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.)