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Letters to the Editor, Oct. 24 - 26

The General Vallejo statue on Sonoma Plaza is becoming a bulletin board of sorts for uplifting messages from community members. (Photo by Robbi Pengelly/Index-Tribune)

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Housing crisis more than ever!

EDITOR: Housing crisis! No doubt about it. It was a crisis before the fires, now it is a tragedy.

Some have suggested rent control. I really don’t know if rent control will do any good. It certainly will not create new housing, which is desperately needed.

I do know that we need solutions to create more housing, both temporary and permanent housing.

We need suspension of zoning laws that impede the quick installation of

1. Tent and RV camps

2. Mobile home Parks

3. Tiny house enclaves and adding on tiny houses to established housing

4. Yurts in various settings

5. Use your imagination.

We need state and local governments, nonprofits, for-profit entities, coops, intentional communities, and creative partnerships among any of these types to immediately begin creating this housing.

Of course, we need some zoning standards to ensure safety and sanitation in whatever housing is created.

Those who were homeless before the fires and those displaced by the fires would have equal footing in obtaining shelter.

We need those fortunate people who still have homes to encourage the creation of these housing solutions in their neighborhoods, next door, and even on their own land! No more NIMBY and no more worrying about their own property values as opposed to human values!

Ruth Hoppe

Sonoma

Keeping history alive

EDITOR: In the present age of history’s destruction and the demand for retelling of old legends, we in Sonoma are not pulling down monuments to our past but are erecting them. This may be seen, and has been criticized by some, as going against the flow of what is called political correctness, the appeasement of the greater and the offending of the least.

In my opinion, we need those monuments to the heroes of the past, even if they are now “fallen heroes” in the minds of the majority. Reminders, physical reminders, are a most useful tool for assisting faulty memories and written history that is constantly being revised in light of changing political views.

Judging these heroes of the past by today’s standards and, yes, by the current political correctness, is a dangerous game with no winners; we all live in our own period of history and respect for the past is the requisite gateway to respect of the present.

This past Pueblo Day on June 24, a new monument was dedicated on our Historic Sonoma Plaza, that of Gen. Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo who founded the Pueblo de Sonoma 182 years before. That monument was not without some local opposition but the small but determined Citizens’ Committee persevered and the General was welcomed back to his Plaza with a ceremony that seemed so Sonoma in content and form. The General became an immediate favorite with locals and tourists alike and the number of poses with him have been endless - both sentimental and amusing.

This past week with Sonoma under nature’s siege of firestorms on the hills surrounding us has demonstrated the importance of monuments to history and the individuals who have shaped it. Our General in the Plaza became the focal point for expressions of hope and affection for our beloved Sonoma. Actually, the monument to Sonoma’s past is a symbol for our present hope for the future of our community. I believe that now everyone loves the General in the Plaza because he has become our icon of “Sonoma Strong.”

Robert Demler

Sonoma City Historian

PGE? How about POU: Publically owned utility...

EDITOR: Local papers have reported that PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric) may well be at fault for the recent fires in Northern California. With power poles that came down with strong but not unusual fall winds, and certainly well under the hurricane levels that PG&E claimed, it appears that once again PG&E has been negligent in maintenance. The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is conducting a preliminary review of PG&E’s possible role in the fires.

With their history of fires, destroyed property, and lives lost, PG&E has proven that profits trump safety when it comes to their bottom line. And, though the PUC is often a little too cozy with PG&E, let’s put pressure on them to hold this utility accountable for whatever may be their role in these fires.

But, slapping more fines on PG&E for their latest display of negligence is not going to change anything. Fines are part of doing business for large corporations like PG&E. Since fines haven’t worked in the past, expecting them to work in the future is like expecting the proverbial pig to fly.

When it became known that PG&E might be responsible for the recent fire, their stock plummeted 23 percent. So, here is our great opportunity – one that might not come again for many years. Let’s lobby the state of California to buy PG&E – at a fire sale price, of course – and render it a publically owned utility!

We have examples that can shed light on such a maneuver. Established in 1902, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is the largest municipal utility in the United States. Because it is a publically owned utility, it did not suffer the sky-rocketing energy bills in 2000 and 2001 that Enron foisted on the rest of us who received utility bills from privately owned companies. The problem with private utility companies is that profit tends to trump public safety. We can no longer afford this type of business practice when our very lives may be at stake.

In Sonoma County, which is still reeling from the effects of a fire started 10 days ago – I am wearing a mask as I write this in my home – we voted for Sonoma Clean Power, which means that 44 percent of our energy comes from renewable sources. PG&E opposed this mix and is penalizing customers by increasing their delivery charges. Every time I ask an elected representative or PG&E why my bills have become so much higher since we voted for renewable energy, which is actually cheaper, I get convoluted answers that never seem to make sense. They have created a three-tiered billing system that seems designed to confuse the consumer because getting straight answers about it are as unlikely as getting a vegan recipe from a Texas rancher. The bottom line as I understand it is that they are charging more for delivery of energy, all so that they can continue to make mega profits while we are penalized for choosing clean energy! And, the Public Utilities Commission is letting them do it.

It’s time for PG&E to cease and desist by ceasing to exist. Let’s transform this dinosaur into a public utility before they ramp up their next PR campaign to show us how much they “care.” Let’s call our assembly members, state senators, the Public Utility Commission, and Gov. Jerry Brown and demand that PG&E become a public utility that serves the citizens of California!

Georgia Kelly

Sonoma