Sebastopol City Council unanimously approved the Davis Townhome project, which will be located on a vacant lot at the end of Morris Street, south of Highway 12 and Sebastopol Avenue.
The development to build 18 two-story, 1,180 square-foot townhomes was reviewed in a public hearing on May 7 that took up three hours of the city council meeting.
Vice Mayor Patrick Slayter and councilmembers Sarah Glade Gurney, Michael Carnacchi and Una Glass were at the hearing, but councilmember Mayor Neysa Hinton was absent.
The Design Review Board will evaluate the project on Wednesday, May 15, after press time.
Sebastopol City Planner Kari Svanstrom began with the planning commission staff report and project architect Kathy Austin showed the area’s tentative map.
Gurney supported housing in the location but had concerns about flooding. Austin said the flood level for this parcel is estimated to be from a few inches to 2 feet of water and that the houses would be raised high enough to avoid damage.
Engineering consultant for the Davis Townhomes project, Kevin Doble, concurred, noting that the grading and design of the project will focus any water to the unoccupied center of the property.
“We can’t control the fact that flooding happens, but we can minimize the effects of flooding on the people that live on and are next to the property,” Doble said.
Doble added that disclosures and information about flooding will be on the final map and available for all the residents in the documentation.
Gurney also wanted to confirm that the property had sufficient emergency access, being wide and surfaced enough to get trailers and other vehicles out.
Doble said it conforms to the fire department requirements with a 24-foot wide drive aisle, and the strength of asphalt and base road design are within standards.
Councilmembers were concerned that the outside lighting on the property might be too bright. Austin said the 3,000k lights will be adjusted to the standard 2,700k.
Given how many people are adopting electric vehicles, Slayter suggested the four EV charging stations might need to increase to eight.
“Four was what was required when I created the project, and it just didn’t change. If you’re insisting on making it eight … whatever gets us approved,” Austin said.
Recology approved of the project’s trash and recycling location. Austin said while it’s difficult to enforce, they hope to encourage people to recycle.
Austin said the units would be solar ready, and they are working with providers to maintain two large oak trees that might impact some of the roofs’ solar capability.
Glass said there should be a break or gate in the fence if there was an emergency, and Austin said the city would have to handle this due to owning the bike path.
“You’re addressing the housing we need, workforce housing. I’m enthusiastic about this project, especially this being local people working on it,” Glass said.
Gurney had concerns about the total amount of visitor parking spots, and whether conflicts with businesses would be resolved.
Developer Dan Davis said they will have to protect parking for residents, and Austin added that spaces split between properties will help with this issue.
“Dan is a good neighbor. We’re trying to do the best we can. The good thing about him continuing to own most of the property is he’ll take care of it,” Austin said.
When the public was able to share their thoughts, Davis went up first to address the flood issue.
“We’re going to be 8 feet higher than what the flood was this time around. If it gets that high, it’s going to be at Main Street and we’re all going to have a lot of problems … The flood’s an issue, but remember we’re at 80 feet, so we’re way up there.”
The first community member to speak fully supported the project and the next said it isn’t suited for the city’s demographic, but sets the tone for others. The last person to share was concerned about low-cost housing, the floodplain and traffic.
“From a site, land use and traffic mitigation design, there’s been change noted by the consultant. I’m going to be voting to move this project forward,” Slayter said, when it was the council’s turn to weigh in.
Council approved and modified several entitlements at the end of the hearing: environmental, use permit for solely residential development and making electric vehicle parking requirement consistent with the zoning ordinance.
“We’ve had five public hearings — one more to go,” Austin said. “Hopefully, no appeals and we can be approved next week (at the design review meeting). We’d really like to get into construction on the lot,” Austin said.