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.
Sebastopol City Council Meeting August 4, 2020 – Synopsis and Commentary
- All council members were virtually present.
Proclamations/Presentations were suspended but not any more.
Public Comment (aka Open Mike):
- Thirteen speakers rained down upon us. (Democracy, nobody said, was going to be fun.) Anyway, six of the speakers denounced the vandalization of the Black Lives Matter mural in the plaza. Imagine my surprise when one of the youngest speakers delivered her comments, clearly, concisely in complete sentences and without repetition. She has no future in politics.
- Two other speakers supported vaping. One as a way to wean off tobacco and the other because he thought it unfair to hold retail shops responsible for something that is supposed to be an adult product. Wait, was that vaping of vamping? Doesn’t matter. They both look dangerous.
- Four speakers voiced their concerns about the possibility of the Sebastopol Inn becoming a homeless hostel and the apparent secrecy of the potential deal. Mayor Slayter said he first heard about the County of Sonoma’s plan last week. He also stated that the law requires the county to consider the purchase of private property in a closed session. Vice Mayor Glass asked everyone to “not go ballistic” because the council just got the information and releasing it early would be illegal. Ballistic may prove to be an understatement. Incoming!
- A speaker criticized the chief of police because he thought the chief didn’t deliver a promised report on time. He said that alone was enough of a reason for an audit of the department. Well, that sounds a little weak, but there have been reports of improper flossing by some officers.
That audit starts on August 5.
Consent Calendar: (Passed 5:0)
- The minutes for the July 21 meeting were approved and will appear here shortly. Scroll down to Past Council Meetings. Not all minutes are available on the website.
- The council received the annual sewer report. We are doing better than average for the calendar year of 2019. Of course you can ruin that for 2020 if you keep flushing personal sanitary wipes into our 32.2 miles of sewer lines. Now, some of you probably believe that flushing wipes is guaranteed in some remote corner of the Constitution of the United States – at least a part that Mayor Slayter forgot to burn. Well, you are right! It’s also your right to hang out in the sauna with all your un-masked friends while scarfing up double bacon cheeseburgers. The sooner you do that, the sooner a couple of problems will magically disappear.
- The council has plans to remodel two apartments at Park Village, formally the Village Mobile Home Park just south of highway 12. There is $335,000 in grant money tantalizingly close. But council is being cautious because it’s not 100% a lock. They have evidently heard of the old bait-and-switch hustle. $335,000 would provide a lot of parking there for the Morris Street Mobiles.
- A letter will be sent supporting the county’s proposed ordinance to put some teeth into a mask wearing ordinance. The ordinance would contain a $100 fine for “non-commercial” violations and a siding scale of $500 - $10,000 for “commercial” violations. A single, county wide phone number will be available for complaints. This line is for COVID-19 complaints only. All complaints about EMF, aerial spraying of mind-controlling drugs, UN plots, or outer space stuff should be made to your analyst or the White House – the latter might be more receptive.
Regular Agenda Items:
- At a 5:30 p.m. meeting, the council interviewed the lone applicant for the SCTA/RCPA Climate Action Advisory Committee liaison seat. With a title like that, they were lucky to get any applicant. At this meeting Zeno Swijtink was validated 5:0.
- Recology asked the city if it could drop its Saturday customer call in service. The initial push back on this came from council member Hinton who said the $25,000 savings we were handing Recology was a bit much after allowing them to raise rates to by a new eco-friendly, progressive free-range truck for Sebastopol. (OK! OK! The italics are my words not hers. Geeze.) She said she will remember that $25,000 gift when the contract comes up for the 2023 renewal if she’s on the council. It passed 4:1 with Council Member Carnacchi in the minority.
- Voting instructions to delegates to the League of California Cities were set. (Passed 5:0)
- The council was to discuss adopting a tobacco retail license ordinance that focuses on youth use of tobacco, but it was pulled by staff to correct some errors in the language of the ordinance. It would include compliance checks, training programs, education, deterring use at school and a school resource officer to target tobacco issues.
City Council Reports:
- The city manager/attorney addressed the growing Morris Street “camping” problem. The city has towed two unoccupied units but 29 remain because the law requires that if they are told to move, they must be afforded some other area within the city limits. When Council Member Carnacchi said Santa Rosa didn’t have to do that, the city manager pointed out that Santa Rosa is under a court order to move people and that the judge ruled they had done enough. We are not under such an order. It might be a good idea for the honorable council member to run some of his more innovative ideas past staff before exposing them at a public meeting.
A Parting Shot:
- Heads up. Because three qualified candidates have filed for the two available council seats up for grabs in November, the deadline for you to file is Aug.7. Avoid the rush and the lines. Apply tomorrow.
Elapsed Time: 2:30 hours (6 to 8:30 p.m.)
Next regular City Council meeting is Sept. 1, 2020 at the Teen Center, 425 Morris Street at 6 p.m.