November 29-December 5, 2006

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By Patricia Lynn Henley

Art: it's the law

Developers of new commercial projects in Santa Rosa will have to spend 1 percent of their costs on public art, either at the site or by contributing to a city fund. Last week the Santa Rosa City Council agreed unanimously to create a downtown arts district of just over a square mile, from Railroad Square to Brookwood Avenue, and College Avenue to Bennett Valley Road. The council also voted 4-3 to require large commercial developments citywide to pay 0.5 percent the first year and 1 percent thereafter. That will be added to $280,000 in redevelopment funds already earmarked for the new arts district. Arts Council of Sonoma president Michael Friedenberg applauds the move. "It's a very significant step for Santa Rosa in its progress toward being an urban center and the cultural harbor for the North Bay."

Cash for kids

The folks at Canal Alliance are looking for financial support for their Holiday Gift Fund to bring a little cheer to about 150 youngsters they work with in San Rafael's largely low-income immigrant Canal neighborhood. The goal is to give each one a $50 gift certificate to a local mall so the kids can buys gifts for themselves or people they love. "We did this last year and it was so great we're doing it again this year," says Canal Alliance Events Manager Tracy Brusman. These kids range in age from kindergarten to college, and most are new to this country, Brusman says. "A lot of these kids are trying to do homework and learn English at the same time. They work very hard." If more money is raised than is needed for the gift certificates, it will be used to support range of community programs, such as childcare, tutoring, parent leadership and English language classes. To contribute, call Brusman at 415.306.0437, e-mail [email protected] or mail to Canal Alliance, attn. Holiday Gift Fund, 91 Larkspur St., San Rafael, CA 94901.

Another Wal-Mart?

Recently, the Vallejo City Council approved in-depth environmental and economic studies for a proposed a 393,000-square-foot Wal-Mart supercenter at the corner of Redwood Street and Sonoma Boulevard in Vallejo. That's just four miles from a 176,000-square-foot Wal-Mart now under construction in American Canyon, just east of Highway 29 in Napa; it's slated to open in a few months. Wal-Mart officials reportedly say the two supercenters would not overlap, because they will serve different market areas.

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