Tuesday, December 24, 2013


Thanks for your support over the past year!


There needs to be a moratorium placed on new vineyard development.  We need to contact county and state officials to stop these devastation to our environment and assault on our health.

READ THIS from the Press Democrat:


Friday, December 20, 2013


The New General Plan is looking for talented and passionate people to participate in this very important undertaking.  Please read and see if it's something you might be interested in doing.

Sebastopol's future is at stake!  Go to this site...


Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Sebastopol should be very excited about the new mural across from the Hairmasters parking lot on McKinley St.

Come and help us celebrate this beautiful and ambitious piece of art.

Saturday, December 7th, 2013
2:00 pm
Sebastopol Plaza
Everyone Welcome! 
Local artists, led by Dave Gordon, have created a beautiful mural for the North Wall of the Oddfellows Building! The image is based on a Pomo story told by Herman James in 1957, and I think you'll agree the result is stunning. Please come down and join in celebrating the addition of this amazing art to our downtown.
And, FYI: That's a Coyote.




5 - 9PM

Entertainment, hot chocolate, friends and neighbors AND…


See you there!!!

2013 Christmas Tree Lighting!


By the look of the cars, maybe 1956?

The Basso Bldg. occupies this corner now.

I prefer Rexall to CVS or Rite Aid.


Last night I was honored to be unanimously selected by the council to be Sebastopol's mayor for this upcoming year.
Thank you -- to the citizens who elected me and to the council for appointing me to be mayor -- for this amazing opportunity!
As mayor, I look forward to furthering the accomplishments we made in 2013 into next year. So much has happened here in Sebastopol over the last year. The council and staff have built an ever stronger relationship with each other and the community. The Barlow is filling out nicely, new parks have been established, and we continue to work towards ways to save money for a rainy day, and this is in large part to Councilmember Kyes, who just finished a banner year as mayor.
As mayor, Mr. Kyes consistently beat the drum for increasing Sebastopol's reserves. Sebastopol was able to maintain excellent service to the community during this recession for two main reasons. First, our city staff was willing to defer raises and benefit increases in order to stretch our local tax dollars. Second, our city had a reserve account to see us through lean times.
Councilmember Kyes is committed to increasing this account balance. He is a leader on this issue, always looking at ways our city can save money while increasing revenues. His most important work building our financial buffer will continue through this next year as we develop other creative revenue sources in order to bring our long-term financial health back on track after tumultuous financial times.
I also appreciate Councilmember Kyes' attention to detail. His ability to dive into the nitty-gritty pieces of any project, a budget, a design, is laudable and ensures that Sebastopol is moving in the right direction.
I am excited to announce that Councilmember Patrick Slayter is now Vice Mayor Slayter. Also selected unanimously, Patrick has the backing of the council to step in and lead our city in a new way. He and I work well together, and I look forward to his guidance and assistance in integrating local business, sound environmental policy, social justice, and general welfare for our residents and visitors alike.


Congratulations to Robert Jacob who has become Sebastopol's newest Mayor.

Former Mayor Michael Kyes passes the gavel to Robert Jacob

I, personally am thrilled.  I'd like to thank Mayor Kyes for getting Sebastopol back on its feet.  It's been a great year for this town and this City Council had everything to do with it.  A job well done!

I'd also like to congratulate Patrick Slayter who became Sebastopol's Vice Mayor.

For those of you who are having trouble, I've created the following chart:

L to R: Patrick Slayter, Sarah Glade Gurney, Michael Kyes, Robert Jacob, John Eder.

What a day!


Well, here it is…


                             The Paul Hobbs Empire Strikes Back

By Shepherd Bliss

The Watertrough Children’s Alliance (WCA)--mainly mothers with students at schools near where yet another apple orchard is being converted into a chemical vineyard--filed a lawsuit on the afternoon of Nov. 25 against the Paul Hobbs Winery. The next day Hobbs struck back with a press release, promising he “will aggressively fight.”

Hobbs is famous for being aggressive, fighting neighbors, and abusing land. Called “the wine industry’s bad boy,” he regularly breaks the rules and then pays paltry fines—“business as usual” for him. He plans to use toxic pesticides next to five schools with over 500 students, which would also hurt family members, teachers, staff, and neighbors. Hobbs does not follow a “good neighbor” policy.

The lawsuit asserts that the permit issued Hobbs by Sonoma County should be subject to California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) regulations. It contends that it poses threats to wildlife and water quality. Filed by attorney Paul Carroll, it seeks state intervention to halt the conversion.

“Hobbs has infuriated officials, neighbors and industry peers by clear-cutting trees,” writes Jeremy Hay in “Sonoma Magazine: The Heart of Wine Country.” Hobbs previously was found guilty of violating Sonoma County’s Vineyard Erosion and Soil Control Ordinance (VESCO).

Wine baron Hobbs travels the globe from Sebastopol to Latin America, Asia, Europe, Armenia, and elsewhere to oversee his expansive empire. He helicopters over local neighbors and disrupts their rural peace and quality of life in pursuit of his cash cow—wine. At up to $300 a bottle, only the wealthy benefit from his extractions from the Earth’s bounty.

After buying a 48-acre apple orchard, Hobbs ripped out trees and other vegetation that held the soil in place. Then it rained. Members of WCA and the Apple Roots Group of parents and neighbors called regulators, who once again issued a Stop Work order, which halted the conversion for two months.

Apple Roots Group organized a protest at a Hobbs wine tasting. He cancelled when some 75 people picketed outside, rather than risk exposing customers to the public outcry.

“Hobbs utilizes sustainable practices in his vineyards,” the press release boldly asserts. Hobbs describes himself as a “steward of the land.” This is pure green-washing. If he was sustainable, he would not have had his recent conversion declared illegal because it lead to soil erosion and he would not illegally have clear-cut redwoods and other trees three previous times. 

Vintners have been reluctant to speak up publicly against Hobbs, but some privately call him “a jerk.” Duff Bevill, who farms about 1,000 acres of grapes, is quoted by Hay as saying that what Hobbs does “is insidious to the entire industry.” Longtime grower Saralee Kunde also points to Hobbs as an example of how not to develop a vineyard.

Agriculture Commissioner Tony Linegar adds that Hobbs’ Watertrough actions “bring negative attention to the program we have worked so hard to build.” Former Sonoma County Winegrowers President Nick Frey has also drawn a distinction between Hobb’s and the larger grape-grower community.

Local environmental activist Helen Shane describes Hobbs’ way of doing business as the “Whoops” method:  “Do exactly as you please, mutter ‘Whoops’ when caught, pay a fine and go on to wreak havoc. Cheaper and more effective than abiding by the rules, as most other business people do.”
“Corporations are waiting in the wings to snap up orchards and parcels of land to develop into more wine grape vineyards,” said grapegrower and neighbor Bill Shortridge.  “It gives the responsible growers a bad name.  The Paul Hobbses have no interest in our agriculture.  They only look at the bottom line, at the expense of our eco-system, agricultural community, and health.”

"This is a watershed moment in our hilly and hazard-prone watersheds," says geologist Jane Nielson. "The County's lax oversight of agricultural development has invited abusive agricultural development, such as Hobbs practices. It's easy to see why rural residents seek better scrutiny of permit applications."

Hobbs actions--including the most recent press release threatening his famous aggression and “I’ll do as I please” attitude--could trigger stricter regulations for the wine industry. Some even call for a moratorium on new vineyards, contending that “enough is enough.”

(Shepherd Bliss teaches college part-time, gardens, has contributed to two dozen books, and can be reached at 3sb@comcast.net.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Citizens for Accountability 
A group of concerned Sonoma County voters will hold a town-hall meetings in the 5th Supervisorial District on Thursday, Nov. 21st.  The Citizens for Accountability has invited Supervisor Efren Carrillo to explain his July 13thbehavior - his second arrest in less than a year - to his constituents.  The public is encouraged to attend.

Efren Carrillo has declined the invitation due to scheduling conflicts.

In the very early hours of Saturday, July 13th, Supervisor Carrillo was arrested wearing only socks and underwear after a woman called 911 twice to report that someone tried to break into her bedroom through the window.  His last arrest has resulted in a charge of “peeking,” a serious misdemeanor.  This was Supervisor Carrillo’s second arrest in a ten month period.

Constituents in the 5th District are entitled to hear Supervisor Carrillo’s explanation on this issue, and he is entitled to a forum in which to make such a presentation.  There has been no explanation at all from Carrillo, save a brief 8 minute announcement of his alcoholism at a Board of Supervisor’s meeting and constituents in his district wonder if he can continue to serve us effectively.
“We are tired of waiting for Supervisor Carrillo to step up and address the people he is supposed to be working for.  We have waited a long time for some explanation for this incomprehensible behavior which reflects so poorly on the County” said Alice Chan a 5th District Constituent and a member of the group.
A straw poll will be taken at each meeting.  The general public is invited as well as all interested 5th District voters

Please attend this Thursday, Nov. 21st - 6:30 – 8:00 p.m., Sebastopol Grange Hall, 6000 Sebastopol Ave., Sebastopol

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Friday, November 1, 2013





Here's what the Barlow has been waiting for;


The Grand Opening celebration of The Barlow on

November 2, 2013 from 4:00 - 9:00pm.

The Grand Opening will take the shape of a street fair with artisan and food vendors lining the streets of McKinley Avenue and live music from Sol Horizon, The Louies, and the Blane Lyon Band featuring Zap Mama.  Additional entertainment and surprises will be announced as we solidify involvement.

Street Closure. Vendor booths will line McKinley Street, leaving the sidewalk and space in front of businesses open to pedestrian traffic.  McKinley Street will be closed after 2pm the day of the event and any cars remaining on the street after 2pm will be towed.  The Street Fair management team will give ample warning to those parked on McKinley in the hours before the event through signs and flyer distribution.

Parking for the Street Fair will be on a first come, first served basis. We don't anticipate any issues with congestion, given our ample parking on campus and surrounding streets.

Safety First. We have contracted with a highly professional and well-trusted security team to oversee the event and ensure the safety and enjoyment of all attendees.

The Barlow Street Fair is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Judge Elliot Daum
The Artesa case was heard in Judge Daum's court last Friday morning.  Attorneys for the coalition opposing the Artesa conversion did a terrific job.  CalFire and Artesa attorneys stated their cases, as well.  Judge Daum said he would issue a ruling in approximately 30 days.  

Start the clocks and let friends and allies know that we need to control the increasing pressure on coastal forests AND on Resource and Rural Development (RRD) lands.  

RRD is zoned to protect resources.  Changes to the land and waterways like Artesa and Ratna Ling are not protective of natural resources, nor can they fully mitigate the losses of those lands.  Impacts include decreased capacity for GHG reduction, increased traffic, noise, water use.  Also health and safety risks, such as fire safety and so on.  

In the case of Artesa, Tribal archeological resources are extensive enough that the area including, and surrounding, Artesa is potentially an Archeological District.  The Tribes need (and deserve) protection of their heritage areas.  

We have to educate our neighbors and our leaders to the long term risks, the impacts, and of the precedents this kind of development sets.  

Thanks for caring about our north coast areas.  And thanks for letting others know to spread the word.

Can Sebastopol ban GMOs?

What would Whole Foods do then?

Read the article about Los Angeles' proposition here:


And if you ask me, this is the way GMO labeling will gain traction.

I mean, I saw a sign in Whole Foods stating they will be completely GMO transparent (labeling) by 2018!!!  Are you kidding?!?  Get it done.  We'd all be surprised if we discovered how much of that stuff we actually fed to our families.

Monday, October 21, 2013


This is absolutely disgusting.  We need a moratorium on new vineyard development in California.

Please contact our Sonoma County Supervisors.  You can find their contact info in the menu above.

Meanwhile, read the article:



Call or write the Agriculture Commission at:

(707) 565-2371

Sunday, October 20, 2013


They are finding anyway possible to get to TAMARIND!

TAMARIND is a new clothing boutique that features high end and very cute clothing for the fashionable set.

Please visit their website:


And visit the Barlow.  It's starting to heat up.


Lest you forget the mammoth, sprawling CVS/Chase project and the congestion it would cause, please spend two minutes to view the video in the previous post.  It was presented by the developer in January 2012. 
This post is to update you on the status of CVS, and to ask you for a contribution to pursue the Small Town Sebastopol lawsuit, if necessary. 
A legal agreement signed by CVS March 2, 2010 indemnified the City of Sebastopol against liability for any award or settlement of the case.
CVS purchased the site from the Pellini’s, so the family is out of the picture.  It’s just we the community vs. CVS 
CVS is dealing with three major unresolved obstacles: 
1)  CVS is suing the City in Federal District Court for violation of CVS’ civil rights by issuing a moratorium on drive thrus.
2)  CalTrans has not approved the permits needed to allow left turns into and out of the project across two lanes of traffic on Sebastopol Ave; more than a year ago, CalTrans requested further information. CVS has not responded.
3)  Our suit, filed in August 2011, charged that the then City Council’s approval for the project was based on a flawed traffic study that did not properly consider The Barlow and the real traffic impact on many streets and intersections in town. We believe that a new traffic study would trigger a full Environmental Impact study that would prove the CVS project would generate unacceptable traffic.         
It is important that CVS know we are not going away.                                          
We need your help to continue the battle.
NOTE: We guarantee that if all of the funds received from this time forward are not needed, equitable refunds will be made.
We’re counting on you.
Please Go to:
or send a check to:
Committee for Small Town Sebastopol                                                    Exchange Bank                                                                                                        720 Gravenstein Hwy, No                                                                       Sebastopol, Ca 95472
Helen Shane and John Kramer


Check out this video re: the CVS plan to develop Pellini's Corner:


Sunday, October 6, 2013


Some folks I speak to have told me they weren't aware of some of the features theGravenstein has to offer...

Just take a look at the menu above and you might very well find a solution to what wine to get or what video to rent.  Want to contact a City Council member?  Look no further.  Sebastopol and County official contact info is here.  And if you own a classic car in town, see if we've included you in our Cars around Town section.

And please feel free to contact us with your community events and ideas.  Need more?  Let us know.  The list of Grav readers is growing.



Effort underway to oust Carrillo...

Saw this item in Sonoma West...


Friday, September 27, 2013


I was flabbergasted (excuse my language) at reading a comment in response to an article online in the Press Democrat's WATCH SONAM COUNTY section.

Read the article here:


At the bottom of the page, you will see the comment that mentions the arrest of our 5th District Supervisor, Efren Carrillo.  That would be strike three in my book...

...IF it's true.  STAY TUNED.


If you are wondering how the Affordable Healthcare Act will affect you, you can get all the answers at the official California website:


It's a great resource considering the confusion about the new healthcare laws that might just take affect in a few days.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


I am honored to introduce a new feature on theGravenstein - Vice-Mayor Robert Jacob's...

Sebastopol City News

I've devoted a new page to this and hope you find it helpful as it's just chock full of all kinds of info regarding events in and around our fair city as well as the business of the city itself.

I will update this page with each new issue, but you could also subscribe to it yourself if you like.

And, may I take a moment to publicly thank Mayor Michael Kyes, Vice Mayor Jacob and Councilmembers Patrick Slayter, Sarah Gurney and John Eder for the job they are doing to make Sebastopol work.  We were faced with some very difficult issues and the thoughtful and cooperative approach they've applied to solving these problems seems to be unique when it comes to politics this day and age.  There is no agenda.  The priority is what is best for Sebastopol.

We are very lucky to have all of them on watch.


For those of you wondering, or maybe you don't even know - Here's a first look at the new Hotel Barlow that has cleared the first hurdle with the Sebastopol City Council.  In my opinion, I think this is a very good thing.  I don't think it will change our town except it may bring some of those black Amex cards to shop in Sebastopol.  After all, we are the gateway to the Russian River.

What do you think?

Morris St. is at the top and Hwy 12/Sebastopol Ave. runs along the right side.


Please take a few moments and visit this website:


 ...to complete an important survey regarding Eco-Tourism in Sebastopol.

Here's a chance to have a say in the future of Sebastopol.  Contact theGravenstein with any questions, please.  You can remain anonymous unless you wish to receive updates.  THANKS!

Can Sebastopol Embrace Eco-Tourism and Keep Our Unique Spirit?

Mark your calendar to come to the 

Eco-Tourism Open House

Tuesday 10/29, 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Center for the Arts
282 S. Main St., Sebastopol

We will have topic-oriented discussion tables where everyone can talk about these results 

Over the next few months we will offer numerous opportunities for people to express their concerns, brainstorm about solutions, and cultivate fun ways to share what we are most proud of about our town. (Tourism is about hospitality after all.)

Keeping Sebastopol green, local, friendly and artistic

"Cittaslow" (pronounced chee-TAH sloh) = "Slow City" in Italian.
In 2010, Sebastopol joined the international network of over 170 Slow Cities

The six priorities of a "Slow City" (Cittaslow):
• Support locally made products and agriculture
• Celebrate our history and culture
• Welcome visitors and embrace neighbors
• Integrate technologies for improved well-being
• Protect the health of the environment
• Community-friendly infrastructure (walk ways, bike paths, open space)

If you would like to receive updates about these activities and the evolution of an eco-tourist program, please give us your contact information.

By entering my personal information, I consent to receive email communications from the survey author's organization based on the information collected.
First Name:

Last Name:

Email Address:

Organization (if app.):

We respect your privacy. Your answers are confidential and your contact information will not be shared with others.

If you have questions, feel free to email us at tourism@cittaslowsebastopol.org. (We are a 100% volunteer organization. We will get back to you as soon as we can. Just be aware that we all have work lives too!)