Organize Your Neighborhood

Many neighborhoods have improved their chances of your roads getting fixed by getting together neighbors to communicate with their supervisors. 
 
By bringing the attention of county officials, your supervisor and Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW), to the condition of your road, it is more likely that your road will get a list to be fixed and not be one of the nearly 1,000 miles of roads of failing roads that continue to become more potholes than asphalt. 
 
Over the last 4 years neighborhoods have joined together and written emails, held neighborhood meetings with their supervisor, requested visits by DTPW staff to their roads, turned in petitions and addressed their supervisors at board meetings. Many of these roads have received some improvements or are on the list for repairs. 
 
Below are a list of actions you and your neighbors can take to increase the odds that your road may be fixed. Also, if you like to learn about the successfull effort by Lichau Road residents in Penngrove, click here.
 
Organize Your Neighborhood to Urge Repair of County Roads
By Ken Adelson
Are the county roads in your neighborhood in poor or failing condition?  Each year, the county board of supervisors decides which county roads will be repaired.  Here are steps that neighbors can take to increase the chance that your roads will be included among those to be repaired.
 
1. You will need to organize a core group of neighbors to work on this effort.  While a couple of neighbors can on occasion succeed in convincing the supervisors to repair the neighborhood roads, the chances of success will increase dramatically with a core group of perhaps 5-8 neighbors.  Create a name of the organization such as “Coalition to Repair ________Neighborhood County Roads.”  
 
2. Document the conditions of county roads in the neighborhood by photos, videos, written descriptions, and stories of mishaps that have occurred on the roads (such as damage to vehicles caused by potholes, accidents involving vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and even pedestrians).  Create a list of bicycle, motorcycle, and maybe hiking clubs that use the neighborhood roads to be contacted to support your efforts.
 
3. Prepare articles for publications like the Press Democrat, the Kenwood Press, the Petaluma Argus Courier, the Sonoma Index-Tribune, the Sonoma Valley Sun, the North Bay Bohemian, the Sonoma County Gazette, and the Sonoma West Times & News.  Be sure to include photos of poor and failing neighborhood roads illustrating the articles. 
 
4. Prepare a petition urging the repair of your neighborhood county roads to be signed by as many neighbors and users of the roads as possible.  Ask the petition signers for their email and postal service addresses so you can follow up with them.  Ask all signers if they are interested in joining the core group of neighbors.  Select events and locations in the neighborhood where signers may be found.
 
5. Armed with many signed petitions (it will take at least a few hundred to get the supervisors’ attention) and a persuasive letter describing the Coalition and its purpose, arrange to begin appearing at monthly meetings of the board of supervisors.  While one or more members of the core group should make the presentations, urge all petition signers to attend the meetings to support the efforts.  Also arrange to meet with the particular supervisor in whose district the neighborhood is located to urge that neighborhood county roads be included among those to be repaired.  For that purpose, arrange also to meet with the director and deputy director of the Sonoma County Transportation & Public Works department, who make recommendations to the supervisors of which roads should be scheduled for repair.  After the meetings, send emails confirming the Coalition’s points.
 
6. Offer to drive the supervisor and Public Works personnel on the neighborhood roads that particularly need repair.  If only certain roads, or even only portions of roads, are in poor or failing condition, identify them for the county personnel who are driven on them.  
 
7. If, as has happened in the recent past, a Sonoma County newspaper or magazine runs a contest to name the “worst” county road, be aggressive in urging the petition signers to vote in support of the worst neighborhood road or roads. 
 
8. We urge you to keep SOSroads updated on your progress.  We will include you in our monthly newsletter, which is read by supervisors and county officials.   
 
In short, it takes a lot of effort by a number of neighbors to convince the county to schedule repair of particular county roads.  But if a road is repaired, it will have been worth the effort.
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