John Necker column photo

John Necker

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 version, see

Synopsis and commentary on the Sebastopol City Council, Feb. 18, 2020

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

Public Comment (aka Open Mike):

  • Two advocates for the homeless pressed the council to provide 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. safe parking for those living in cars at the Center For The Arts, Library, The Plaza, Redwood Market Place and CVS. The last two are private property. There’s not much the council can do there.
  • Likewise, with this other speaker’s concerns about the possibility of Laguna High School being moved from Analy High School to El Molino High School.
  • A West County Community Services speaker expressed her concerns about the slow speed at which the improvements are moving at Park Village.
  • Then there was the return of the “geospatial” speaker, who wants someone to hire retired detectives to build a database to track sundry things. Later, he informed us that aerosol is being injected into the atmosphere to change the climate and that the military is heating up the ionosphere. He failed to state which military is so engaged. (Putin, will he never stop?!) Why all this is taking place wasn’t clear, but it’s nice to know that all the carbon we are spewing has nothing to do with climate change. See, it ain’t our fault!

Consent Calendar:

  • The draft minutes for the Feb. 4 meeting were approved 5:0.
  • The council agreed to sponsor another Bike to Work Day to the tune of $2,000. With the help of retired detectives, who are sometimes all sober at once, we found that sum works out to $128.75 for every bike seen in the Green Mile last week. Those who were going the wrong way were not counted but were pummeled with empty beer cans flung by one of the detectives who pitched in Double-A ball in his youth — which didn’t last very long. (Passed 5:0. Requestor: Mayor Slayter.)
  • The city’s annual audit report was up for consent. The Badawi & Associates report showed we are in good shape with assets trending up, liabilities trending down and that the city’s “General Fund ends with a $8.60 million fund balance, of which $4.99 million is unassigned and available for expenditure. The fund balance exceeded the $1.8 million reserve requirement.” Even though it was a routine report, Councilmember Carnacchi said he was overwhelmed by the volume of it and was hoping for a summary presentation. Then he managed to get the rest of the council to confess they too were overwhelmed. So a summary presentation will take place sometime in the future and drag out another meeting. OK, just to be fair, here’s the full report. (Requestor: Administration.)
  • Earth Day’s 50th anniversary received the support of the council,  which has allocated $4,000 for the April 11 events that include a Laguna cleanup, tree planting, an informational fair at the Community Center and “a document shredding/paper recycling event.” They should expect a BIG truck arriving from Washington, D.C. (Approved 5:0. Requestor: Public Works.)
  • The council will support two state bills: “SB 54 (Allen) and AB 1-080 (Gonzalez) are identical bills that direct the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to establish a comprehensive framework to address plastic pollution and waste.” (Approved 5:0. Requestor: Mayor Slayter.)

Informational Items/ Presentation:

  • Deva Marie Proto, County Registrar of Voters, spoke about the new County Voting System. She explained the new system has a touch screen that prints a paper ballot. That paper ballot is what is counted. It would seem that 80% of the voters won’t get to play with it as most of us vote by mail. Click here to see more information about the old system, the new system and security that is designed to foil Vlady Putin, Little Rocket Man, Xi Jinping and other astounding pillars of democratic republics of helping us become more like them — which may be happening anyway as we gerrymander ourselves into a banana republic. (No offense to vegetarians implied.) (Requestor: County Registrar of Voters.)
  • Naveed Paydar, the California Public Utilities Commission Liaison spoke about the CPUC. Click here to see part of his presentation, which went on forever, as Council Member Gurney more subtly remarked. It was interesting but a little disjointed and way too much. (Requestor: Council Member Carnacchi.)

Regular Agenda Items:

  • A request was heard from Phillips Seabrook Associates that the council approve the “Revised Barlow Flood Emergency Operation, Inspection and Maintenance Plan.” The plan is essentially the same, with the focus being more on the process of actually getting the barriers up next time — and there will be a next time. The good news is that the city, through contracts and agreements, is not, in any way, shape or form the responsible party. The Barlow and the tenants are. They have met FEMA requirements and are on their own. Barlow has yet to give it a full blown dry run. (Passed 5:0. Requestor: Administration.)
  • The council discussed a proposed mini-storage development and a caretaker unit at 1382 Hwy 116 South. While outside of the city limits, it is within Sebastopol’s Urban Growth Boundary, and the county has graciously asked for the council’s input. Sequoia Burger, Mini Mart and the existing dwelling will remain but the Discount Alley and West County Glass will be demolished. Of course the council could find very little to like about the development or, more typically, its design. They complained about several things. The planning director jotted them down and will create a letter that the mayor will sign to be sent off to the county — after it is reviewed by the council as a whole. (Requestor: Planning.)
  • The council also discussed establishing “a Joint Design Review Board/City Council Design Guideline Subcommittee to guide updates to various City Design Guidelines” to update the previous guidelines that were last updated in May of 2010. ( Passed 5:0. Requestor: Planning.)

City Council Reports:

  • · Nothing of interest if you aren’t someone sitting at the big table.

A Parting Shot:

  • Years ago it looked as if the council members might just email each other their reports instead of torturing the last two surviving souls in the public section by reading them aloud. Alas.

Elapsed Time: 3:40 hours (6 to 9:40 p.m.)

Next city council meeting is March 3,at the Teen Center, 425 Morris St. at 6 p.m.

Your can view this meeting and others at:


(1) comment


Instead of safe parking, could people living in their cars and RVs could register for a voucher program to rent sites in RV parks? These facilities are set up for people living in vehicles. If you have financial resources to operate a vehicle, you probably have some form of income - either benefits or a job. Perhaps a small portion of this income could be used toward rent and the city could provide subsidy for the rest. It seems unideal for the community to turn public spaces into temporary RV sites as there are no restrooms or garbage pick up or electrical/ water hook ups. There are many people living in their vehicles on Morris Street. There is also an empty lot on Morris Street. Perhaps a sliding scale RV park could go there? As we are living a time of extremely low-unemployment, it would be good if people in need of rent subsidy could have stability in their living circumstances. Hopefully, their advocates can help find them jobs so they could save for a deposit on rent. It does not seem ideal to set up RV sites without the sanitation services at the library or Art Center. It seems like it will cost the City more in the long run to try to manage a safe parking site than to offer a subsidy to an actual RV or camp site.

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