Russian River Valley News
Deep into Summer Season
By Vesta Copestakes
This column has been reprinted with the permission of Neighbors of the Russian River Valley.*
By now we have adapted to living among people we don’t know shopping at our local grocery stores, dining at our favorite restaurants, walking sidewalks downtown, and staying in short-term vacation rentals in our neighborhoods. Because we also value this stunningly beautiful location along the Russian River, we totally understand why people want to vacation here. Lucky us, we live here all year long. For 6 months out of the year, this slice of heaven is mostly just ours. We share the rest of the year.
If you live in a neighborhood with vacation rentals, remember that the most important tool in your toolbox for problems is the county’s 24-7 HOTLINE: (707) 875-6619. Tell the operator your problem, ie: noise, bright lights, barking dogs, firepit, parking, parties, etc. The operator will contact the property manager to get the problem resolved. If the issue is not resolved during the required response time frame (60 minutes during daytime hours – OR – 30 minutes 10pm – 7am), submit a complaint to the Vacation Rental Hotline. Property managers want to know when problems arise, so don’t be shy. Maintaining this business in residential neighborhoods requires working in concert with neighbors. It’s good for business.
Fire Season is Upon Us
Even the State recognizes that Fire Season is all year long now. We felt pretty safe this winter with lovely downpours making everything soaking wet. But now that grasses are golden instead of green, and the air is dry, we have to be especially careful.
You probably received a property inspection report on your door from CalFire back in June, which was followed up by a SoCo Fire District inspection. These entities operate separately so perform the inspections separately as well. CalFire (fire.ca.gov) is responsible for protecting all unincorporated Sonoma County, and SoCo Fire (sonomacountyfd.org) is responsible for defending areas that are within their jurisdiction. They still work with fire departments in local communities because ALL of these teams work together to keep us safe.
Everyone will tell you that the most important area to protect is your home and the five feet from your outer walls to the nearest flammable object. Nothing should be flammable in that zone. NOTHING! From there out, reduce risk by creating spaces between trees and shrubbery under them, and from shrubbery foliage to the ground. Use non-flammable mulch to hold moisture in the earth. Cover all vents into your home with 1/16th inch metal mesh to keep flying embers from entering your house. Get to know your neighbors so you can coordinate during emergencies.
West County has several Fire Safe Councils (saferwestcounty.org) that have tables at local events and farmers markets (Tuesday in Forestville and Thursdays in Guerneville & Occidental) to pass out information, give away free weather radios, and answer questions. There are FREE chipper programs neighborhoods can use to clean up dangerous vegetation. There’s even a Tool Trailer you can borrow when neighborhoods conduct a cleanup. AND – Fire Safe Sonoma has a program to help low income residents clean up their properties. Visit firesafesonoma.org for programs and information that guide you through fire safety and emergency preparedness.
Make sure you are signed up for ALERTS. SoCoEmergency.org has links to every safety service you need no matter what the emergency. Nixle (nixle.com) and WatchDuty (watchduty.org) become our constant companions through the fire season. Staying informed is part of how we get through summer and fall until rains begin again. BE FIRE SAFE!
Play Tourist at Home
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to PLAY in our own backyard. We get involved in daily life so we often forget that Monte Rio Theater (monteriotheaterandextravaganza.com) runs movies, that the 3rd Friday of every month in Forestville has movies in the Forestville Youth Park (forestvilleyouthpark.org) that is 100% family-friendly (bring blankets – the snack shack is open), and that downtown Guerneville brought back Rockin’ the River after Covid shut down dance parties, but this year it’s ONE concert on Saturday, August 20th. INFO: rockintheriver.net.
We wonder how long it will take to recover from Covid’s impact on our society and realize that we will never go back to how we lived before – BUT – there are benefits like Zoom communications for meetings and classes which are cutting commutes and opening opportunities…for one. What else? Perhaps just appreciating who is in our lives and what we share in this exceptional Russian River community is the most valuable benefit for all of us.
* River Valley News column will be published in the August, 2023 Neighbors of the Russian River Valley (Best Version Media), a monthly magazine distributed to neighbors in the Russian River Valley. Reprinted with permission. For more info, go to their Facebook page, here.