I have been in Santa Rosa for a few years and have wondered about the strip of apple orchard that runs east-west through the east side of town.  Looking at Google Maps, it appears to be the completion of Highway 12 that never was.  It begins where Highway 12 dead ends at Farmer’s Lane, crosses Summerfield, and disappears around Spring Lake. Was there a plan to extend the road all the way to Spring Lake?  If so, why wasn’t it completed?  Who owns that strip of land now? — Meg Hentges  

Yes, there was a plan to build a Highway 12 bypass on that strip of apple orchard and across Spring Lake Regional Park, with the state buying parcels of land along what was then the city’s southern border between the 1950s and the 1970s. Opponents successfully fought that plan, leaving behind a two-mile swath of undeveloped land.

The Santa Rosa City Council has since thrown its weight behind a plan to turn that land into a greenbelt for bicycles, pedestrians, parks, gardens, public places, environmental restoration and limited development. The so-called Southeast Greenway would also provide an east-west link for bicycles.

In October 2012, Press Democrat city hall reporter Kevin McCallum wrote that the council agreed to ask Caltrans to consider “alternative non-motorized uses” for the 300-feet wide strip of unused land between Farmers Lane and Summerfield Road.  That would set the stage for the agency to declare the property surplus, which would allow it to sell or transfer the land to another agency or nonprofit. 

City staff members and Southeast Greenway Committee members continue to discuss that option with Caltrans.