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Terry Sanders Santa Rosa City Council District 4 v2.png


Terry Sanders Headshot.png
Terry Sanders for Santa Rosa City Council

Important Issues

As your next City Council representative, I will keep my sleeves rolled up and work for you! There are so many needs in Santa Rosa, and too little action…it’s time to put our community first. We deserve better, and I will always keep an open door to listen to your concerns.


As I embark on my campaign for City Council, my Top 10 priorities focus on:


Housing affordability. Building affordable housing is important, but we also need to look at all our options. We need to look at programs our City can offer to first time homebuyers; more robust rental assistance programs for those on the brink of housing insecurity; and programs to help lower-income renters put down first and last month’s rent deposits. Furthermore, housing proposals in the downtown core and other areas already zoned for housing should be prioritized to make those zoning designations a reality by creating the housing we so desperately need. Having a son in High School, and soon to be college, I want him to have an opportunity to move back to Santa Rosa. I will be your advocate for housing affordability issues as a member of the City Council.


Homelessness. Despite tens, if not hundreds of millions spent on homelessness in our community (did you know spending on homelessness is up 550% since the start of the pandemic?) homelessness continues to be a critical quality-of-life issue in Santa Rosa. Downtown businesses should not be forced to clean human waste off their entryways just to open their business each and every day, nor should residents in the downtown core and areas like North Street, Chanate Road and other neighborhoods have to deal with RV parking or encampments. As your next City Councilmember, I will encourage Santa Rosa to take a tougher stance on homelessness: As a firefighter, I understand compassion. But we need to better balance compassion for those in need of and willing to accept services, with those who reject the calls for help while adding waste, drug paraphernalia and other issues in our public places…while it’s true there are limitations to eradicating homelessness, we need to decide: at what point do we enforce the laws already on the books to their fullest extent, which also ties into the reality we see on our streets each day: when is enough, enough?


Fire prevention and preparedness. As a fire survivor and 23-year firefighting veteran, I promise to be a fierce advocate for fire prevention and preparedness. When the Tubbs Fire broke out on October 8-9, 2017, one of my first stops was to Fire Station 5 in Fountaingrove, which was destroyed that night, along with my home and the homes of thousands of my fellow neighbors. Communicating with our community during Tubbs showed me the power of community engagement and maintaining an open line of communication during a time of crisis. It also allowed me to see firsthand the shortcomings of emergency alert and warning systems that night. While I commend Sonoma County for taking the lead to streamline their Office of Emergency Services (OES) in the years since 2017 and for the bravery of our first responders who made every effort to protect life and property in those harrowing hours, I know we need a representative who understands these issues firsthand as we move forward and face the next disaster—instead of grandstanding about reinvesting PG&E settlement funds secured by trial lawyers for one-time, non-recurring General Fund uses on programs that have nothing to do with fire recovery, prevention, or preparedness.


Climate change and the environment. As I watch my son grow into a young adult, I want him to return to Santa Rosa to live, work, and raise a family. Even should he choose to move elsewhere, I know how important it is to take bold leadership on climate change and the environment to protect this special place for future generations. To those ends, I will support efforts that curb greenhouse gases (GHG’s) and protect the natural landscape. To achieve this, we must get even more aggressive on electrification of our city and transit vehicle fleets, incentivize solar arrays on existing buildings, and through public-private partnerships, encourage greater energy efficiency in our most outdated buildings through programs like the Sonoma County Energy Independence Office. With transportation accounting for the largest local source of GHG’s, opportunity in this area is ripe to make a meaningful difference.


Chanate Road redevelopment. The Chanate Road redevelopment process has been nothing short of disastrous. After selling the property to Las Vegas developer Eddie Haddad, local news sources reported a number of rumors for the Chanate property. There have been suggestions from the developer for the prospects of a shopping center, a large number of homes, or even a casino on the former Sutter Hospital campus. This is unacceptable from both an emergency preparedness and neighborhood impact perspective. Chanate Road is one lane in each direction! As I saw during the 2017 wildfires, this road is NOT designed for thousands of additional cars on a daily basis.  What I do know for certain at this juncture is: WE DESERVE BETTER REPRESENTATION ON THIS ISSUE! And I am ready to serve you TO DO BETTER.


Crime and safety. As a 23-year firefighter, I am the only candidate for District 4 who has a public safety background. In fact, if elected, I would be the only first responder on the Santa Rosa City Council, given our outgoing District 6 Councilmember/former Santa Rosa Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm is retiring. I think it’s so important to have a voice on Council for our first responders, especially as we address the growing realities of wildfires and other natural disasters. As a dog owner who regularly walks the Grace Tract neighborhood, I will also support giving law enforcement continued discretion to address malicious animals that endanger other residents or their pets. My collaboration with first responders has led to both the Santa Rosa Firefighters Association and Santa Rosa Police Officers Association to endorse my candidacy—because they know we deserve better on public safety issues.


Streets, sidewalks, and our transportation infrastructure. Over the last four years, roads have been underfunded to the tune of nearly $5 million a year, while Pavement Condition Index (PCI) scores are down. This scoring system, considered the gold standard for road conditions, noted that the majority of Santa Rosa roads are in an “at-risk,” “poor,” or “failed” condition. The current Councilmember highlights one District 4 road that has been repaved during their first term in office, but there are far too many others that need to be repaved, but when? I will prioritize funding for smoother streets and other infrastructure improvements as a member of the City Council.


Downtown revitalization. As a member of the Wednesday Night Market Executive Board and as a small business owner myself for more than 10 years, I regularly visit and appreciate all that downtown Santa Rosa has to offer. Seeing the plight of downtown businesses spurred me to personally visit our downtown businesses recently, and one recurring theme in my discussion with business owners is the need to address homelessness, the need for a more engaged representative on the City Council they can keep an open line of communication with, the need for practical parking fees that don’t hinder business opportunities, and the need to develop new housing. I am committed to being a more proactive, communicative representative for downtown businesses as a member of the City Council.


Structural budget deficits. As one-time funds dry up and structural budget deficits loom, we must take a holistic look at our city’s budget and determine: what areas of funding need greater focus, and where should we hit the pause button and reset? As I think about the myriad needs of Santa Rosans, there’s no question we need to staff up in Planning & Building to create more of the housing we need faster, while also re-evaluating spending on homelessness to assess what’s working and what isn’t. As we address those critical quality-of-life issues, we can also look at areas of waste (such as the proposal to increase Councilmember pay tenfold, which my opponent/the current District 4 Councilmember pushed for) to prioritize spending on the areas of greatest need: housing, homelessness, road repairs, and investments that keep our community safe while protecting our incredible natural environment.


Investing in our youth and our future. As a parent (and as any parent can tell you), our youth are our future. Having quality parks, recreational opportunities and other amenities for young families is incredibly important. I’m inspired by community-building events like the Wednesday Night Market and Movie Nights in Howarth Park, and want to continue to support and encourage city staff to build upon these efforts to create a more inclusive, family-friendly community for Santa Rosans.

Short-Term Rentals. My position is simple. Quiet enjoyment of one's home and neighborhood are my north star. That is the ultimate goal. Not just with Short Term Rentals (STR)'s, but also with bad long-term tenants, bad home-owning neighbors, sideshows, fireworks etc. There is an emergency ordinance right now that caps non-hosted STR's at 198. Until that ordinance changes (which it will), the role of the Council is to put into place a robust enforcement mechanism to ensure those operators are compliant, good neighbors.  

No homeowner should have to police the STR next door. There is technology including decibel readers and devices that at intervals, will count the number of mobile phones in and around the home and there are cameras that can count the number of cars and people coming into a home. Notifications can be sent to the STR operator, and code enforcement personnel and police can instantly be notified, and fines automated, while potentially suspending licenses without ever having to send someone to the offending home (except for when a police response is needed). 

That 400-person party that was recently broken up by the Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) should have never happened. If the penalties imposed aren’t tough, then we are not doing our job.

The council dodged the opportunity to outright ban non-hosted STRs when they held the emergency ordinance hearing on August 9. Since non-hosted STR's are legal in Santa Rosa (for now) I believe that it is a Councilmember’s responsibility to see to it that they are given every opportunity to succeed in being a good neighbor.  I don't believe that the Council should set a standard or a cap (198 in this case) and then sit on their hands and root for failure. That's not representative governance.  That is picking winners and losers and assigning victims and villains. This pits neighbor against neighbor, and I won't participate in that type of dialogue on any issue in Santa Rosa.

Sometimes the identification and amplification of a problem is far more useful to those seeking to stay in office than it is to engage in the hard work to find equitable solutions to those problems.

If the District 4 Councilmember truly believed that non-hosted short-term rentals should be banned from residential neighborhoods, she should have advocated for that on August 9. She didn't do that but instead advocated for the 198 cap. You will have to ask her why.

I want all short-term rental operators to understand that operating an STR in our community is a privilege, not a right and I will have zero problem with rescinding permits or imposing penalties from those who can't reasonably control their business or occupants.

Join the Campaign!

I hope to count on your support in this election. If you are already planning to Vote Terry Sanders, please let me and others know by adding your name to my list of endorsements or getting involved with the campaign by placing a yard sign at your home or business, walking precincts with me, calling supporters, and other activities.

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