In addition to enacting a moratorium on new small cell wireless installations, Sebastopol City Council approved two amendments and one rescission of city regulation during the Oct. 30 special meeting.
All three consent agenda items were approved unanimously by a 4-0 vote (Councilmember Sarah Glade Gurney was absent.) The first item confirmed was a pre-zoning and zoning map amendment of approximately 1.92 acres of land between Park Village and the Joe Rodota Trail near Highway 12. The city plans to annex the property and will initiate the process with the Sonoma County Local Agency Formation Commission.
At a previous meeting, Vice Mayor Neysa Hinton introduced an item to the council requesting a change to the city’s social host ordinance. Council voted to amend the ordinance to include cannabis. As written the city’s ordinance only listed alcohol in the regulation intended to stop underage drinking at social gatherings.
The council also approved rescinding the city’s current “trailers” or car camping ordinance because it is not constitutionally enforceable by the police department due to court precedents. Chief James Conner requested the item to eliminate a source of contention and frustration for those who view the lack of enforcement as an unwillingness to address the issue of car camping.
Car camping on Morris Street has been an ongoing issue discussed at meetings by many members of the public who have voiced concerns about waste disposal and employee safety in the Barlow. No formal action has been made to directly address the car camping issue.
Presentation on bike lanes
For approximately 2.5 hours, Steve Weinberger of W-Trans addressed the public and council about the new green bike lanes running through the city on the State Highway 116. The bike lanes have caused a reaction from residents who seem to love or hate them.
A large group of supporters of the bike lanes attended the presentation and made public comment praising the council for their part in the implementation of the city’s Master Bike Plan.
Sebastopol Police Lieutenant Gregory L. DeVore addressed the council and public about implementing bike laws. DeVore said the police department was giving out warnings to people driving or parking in the bike lanes, but that warning period is over.
“With the changes on roadways we thought it would be best for first month or so to educate the public,” DeVore said. “We have now started to move beyond that and are giving citations.”
CalTrans has plans to make some modifications to the bike lanes based on public feedback. To view slides and information from the bike lane presentation, visit http://ci.sebastopol.ca.us/getattachment/Meeting-Event/City-Council/2018/Special-City-Council-Meeting-October-30,-2018/Agenda-Item-Number-5-10-30-18-Info-Bike-Lane-Presentation-(1).pdf.aspx.
New lights shine on the city
After numerous appearances on the council agenda starting in December 2017, council approved replacing all PG&E streetlights with 2700 Kelvin LED fixtures. The replacement is part of a PG&E program for retrofitting the streetlights in Sebastopol from high-pressure sodium (HPS) to light emitting diode (LED). Public Works Superintendent, Dante Del Prete said the majority of the streetlights in the city are owned by PG&E.
Over the last year, the city has conducted three trials with a variety of LED lights for the public to view. Geoff Pollard, PG&E customer care manager, said if the council did not approve the program offering the 2700-Kelvin LED lights, they would be replacing the lights with a brighter LED version in the future.
“We have been here five times to try to work out a plan,” Pollard said. “The window is closing.”
The current lights used by PG&E need to be replaced every five years. Pollard said the new lights come with a 10-year warranty and a 20-year life expectancy. Council approved the program in a 3-1 vote; Councilmember Michael Carnacchi was the solo nay vote stating there needed to be more public outreach.
Council enacts small cell moratorium; no new small cell towers for now
Sebastopol City Council spent little time debating an urgency update that would automatically reject any incoming small cell wireless applications. With one member absent (Sarah Glade Gurney), the council voted 4-0 in favor of a moratorium on small cell installation applications.
“What this proposal is, is to maintain the status quo while the actual ordinance is worked through the process,” said Mayor Patrick Slayter during the Oct. 30 council meeting.
The moratorium is on any new telecommunication installations in the public-right-of-way. The last major update to the city’s telecommunications ordinance was in 1996, a decade before the first iPhone was released.
Under the moratorium the city will not accept any new telecommunication applications until they have developed regulations that have addressed installation in public right of ways. Planning director Kari Svanstrom said the city will focus on process updates, investigating new technologies and making sure the city is aligned with state and federal regulations.
In September the Federal Communications Commission rolled out regulations to streamline 5G technologies, the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications. The new technology could enable faster connections and broader coverage, but also requires more individual equipment installations. Major components of the new F.C.C. rules include setting a clock of 60 to 90 days for local officials to approve or reject installation requests from wireless carriers and limits how much city officials can charge to deploy 5G cell facilities.
The move prompted opposition from cities across the country who feel it infringes on the rights of local governments. Earlier this year Verizon wireless withdrew applications to install small cell equipment on existing utility poles in Sebastopol after a public outcry over safety concerns.
The city passed a resolution of intent in March to initiate an update to the current telecommunications ordinance allowing time for the zoning ordinance update to be completed. The final phase of the zoning ordinance update has been approved.
Svanstrom called the ordinance update “legally and technically complicated” and expects to extend the moratorium on Dec. 4 for another 45 days before presenting it to council for approval next year. “We anticipate coming back to council in the late winter/early spring.”