Karen Lehman
Karen Lehman
12:00pm - 6:00pm

Sonoma County News

Kissinger dies at 100

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the diplomat with the thick glasses and gravelly voice who dominated foreign policy as the United States extricated itself from Vietnam and broke down barriers with China, died Wednesday, he was 100.

Knives on Campus

There were two incidents on Santa Rosa High School campuses yesterday involving knives. First at Santa Rosa High School when early in the morning two students got into a gang related altercation and one pulled out a kitchen knife and slashed the other boy. The 14-year old victim called family members who transported him to the hospital for treatment for non-life threatening wounds. SRPD was notified and launched an investigation, eventually locating the 16-year old suspect at his home. Inside they found the knife, parts of a handgun and gang related items. While that was taking place, a student at Montgomery High was identified as having a 9-inch folding knife on campus. Staff attempted to search him on campus, but he was able to escape. Police were called when staff eventually detained him off-campus and recovered the knife.

Los Guilicos Village

There appears to be a battle brewing this morning between St. Vincent de Paul and Sonoma County over operation of the Los Guilicos Village homeless shelter. St. Vincent de Paul executive director Jack Tibbets has told the Press Democrat that his organization was misled by the county into thinking they secured the bid for future operations of the tiny home shelter, when it had not. The county is renovating two buildings on the campus and will transition housing to those in the near future, and the county expected St. Vincent's to apply that RFP. Tibbets has now requested the Board of Supervisors take up the matter to avoid litigation.

Homeless Removed

This morning Caltrans and the CHP will finally clear a homeless encampment along a section of land under Hwy 12 near Hwy 10. Previous efforts to clear the area were stopped at the last minute by legal action, but all restrictions have now been lifted. About 75 people who camp there will be moved to temporary housing at Sam Jones Hall in Santa Rosa.

County Lodging Tax

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors by a split vote of 3-2 has missed a deadline to put a expansion of the county's lodging tax on the March 2024 ballot. The tax would extend the 12% transient occupancy tax to online marketplaces, such as vacation rental and travel booking sites. Supervisors Hopkins and Gore voted against the measure, noting under it's current form, it would be subject to a legal challenge and the short time in reviewing the measure before a vote. The earliest it could now appear on the ballot would be November of 2024.

Petaluma Mobile Home Park

Residents in the Youngstown Mobile Home Park off of North McDowell Boulevard in Petaluma got a shock the day before Thanksgiving when they were served with notice that their rents were going up by $923 per month... and to make matters worse, it was automatically debited from their accounts without warning. According to KTVU, the park owners, Three Pillar Communities said the debit was an error, and hopes to correct it this week, but stands by the increase. The matter will go to arbitration in accordance with Petaluma's rent stabilization ordinance.

Cannabis Reform

Senator Mike McGuires SB833 has been signed into law by Governor Newsom. The Cannabis Licensing Reform Act will allow small cannabis farmers to pause or reduce their license size without having to pay for a full annual license. Currently, there is no provision for a pause or for small growers. Right now, the state cultivation license for a 10,000 square foot to one acre farm is $40,000 to $50,000 per year.

Wildlife Rescue

Sonoma County Wildlife rescue is in the middle of a huge project, building a new 160 foot by 230 foot enclosure to house bear cubs, mountain lions or other large predators who need care. The current structure is far too small. Construction was estimated at $300,000, but has now surpassed $700,000... and they are about $300,000 short of finishing the project. The new structure will feature a natural habitat with trees, shrubs, logs and a splash pond, all designed to prepare the animals to return to the wild. If you would like to donate, contact the Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue just outside of Petaluma.

Homeless Grants

Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday the number one issue in California continues to be homelessness. He announced another round of grants to tackle homeless encampments. Nearly $300 million is available with the goal to move people into housing. Half of the money goes to Caltrans, the other half could go to cities, counties and nonprofits. Cities and counties have until June of next year or until the money runs out to apply.

Pulido Ruling

Before a packed courtroom, Judge Ken Gnoss issued his ruling yesterday in the case of the Montgomery High School student accused of voluntary manslaughter when he stabbed another student to death... Daniel Pulido was found not responsible for the death. About 20 supporters of Pulido and the victim, Jayden Pienta, packed the courtroom. Gnoss did find Pulido guilty of a weapons charge and he will return to court on December 14th. He could have faced up to 7 years in custody if found responsible. The family of Pienta has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Santa Rosa City Schools.

Hall and Oates

It turns out the disupute and lawsuit between music legends Daryl Hall and John Oates is due to Oates wanting to sell his remaining stake in their musical catalog, but that would violate the terms of their business agreement. A Nashville judge has put the deal on hold. Oates had planned to sell to Primary Wave IP Investments, with already owns a significant interest in their catalog.

Crash Sentencing

The woman accused of a deadly hit and run accident and then attempting to destroy the evidence by lighting her car on fire has entered into a plea agreement and will be sentenced in January. Alyssa Whitten stuck Cloverdale resident Oswaldo Cardenas Junior on River Road back on November 17th. She originally pled not guilty to multiple charges, including vehicular manslaughter, but has now waived her right to a preliminary hearing.

Sebastopol Fire Chief

In a letter to the Sebastopol City Council, interim Fire Chief Jack Piccinini expressed all his frustrations with the current financial situation in the town before he resigned as chief on November 3rd. Not enough volunteer firefighters for 24-hour staffing, a $1.67 million budget deficit and a hiring freeze all led to his departure. In an article published in the Press Democrat, he mentioned incidents earlier in the year the department was unable to respond to. Sebastopol mayor Neysa Hinton says they are working on solutions.

Montgomery Student Trial

All parties are due back in court this morning in the trial over the stabbing death of Montgomery High School student Jayden Pienta following a fight on campus back on March 1st. Fellow student Daniel Pulido is charged with voluntary manslaughter for stabbing Pienta after he was ambushed in a classroom. Pulidos attorney says it was self-defense. The judge in the case, Kenneth Gnoss could issue a ruling this afternoon.

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