WatchSonoma Watch

CVS project key isssue at Sebastopol City Council candidates’ forum



The controversial CVS Pharmacy and Chase Bank branch development and its approval by the City Council emerged as the defining campaign issue during

The Pellini Chevrolet building on Highway 12 in Sebastopol, empty since the car dealership closed its doors at the end of 2008. (PD FILE)

a candidates’ forum Thursday night.

“CVS-Chase is one of the greatest injustices in Sebastopol,” said candidate Robert Jacob. “When we have two community boards denying the project, to have it overturned by the council is not the choice of the people.”

City Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer, one of three council members who gave the project final approval, defended her action as the proper thing to do.

“When the project came to us, they had followed the rules,” Shaffer said. “As a council member, I was sworn to uphold the law and the rules of the city.”

Shaffer, Jacob and candidates Kathy Austin, John Eder and Colleen Fernald are running for two vacant seats on the five-member council.

Shaffer is seeking re-election, while Mayor Guy Wilson is not.

Shaffer, 65, is the retired owner of a Florida company that manufactured field equipment for Major League Baseball. She is finishing her first term on the council.

Jacob, 35, is the founder and owner of Peace in Medicine, which has medical marijuana dispensaries in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa. He also is chairman of the Sebastopol Planning Commission.

Austin, 60, is an architect, former member of the Sebastopol City Council and served as mayor.

Eder, 59, is a representative of and designer for Boise Mobile Equipment of Boise, Idaho, which makes firefighting vehicles.

Fernald, 50, is an artist and sustainability consultant who is running for the council for a third time. She has also run twice for the U.S. Senate.

The candidates sought to differentiate themselves for the crowd of 200 during the 90-minute forum at the Community Center.

All but Fernald support Measure Y, which would raise the Sebastopol sales tax by a half cent, raising $1 million annually for city services.

The candidates also advocated listening to the public and being attentive to the public’s wishes, pushing for economic vitality by encouraging small businesses, finding ways to ease traffic and making streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

“I am determined to work for the 99 percent,” Fernald said. “It’s important to represent the majority, and that has been missing. The council should have a third night per month to hold a town hall meeting.”

Despite getting final approval by the City Council in August, controversy over the plan for a CVS Pharmacy and Chase Bank branch at the site of the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership has refused to die.

Supporters contend Armstrong Development of Sacramento followed all city guidelines and rules and deserved to get the approval, saying the issue is now resolved.

Critics contend it will generate too much traffic, doesn’t reflect Sebastopol’s Main Street character and is the wrong type of project for that congested corner.

They also cling to the hope that with a different makeup on the council, the project may yet be defeated.

“It is not the right project, and it is not over yet,” Eder said.

Austin said, however, that CVS was one of the only businesses in Sebastopol large enough to afford the Pellini property, which sits at one of the city’s most prominent and expensive locations.

“The downtown is made up of small and large businesses,” Austin said.

Fernald opposes the CVS project and said she hopes there might be some way still to get something different on the property that doesn’t generate traffic.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or bob.norberg@pressdemocrat.com.

3 Responses to “CVS project key isssue at Sebastopol City Council candidates’ forum”

  1. Snarky says:


    Its none of local government’s business whether CVS wanted to open or not to open.

    All the laws, rules, and regs you point out were implemented by a mere handful of public employees trying to pretend they are important…

  2. Gregory says:

    While CVS/Chase may have followed the rules and all applicable laws in their bid for this project, it should not necessarily give them a rubber stamp to go ahead with it. If it is NOT the right project for our city, and is not a SUSTAINABLE project with a REAL city vision, then we as a community and as citizens have the same lawful right to repeal the entire project. Sebastopol has motto: Local flavor, global vision, CVS and Chase Bank are neither local flavor, nor do the have a global vision, other than market share and huge profit margins.

  3. James Bennett says:

    The thing that is so ironic, such a paradox is this:
    If you follow the money, the origins and lineage of the oppression that is UN Agenda 21/ICLEI. Chase is associated(and other enormous global private interests).
    These traitors on city councils across America that like to spew that 1%/99% stuff ARE IN EFFECT WORKING FOR THE 1% BY BEING COMPLICIT with ICLEI, American Planning Association, Cap ‘n Trade etc..
    So this capitalistic endeavor blind sides ‘em because it couldn’t be orchestrated the way they had hoped. However if a big developer in the fold pitched ‘em a big Smart Growth gulag they’d embrace it, want to take credit for being part of it.

    If they listened to their real master; the oath they took and service to the people it wouldn’t be so confusing.

    The organic free market process would ensure the community got just what it wanted and needed. Intrapreneurial ambition would need to accomadate same and if they got it right the town would support it with their patronage. If not they’d fold in favor of someone that did.

    The reason it all doesn’t feel right is because it’ not.