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, Councilmember Una Glass, Councilmember Michael Carnacchi and Councilmember Sarah Glade-Gurney.
• Nathan Sutton was recognized for 20 years of service with public works.
• Oct. 13 to 16 was declared Freedom From Workplace Bullies days. The rest of the time, you are on your own.
• Oct. 24 was made World Polio Day. When the Rotary recipient of the proclamations drifted off into “herd immunity” and the low rate of vaccination for measles in Sebastopol, muffled and ominous rumblings rippled across the room. (Read more about Rotary and its history with polio here: endpolio.org)
• The month of October was set aside as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
• And October was declared for Chamber Awareness and Pomo Honoring month, the two not necessarily connected.
Public Comment (aka Open Mike):
• Astounding — even though everybody and your uncle was there to support the rescue of the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center (SCCC), no one stood up to speak during the public comment period at the opening of the meeting, which is reserved for issues not on the agenda. While many speakers, bring forward pertinent points during this comment period, it often presents a platform for other carbon-based beings who are somewhat less than comprehensible in this galaxy.
Consent Calendar: (Passed 5:0)
• A resolution was approved for maintenance of Ned Kahn’s art, which will be installed at the bridge on Highway 12 just east of town.
• The city of Sebastopol is eligible for the Prop 68 funding program. One project will be replacing the playground equipment at Libby Park. The other two are a pathway at Ives Park to access the picnic tables on the southwest corner and, for some reason, an outside shower at Ives pool. Undoubtedly the use of that last project will be watched closely.
• Residents of Flynn Street asked the city to create a red zone on the east side of Flynn Street, starting at the driveway entrance to the City Park and going 60 feet north to deal with a bottleneck there.
Regular Agenda Items:
• The council discussed how best to use the $1.5 million the state has granted to Sebastopol to relieve some of the burden for the recent flood damage. There are also FEMA and insurance payments in the pipeline. These funds are specifically marked for “flood” and can only be spent on “flood recovery.” And this is why your uncle and everyone else was here — to support funding for the community center, which was severely damaged by the flood. To a certain extent, they succeeded. On a 5:0 vote, the council will give the community center $44,000 for expenses that the center has already paid out and $45,000 for lost revenue (like canceled events). The council also earmarked $250,000 for a water dam of some sort. But there are some big hurdles to clear.
There is no interest in restoring the SCCC to its former Stone Age glamour. The push is to rebuild something that will attract people. Even before the flood, groups couldn’t legally cook in the kitchen because it wasn’t certified and the whole building was generally, ah ... ugly.
Another hurdle is that the building is still going to be in the floodplain. There were 19 speakers, all of whom received applause for their remarks except number 15. She is a brave soul. After she suggested bulldozing the site and building the SCCC someplace else, there was that eerie silence that often follows someone voicing a diverse opinion. Even though Councilmember Carnacchi expressed some serious concerns about the water dam, the other council members seem to be favoring an “Aqua Dam” to part the waters of the Laguna and protect the SCCC. Coming so close after the failures at the Barlow, it certainly needs some close scrutiny. You will find more information than you probably want about the dam on p. 22 of this document: ci.sebastopol.ca.us/City-Government/City-Council.
The FEMA funds pose yet another problem. Before they will be released, a flood mitigation plan must be submitted to and approved by FEMA. Even then, approval could be nine to 12 months away. And while the plan is made and FEMA ponders, this year’s rainy season is on its way. Yikes!
City Council Reports:
• Mayor Hinton was the first 5th District appointee made by Supervisor Lynda Hopkins to the Sonoma County Fair Board.
Elapsed Time: 3:45 hours (5 to 8:45 p.m.)
Next City Council meeting is at 6 p.m. on Oct. 29, at the Sebastopol Youth Annex, 425 Morris Street. You can view thet Oct. 15 meeting and others at http://bit.ly/sebcctv.
You can view the unexpurgated version of this column, complete with links to the relevant documents, at SebastopolCitizens.org.