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Meet The Candidates – Two Public Forums

On October 4, 2012, the Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma West Times and News, and the League of Women Voters will host a forum at the Community Cultural Center at 390 Morris Street.  The public is welcome to “Meet and Mingle” from 6:30 to 7 PM.  The Forum starts at 7 PM and ends at 8:30 PM.

On October 11, 2012, KRCB Public Broadcasting, the Sonoma County Gazette, and the Sebastopol Grange will host a second forum at the Grange at 6000 Sebastopol Road [Hwy 12 east of downtown], starting at 7 PM.  The evening will be facilitated by Bruce Robinson, KRCB’s News Director, and will end at 8:30 PM.

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Sonoma County Gazette Column Sebastappeal October 2012

By Sarah Glade Gurney, Sebastopol City Council Member

Narrow CVS/Chase Approval Dominates the Election

Democracy Denied

Those who support the Council’s decision to approve the CVS/Chase proposal would like us to believe that the Council had to “follow the law” and approve the development whether the Council liked it or not. One Council Member, who voted on five occasions to approve the project, prefaced her last vote by saying that it was “not what I wanted to see there.”

That sounds good, especially given the fact that so many citizens expressed opposition to the project. To vote for such an unpopular project, you would want to appear as though you really didn’t want to.  Let’s look more closely at the facts.

Over a fourteen-month period, the Council heard three appeals by CVS/Chase of decisions by the Council’s governing boards, on the claim that these appointees’ decisions were without merit. In this time, there was no legal determination about the project. Our City Planner is not a judge. His view as to whether the applicant conformed to our community’s standards is his subjective professional opinion. The applicant’s attorney is not a judge either. She was there to argue for her client and get CVS/Chase approved.

Rather than work with the Planning Commission and Design Review Board to hammer out a development that conformed to our community’s guidelines to the satisfaction of our governing boards, CVS/Chase appealed to the Council to get their own way. They brought their attorneys and a court reporter to make clear their threat of litigation if they didn’t get the approval they demanded.

In legal disputes, people look at a conflict from opposite sides and see opposite conclusions when they apply the law. Judges determine which interpretation prevails.

To agree with the CVS/Chase attorneys and overturn the governing boards is not “following the law.” In plain English, to overturn the governing boards’ decisions is to deny democracy by turning our backs on the democratic safeguards we put in place to preserve our small town character. The Council’s approval threw away the many hours of work done by our dedicated citizen volunteers and by our public commenting at the hearings. The volunteers and citizens sought to preserve our town. The Council did not back them up. The Council caved in to the threat of a lawsuit. The Council failed to stand up for the overwhelming majority who opposed the project.


For CVS/Chase

Against CVS/Chase

July 5, 2011

Shaffer, Slayter, Wilson, Kyes


Feb. 7, 2012

Shaffer, Slayter

Gurney, Kyes, Wilson

Feb. 21 2012

Shaffer, Slayter

Gurney, Kyes, Wilson

August 7, 2012

Shaffer, Slayter, Wilson

Gurney, Kyes

August 21, 2012

Shaffer, Slayter, Wilson

Gurney, Kyes

Possible Next Steps After CVS/Chase Approval

The City hasn’t heard what CVS/Chase intends to do. There are several possibilities:

  1. CVS/Chase could accept the conditions imposed by the Council, demolish the buildings, and construct the new ones.
  2. CVS/Chase could wait as long as three years.  The two-year approval can be automatically extended for one year.  Perhaps during this period, they would start construction.
  3. CVS/Chase could wait and see what happens in the upcoming election.  CVS/Chase could contribute to supportive candidates’ campaigns or to a PAC working against the no-CVS candidates. If the two pro-CVS/Chase candidates are elected, then CVS/Chase could come back in January 2013 and ask the new majority on the Council to remove any “onerous” conditions. 
  4. CVS/Chase could build the project, live with it for 90 days, then return to the Council to remove “onerous” conditions. 
  5. CVS/Chase could build out the project, open, and fail, due to poor design, impossible traffic, or a boycott.
  6. CVS/Chase could stay at Redwood Market Place and redesign the space to serve their declared reduced need.
  7. CVS/Chase could close in Sebastopol and leave town.

Important note from Sebastopol Tomorrow:

There are still several steps the developer must go through before final approval. Stay tuned so you can attend these meetings:

AND a new council could change the makeup of the Design Review Board and Planning commission. A majority on the Council could remove someone at any time, without waiting to the end of the term. Terms end Dec. 31.

ALSO a new council will be making decisions about future downtown development. What will they approve next? An Applebee's at the lumber yard across from the Plaza?

Vote for Robert Jacob and John Eder to make sure that does NOT happen!