It wasn’t particularly inspiring. But Santa Rosa Mayor Susan Gorin’s State of the City talk before a Chamber of Commerce breakfast was at least thorough.

She touched on most of the lows facing the city (which we covered in our  editorial today.) And she did her best in pointing out some highs, including some that weren’t particularly lofty. (I.e. Santa Rosa is using less energy – because, among other things, it has turned off 33 percent of its streetlights.)

Some news that came out of her talk at the “Good Morning, Santa Rosa” gathering of about 100 people at the Hilton Hotel:

  • Faced with having to trim another $10 million from its general fund budget, the City Council is looking to cut $2.4 million at the start of the year with the expectation of making another $6 million to $7 million in the spring to take effect on July 1. “We are focused. We are going to make cuts. But it is not going to be easy,” she said.
  •  The mayor will be appointing a Climate Change and Sustainability Task Force at the start of 2010. “We already have the staff identified,” she said. She didn’t go into detail about what this task force was going to do other than, apparently, advise the City Council on policy directions.
  • The city has received five responses from its recent call for proposals on what to do with the former AT&T building near Courthouse Square. She said she will be among those reviewing the applications for a joint public-private partnership to convert the eyesore it is today. The city bought the 99,800-square-foot building in 2007 for $3 million using redevelopment money. “Hopefully that will be one of the bright lights next year,” she said.

 Gorin had time to take just one question at the end of her talk, which came from Gary Lentz of InfoStor who asked whether the city’s focus was too much on being “green” and not enough on attracting new businesses and stores, such as Lowe’s and Wal-Mart, to the area.

Gorin responded with a defense of the City Council’s recent rejection of a new Lowe’s (“Our community was simply split on this issue,” she said.) She also said she is “all about growing new businesses in Santa Rosa. We have tried to attract (businesses from other areas) for a very long time and have not been very successful.”
It seems to me she didn’t really answer the question.

 – Paul Gullixson