Santa Rosa is the county seat of Sonoma County, California,
As of July 1, 2005, the population of Santa Rosa was
approximately 156,200 residents. Santa Rosa is the largest city in California's
Wine Country and fifth largest city in the San Francisco Bay Area, after San
Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont.
Santa Rosa's Metropolitan Statistical Area is approximately 466,477 residents,
making it the 12th largest in California and the 102nd largest in the United
Santa Rosa lies atop the Healdsburg-Rodgers Creek segment of the Hayward-Rodgers
Creek Fault System. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates a 20% chance of a
magnitude 6.7 or greater earthquake on this segment by 2030.
On 14 April 2005, the United States Geological Survey
released a map detailing the results of a new tool that measures ground shaking
during an earthquake. The map determined that the 1906 San Francisco earthquake
was most powerful in an area between Santa Rosa and what is now Sebastopol,
causing more damage in Santa Rosa (for its size) than any other city affected.
Two earthquakes of magnitudes 5.6 and 5.7 shook Santa Rosa October 1, 1969,
damaging about 100 structures. They were the strongest quakes to affect the city
since 1906. The epicenters were about two miles north of Santa Rosa.
Nature & wildlife
Due to its population, Santa Rosa's only remaining undisturbed areas are on its
urban fringe and comprise the principal corridors of Santa Rosa Creek and its
tributaries. Great blue herons, great egrets, snowy egrets and black-crowned
herons nest in the trees of the median strip on West Ninth Street. Deer often
are spotted roaming the neighborhoods nearer the eastern hills; flocks of wild
turkeys are relatively common in some areas, and mountain lions are occasionally
observed within the city limits.
Santa Rosa can be seen as divided into four quadrants: Northeast, Southeast,
Southwest, and Northwest. Highway 101 runs roughly north and south through the
city, and divides it into east and west sides. State Highway 12 runs roughly
east and west, and divides the city into north and south sides.
There are many neighborhood associations, and a recent coalition called the
Neighborhood Alliance, which supports the principles of The New Urbanism.
Horticulturalist Luther Burbank lived in Santa Rosa for over 50 years. He said
of Sonoma County, "I firmly believe, from what I have seen, that this is the
chosen spot of all this earth as far as Nature is concerned." For many years the
City's slogan was, "The City Designed For Living".
But today, early in 2007, the Chamber of Commerce, the City, and Santa Rosa Main
Street (a Downtown booster group funded by the City), are searching for a new
slogan, to "help the City of Santa Rosa discover its identity". The Chamber says
it wants to develop "a strategic community message for marketing the city to
visitors, residents, and businesses in the year 2007 and beyond."
Local historian Gaye LeBaron, in a March 4, 2007 Press Democrat column,
"There is a disconnect between the average Santa Rosan's perception of the town
and reality. ... What we have are a lot of people, some old-timers, some fairly
new residents, who never, ever intended to live in the fifth-largest city in any
area. And, frightened by new crimes, stalled in old traffic, watching tall
buildings rise, they're mad as hell! When you stop to think about it, this
revelation explains a lot. We have spent decades wondering why we couldn't save
the Carrillo Adobe or the Hoag House, why we can't have a plaza like
Healdsburg's or Sonoma's, why we've never achieved a proper historical museum
like all the other towns around, why it takes so long (20 years for ANYthing) to
reach the simplest civic goal, why we have to hire an image consultant to tell
us what we represent. It's because we have outgrown the hometown, small-town
advantage. We've become a real city while we were busy complaining about our
Growth and Development
The U.S. Census records, among others, show that after California became a
state, despite initially lagging behind nearby Petaluma in the 1850s and early
1860s, Santa Rosa grew steadily early on. According to the U.S. Census, in 1870
Santa Rosa was the 8th largest city in California, and county seat of one of the
most populous counties in the state. Growth and development after that were
never rapid, but were steady.
As a result, the city continued to grow when other early population centers
declined or stagnated, but by 1900 it had been, or was being, overtaken by many
other newer population centers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern
California. According to a 1905 article in the Press Democrat newspaper
reporting on the "Battle of the Trains," the city had just over 10,000 people at
Despite heavy devastation in the earthquake of 18 April 1906, which essentially
destroyed the entire Victorian downtown, the city's population did not greatly
suffer. However, after that period the population growth of Santa Rosa, as with
most of the area, was very slow.
Famed director Alfred Hitchcock filmed many of the scenes for his thiller Shadow
of a Doubt in Santa Rosa in 1943; the film, which has been released on VHS and
DVD, gives glimpses of Santa Rosa in the 1940s. Many of the buildings in
downtown Santa Rosa that are seen in the film no longer exisit, due to major
reconstruction following an earthquake in September 1969.
Santa Rosa is a Charter city , governed by an elected seven-member City Council
. The current Councilmembers (as of November 2006) are Mayor Bob Blanchard, Jane
Bender, Susan Gorin, Veronica Jacobi, Mike Martini, Lee Pierce, and John Sawyer.
The Council appoints the members of a number of Boards and Commissions .
Santa Rosa's City Hall located in Downtown Santa Rosa.The Council meets weekly,
usually on Tuesday, at 4:00 p.m., in the Council Chamber at City Hall. It often
meets prior to this nominally regular meeting for one or more "Study Session(s)",
in a conference room in the City Manager's Office, upstairs from the Chamber;
and may hold other meetings earlier in the day.
The Council recently renamed the Housing and Redevelopment Department the
Department of Economic Development and Housing . With the new stress on
"Economic Development", the Department, the Housing Authority, and the
Redevelopment Agency, appear to be almost a second city council for developers
and other commercial interests.
The Santa Rosa City Schools district, including an Elementary School and a High
School division, operates 30 schools in Santa Rosa. The district is governed by
an elected Board of Education, which meets at City Hall.
Santa Rosa students are increasingly the children of Spanish-speaking
immigrants, mostly from Mexico. A May 2, 2004 Press Democrat story said,
"Santa Rosa schools have grown increasingly segregated in the past decade,
dividing white and Latino majorities onto separate campuses as the number of
white students has plummeted in the city's core and west side.
The trend, which is most dramatic in 10 of the city's elementary schools,
reflects a rapid influx of Latino students and the accelerated flight of
middle-class white students from schools with the lowest test scores and the
largest numbers of low-income students."
Forbes Magazine ranked the Santa Rosa metropolitan area 185th out of 200, on its
2007 list of Best Places For Business And Careers . It was second on the list
five years before. The area was downgraded because of an increase in the cost of
doing business, and reduced job growth--both blamed on increases in the cost of
While the most expansive vineyards in Sonoma County lie within the Alexander,
Russian River and Sonoma Valleys, Santa Rosa is home to several vineyards such
as this one near Fountain Grove.Santa Rosa sits at the southwestern gateway to
the Sonoma and Napa Valleys of California's famed Wine Country. Many wineries
and vineyards are nearby, as well as the Russian River Resort Area, the Sonoma
Coast along the Pacific Ocean, Jack London State Historic Park and the redwood
trees of Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve.
The City sprawls along Highway 101, about an hour north of San Francisco and the
Golden Gate Bridge. New airline service by Horizon Air, from the Charles M.
Schulz - Sonoma County Airport, just north of Santa Rosa, to Los Angeles and
Seattle, is scheduled to begin March 20, 2007. The City Council is also
encouraging major new commercial and residential development along a proposed
Sonoma-Marin Rapid Transit (SMART) railway from Larkspur to Cloverdale--parallel
to the congested 101 freeway--which will be developed if local voters approve a
new sales tax surcharge.
The City Council pays the Chamber of Commerce to operate the Santa Rosa
Convention & Visitors Bureau. The Chamber's visitors center is in the City-owned
old railroad depot at the bottom of Fourth Street, in Historic Railroad Square.
The SRC&VB has been a California Welcome Center since 2003.
Downtown Santa Rosa, including the central Old Courthouse Square and historic
Railroad Square, is a shopping, restaurant, nightclub, and theatre area.
Downtown also includes City Hall, State, and Federal office buildings, many
banks, and professional offices. The Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital medical center
area is just to the east.
The City Council funds a private booster group, Santa Rosa Main Street, which
lobbies the City to revitalize the traditional business district. Three new
mixed-use, high-rise buildings, and a new City parking garage, are under
development. The Council and Downtown business boosters hope condos atop the new
buildings will house a population to keep the area alive 24 hours a day.
The neighboring towns of Bodega Bay, Calistoga, Guerneville, Healdsburg,
Petaluma, Sebastopol, Sonoma and Windsor are popular with tourists, and readily
accessible from Santa Rosa.
The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center on the corner of West Steele
Lane and Hardies Lane, next to Snoopy's Home Ice skating rink.Carrillo Adobe.
Built in 1837 for Dona Maria Ignacio Lopez de Carrillo (General Mariano
Vallejo's mother-in-law), the Carrillo Adobe was the first home on the site of
the future Santa Rosa. The remains of the Carrillo home rest behind a cyclone
fence off Montgomery Drive, on property owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of
Santa Rosa in California, adjacent to its Cathedral of St. Eugene.
Luther Burbank Home and Gardens
Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center
The Redwood Empire Ice Arena ("Snoopy's Home Ice")
Sonoma County Museum
Annadel State Park
Spring Lake County Park
Performing and Visual Arts
The performing arts in Santa Rosa are represented by the Santa Rosa Symphony,
the Wells Fargo Center for the Performing Arts (formerly the Luther Burbank
Center), and the Santa Rosa Players and the Actors Theatre, both located at the
6th Street Playhouse. Santa Rosa is the home of the North Bay Theatre Group, an
alliance of some 40 theatre companies, theatre departments and individual
performance companies from five North Bay counties.
The Santa Rosa Symphony is the major symphony orchestra of Santa Rosa, and is
currently under the direction of Bruno Ferrandis. Former conductor Jeffrey
Kahane resigned from the post, which he held for ten years, in order to pursue
new conducting opportunities in Colorado.
The Santa Rosa Symphony education department consists of four youth ensembles,
categorized by their level of skill, which provide classical music education to
students across Sonoma County, who can audition for any of these groups. The
three full orchestral ensembles, from lowest to highest are the Preparatory
Orchestra, the Discovery Orchestra, and the Youth Orchestra. The chamber strings
ensemble is known as the Young People's Chamber Orchestra.
The visual arts are represented by the Sonoma County Museum, and numerous
independent art galleries. The Arts Council of Sonoma County is based at the
Museum. The annual ARTrails event showcases the work of local visual artists
from around Sonoma County, who open their private studios for two weekends in
the fall to the public.
Law enforcement and Crime
The Santa Rosa Police Department currently has 259 employees, of which 172 are
sworn peace officers. Its budget is more than $40,000,000, comprising more than
one third of the city's entire General Fund Budget. Edwin F. Flint, who also is
a Colonel in the United States Army Reserves, has been Police Chief since
January 20, 2004. Police shootings in 2007 has led to calls for an
independent civilian police review board.