County government representation for the Springs and Glen Ellen

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What is a MAC?

A Municipal Advisory Council is an appointed group of residents and business owners who act as an official communication liaison between their community and the Board of Supervisors.

Applications in Spanish and English for the Springs MAC can be found at sonomacounty.ca.gov/Springs-Municipal-Advisory-Council.

1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin is inviting residents of both the Springs neighborhoods and the Glen Ellen/Kenwood areas who are passionate about their community’s concerns to apply for newly formed Municipal Advisory Councils (MACs).

After two years of attempting to establish a Springs MAC, the Board of Supervisors approved the formation of the council on Dec. 11. Supervisor Gorin is now accepting applications for seven council members who will make up the MAC and represent a collective voice before the Board of Supervisors.

A MAC is made up of residents and business owners who act as an official communication liaison between their community and the Board of Supervisors.

Gorin said she has sensed a “frustration” from residents in the unincorporated area she represents.

“They have essentially one representative that represents their voices and their needs at the county level,” said Gorin. “They feel that potentially their voices are not loud enough, not strong enough.”

By establishing a MAC, the community will have its voice heard at regular meetings, where Gorin or a member of her staff will be present. A note taker will also document each meeting, and all meetings and information will be accountable to state open-meetings requirements under the Brown Act.

“It really is an official time for the community to talk with (the MAC), and vice versa,” said Gorin. “But it also gives an opportunity for them to get the training and knowledge and understanding of how to be effective community leaders.”

Gorin hopes the communication will be a two-way street. “I welcome their voices, in that discussion and prioritization of needs. We can work together and identify to meet and satisfy them.”

The Springs MAC application is up now and will be open until Feb. 9. To be eligible, one must live in the neighborhood they are applying to represent. There will be two seats for Boyes Hot Springs, one for El Verano and one for Agua Caliente and Fetters Hot Springs. The other three seats will be representatives from different community aspects, with one seat for a member of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District, one from the Sonoma Valley Citizens Advisory Commission member and a Springs business owner.

“If they are going to be a self-starting organization, I am looking for people who have experience and the desire to do community organizing and be able to communicate and strategize,” Gorin said. “I’m looking forward to having a discussion with individuals that have a heart and interest in the community.”

This is not the first MAC in the county; there are two recently established MACs in the westerly 5th District, as well as several Community Advisory Councils (CAC) throughout Sonoma County. The Board of Supervisors wants uniformity and conformity across the different county MACs and CACS, which partly accounted for the delay in establishing the Springs MAC and its bylaws.

Former Springs business owner and Springs Community Alliance chairman Rich Lee has been trying for almost two years to establish the Springs MAC.

“We’ve been pursuing a number of issues the Springs needs to address; a lot of this stems from the fact that the Springs is an unincorporated area of Sonoma County and it does not benefit from services from the town of Sonoma or any other municipality,” Lee said. “The Springs essentially is an urban environment that is trying to be incorporated in county governance. Supervisor Gorin understands it, but we need to get to a point where we have more of an influence in the county and the supervisors.”

What is a MAC?

A Municipal Advisory Council is an appointed group of residents and business owners who act as an official communication liaison between their community and the Board of Supervisors.

Applications in Spanish and English for the Springs MAC can be found at sonomacounty.ca.gov/Springs-Municipal-Advisory-Council.

Lee, former owner of Arroyo Vet Hospital in the Springs, wants to see the MAC tackle issues like crime, traffic, safety, housing and especially parking. While he doesn’t live in the Springs, and thus isn’t qualified to be on the MAC, he will work closely with Supervisor Gorin to pick the right candidates for the job.

“I want to encourage people in the Springs to take more notice and get more involved in their community,” said Lee. “We’ve had some good response to our (Community Alliance) meetings, but we need to find seven people who are passionate and committed to serving on this MAC. I think we will, and once that happens, and people see that its an important body to influence their quality of life in the Springs, I think more people will jump on board and get involved.”

With the Springs MAC getting up and running, Gorin is shifting her attention to getting the MAC established to represent the Eldridge, Kenwood and Glen Ellen (EKG) area. Gorin has been working on this with community leader Arthur Dawson and the Glen Ellen Forum community group for nearly two years.

Dawson said a MAC will help bring influence to the unincorporated areas. “People living in the City of Sonoma or Santa Rosa, they’ve got the city council,” said Dawson. “So they have government representation. But for the unincorporated areas, we have one supervisor for about 100,000 people. There’s a real imbalance there and this is a way to allow us more representation at the government level”.

Gorin, Dawson and some other members of the newly formed MAC Working Group have a meeting next month to discuss the bylaws and boundaries of the EKG MAC. While Dawson is encouraged by the progress of the Springs MAC, he feels the EKG MAC will serve a different purpose.

“The county has set up a template for MACs, which makes sense, but I also think the strengths of the MACs is that every community is unique, and the MACs reflect the communities that they are in. So, every MAC is going to be a little bit different,” Dawson said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if the eventual goal for the Springs MAC is incorporation. That’s not really a goal for our area. We really like the rural character of our zone, with just a couple small communities. So, our focus is different than the Springs, partly it is to preserve the rural character of our community.”

Supervisor Gorin hopes to see the EKG MAC established by April.

“I’m excited to work with two MACs because I view this as an opportunity for the members of the MAC, the leaders of the community, to help identify priorities,” Gorin said. “In fact, this could jump start a lot of different, interesting programs in the Springs: art programs, public art, public street furniture, fairs and festivals.”

Added Gorin: “It’s not just simply to talk about potholes.”

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