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  

Sebastopol City Council Meeting February 16, 2021 – Synopsis and Commentary


  • All council members were virtually present.
  • At 5:15 p.m. Lynn Deedler and Marshall Balfe were interviewed for the single alternate position on the Design Review Board.

Public Comment (aka Open Mike):

  • Scott Meinzer, VP and General Manager at Syserco Energy Solutions, Inc., delivered his mea culpa with distinction. Syserco contracted with the city to remove and test 56 water meters but their notification to those who were involved was lacking. Many thought their water was going to be shut off for a week. The location of my water meter is unknown to me so any jiggering done to it was done by unknown parties in an attempt to smear me. And that especially applies to all those drill holes in the face of the meter.
  • The Woodmark project on Bodega Avenue took some incoming fire. Concerns about traffic were expressed but the big issue was concerns the developer was plotting to do an “end run” around the city’s ability to impose discretionary standards on the project. Certain types of affordable housing projects can do that. The city has yet to make a determination on that and has brought in outside council to advise them. Uh-oh! We’re not going to have a CVS redux, are we?
  • The queen of EMF (Electronically Misinformed Folks) chipped-in with the usual bullet points and also worried that those water meters could be wireless. Nope. Well, there’s a vaccine for COVID-19 that may help, but if you are afraid of wireless water meters there ain’t no vaccine for that.
  • Sebastopol World Friends thanked all who supported their fundraising dinner.
  • The Senior Center thanked Vice Mayor Gurney and Council Member Rich for their help regarding vaccinations.
  • A business owner on Morris Street complained about parking there and attempted break-ins and drug dealing. The city will meet with her where she will learn just how limited police are in dealing with parking problems – compliments of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. You may read the summary of that decision here on page two.


Regular Agenda Items:

  • Marshall Balfe, on this his second attempt, was appointed to the Design Review Board. Council Member Slayter wasn’t satisfied with either candidate and wanted to advertise the position again, hoping others who didn’t apply this time would miraculously appear. Mayor Glass was also in favor of again advertising the position. The rest of the council thought it only proper that one of those who actually applied should be seated, probably thinking that while no reiteration of Buckminster Fuller was likely to materialize, at least these two possibly didn’t have any federal warrants pursuing them. The vote was 3:2.


Consent Calendar: (Passed 5:0)

  • The minutes for the February 2 meeting were approved and will appear here shortly. Scroll down to Past Council Meetings. Not all minutes are available on the website.
  • The council re-designated the “Alternate Seat on the Climate Action Subcommittee as the Council’s SCTA/RCPA Representative and Approve Correction of Title.” 
  • The council directed staff to apply for a One Bay Area Grant. If successful the city may use the funds for local street and road maintenance, streetscape enhancements, safe routes to school projects, priority conservation areas and transportation planning.

Regular Agenda Items:

  • The mid-year budget was reviewed and approved 5:0. In short, we are about as lean as we can get without becoming anorexic. You can view the details here. The graph on page six should be enough even get the anti-vaxxers queuing up at the clinics.                       


Informational Items/ Presentation:

  • The Regional Housing Needs Allocation was discussed. Background: “In 1969, the state mandated that all California cities, towns and counties must plan for the housing needs of its residents. If a community does not have adequate suitable land to zone for high-density housing, then they will not receive state certification of its Housing Element. Most state funding programs for housing and community benefits require a state-certified Housing Element, so this is critically important.” Sebastopol will have to come up with 213 sites zoned for affordable housing or we will be banned from supping at the trough of thin and meager gruel replenished reluctantly from the revenues of the State of California. Our planning department thinks we can meet that goal. If our photogenic governor and his co-conspirators ever require actually putting a house on those sites we are going on a fiscal crash diet.  


Public Hearings:

  • “Any person or combination of persons who will be raising or spending money in local elections” must file with the state if the contribution is $2,000 or more. The council received and approved (5:0) the introduction of an ordinance (budgeted in the General Fund at $1,170 dollars) that will allow filing to be done electronically instead of by paper. It will improve the ease for which applicants can file to run for office and reduce the workload for staff and the applicant. And much of that information will become available on the city website. 

City Council Reports:


Elapsed Time: 4:00 hours (6:30–10:30 p.m.)

Next City Council meeting is March 2, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. (Virtual Zoom Platform)

Your can view this meeting and others at:

 You can view the unexpurgated version of this column, complete with links to the relevant documents, at

(1) comment


"we are about as lean as we can get without becoming anorexic." Any word on the TOT reimbursement from the County. It seems that we should be getting our reimbursement from the loss of TOT and sales tax from the County's autocratic decision to convert the Sebastopol Inn into a County run housing facility. If anyone wants to thank Supervisor Hopkins for reducing our City revenues, I'm sure she'd like to hear from you.

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