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RP Sucks, Part 2

It seems that Sonoma County groundwater conservation activists such as the OWL Foundation aren't the only ones concerned about Rohnert Park's new water supply assessment (WSA), approved by the city council Jan. 25. The San Francisco region of the California Regional Water Control Board weighed in with a letter sent to the Rohnert Park planning department on the day of the meeting. At issue is Lichau Creek, which runs between Cotati and Petaluma. The creek and its associated watershed lies outside of both the North Coast Regional Water Control Board district and the new WSA's study area. Nevertheless, Rohnert Park's ambitious development plans, particularly in the Canon Manor area, may affect the creek, which lies inside the San Francisco region. That's problematic, the letter says, because the creek--and by extension, the watershed, including groundwater supplies--supports a run of steelhead trout species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. According to the letter, the new WSA ignores the specific groundwater modeling study used in Rohnert Park's 2000 general plan environmental impact report as well as other significant studies done in the past. Despite receiving the letter in advance of the meeting, the city council approved the new WSA anyway.

Sutter Blinks

On Jan. 28, Sutter Health backed off the ultimatum it issued to the Marin Healthcare District board earlier in the month. Sutter, the largest hospital chain in Northern California, had previously insisted that the board must immediately approve the 50-year lease the corporation is seeking for Marin General Hospital in order to complete extensive earthquake retrofitting required by state guidelines. Now Sutter says it will give the board several new deadlines to consider options, including a May 31 deadline to build a new hospital at another location within the district; July 31 to reach agreement on which option to pursue; and Nov. 8 to gain voter approval for bonds to support the project. The district board is expected to approve Sutter's proposal. So, has Sutter suddenly gone soft? Not according to Linda Remy, a health policy analyst at UC San Francisco and a member of the Marin Safe Health Care Coalition. "They extended by a few days what's going to happen anyway," she says. "We're not too happy about it." Remy's chief complaint against Sutter's operation of Marin General Hospital? Since 1995, the year Sutter took over the hospital, MGH has been cited 400 times for patient safety violations by the federal government. That compares to zero violations between 1995 and 1983, the year such data was first collected.

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From the February 9-15, 2005 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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