City Council educated over the role of tourism in economy

Published on : Thursday, November 9, 2017

download (16)On Monday night, the Healdsburg City Council had just started to talk about how to approach marketing in terms of tourism in the community when members at City Hall expressed their feelings.


“People in this community have their businesses on the line,” said infuriated Alan Baker, owner of Cartograph Wines. “Pissing and moaning over 90 grand is foolish,” he said, mentioning about a council discussion on what could be possibly done in order to amend the Healdsburg Tourism Improvement District’s (HTID) annual $600,000 budget in increments of 15 percent ($90,000).


However, other speakers used few offensive and colorful language at Monday night’s meeting. But, they were no less passionate about the wave of impact on recent firestorms.


Ariel Kelley, board chair of Corazón Healdsburg, informed the council that Corazón clients are suffering a lot as many of whom work in service jobs.


“People who are served by Corazón got laid off and it hasn’t come back,” Kelley said. “If no one slept in that hotel room last night, it doesn’t need to be cleaned. People with shift work are not getting hours. The impact of the fires has exacerbated the economic divide in our community.”


Brian Sommer, manager of Les Mars Hotel and head of the HTID board, explained that Napa County is investing millions in order to lure tourists. Competing is getting tricky, particularly when national media is painting picture, depicting that Sonoma County is destroyed by fire.


However, other speakers repeated to the council that tourism welcomes ancillary profit that echo throughout the community.


Debbie Mason, CEO of Healthcare Foundation Northern Sonoma County, explained that the financial support that foundation gets to support local healthcare doesn’t come from locals. “The money that went to improving Healdsburg District Hospital, about half that money came from second home owners,” Mason said.

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