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    Posted July 30, 2015 by
    Santa Rosa, California

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    Progressiveness marches on: North Bay housing crisis


    July 29, 2015


    Hundreds took to the streets of Santa Rosa on Wednesday demanding progressive politics, specifically, rent control due to the current housing crisis. Right to a Roof/Derecho al Techo was the march led by the North Bay Organizing Project that started in one of the most neglected neighborhoods of the soon to be incorporated Roseland all the way to City Hall.


    Julie Combs is the city council member who has brought the issue to the table at the council where she has met resistance from Mayor John Sawyer and the only Latino council Ernest Olivares. Combs told KBBF “Richmond has had a large transformation of their city council, they’ve elected a very progressive city council, just having a few extra votes in the council can be very helpful, you know, if we have a seven member council, if we had four progressives we can move many more things in the council.”


    “We need rent control now” said Cindy Dickinson, a college nurse practitioner who was holding a sign that read “Rent Control and Affordable Housing” next to Ana Salgado, a known activist for the Andy Lopez cause.


    The march drew hundreds of tenants and workers from five districts, people of all ages and colors showed up indicating that the housing crisis is not a problem of just Santa Rosa, but of the whole region affecting the elderly, the students, the middle class, whites, blacks, Latinos and many others as it does affect children.


    The North Bay Organizing Project has been a voice in all of the city council meetings and has held forums across the county; while they may not have the financial means that special interest groups do such as realtors and developers, they count on the support of community coalitions. The grassroots movement such as the march, is looking up to the newly elected progressive Richmond City Council.
    Richmond Council Eduardo Martinez made an appearance at KBBF studios in Santa Rosa to talk about rent control, grassroots coalitions and progressiveness last week.


    The march was led by Aztec dancers for the two plus miles with many elderly people smiling and chanting with signs in their hands; cars honking in approval, residents coming out of their homes to both watch and approve of the movement. Once at City Hall, a roll call was done naming the politicians that have voted against rent control (crowd booed) and the ones that have voted in favor.


    Speakers from all five districts included African American Pastor Lee Turner,
    Rabbi George Gittleman, a speaker from Unite Here 2850, one from SEIU 1021, local Roseland home owner Ron Lopez, Sonoma Valley's Cruz Muñoz, Healdsburg's Laura Arreguin, Rhonert Park/Cotati's Student Kimberly Soeiro, Petaluma's Sasha Tuttleman, Santa Rosas's Nicollette McGowan whose seven-year-old son Justice addressed the council on a recent meeting and told them of the nightmares he has endured because of the housing crisis. This diversity is representative of the region, yet mostly under-represented in the county's politics.


    MC and young activist Karim Sanchez told KBBF in Spanish “We have to change our values, our way of thinking, for me, it is more important that a person has a bathroom, a kitchen and a bed to sleep in at night, we need to change our economic system.”


    Rabbi Gittleman said: “There something wrong here, when there is a community that needs you to run it, but does not give you enough to live on, it's wrong.”


    “North Bay! Beware! Rent increases are everywhere!” said one of the chants as the march walked down Sebastopol Rd underscoring that the problem is a wide one affecting residents everywhere.


    “I'm an graduate student of SSU and  current student at Mills; I am putting over half of my income just for rent.” Kimberly Soeiro told the crowd outside the Santa Rosa City Hall.


    During closing remarks at the City Hall, one of the speaker asked the marchers to raise their hands if they are going to be present on September 1 when the city council reconvenes the talks regarding rent control. “We'll be back, we'll be back.” the marchers chanted.

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