June 21-27, 2006

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By Patricia Lynn Henley

Grove for Sale

While residents fight to keep Rohnert Park's Sonoma Grove Trailer Park true to its funky, affordable past, owner Theresa Thurman of Lakeport hopes to sell it for $12.375 million, more than triple what she paid for it just last November. The 5.5-acre, 152-unit property on Cristobal Road has been on the market about a month, with no offers but a lot of interest, says real estate agent Ken Bizzell. While a few potential buyers would keep it as a trailer park, most inquiries are from developers. There's nothing in the current zoning to prevent a new owner from razing the park and building high-density residential housing, says city manager Stephen Donley. Attorney David Graybill, who is assisting Grove residents, says nonprofit groups asked to acquire the place to run it as low-cost housing, but got no response from Thurman. Several Grove denizens withheld steep rent increases imposed by Thurman, and about 20 evictions were filed two months ago. "We're optimistic the cases will be resolved in the tenants' favor," Graybill says. If a developer buys the property, everything would change. "We would like to talk with the owner about ways to preserve this affordable community," he adds.

Coasting Out of Gas

It's use it or lose it for Bolinas residents. Bo Gas on Wharf Road is operated by the Bolinas Community Land Trust as part of its affordable-housing project, and even as the town's only gas station it lost $27,000 last year. An independent station, it pays higher wholesale costs than large-chain counterparts, so its prices are higher. Officials say most folks in Bolinas buy about 16 percent of their gas in town; making that 33 percent would keep Bo Gas open. The highway is often closed by winter storms, says Bolinas fire chief Anita Brown, and if a disaster struck, folks could be on their own in finding fuel for cars, generators and power tools. There are a thousand gallons of gas and a thousand gallons of diesel stored at the fire department, but during a disaster, that would be for emergency vehicles only. Saving Bo Gas is the best answer, Brown says. "I think folks should make a commitment to buy at least half their gas in town. It will cost a little more, but it's well worth it."

Phone Captive

A Calistoga resident lost his cell phone, only to have a young man call demanding $100 for its return, with the money delivered to him in Pioneer Park. The victim reported the ransom demand to the Calistoga Police Department. An officer went along to observe the transaction, but no one appeared to claim the $100 and the cell phone wasn't recovered.

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