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Downtown Street Project, Pedestrian Lighting, a Burglary at Hopland Tap— Highlights from the Hopland MAC Meeting

[Picture by Matt LaFever]

Yesterday evening, Hopland’s Municipal Advisory Council hosted their monthly meeting via Zoom. Three of the five members were present. They heard from Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall, Hopland Fire Chief Mitch Franklin, and discussed a wide range of issues including an upcoming Caltrans project downtown to enhance accessibility, the inclusion of pedestrian street lighting during that roadwork, the imminent return to in-person meetings, and the potential of hosting a candidate forum for the current 5th District Supervisor race. 

Caltrans is in the midst of seeking public comment for what they are calling the “Hopland 101 Project”, an initiative to improve the downtown’s Americans with Disabilities Acts compliance by revitalizing the area’s “curb ramps, sidewalks, and driveways, reconstructing the roadway, rehabilitating pavement, upgrading drainage systems, signage, and Transportation Management Systems (TMS) facilities,” as per the Caltrans District 1 website.

Hopland MAC Chair Julie Golden [Screenshot from the Zoom meeting]

Hopland MAC (Municipal Advisory Council)Chair Julie Golden hoped that since Caltrans has slated 2024 for the installations to occur, the Hopland MAC could start petitioning Mendocino County’s Transportation Department and the Mendocino County of Governments to provide funding to revamp adjacent county roads.

Chair Golden pointed at Hopland’s Spring Street as an example of why Hopland’s county roads should be revitalized at the same time as the Caltrans’ project. Spring Street is a west-to-east residential road that runs along the north side of the popular Blue Bird Cafe. Chair Golden described the road as full of potholes and often congested with vehicles that Hopland Fire Chief Mitch Franklin worried that he could not get resources through in the case of a fire.

Another municipal project, but closely related, involves pedestrian lighting throughout the downtown corridor. The Hopland MAC is pushing for the installation of pedestrian lighting while Caltrans installs traffic lighting to better illuminate the roadway in 2024. But, funding is the rub. Caltrans promised they would lay the conduit and create the infrastructure to install the pedestrian lighting, but told the Hopland MAC they would not pay for the lighting itself.

Alternative Hopland MAC member Peggy Rock who was in attendance last night argued vehemently that the cost of the pedestrian lighting should not fall on Hopland residents. She asserted, along with other members of the MAC, that based on safety being the main driver of the lights’ installation, ADA concerns associated with safety and accessibility could be leveraged to get Caltrans to pay for the pedestrian lighting. 

LACO Associates Becky Dalske who was in attendance offering her organization’s project managing skills, proposed the Hopland MAC formulate an official statement regarding the funding to Caltrans before their public comment period on May 4. The Hopland MAC members agreed and submitted a statement. 

LACO Associates Becky Dalske [Screenshot from the Zoom meeting]

Before these issues were tabled, this reporter (also a resident of Hopland), requested that as lighting options are considered, light pollution be mitigated and dark sky lighting options be utilized. The public comment was taken in kind and Dalske responded that when the Hopland Public Lighting District had also advocated for any new light installations in Sanel Valley to help retain its dark night sky.

In hopes to gather more support for the pedestrian lighting funding, Chair Golden said she would be working with the Mendocino County Department of Transportation, 5th District Supervisor Ted Williams, and 1st District Supervisor Glenn McGourty to support the MAC’s efforts.

Chair Golden provided an update on the happenings at Shanél Valley Academy, highlighting two upcoming fundraisers. On May 7, 2022, in partnership with Destination Hopland, the school will host the Spring Block Party, a food and wine event with live music. Money raised will go towards efforts to purchase a walk-in refrigerator for the school so they can make their own breakfasts, snacks, and lunches.  On June 4, 2022, an event with details forthcoming will celebrate the school’s first year serving area children.

Chair Golden provided a brief overview of other community projects and their status. The envisioned Hopland Skate Park is still in its infancy with grants being sought to sketch out the implementation of the project.

Residents are still waiting for the opportunity to comment on the Hopland Railway Project, which is connected with the Great Redwood Trail’s goal to convert Northwestern Pacific Railroad into a pedestrian trail.

Closely related are the Downtown Plan Project and the 2022 Visioning Meeting, both designed to provide structure and goals for Hopland’s future development. 

Chair Golden and all attending Hopland MAC member’s cited remote meetings as significant barriers to community collaboration to create this vision for the town’s future. Based on this, all members voted to hold the first hybrid meeting of the Hopland MAC next month at the Hopland Fire House on Feliz Creek Road. The meeting format will provide the opportunity for community members to meet once again in person while at the same time accommodating those that prefer the remote model.

In hopes to streamline communication with the public, the Hopland MAC has created a new website at https://hoplandmac.com/.

Mendocino County Sheriff Matt Kendall reporting to the Hopland MAC from his truck [Screenshot from the Zoom meeting]

Based on the upcoming return to in-person collaboration, Chair Golden foresaw the May 2022 meeting as a productive gathering to work collectively on the 2022 Visioning

Sheriff Kendall reported that there had been a low volume of calls to the Hopland area in the last month but noted a burglary was being investigated at the Hopland Taproom and a suicidal subject was revived by one of his deputies using Narcan.

He said staffing shortages were inhibiting his agency’s ability to deploy extra patrols in the Hopland area but foresaw an uptick in those patrols in the coming months with four deputy sheriffs about to graduate from a local police academy.

Hopland Fire Chief Mitch Franklin reported that his agency is working to gear up for the upcoming fire season. He also invited any and all to the Hopland Fire annual barbecue coming up on April 30, 2022, which will feature a live band, chicken and tri-tip, and a “great raffle.” 

[Picture by Matt LaFever]

Looking ahead to future meetings, Julie Golden proposed the MAC consider hosting a 5th District Supervisor Candidate forum as had been done in years past. This year’s 5th District Supervisor race has two candidates: incumbent Ted Williams and his challenger John Redding.

John Redding actually made an appearance at last night’s MAC meeting, making a brief public comment at the beginning of the session stating “I’m running to represent some of you. I would like to represent myself and listen in on your meeting.”

Hopland was actually split between District 1 and District 5 during Mendocino County’s recent round of redistricting, the western edge of Hopland remaining in the 5th District. In the upcoming elections, one portion of Hopland will be voting to consider their supervisor, while the other will retain 1st District Supervisor Glenn McGourty

There was no report out from the Hopland Cemetery District nor the Hopland Band of the Pomo Indians. Neither entity provided a representative nor written notes to the MAC.

Chair Golden announced that MAC member Tiffany Gibson had resigned, marking the need for a new treasurer. She invited members of the Hopland Community, anyone that resides, owns the property or does business in Hopland to become a member of the municipal advisory committee.

Hannah Bird, a researcher and the University of California, Hopland Research Extension Center, is slated to become a member of the MAC, as per Chair Golden. She voiced support for Bird’s role citing the recommendations that MAC members be involved in county/state organizations. 

MAC members Kimberly Vallee and Amy Frost were not in attendance yesterday evening

For Hopland residents interested in attending future MAC meetings, visit their website at https://hoplandmac.com/ or their Facebook page for the latest information.

Note: This reporter is a resident of Hopland. I attend these meetings both in the interest of my municipal life, and to bring the happenings to a wider audience.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
Educator🔸Reporter for KMUD/ Redheaded Blackbelt/Founder of Cold Case Mendocino🔹Local News Junkie

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