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.

Synopsis and Commentary on the Sebastopol City Council meeting, Jan. 7, 2020

John Necker column photo

John Necker

At the beginning of January, a cold of biblical proportions descended upon my eyes, nose and throat. My suffering has been accepted much like Job accepted his – but maybe without all that silence and the patience stuff.

Anyway, my intentions were to attend the Jan. 7council meeting in spite of my Oscar-deserving suffering. But the city got wind of it and placed on my property three guards in poorly tailored hazmat suits, armed with various automatic weapons, strings of garlic, a wooden mallet and stake. They refused to let me leave having discovered my plan to report on the city council and accomplish regime change through viral infection at the same time.

This summary is drawn from the meeting minutes taken by the city clerk.

Roll call:  All present: Mayor Patrick Slayter, Vice Mayor Una Glass, Councilmember Michael Carnacchi, Councilmember Sarah Glade Gurney, Councilmember Neysa Hinton.

Proclamations/Presentations:

  • Council Member Glass spoke to the passing of former Fifth District Supervisor Mike Reilly. You may find out more about him here, at the Sonoma West Times & News.
  • Ana Kwong, Administrative Services Director, was recognized for five years of service. Hopefully, there was a mention her dragging the city into using a software program that rendered reports on budget questions semi-understandable to mortals.
  • Rialto Cinemas was praised on its 20th Anniversary. The proclamation cited several areas worthy of praise including: “commitment to hosting countless fundraising events as well asdonating free movie screenings to local schools” and screening “The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD and plays from the National Theatre, London.” The proclamation carefully avoided even mentioning popular movies, least we give the outsiders the impression we would even consider viewing something as common as those. See the Sonoma West story on their anniversary:

Public Comment (aka Open Mike):

  • The big word guy had a solution for the Joe Rodota encampment problem that could definitely be classified as thinking outside the box. Some of them were as follows: no sanctioned homeless camps because they incentivize bad behavior and disincentivize solutions. Go in with weapons, arrest them and clean the place up. Well, what could possibly go wrong with that very simple solution to a very complex problem?
  • The next speaker gave three elements to address the homeless issue: safe parking, sanitation/toilets and housing.
  • Following that a speaker suggested building tiny homes to solve the problem — if we could find the land. He didn't mention financing, which was wise. (Still waiting to hear a solution that might work? You are not alone.)
  • Another speaker thought the council should have mentioned, along with the Rialto, a few other local businesses that include: Rosemary’s Garden – 32 years; Safeway – 54 years; Screaming Mimi’ s- 25 years; Miller Oil Company 31 years.
  • The Chamber of Commerce reminded us that it’s time for the public to nominate folks for Community Awards. Here’s the form: https://www.sebastopol.org/form/view/18283
  • There were objections to the Woodmark Project proposed at 7716 – 7760 Bodega Ave. More details about the project are here at the company website.

Consent Calendar:

  • The minutes of the December 17, 2019 meeting were approved.
  • The Minute/Reference Orders for Calendar Year 2019 were approved. “A minute order is a vote by the majority of the Council to direct staff and/or approve actions to be taken such as award of contract(s) or purchase(s) (this can also be done by resolution, which is more formal). The use of a minute order is simpler and less formal.” If you are a detail person, here ya go.
  • The owner of 647 Lyding Lane (which is just outside the city limits), asked for a water and sewer hookup. Staff recommended approval in this case. (The city turns down far more requests of this nature than it accepts.) But Council Member Carnacchi pulled this for discussion, fearing it violated the Urban Growth Boundary guidelines, and several other laws of man and nature and managed to convince his peers that this was a bad idea. So this request ended up in the septic system, decrepit though it may be, on a 5:0 vote.
  • The council took into consideration filling the vacant Sonoma County Library Commission City Representative seat.

Public Hearing:

  • On a 5:0 vote, the council approved the new water and sewer rates. Your may click here for the 75-page report that was cited in our August 6 summary. If you scroll down to pages nine and ten of the report, you can see your likely increase on the charts there.
  • For a watcher of any Sebastopol City Council, it was stunning to see it so quickly approve the signs for Peets Coffee and Supercuts that will arrive shortly at 231 Petaluma Avenue, adjacent to The Feed Store. Much like the disease of yellow fever, micromanagement lingers in the body politic, incurable, sleeping there until something awakens it from its malevolent slumber. It then rages through the body, manifesting itself in a variety of forms. In this case it was jiggering the sign location, color and some other mild symptoms. While not cured, the potential serious reactions were somewhat alleviated by the vaccine of the CVS settlement and the lack of another $300,000 to waste on litigation. Passed on 5:0 vote.

Regular Agenda Items:

  • The council approved a climate action sub-committee. The 11 to 13 member committee will consist of a council member, planning commissioner, city staff or designee, a youth (17- 23), Sebastopol business owner, Sebastopol Climate Action or other local climate group representative, environmental justice/equity background, rights of nature background and climate background, reside within Sebastopol city limits and reside outside Sebastopol city limits within the 95472 zip code. They will have $1,000 to spend on publicity, and my suggestion is to start buying beers at Hop Monk for commoners.
  • The council received an update/status of General Plan Implementation Report.
  • Council member Carnacchi pitched his idea of a joint city council/planning commission. The result was “consensus to have the Mayor work with the Planning Commission Chair and city staff” as opposed to having a joint meeting.
  • Voting instructions and various county committee appointments were made.

Community Development Agency Business:

  • When Governor Jerry Brown killed California’s community redevelopment agencies, he didn’t do a very good job. It’s like one of those Shakespearean death scenes where you want to shout out “Die Already!” and run up there and finish it yourself. So this is just more routine stuff and there are many acts to follow.

A Parting Shot:

  • Not included in the Climate Action Sub-committee was any mention of zero population growth — something that has a chance of combating climate change. Stop making babies! You can go through the motions though.

Elapsed Time: 4:30 hours

Next City Council meeting is Tuesday, Jan. 21, at the Teen Center, 425 Morris Street at 6:00pm.

Your can view this meeting and others at: http://bit.ly/sebcct v  though be warned that the video for this meeting is meeting the audio for about two hours of the meeting.

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