Who We Are
Issues - CVS/Traffic
General Plan Update
Sustainable Sebastopol

Download our newsletter

News Alerts

Write a letter to the editor! Click here to learn where to send it.

LIKE us on Facebook

Contact Us


If you would to make a contribution to help pay for our newsletters, send an email to Brenda.


Some good letters to the editor

Republicans Recommend Shaffer/Austin in Sebastopol
by Shepherd Bliss, Sebastopol

“It is imperative we elect Kathleen and Kathy,” two former members of the Republican Central Committee wrote in a recent mailer about the Sebastopol City Council election. If you agree, vote for Ms. Shaffer and/or Ms. Austin, two likeable persons.

Republican spokespersons Pete Pellini and Jim Pacatte assert that “both John Eder and Robert Jacob are beholden to the same radical group that has hampered our town’s progress.” Progress toward what? Further corporate control by outsiders, such as Chase Bank and CVS Pharmacy? Both Pellini and builder Pacatte stand to gain financially from Chase/CVS moving downtown. Their personal financial gains would come at the cost of clogged traffic, lost revenue for local businesses, and other expenses for the rest of us. What other mega-corporation might then be encouraged to move into the former lumberyard nearby?

Successful local businessmen Jacob and Eder support appropriate development, such as the Barlow Project. It is currently Sonoma County’s second largest commercial development. It will provide numerous jobs and generate significant sales tax revenues for Sebastopol, with little traffic impact on the already-clogged downtown. Is that what Republicans mean by “radical?” The distributor of my own crops, FEED, is scheduled to move from his downtown garage into Barlow. Yea!

Pellini and Pacatte allege that Republicans “have no representation at any level of government” and “your vote is wasted” if you vote for other candidates. Republicans support Shaffer, a current City Council member, because she actually does represent them, at least on some key issues that would determine our town’s future. Republicans also control the U.S. House of Representatives, hardly “no representation.” 

Austin and Shaffer’s recently-disclosed financial contributions and expenditures raise concerns. The Los Angeles-based California Real Estate Political Action Committee gave each at least $1500. Austin received money from Sonoma County Alliance, which represents development interests. What more might be happening “under the radar,” as Shaffer writes? Though we have excellent local printers in Sebastopol and nearby, their glossy printing was done out-of-state and in Southern California.

Questions such as the following arise, “Whose interests do they really represent? Why do Republicans and other groups support them? What do such groups stand to gain? How ‘sustainable’ is such outside funding and purchasing? Who ‘has hampered our small town’s progress’?”

GoLocal, rather than corporate. Retain Sebastopol’s unique charm. Vote for Jacob and Eder. We can both grow and preserve, if we make wise choices.

Barlow's lessons
by JUDE KREISSMAN, Sebastopol

EDITOR: I can hardly wait for the Barlow development to open. Perfect for the space, perfect for Sebastopol, it pays careful attention to the history and architecture of the parcel it sits on. Even as it honors this past, it looks ahead, providing a showcase for local businesses: fabulous food, coffee, wine, art and more. This is the kind of economic engine and development that we need. And it's no accident that this development “just happened” to come along. Our community leaders fought unsuitable proposals for this property, believing that this prominent piece of real estate should reflect the values and vision of Sebastopol.

Like the Barlow property, the Pellini property is a prime parcel that ought to reflect Sebastopol's character and vision: pedestrian usage, local businesses and forward thinking. For me, this vision isn't big box, corporate, traffic clogging businesses. We can get a better project at this site.

The defining issue in our local City Council election is the CVS-Chase development downtown, and it is the issue that differentiates the candidates. We need to remember and carefully consider the lessons of Barlow when we vote. Please join me in voting for John Eder and Robert Jacob, for a prosperous and green small town.

Wake up Sebastopol
by Bonnie Bruinsslot and Marcia Mengelberg, Sebastopol

Editor: After the candidates night, it is clear that if Kathleen Shaffer and Kathy Austin get eleted to the Sebastopol City Council, CVS/ Chase will be in the center of our downtown.

This is not what the majority of our residents want.

I encourage you to vote for Robert Jacob and John Eder. They both oppose the project and will maintain the integrity and uniqueness of our town.

After all, isn’t that why we choose to be here?

The law of interpretation
by Brenda Nichols, Sebastopol

EDITOR: One or more members of the Sebastopol City Council have stated that they had to vote to approve the CVS/Chase project because they had to “follow the law.”

The Planning Commission and the Design Review Board, comprised of citizen appointees, considered this project and concluded that they were following the law, that is the Sebastopol General Plan, when they rejected the proposal. They voted, respectively, 6-1 and 4-1 against CVS/Chase after their lengthy deliberations. Yet the narrow Council majority of three, members Shaffer, Slaytor and Wilson, concluded that the Council was compelled to “follow the law”  and approve the project.

All of these governing bodies had the same Planning Director, City Attorney and General Plan to consider, yet the City Council threw out the work of the DRB and Planning Commission, and decided that the Council’s interpretation was the correct one.

It’s true that the General Plan is open to interpretation, but council member Shaffer seems to have made up her mind early in the process (before January 18, 2012, according to her “under the radar” email), and she continually worked to get the project approved. It may not be coincidental that the development company, Armstrong, brought an attorney and a court reporter to the meetings as a form of intimidation to swing other members their way.

The Council had a perfect right to interpret the General Plan as they saw fit, but to say that they were compelled to come to only one conclusion — approval — makes a mockery of our governmental process. Why bother with a General Plan or zoning laws for that matter, if the Council is going to cherry pick certain provisions so that they can say that they were compelled to follow the law. The Council’s action leaves the City and its citizens powerless in the face of formidable corporate interests.

by Nancy LaDolce, Sebastopol

EDITOR: I read Councilmember Shaffer’s  recent letter to the editor saying “the project (CVS/Chase) was not what you wanted.” You’re confusing me.

Every time this project came before the Council (five times since July 2011, four votes for design only) you voted for it. You actively worked “under the radar” to support it before it was even before the Council last February. You specifically said you were rallying “the community to express support for the project.” Why would you campaign for a project you didn’t want? and when it wasn’t before the Council? My head’s spinning.

And what rules weren’t followed? Who didn’t follow them? You said the Council had “final authority” to decide the CVS appeal. How did you honor the process and the law and others didn’t? I’m not following.

Help me here, but this CVS/Chase project will forever change our town, create, traffic problems, and isn’t wanted by most residents (now, including you.) Sebastopol’s Design Review Board voted against the CVS/Chase design. CVS appealed. Are you with me here? As you said, the City Council had “final authority” on that appeal. You voted yea. But you didn’t want it? I don’t understand.

You always voted yea even though you really didn’t want to? You campaigned for it too, even though you didn’t want to? Why?

You said you only voted for it because of money. So, you’re willing to change the face of the town, vote for a generally unwanted project — one you don’t want — for money? Why would you do that?