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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Santa Rosa Mayor Says: Come to Downtown Eateries

By Mayor Tom Schwedhelm

It’s safe to say that 2020 is not going the way anyone could have envisioned it. Given these extraordinary circumstances, we, at the City of Santa Rosa, are doing everything we can to keep our community and families safe, and things as “normal” as possible.

This pandemic is testing us and disrupting our daily lives. As a father of two adult children, I recall the challenges of keeping my kids safe and entertained. Back then it was also a struggle to keep kids off screens, active, and moving outdoors. But I feel for parents today who have so much more to grapple with than just the “summer slide.”
As a City, we have been hard at work to open opportunities for families within Santa Rosa and create a Safe Sonoma Summer.

The Open & Out Business Program was launched in July to create additional outdoor space in our downtown. Parking spots, select street locations, Courthouse Square, and sidewalks are being used for the safe reopening of outdoor dining at Santa Rosa’s restaurants and eventually will be used for broader business activities as allowed by the Sonoma County Public Health Orders. Fun new art elements by local artists are also underway in this area. I invite families to plan an outing to 4th Street and discover a new shop or restaurant to enjoy in this safer, open-air setting.

Recreation programs have been re-envisioned to provide safer care and entertainment options for children. This summer, our staff provided modified summer camps for 570 children, including youth from at-risk neighborhoods, and provided virtual tutoring for children in need. Our goal is to continue offering safer care options for families as well as assist with distance learning well into the fall and winter. launched. This online marketplace brings the goods and services of merchants, makers, and keepers of shops, bars, and inns to our community. It’s another, safer way to explore Santa Rosa’s diverse array of small businesses, from arts to eats.

Civic engagement has never been easier. Since we cannot gather together, all of the City of Santa Rosa’s public and city council meetings are available online. It’s a great option for parents who need to stay home to watch their children or want to get older kids interested and active in their local government.

While we are excited for the promise of these programs, we must acknowledge that the City of Santa Rosa will modify all programs and practices if and when the Sonoma County Public Health Officer guides us to. Learn the latest information on the Sonoma County Public Health Order at

While the future remains uncertain, of one thing I am certain: We are a resilient community. Together we will weather this storm and rise again even stronger and more cohesive. Until the day comes when we can return to some semblance of normalcy, please know that we, at the City of Santa Rosa, never stop working hard to keep families and the community safe.

Wear a face covering, frequently wash your hands, and be well. 

Tom Schwedhelm is the mayor of Santa Rosa.