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 (and uncut) version, see Enjoy Necker's look back at 2019.

January 15, 2019

  • Appointments made to DRB and Planning Commission (still one OPEN spot).
  • $150,000 grant approved for capital improvements in Park Village.
  • Attempt to use 2% increase in TOT for CalPERs funding and homelessness fails.
  • Changes made to process for filling board positions, given difficulties getting candidates.
  • PS: Lest anyone forget, it is the mayor who runs the meeting.

February 5, 2019

  • Pretty quiet public comment.
  • Apple Blossom Parade and Festival will be April 13 and 14.
  • Member Carnacchi pushed for formalizing selection of Mayor and Vice, but had no plan.
  • Midyear budget adjustments approved 5:0
  • Pretty quiet evening, still took four-plus hours.

February 19, 2019

  • Special Election March 5.
  • The HAWK crossing at Bodega Ave/Nelson Way is completed and accepted, $284,000 total cost.
  • Slab work at Park Village completed at $119,000.
  • Occupy Bench (no, not financed by Mexico) will be dedicated April 7.
  • Bike to Work Day is May 9.

March 5, 2019

  • March 17-23 is National Surveyor's Week, ties to Kurt Vonnegut noted.
  • Zero Waste Sub-Committee and Planning Commission seats filled.
  • Added to Peace Wall: Jim Corbett, Lynn Woolsey, Tula Jaffe, Dr. Earl Herr.
  • Building permit fees to be waived for rebuilding from flood damage.
  • New ordinance coming “banning use of food service ware and other polystyrene materials

within the city of Sebastopol.”

  • A martini needs no straw, and suffers irreparable harm should one be employed.

March 19, 2019

  • Public comment alive and well.
  • Street lighting assessment is underway, should be less now with LEDs approved.
  • Ordinance approved that bans stryofoam containers in food service, effective in six months.
  • Annual report from Ives Pool presented.
  • Moving the council to using tablets to save paper was, of course, controversial.
  • Insurance payout of $500,000 for the Community Center is expected.

April 2, 2019

  • Public comment provides the fodder to make one laugh, cry and cringe.
  • 18 ADA curb ramps getting upgraded for a mere $450,000.
  • The City is moving quickly toward trying to regulate installation of cell equipment on utility poles. A speaker asserts as fact that "the sky is a plasma battery for Artificial Intelligence and we are antennas and our heads are turning into phones."
  • CASA, a regional effort to solve the housing crisis, does not care to consult Sebastopol. The Council is not impressed.

April 16, 2019

  • Emergency proclamation from flooding extended in hopes of receiving state/federal assistance.
  • Yearly lighting tax dropped $3.36 to $33.14, should go down even more next year given new LEDs.
  • Use permit approved for Good Run on May 3, start and finish at the Barlow.
  • Telecom urgency ordinance adopted to try to gain control over cellphone network installations.

May 7, 2019

  • Mary Gourley recognized for winning City Clerk of the Year for all of California!
  • First Street has a leak in a water main. Major repairs coming.
  • Sebastopol World Friends reported, delightfully, on the recent visit of 23 adults and students from sister city Takeo City, Japan.
  • Big discussion on Davis Townhomes project, 18 townhouses between Coffe Catz and the Laguna.
  • A case is made for Coffee Catz to offer something higher octane when times get tough.

May 21, 2019

  • May 19-25 proclaimed National Public Works Week. Thanks, peeps.
  • Giants baseball remembered. Same kind of endurance need for council meetings.
  • Polystyrene foam container ban approved.
  • An appeal of Planning Commission use permit approval was itself approved, thus blocking an applicant from renting her house on Johnson Street as a short-term rental. Yes, a reversal.
  • And, yes, reads like it was kind of fishy.

June 4, 2019

  • Swallow nest removal mistake not quite done, gets public comment.
  • Budget discussed, not much progress.
  • Did Mayor Hinton really draw an inside straight to the chagrin of Councilmember Gurney?
  • The city is resisting joining the GSA, and losing control of our own water. It’s ugly.
  • Meeting length: 6 hours. Plus a 1.5 hour closed session before.

June 18, 2019

  • Lots of public comment, to be sure. Smart meters make a comeback.
  • A review of Development Impact Fees and User Fees is underway, significant omissions notwithstanding.
  • Garbage rates going up.
  • Weed abatement time. We are looking good, save one East Coaster.
  • Is it time to add a full-time paid firefighter in Sebastopol?

July 16, 2019

  • Assemblymember Mark Levine drops off a $1.5M check to the city for flood damage repairs.
  • Public comment abounds, as does commentary thereof.
  • City switching to EverGreen service from Sonoma Clean Power, which will cost the city an additional $41,500. Passes 4:1.
  • Can a person play Pong on an iPad? Would a Councilmember be tempted?
  • On Sept. 21, Sebastopol will host an early morning cycling event.

August 6, 2019

  • Wheelchairs riding in the bowls of the Skate Park sounds problematic, don't you think?
  • Greg Jacobs selected as next Locals Who Make A Difference.
  • 45-day moratorium passed that prohibits non-hosted vacation rentals exceeding 30 days a year. An ordinance is expected in the coming weeks.
  • Water and sewer rates will likely continue to rise for the next several years.

September 3, 2019

  • Several public comments regarding homeless issues on lower Palm Ave near Laguna.
  • Solar panels to be replaced at Community Center. Other major repairs still needed from flood damage.
  • Moratorium on non-hosted vacation rentals, rented over 30 days in a year, likely to be extended to a year.
  • Paperless moves forward, electronic devices coming to a council near you.

September 17, 2019

  • Despite already decided lack of legal standing, the city is trying to keep Smart Meters out of Fircrest Mobile Home Park.
  • Several seats on the Planning Commision will be termed out Dec. 31. Your big chance to apply!
  • Ditto on the Design Review Board and Public Arts Committee.
  • Lots more juicy tidbits, many entertaining, may be found in Necker’s Notes...

October 15, 2019

  • Several proclamations, including World Polio Day...vaccines do work!
  • Astounding. No public comment. None.
  • Prop 68 funds are coming to Sebastopol for upgrades to Libby Park and Ives Park.
  • Big discussion on how to use the $1.5M from the state for flood repairs, with more coming from FEMA. Community Center will get a nice chunk of these funds.

November 5, 2019

  • Thanksgiving dinner at The Community Church — everyone invited.
  • ADA curb ramps coming to Highway 116 thru town, at cost to city of $450,000.
  • Two-hour discussion of the Morris Street encampment yielded no results.
  • 50% reduction in fees for 2019 Peacetown Summer Concert approved.
  • Sebastopol looking at joining proposal to transform PGE into customer-owned cooperative.

November 19, 2019

  • Tree lighting at 5 p.m. on Dec. 5 at Mario Savio Free Speech Plaza.
  • City building inspector position open, upon retirement January 1 of Glenn Schainblatt.
  • Community Center flood repairs going out for new bids, estimate $386k.

December 3, 2019

  • Pat and Craig Boblitt officially named as "Locals Who Make A Difference."
  • Patrick Slayter named as mayor, Una Glass as vice-mayor.
  • Public comment yields another wild incoherent critique of nearly everything.
  • Sebastopol signs on to support HR 763, a climate plan to charge fees for fossil fuel extraction. If passed, will just add to the dust-gathering pile sitting on McConnell's desk.
  • In an only-in-Sebastopol irony, appears that the EMF folks want to be excluded from the move progressing towards eliminating gas hookups, in favor of all-electric.

December 17, 2019

  • The project at Murphy and Healdsburg Avenues seems to be endless, with lots of disruption to traffic.
  • Calder Creek storm-water system is way overdue for some maintenance. Staff to pursue.
  • We might get an actual sidewalk on Bodega Avenue across from the cemetery.
  • LANTERN group will have Councilmember Gurney as liaison to council to look at improving the library.
  • Full-time fire engineer job description and salary discussed.

For the full (and uncut) version of this column with associated links, see

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