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Shake-up in Coddingtown Target OK

By KEVIN McCALLUM

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A Santa Rosa planning commissioner who abstained last week from a key vote on the Coddingtown mall Target project because of a

A Target store is planned for the former Gottschalks site at Coddingtown. (PD File)

conflict resigned the following day, thus allowing him to be replaced quickly before an upcoming re-hearing of the project.

The replacement is a Chamber of Commerce member with clear pro-business credentials.

Shaun Faber, co-owner of residential design and architecture firm Farrell-Faber & Associates, didn’t vote last Thursday on whether to reconsider the commission’s prior approval of a permit for a 143,000-square-foot Target to replace the empty Gottschalks building.

Faber’s abstention, when combined with the absence of Commissioner Peter Stanley, allowed the reconsideration vote to pass 3-2. He later explained that he abstained because he had done work for Codding Enterprises.

Commissioners voting to reconsider the issue said they were concerned that a Target official had overstated the percentage of jobs that would be full-time at the new store.

John Dewes, a Target regional development manager, acknowledged he “unintentionally inverted” the full-time and part-time figures when he claimed that 60 percent of workers would be full-timers. He later apologized and provided the commission with figures clarifying that between 35 and 45 percent of Target workers are typically full time.

Those who voted against reconsideration said the employment issue, while an unfortunate mistake, had nothing to do with the permit and would create unnecessary delay.

Critics of Target’s employment practices seized on the episode as further evidence of why a “community impact report” exploring the various economic and social impacts of the project should be required, such as was done in San Rafael last year. There is no such requirement in Santa Rosa.

The commission’s decision to reconsider its earlier vote means that issue will return to the commission July 12. If Faber remained on the commission, he wouldn’t be able to vote on the issue then, either. That could have set up a scenario of a 3-3 vote on July 12, which would have further held up the project.

But on Friday, Faber sent an email to City Councilman Jake Ours, who had appointed him to the commission, informing him that he was resigning “effective immediately” because of his “recently increased business obligations and travel schedules” that will conflict with “many upcoming commission duties.”

Faber said in an interview that he is part owner of a startup company, hybridCore Homes, and that its business is “suddenly kind of exploding,” requiring him to travel extensively and likely miss future commission meetings.

Faber has been on the commission for a year and a half, but served for several years previously, as well as on the city’s Design Review Board.

He didn’t resign specifically to allow himself to be replaced prior to the next Target vote, he said. But he acknowledged that his abstention made it “a little more glaring” that such conflicts have consequences. He said he would have voted against reconsideration, a proposal he called “absurd.”

Ours agreed that Faber’s resignation was tied to his inability to vote on the Target project.

“I don’t think it helped it any,” Ours said.

Ours said he did not ask Faber to resign. But it didn’t take him long to find a replacement. He quickly reached out to Curt Groninga, retired assistant superintendent at Santa Rosa Junior College, whom Ours said he met at “at various social functions.”

Groninga served on the Charter Review Committee and is a member of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce Advocacy Council, which has a mission of promoting “a pro-business political environment.” The city received Groninga’s application Monday. The appointment becomes effective five days later.

“He’s a bright guy and we’re lucky that he said yes,” Ours said.

Groninga was out of town and not available for comment.

Ours said he did not tell Groninga how he felt about the Target decision, but did tell him to review pending commission items and past discussions in preparation for upcoming votes.

Asked about his opinion of the vote to reconsider the Target permit, Ours said “I thought it was a waste of time.”

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com.





10 Responses to “Shake-up in Coddingtown Target OK”

  1. Larry says:

    How convenient for Jake Ours to have Fabor resign from the Planning Commission and Curt Groninga volinteer for the Planning Commission, all in the same week. Why try to put a spin on stacking Planning Commission membership. It seems to me that Santa Rosa might as well dissolve the Planning Commisssion and turn over all its functions to the Santa Rosa Chamber of commerce. Why waste taxpayers time attending planning commission meetings when the results are already decided in the back room at city hall. Since Mr. Groninga was already a city hall insider based on his current membership in various city commettee’s, boards, and commissions; maybe its time to appoint people who work for a living and who have the interest of Santa Rosa at heart rather that just the business interest. WHY NOT WORK TO GET HIGH QUALITY STORES AT CODDING TOWN RATHER THAN ANOTHER VERSION OF “DOLLAR STORES”.

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  2. GAJ says:

    @Paul, that’s the beauty of our system, if Target’s gamble (they are investing tens of millions resulting in hundreds of construction and retail jobs) they will go out of business.

    The citizens get to decide, but, in the meantime, some people in need will be employed.

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  3. Paul says:

    Do we really need a Target 5 miles from another Target that’s 5 miles from yet another Target? Are you people that lazy?

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  4. Don says:

    @John Reed……WOW! Step away from the bong dude!

    Santa Rosa is following Windsors system for welcoming businesses to town! Go look at their downtown….SR is not far behind.

    Thumb up 10 Thumb down 7

  5. Canthisbe says:

    If we really want to consider all externalities, we should make the Planning Commission compensate Target, the future employees and shoppers who are losing money because of the delay caused by the Planning Commission.

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  6. Martha says:

    Time for the public to see the actual RESUME’s of the so called “Planning Commission” members.

    They have zero technical job skills. Zero.

    Why is the Press Democrat afraid to inform its readers of the farce of their “authority?”

    Thumb up 21 Thumb down 7

  7. good one says:

    Barbara, I couldn’t have said it better! The arrogance of the SR planning commission is unbelievable. As long as the store pays the minimum wage and complies with fed, state and local laws, lets get this done. Many folks would rather have part time jobs than NONE AT ALL! How hard is that to understand??

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  8. John Reed says:

    “Target Fiasco Demonstrates Need for CIR”

    Now we’re getting to the core question. What is the proper scope of land-use and commercial entitlement decisions? Should it be confined narrowly to simple compliance to a artificially defined set of impacts, such as traffic, water, and public safety, or should it actually attempt to capture the full range of economic and social impacts?

    Groups like the Living Wage Coaltion make the case for a CIR (Community Impact Report), which would weigh an applicant on issues like job quality (wages, benefits, and PT/FT ratios), labor history, and net costs to pulic sector resources. The opponents of this approach are absolutely committed to keeping the externalized costs out of view. This blindness to social, economic, and environmental costs imposed on society by the Wall Street economic development model is why they have forfeited their right to govern us by controlling our politics through their misuse of corporate money.

    We are in the midst of a civilizational shift which is breaking down the grip on power of these reckless corporate elites, who have been trained to seek personal gain over any socially beneficial project. Since they seem incapable of evolving, they will have to be replaced as the source of authority and prestige in our very sick culture.

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  9. Barbara Johnson says:

    The Santa Rosa Planning Commission needs to be totally disolved and a charter written which outlines in detail their duties and responsiblilites.

    Managing who, why or how a company hiring people is not one of their responsiblilities.

    They need to be concerned with development, not creating a business climate with drives business out of Santa Rosa or keeps businesses from locating here.

    Diversity hiring, affirmative action and establishing wage rates are clearly out of their jurisdiction and should remain so with a new charter. How many temps or full time employees a company wants to employ is an econonomic business decision companies have to make. It is not the business of a bureaucratic planning commission.

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  10. anna says:

    i think a target srore would be great it creates more jobs and conveniutes for thouse living close by good luck

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