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. 21

John Necker column photo

John Necker

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):

  • Sebastopol World Friends announced its Sister City Friendship Dinner, “Where Sushi meets Borsht,” set for Jan. 25.
  • The next speaker informed us she was new to the community and wanted to get involved.

Consent calendar: (Eventually all passed 5:0)

  • The minutes for the Jan. 7 meeting were approved.
  • The fire chief declared the emergency proclamation terminated. It was declared because of the Kincade fire. No longer will the city have “extraordinary police powers; immunity for emergency actions; authorize issuance of orders and regulations; activate pre-established emergency provisions.” So you can start raising hell again.
  • The Libby Park Playground and the procuring of bids was authorized. You may click here to see the designs. Councilmember Gurney pulled this for discussion. She convinced the council that although the city was about $14,000 short of everything wanted, the city should put it out to bid with the whole package and then dig around for the money instead of doing it piecemeal. It is currently budgeted with $100,000 coming from the park in-lieu funding account. That’s combined with a $30,000 donation from the Rotary Club of Sebastopol and the Rotary Club of Sebastopol Sunrise.
  • Parking permits for post office employees who use the parking lot behind the Chamber of Commerce were rescinded. At a Dec. 3 meeting, they were granted a no time limit parking, but requests from other business have caused the city to rethink that exemption, noting plenty of parking was available at the Post Office Annex and the CVS parking lot. The three-hour limitation was to deal with security issues. "The main security issue was the parking lot being used by people living in vehicles and their associated bad behavior," said acting Chief of Police Greg DeVore.
  • The council approved the mayor writing a letter to the Sonoma County Airport regarding the noise from the current flight patterns. Years ago, when this commentator was a member of a local service club, I asked a former, much-beloved Sonoma County supervisor, who was speaking to us, about that very subject. His reply was dismissive. Well, he lived west of the more active pattern. And now here we are with even more flights that should be making their approach over Highway 101 when practical. It’s noisy there already, and most fliers certainly come from east of the highway.

Informational items/presentations:

  • Mayor Slayter, who is also the city’s representative to and vice chair of Sonoma Clean Power, gave the annual report of how it’s doing. It started with a multimedia presentation that failed a few minutes after starting. Had PG& E hacked into the system? Much to my disappointment, no. After we all stared at the spinning wheel of death for too long, the city clerk summoned the wizard from behind the curtain that hides the meeting recording equipment and crew. He casually walked out and — click, click, click — it was fixed. Pay attention to the man behind the curtain! Anyway, it was the usual indictments of PG&E and tribute to Sonoma Clean Power, which delivers its renewable power though dastardly PG&E’s hardware. Councilmember Gurney wondered if there was some way to regulate small generators that are used during power failures. (Guess who doesn’t have one?) Mayor Slayter thought not but suggested installing solar cells with batteries for backup power. That might work if you can afford a lot of solar cells and a battery system about the size of a clothes closet.

Regular Agenda Items:

  • After hearing a presentation, the council bestowed its sponsorship upon Sebastopol Walks and the new Sebastopol Runs programs —

 the latter for those of you who are hellbent on sporting rickety knees in your old age.

  • Caltrans wants to eliminate three crosswalks along SR116/Petaluma Avenue and build a new one with “a pedestrian-activated, lighted warning system” across Petaluma Avenue at the Weeks Way entrance to the Downtown Plaza. After an hour and fifteen minutes, this went back to the sub-committee, which will do battle with Caltrans. The consensus of the council seemed to be this: yes to removing the crosswalk at Screamin’ Mimi’s because of right-hand turning traffic off Highway 12 that looks to the left for an opening and not to the right where the crossing is; no changes to the northwest crosswalk at CVS with the island because it will make the crossing too long; no to the removal of the crosswalk at the northeast corner of the Mario Savio Free Speech Plaza that goes east to the Barlow; yes to the elimination of the crosswalk from the CVS north corner that parallels Petaluma Avenue going north toward the proposed hotel, and yes to the  crosswalk going east from Weeks Way. Got all that? Don’t worry about it. You’ll get to hear it all again. And it will be interesting to see how this eventually goes as all of this property belongs to Caltrans, and it can do as it pleases.
  • Councilmember Carnacchi asked the council for its support of the 74th Apple Blossom Parade and Festival and his ideas to combine that with a commemoration of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote 100 years ago.

City council reports:

  • The city manager informed us that the permits for the new Hotel Sebastopol are likely to be pulled sometime before the first week in March.

A parting shot:

  • As for aircraft noise, maybe the council can do something about that jackass who is bound to show up this spring and start buzzing the town again — fulfilling a Sky King fantasy. (Oh, that needs some explanation, doesn’t it?) The plane is so low you can almost hear a voice yelling, “Hey, look at me everyone. I’m a pilot!”

Elapsed Time: 3 hours (6–9 p.m.)

Next city council meeting is Feb. 4, at the Teen Center, 425 Morris St. at 6 p.m.

Your can view this meeting and others at https://livestream.com/accounts/14608643.

For the full (and uncut) version of this column, see sebastopolcitizens.org.

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