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North Bay Organizing Project report shows picture of two counties in Sonoma

Posted by: Gordon on 1/28/2016
NBOP protest in Sonoma County

Life for the wealthiest is looking rosy in Sonoma County, but skyrocketing rentals on sub-standard apartments, failure to support students, and increasing poverty are also part of the picture there according to a new report by North Bay Organizing Project. Photo by Gerry La Londe-Berg

The news from Sonoma County reads literally like a tale of two cities: airplane traffic is on the rise from Sonoma County airport (which benefited from a $55 million runway lengthening), but the county can't afford to subsidize buses to school for K-12 kids. Unemployment is decreasing, but low-wage jobs are on the rise and salaries are nowhere near matching the increases in the costs to rent a home.

Yesterday the contrasting pictures came to a head as Inside the Doubletree Hotel, the Sonoma County Economic Development Board state of the county address painted a picture of a vibrant economy. Outside, North Bay Organizing Project leaders protested that the county is ignoring families.

North Bay released their own report contrasting the challenges that people in the county face with the rosy picture painted for the 1% in the county. Among their findings:

  • Over a third of Sonoma County families live in poverty
  • Rents in Sonoma County are so high it is now becoming difficult to recruit and retain teachers for local  K-12 schools
  • Almost half (45.9%) of Sonoma County households with children have incomes below the self- sufficiency standard
  • Between 2009 and 2014, poverty increased for both Latinos and Whites; an average of 19.6% of Latinos in Sonoma County live at or below the poverty line, compared to 9.3% of white residents

"The Board of Supervisors voted against getting k-12 kids to school for a cost of $248,262 a year, yet the County’s Tourism Board just gave $500,000 dollars to the Super Bowl to subsidize wineries,” Transit Riders United member Janis Watkins said.

Despite a broad consensus the county faces a housing crisis, there are “no protections in place for tenants, and profit-driven evictions are displacing our residents every day,” added NBOP Vice President Sibyl Day. She and other leaders have proposed rent stabilization and just cause eviction policies to curb these abuses.

Read the NBOP Report 

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