown hotel construction.
The fix is for Healdsburg’s council members to reenact the 20 invalid ordinances, effective retroactively to their original enactment dates. This can be done in a single omnibus reenactment ordinance—with proper publication in the Healdsburg Tribune.
Another California city recently used this procedure to rectify widespread ordinance publication defects. It’s a simple thing for our council members to do, and a template is at hand for them to use.
There is no risk in reenacting these ordinances, but there is substantial risk in failing to do so. The city council should fix this problem now, before it causes significant damage to our town.
Jon Eisenberg, Healdsburg
Note: The Healdsburg Tribune neither endorses nor disputes these arguments.
Prayers for Peace (Nov. 16)
It’s about time we start seeing more supportive articles. And it’s not too late to change that bridge to Blue and White. For heaven sakes, people fly flags for Ukraine, why in heaven’s name are they NOT rallying around Israel?!
Heather Cullen, healdsburgtribune.com
Thank you so much to the organizers of the meeting. We need our voice to be heard. It is so much hate spewed from the pro-Palestinian rallies and social media that sometimes I lose faith in humanity. But then you see 200,000 people gather to condemn anti-Semitism and your faith is restored.
Yanina Ivanov, via healdsburgtribune.com
City, SMART Workshop (Oct. 26)
A well planned micro-transit system could interface nicely with a renovated passenger depot. However, since SMART would not pay for the renovation, the city would have to step up. Either a funding source would have to be found or perhaps a community fund drive might be a feasible option.
Either way a transit system should be a key part of an overall plan which reduces our use of fossil fuels.
Hank Skewis, Healdsburg
Although I admire the agency for giving us the opportunity to provide input on which station to build, the average resident does not possess general knowledge about traffic engineering, urban planning or construction finance. SMART staff are the experts here and we should acknowledge the desires of the people with experience in their industry.
Walking into the community meeting, my biggest concern is whether we can build a successful transit hub that allows for as many transfers as possible between public transit agencies. Fortunately, other agencies have been reached out to for their input. SMART staff informed me that Amtrak has been contacted and is willing to move its bus stop downtown.
This opens up the opportunity for riders from Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin to connect directly with the train in Healdsburg. A downtown station is the way to go. By building it, we can be the American model of a small city with good public transit. Let’s make sure we increase the Route 67 frequency, too.
Matias Lopez, Healdsburg
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