Notes from the Sept. 17 meeting
For the last several years, John Necker has attended Sebastopol City Council meetings and written up his impressions in Necker’s Notes, a satirical take on the city council in action. He has kindly allowed us to reprint an expurgated version of his column. For the full (and uncut) version, see sebastopolcitizens.org.
Roll call: Mayor Neysa Hinton, Vice Mayor Patrick Slayter, Council member Una Glas, Council member Michael Carnacchi. Council Member Sarah Glade Gurney was absent.
Fire Department Years of Service awards were given to Alexander Roa (five years), Joseph Aiello (five years), Venessa Mann (15 years), Matthew Senn (15 years, son of the fellow below) and Raymond Senn (40 years, which translates to over 25,000 emergency calls). Randy Bratton received an award for 25 years with the fire department and 17 years with public works.
The council proclaimed Sept. 21 International Day of Peace, September as National Senior Center Month, Oct. 2 as Walk and Roll to School Day and Clean Air Day.
But Wait, There’s More
Immediately following the presentations, Council Member Glass asked for an emergency ordinance to prevent PG&E from installing smart meters at Fircrest Mobile Home Park as part of upgrading the gas and electrical there. After a long discussion, the city voted to send a “strongly worded” letter to PG&E and the owner of the park supporting those in the park who don’t want smart meters.
Public comment: Speakers discussed “molecular disassociation,” tree roots making sidewalks unsafe and the ongoing problem of homelessness on Morris Street.
Consent Calendar (Consented to 4:0)
• The following planning commissioners are being termed out on Dec. 31, 2019: Evert Fernandez, Linda Kelley, Colin Doyle (vice chair) and Gerald Glaser (alternate). Staff will begin the recruitment process to fill those openings, and you may apply then.
• The following design review board members are being termed out on Dec. 31, 2019: Lars Langberg, Christine Level and Ron Hari. Staff will begin the recruitment process to fill those openings and you may apply then.
• If you are more artistic in nature, you may apply for the openings that will occur on Dec. 31 on the Public Arts Committee. The seats that are opening are those of Warren Arnold, Jen Vertz (vice chair) and one seat that is currently open.
• The city sent a form to Cal OES that could result in some funding for the damages that occurred during the flood. It bounced because it didn’t get done by a resolution. That was corrected tonight.
• The council approved requesting bids for two RV pads with hookups. The plan is get the $142,700 needed using a HEAP grant and not tap your general fund. We’ll see what happens when those bids come in.
• After repeated requests from residents in the Valley View area, the council approved reducing the speed limit on Bodega Avenue from west of Pleasant Hill Avenue North to the western city limits, from 40 mph to 35 mph. A traffic study conducted by W-Trans supported this action.
• To celebrate the above mentioned Clear Air Day, the council approved “planting of a large Valley Oak and California Sycamore in Ives Park, a Tupelo-Nyssa sylvatica 'wildfire' tree at the Sebastopol Fire Department and begin a native Valley Oak grove on the natural hillside along Morris Street across from the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center.” It’s currently budgeted but there was no mention of the actual cost.
Regular Agenda Items
• W-Trans gave a report on CVS funded traffic synchronization study that was completed this spring, after the installation of the “Green Mile.” The cost was covered by a $45,000 grant from CVS. In that settlement, Small Town Sebastopol, which also sued the city, got $105,000 for their legal fees from CVS while Sebastopol lost $300,000 of its own cash on legal eagles. (Passed 4:0)
• Council Member Carnacchi, with the help of city staff, introduced the idea of imposing a 2% tax on the pot businesses. Council member Carnacchi wanted the tax to go to improving Ives Park but the $100K a year that would be generated would fall far short of the $3.7 million that is needed to repair the park. According to Vice Mayor Patrick Slayter, who had a hand in the writing the Ives Park Master Plan Report in 2013, the piecemeal approach is out as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that any improvements must make the whole park ADA-compliant at once. And, because of the timing, this would have to be a “special tax” that needs a 67% voter approval. Mayor Hinton made it clear, and her fellow council members seemed to agree, that while no action would take place tonight, it was likely to happen in the future as we are the only pot town in the county without such a tax.
• Voting instructions were given to the mayor and/or her representatives relating to business of various local and state entities.
A Parting Shot
Note to city: At 12:34 p.m. northbound traffic on Hwy 116 (Petaluma Avenue) was backed up past the Fairfield Inn & Suites. Traffic study compliments of Sebastopol Citizens.org.
Elapsed Time: 3:45 hours (6 to 9:45 p.m.).
Next city council meeting is Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the Teen Center, 425 Morris St. at 6 p.m.
You can view the unexpurgated version of this column, complete with links to the relevant documents, at SebastopolCitizens.org.