Lance Tamashiro

Lance Tamashiro has 871 articles published.

2 years later: COVID’s impact on California North Coast economy

in Covid
In this photo taken Thursday, March 19, 2020, a temporarily closed sign is posted outside the entrance to the Georges De Latour Reserve Tasting Room at the Beaulieu Vineyard winery in Rutherford, Calif. Wineries in the Napa Valley are closed due to coronavirus restrictions expect for production, but some allow customers to pick up shipments of wine and for direct purchases. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

As the coronavirus pandemic entered its third year, some metrics for the health of the North Bay economy such as overall employment are nearly back to where they were before mid-March 2020.

So the Business Journal compared local counties with similar populations but different public health responses and outcomes. And we checked in with key figures in local industry to see how their businesses have endured the unprecedented threats to life and livelihood.

Sonoma and Solano counties: Different COVID approaches but similar outcomes

Sonoma has been among the California counties with the most proactive public health measures in the past two years, while Solano County has resisted measures.

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2 California counties tackle coronavirus differently but have similar outcomes

in Covid
Iconic landmarks in Sonoma and Solano counties are the Empire Building, left, in Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square and the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat; Portecuaphoto / Shutterstock)

Sonoma and Solano, the North Bay’s two largest counties, are comparable in population.

But they have taken notably different paths toward dealing with the now 2-year-old coronavirus pandemic.

Sonoma has more residents than Solano — 494,000 to 440,000, respectively — but Solano is denser than Sonoma — 503 people per square mile in Solano, compared with 307 per square mile in Sonoma, according to California and U.S. Census Bureau data.

In trying to slow the virus behind COVID-19’s ailments, Sonoma has been among the California counties with the most proactive public health measures since March 2020. At times, the county even went beyond similarly acting counties and cities at times.

“If at times Sonoma County had more restrictive health orders, it was warranted because of conditions in Sonoma County, including case rate, death rate, hospitalizations, etc.,” county spokesperson Matt Brown wrote in an email.

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Santa Rosa City Council advances veterans housing project in Roseland area over neighbors’ opposition

in Housing
The Santa Rosa City Council rejected an appeal of a veterans hosing project on West Hearn Ave. filed by surrounding neighbors, overriding local residents’ concerns about development. The home is a veterans treatment facility, Friday, March 18, 2022. (The Press Democrat) 2022

The Santa Rosa City Council rejected an appeal by neighbors of a veterans housing project in the Roseland area in a 5-2 vote this week, the latest move by the council to override some residents’ concerns about development in the southwestern part of the city in favor of new housing.

The project at 2149 West Hearn Ave. would provide rooms for 32 homeless veterans.

The neighborhood group that filed the appeal contends the project will harm the environment while degrading the rural character of the surrounding community.

The two council members voting in favor of the appeal were Vice Mayor Eddie Alvarez and Councilwoman Natalie Rogers, who represent southwest Santa Rosa. During Tuesday’s council meeting, they voiced support for local veterans but called for new development plans that take into account neighbors’ concerns.

“Our veterans have been to war. They’ve been deployed. They’ve been where people don’t want them,” Rogers said. “I don’t want them to move into a neighborhood where that is the case. I want them to move into a neighborhood where people are welcoming them with open arms.”

Continue Reading on the The Press Democrat

Burlington plans to open Santa Rosa discount clothing store this spring

in Business
Burlington Stores discount clothing store is set to fill the shuttered Office Depot location in Santa Rosa Marketplace, seen here before it closed a few years ago, in spring 2022. The Santa Rosa store will be one of the new smaller-format locations the New Jersey company plans to focus growth on for “higher sales productivity” in coming years. (Keegan & Coppin Co. Inc. photo)

Burlington Stores (NYSE: BURL) plans to open a 31,000-square-foot Santa Rosa store this spring, part of a nationwide expansion of smaller locations.

The New Jersey-based discount clothing retailer sees this as supportable especially because of inflationary pressure on household budgets. Burlington focuses on in-season, fashion-focused merchandise, intended to be significantly below other retailers’ prices. Products include women’s ready-to-wear apparel, menswear, youth apparel, baby, beauty, footwear, accessories, home, toys, gifts and coats.

The coming Santa Rosa location will be in a shuttered Office Depot site at 1960 Santa Rosa Ave. in the Santa Rosa Marketplace power center. It would be Burlington’s third in the North Bay and 94th in California, a company spokesperson confirmed. Burlington also has stores in Rohnert Park and Vacaville.

CEO Michael O’Sullivan said on a March 3 financial-results conference call that the higher-inflation environment could be a risk to the company as lower-income consumers are stressed to pay for more-expensive food, gas and other essentials. But it also could be a “big opportunity” for Burlington, as off-price retail historically has done well in such an economic environment as consumers trade down.

“Usually in times of economic stress when consumers are under pressure, their natural and rational reaction is to focus even more heavily on finding great value,” O’Sullivan said, according to a transcript by Seeking Alpha.

Continue Reading on North Bay Business Journal

Affordable housing projects in Santa Rosa, Windsor awarded $24 million in state loans

in Housing
This rendering shows a planned 54-unit housing development for Kashia tribal members at 10221 Old Redwood Highway.

Two large housing developments in Santa Rosa and Windsor will together receive $24 million in low-interest loans from the state to create over 100 affordable units, the California Department of Housing and Community Development announced this week.

More than $8.5 million will go to the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians of the Stewarts Point Rancheria to help finance a 54-unit complex for low-income tribal members in Windsor. The site at 10221 Old Redwood Highway will also serve as the tribe’s headquarters.

In October, Burbank Housing, the local affordable developer in charge of the project, said it expected financing to take about a year and construction another 18 months. The total cost was unclear since the project was early in development.

Continue Reading on The Press Democrat

NOAA: California drought continues for 3rd year as ‘driest on record’

in Weather

It’s official. California faces a “prolonged, persistent drought” that will “elevate the risk of wildfire across the West,” the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday in its spring outlook that runs through June.

Following three-year precipitation levels that were the “driest on record” for Central California since measurements started in 1922, the “low snowpack going into the dry time of year in May and June” isn’t helping, as NOAA’s meteorologist Brad Pugh pointed out on a virtual press conference call. “This sets the stage for wildfire activity.”

Pugh singled out the Bay Area as an area where “the concern is quite high as we go into spring and early summer” in respect to wildfire danger and water resources drying up.

“We’re running out of time to make up for any precipitation deficit,” he said.

Despite atmospheric river downpours in October and December, January and February were well below normal in producing any type of ground drenching.

Continue Reading on North Bay Business Journal

USA Properties Starts Construction of 164-Unit College Creek Affordable Community in Santa Rosa, California

in Community

SANTA ROSA, CALIF. — USA Properties Fund has started construction of College Creek, an affordable multifamily community for a range of income levels in Santa Rosa. Completion is slated for fall 2023.

Located at 2150 W. College Ave., the 164-unit property is close to downtown Santa Rosa, large shopping centers, healthcare providers and several schools. The community will be available for low-income residents that meet an expanded range of income limits established by the Tax Credit Allocation Committee. Renters earning 30 percent to 70 percent of the area’s median income could quality for residence at College Creek.

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Sutter Health Nurses To Picket In Santa Rosa, More NorCal Cities

in News

Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, 30 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa (Google Maps)

SANTA ROSA, CA — Registered nurses at Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital along with 14 other Sutter health facilities across Northern California will be holding informational pickets Tuesday in protest of the health network’s alleged refusal to address health and safety concerns, the California Nurses Association and the National Nurses United said in a news release Sunday.

The pickets will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Locations include Vallejo, Santa Rosa, Crescent City, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Castro Valley, Antioch, Auburn, Roseville, Tracy, Lakeport, Burlingame, Novato and Sacramento.

“We have been on the front lines before and during this pandemic,” said Amy Erb, a critical care RN at California Pacific Medical Center of San Francisco. “Throughout this time, we have witnessed Sutter Health become profitable while they refuse to invest in the resources, we need in order for us to provide safe and effective care to our patients and community.”

Continue Reading on Patch

Sonoma County gets light rain, with more on the way

in Weather
From left, Kieran and Gavin Edwards join Caleb Slight for a round of disc golf as storm clouds move in above Crane Creek Regional Park, Saturday, March 12, 2022 near Rohnert Park. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2022

Sonoma County could be in for more wet weather in the coming days, following a weak storm system that brought light rain to parts of the North Bay on Monday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologists are anticipating the next arrival of rain Friday night.

“This will definitely be one of the wetter storms we’ve seen so far in 2022,“ said weather service meteorologist Brooke Bingaman, noting that it’s been an unusually dry year so far.

The incoming storm, which is expected to dump most of its moisture on Saturday, will spread across the entirety of the Bay Area, according to Bingaman.

It’s set to bring enough rain to dampen vegetation and temporarily ease concerns about wildfires spreading through dry fuels, Bingaman said.

Most of Sonoma County is expected to see about a quarter-inch of rain through Sunday, when the storm clears out, Bingaman said. The North Bay hills could see up to an inch.

Continue Reading on The Press Democrat

Sonoma County child care advocates eye new local sales tax measure

in Health
Teacher Alondra Ortega, second from right, comforts Leonardo Ramirez, 4, while the other students seek safety on a table while playing Òhot lavaÓ at the North Bay ChildrenÕs Center in Healdsburg on Tuesday, March 8, 2022. (Photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat

Years of wildfires, floods and the COVID-19 pandemic have raised the obstacles facing Sonoma County’s dwindling child care providers, but a new political coalition is aiming to boost the shorthanded network via a new tax measure.

Our Kids Our Future, a Santa Rosa-based campaign that formed in July 2021, is leading a push to put a quarter-cent, countywide sales tax on the ballot in November.

Revenue from the tax, which the group projects to be $22 million annually, will go towards easing access to child care and child health care, both critical issues well before the pandemic.

“The need is pretty universal, it doesn’t matter if you have kids or not,” said Ananda Sweet, Our Kids Our Future’s board president. “Even if you can afford child care, child care is still really hard to find, there’s an access issue.”

The county has 490 operating child care facilities, down 21% from before the pandemic. It has lost 52% of available child care slots, however, since March 2020, according to Melanie Dodson, executive director at the Community Child Care Council of Sonoma County (4Cs), a nonprofit that offers early childhood services for families and tracks local industry data.

Continue Reading on The Press Democrat

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