Monday, January 28, 2013


What does "Community" mean to you?

On Thursday, January 31, we have a chance to express our views to the City Council through the Community Identity Meeting sponsored by the Sebastopol Planning Commission.

6:00 – 7:30 p.m., Veterans Building, 282 S. High St.

Sebastopol is known for its unique town culture.

For instance, our motto: Local flavor, Global Vision

Our designation as a "Slow City" by the Cittaslow international network of 160 small towns around the globe that priortize:
-       Supporting locally made products and agriculture
-       Celebrating our culture and history
-       Sharing the joys of our community with visitors and amongst ourselves
-       Integrating technologies for improved well being
-       Promoting the health of our environment
-       Developing community-friendly infrastructure

This community meeting is one of 8 that are designed as a "Prelude to the General Plan Update."

Every city is required to have a General Plan, and Sebastopol's is due to be updated in 2014. The General Plan is essentially the City's vision for the next 20 years, with suggested policies to help lead us there. 

To prepare for that update process, the Planning Commission is holding community input meetings. It's working with SSU Environmental Studies & Urban Planning students to gather information about what the community priorities are. What is our vision? These will ultimately be used for a Community Workshop on February 23 and a General Policy Report to the City Council on April 23 (Save the dates!)

The format of the Community Identity Meeting 1/31 is that of a brainstorming session. As with the prior meetings on other topics, all ideas are welcome. We sit in a circle and pass a talking stick. Everyone gets 30 seconds to express one idea, then they pass the stick. The ideas are written on papers on the wall.

The goal is to get as many unique ideas or issues listed as possible. "Unique" does not mean the ideas have to be exotic.  In this case, it means "non-duplicative." Typically 40-60 ideas are expressed. When done, everyone gets 3 dots to vote for their top 3 ideas.

In this way, the City gets the benefit of the many creative thinkers in our town. The meetings have been well-attended by people from both sides of the aisle. The energy has been positive and respectful.

And interestingly enough, we have been finding that there is more common ground that we might think. I have received several comments and emails noting that this has been a very healing process post-election.

Let's carry that energy forward!

What's your vision for Sebastopol?

How do we want our children to describe the town's personality 20 years from now?

How will that be expressed
-       architecturally?
-       by the businesses in town?
-       by our use of available land?
-       by the services we provide and the populations we support?

Whatever your vision, come to the Community Identity Meeting on Thursday, January 31 and let your voice be heard!

Guest blog by Tasha Beauchamp, Co-Chair Cittaslow Sebastopol

Do you work with wood?

Thursday, January 24, 2013


On January 29th there will be a special meeting of the City Council at 1:00pm in the City Hall conference room.

Visit this link:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Roatory Club of Sebastopol...

I have gone on public record expressing my disdain at the politicization of the two Rotary Clubs in Sebastopol during the CVS controversy.  But now, I would like to express my sincere gratitude.

You see, a week ago, my third grader came home with the "MacMillan Fully Illustrated Dictionary for Children".

The Rotary Club of Sebastopol donated this dictionary to every third grader in Sebastopol as they do every year.


My son has not put this thing down and, to tell you the truth, it sparks some lively conversation:

"Hey, dad.  Did you know that Lyme disease was named after Old Lyme, CT?"

"Hey, dad.  Did you know that Uncle Sam was named after a butcher in the war of 1812?"

"Hey, dad.  Did you know the Ferris wheel was named after George Ferris who built one that held 2,000 people for the Chicago World's Fair?"

Ya know what?  I didn't.

So THANK YOU Rotary Club of Sebastopol.

This is a gift that keeps on giving.

And I might just learn something.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Ya, know, I went to the City Council meeting last night.

At 5:00pm the City Council interviewed 4 candidates for the 3 vacant seats on the Design Review Board.  Appointed were Ted Luthin, former chair Zac Douch and Christine Level was named alternate.

I had to leave at 6pm, (there was an emergency Martini surplus at Hopmonk they needed help with) but when I returned at 8:00pm, they had just approved an extension on the moratorium for drive-thru windows.  This doesn't ban drive-thrus in Sebastopol at this time, it just gives the Council a full year to review the options on these environmental disasters.

Then, long into the night, the report on the Village Mobile Home park just east of downtown was discussed.  Seems the  City purchased the property in 2007 and now they are trying to figure out what to do with it.  It's costing Sebastopol mucho moolah each year and there's no clear solution in sight.  The odd thing to me was that no one from the trailer park or Tombe Realty who manages the park at $110,000.00 a year, attended the meeting, though they were invited.

I wonder if Tombe was nervous about answering some of the Council's questions.

Stay tuned.

But what impressed me about this new council is that every member provided thought provoking questions and opinions that really dug deep below the surface of the issues at hand.

I was very impressed and truthfully, pleasantly surprised at the type of constructive dialogue that every member took part in.

KUDOS to our new council!  Now let's get out there and support them!  Show up.

Please go to the Sebastopol City website for the minutes of all meetings.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kathleen Shaffer pulling up stakes?

Well, how do you like 'dem apples?

It seems that Kathleen Shaffer has listed her N. High St. home in Sebastopol with Terra Firma Global Partners.  In fact they just reduced it to $649K, so they seem to be in a hurry.

Now I have no idea if she's leaving Dodge or re-locating within city limits, but if you read my earlier post, "CONSPIRACY THEORY", this fits right in to what I theorized.

But it wouldn't make sense to sell that terrific little cottage in that great location just to move to another part of Sebastopol?

You see, Ms. Shaffer has actually done some good work here.  I won't go into listing the accomplishments, but they include re-stringing Christmas lights throughout Main St. businesses.

But, why leave town?  Just because she lost an election doesn't mean she can't continue the work she did.  She can still visit the elderly.  She can still host food banks and clothing drives.  She can still help steer the entrepreneurial spirit with SEP.  She can still voice her opinion publicly at City Council meetings.  She can still be a force in rallying Rotary Club members behind causes dear to her.  And now she doesn't have to do it "under the radar".

Or maybe, the Agenda was the priority.

Maybe Kathleen Shaffer was an instrumental pawn in bringing the CVS/Chase project to Sebastopol.  You see, the CVS M.O. across America has been to enter a community though Rotary contacts.  They promise that this project will be an "all-Rotary" project; everyone (in the Rotary) wins.  Then the Rotary bullies the City Council into approving the project before the community can get involved.  Before you know it, the town is forever changed.  Landmarks and historical buildings are razed, local businesses are undercut and traffic insulates a community.  Well, at least, that's what happened here.

Is this a telling move by a former council member who once claimed great love and devotion for Sebastopol?  If so, it's pretty scary.

Or am I completely out of my mind?

Uh.  Don't answer that.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

CVS vs. Sebastopol...

Here's a link to another article by Shepherd Bliss.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Do you like ice cream?

Do you like Kentucky bourbon?

Well, Screaming Mimi's just called me yesterday (I'm on the phone-alert list) and informed me that their Maker's Mark ice cream is released.

This is a special release that they do maybe three times a year, so it doesn't last long.  Get down there and treat yourself, pronto.

BTW, I am not affiliated nor do I work for Screaming Mimi's in any way, shape (well...) or form.  I just slap that stuff on my hips from time to time.

And we always see our friends there.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I encourage all to attend as many as possible of these General Plan Sub-Committee meetings.  This is a terrific opportunity to witness our march toward the future as a community.  No more "under cover of night" operations.  No more special interest driven agendas.

Have your voice heard.

Be informed.

Here are the dates and subjects:

Jan 7:     Environmental Sustainability

Jan 10:    Economic Vitality

Jan 14:    Community Health

Jan 17     HousingJan 24:    Conservation

Jan 28:    Parks and Open Space

Jan 31:    Community Identity

All meetings at Vets/SCA building, start promptly at 6 and end at 7:30.

My wife's blog...

Perhaps most of you already know, my wife has established a blog that is being very well-received out there in the blogosphere.  For those who don't know, please visit the site:

You can also go to my blogroll, or visit my "Sites I love" page for even more mind-expanding resources that will make you a better human.

Or not.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

A Bunya tree response from Lynn Deedler...

I hope you will not encourage others to save this tree based on the simple ideology that trees are good and should be saved.  Judgement should come from weighing all the issues.  Many needs and values go into the equation that determines if this tree removal is justified, and my conclusion is the removal is justified.  This opinion comes from someone who values trees more than most and who has fought hard battles to save trees in Sebastopol, often a lonesome battle.  And, who has cared for and planted more trees than you can imagine.

I wanted to include a condition for approving the application, to which both the Tree Board and the applicant were not responsive.  I would not mind support to include this condition if the tree is to go.  It was to include a major section of the trunk into the adjacent landscaping.  The following to Barney Aldridge and ZAC, the landscape architect, are from an exchange to let them know I would make this request.

"The Barlow was sold in part as preserving or reflecting the historic nature of the site.  As it has turned out little of the original character has been retained in this project.  Four possible historic aspects of this project that could have been incorporated come to mind.  This is a last chance.  This prominently located tree is the biggest non Redwood in Sebastopol and now it will be going too.  Please come up with a worthy place for it."

"The tendency on things like this tree is to cut it down, hall it off, grind out the stump, and make the place like it was never there.  It is an old and stately fixture in this town worthy of a little honor in its passing.  Making it fit into the landscape, posting a picture next to it, telling a little story about it on a plaque and asking people to count the rings to tell how long it stood.  This kind of thing acknowledges the tree, the past and adds character to a site. It does not take money so much as thought."

Saturday, January 5, 2013


What is it with developers?!?

I've been excited about the Barlow project, but there's something that I can't help but notice...


I mean, this project is starting to look like a factory in Poland.  Where are the trees?  Well, I hope this posting doesn't answer my question.  Because instead of planting trees to soften the austere look of this project, the developers want to cut down a tree that has welcome westbound visitors to Sebastopol for over a hundred years.


Bunya Bunya Tree at Barlow

I just heard from a DRB member that the Sebastopol Tree Board almost approved cutting down the Monkey Puzzle Tree on Sebastopol Ave and Morris Streets last night.  The Barlow project put a notice on the tree around December 17, and tried to get the removal approved last night.  Removing the tree was not a part of the original plans for the development.  This is the unique, tall, landmark tree right at the corner there, with the spiny leaves that grow in spirals around the branches.  It's been there for 100 years.  (The Monkey Puzzle and Bunya Bunya tree are in the same genus and very similar, so I'm not sure which it actually is.)

Please take a moment to email the other members of tree board & City Council and give them your feedback on this tree removal application.

News Flash please forward:

The Barlow project wants to cut down the 80 foot tall Bunya Bunya Tree at the entrance to the town.  The tree has been a landmark at the corner of Morris and Highway 12 for 100 years.  Now the Barlow says the tree is in the way of its corner development.  They want to make the curb more truck friendly and to conform to CalTrans and ADA standards.  They tried to get the Tree Board's approval last night but the Tree Board said there wasn't enough public notice given.  What do you think?  Could there be more effort made to preserve the tree?

Contact the City Officials about it if you have an opinion.  The next Tree Board will meet on Wednesday, January 16th.

City Council

Sarah Glade Gurney, City Councilmember

(707) 823-6500

Michael Kyes, Mayor

(707) 483-2595

John Eder, City Councilmember

Patrick Slayter, City Council Member

(707) 829-9090

Robert Jacob, Vice Mayor

Mary Gourley, City Clerk

(707) 823-1153

Friday, January 4, 2013


If you are reading this, you need to spread the word and attened one or more or ALL of the Sebastopol General Plan sub-committee meetings listed on the City of Sebastopol website:
The prioritized findings from each of the community meetings will be posted in the General Plan Update section of that same website.  In addition, they will be available for any future groups to reference at such time that Sebastopol engages in the formal update of its General Plan.  Three other topics have yet to be scheduled: Land Use, Safety, and Circulation (Traffic).
And tell them what you think!  This is what we fought for:
To learn more about the Community Meetings, or to be added to the email list for updates concerning the SSU project and the eventual General Plan Update, call the Planning Department Monday through Thursday (707) 823-6167, or email

Thursday, January 3, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! (boy, am I glad that's over).

Happy New Year!  I hope this posting finds you well.  I am working through my second cold in two weeks and can't wait to get back into the swing of 2013!  I've got some info coming re: Sebastopol's General Plan and the inevitable CVS lawsuit updates will be a great source for comic relief.

Also, tonight I'll be posting January's movie and wine selection.

So please...

Keep your ear to the Gravenstein rail.  The holidays took a chunk out of the posting thang, but we're back on track shortly.  Meanwhile, I hope your holidays were half as good as ours were (or better, of course).  And I wish you all good things for the coming year.