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Sebastopol planners recommend complete ban on drive-thrus


A complete ban on new drive-thru services in Sebastopol was recommended by the Planning Commission after two hours of debate Tuesday night.

The commission also voted to apply the ban to current projects that have not reached the stage of having a building permit and beginning construction, which would affect the controversial CVS Pharmacy-Chase Bank branch project.

It is seen as a way of making Sebastopol more pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, preserving the downtown and reducing greenhouse gases.

“The explosion of drive-thrus has destroyed many small towns,” Commissioner Yvette Williams van Aggelen said. “You don’t interact with people, you don’t interact with your neighbors.”

The city already bans new drive-thru restaurants, but this will broaden the ban and put it into an ordinance that will come back to the commission.

The commission had taken up the subject at the request of the City Council, which had enacted an emergency moratorium to ban drive-thrus for a year to allow the issue to be studied.

Sebastopol resident Ted Luthin said drive-thrus particularly don’t belong downtown, where there should be higher densities.

“The land in the core of the city is precious, too precious to give up to drive-thrus,” Luthin said. “Put pedestrian experience at a higher value than vehicle experience.”

The ban passed on a 5-2 vote, with commissioners Colin Doyle and Michael Jacob objecting.

Doyle said the issue is driveways, which should be eliminated as much as possible downtown, and not drive-thrus. He favored regulating drive-thrus by requiring use permits.

The commission also voted to apply the ban to any project that does not have a building permit.

That would affect the CVS Pharmacy-Chase Bank project at the site of the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership, which has planning approval but not a building permit.

Bill McDermott, vice president for Armstrong Development of Sacramento, the project’s developer, did not speak during the meeting and had no comment afterward.

However, CVS had made it clear during the planning process that a drive-thru at the pharmacy and bank branch were integral parts of the design and one of the reasons CVS wants to move out of its Redwood Marketplace building.

Longs Drugs and Armstrong Development have filed suit against the city over the drive-thru moratorium.

Jacob said that provision sends a wrong message to businesses, which can get planning approval and then have the city change its mind.

“When a business has reached the point of achieving planning approval and then find out that what they have put in in time and money is being ripped away when the Planning Commission and City Council changes its mind, that can be frustrating,” Jacob said.

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

13 Responses to “Sebastopol planners recommend complete ban on drive-thrus”

  1. Bill me says:

    Toll booths at every exit from Sebastopol. All those folks who pollute our air driving from Sebastopol to shop and work in Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park should be paying their fair share of our road costs. They continue to conduct social engineering experiments that are anything but friendly towards the overall environment. Ridiculous appointments to the Planning Commission will perpetuate the misguided lunacy of Sebastopol policies and “anti-economic development”. Toll booths.

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  2. John Claeys says:

    They will regret this decision, as in the next few years all cars manufactured will have engines that “shut down” when
    at idle.

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  3. mixed nuts says:

    “The land in the core of the city is precious, too precious to give up to drive-thrus,” Luthin said.

    Yet an empty tent, formerly known as “occupy Sebastopol”- a progressive propaganda palace, with faded, dripping, grafitti style spray paint is still taking up space without paying a dime in the middle of the town square, and the new Barlows development has all the charm of an outlet mall.


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  4. bear says:

    If you hate democracy, you can always vote the City Council out of office.

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  5. Q213 says:

    Fence off Sebastopol and let them have it.  I thought politicians were elected to handle real issues.  This gaggle apparently want to be social directors.  Why should grandmothers have to walk thru rain to get her meds or why should people have to worry about finding parking during there lunch breaks?   The list can go on but it does really matter in Twilight Zone.  I’ll just risk getting mugged by taking my business to Santa Rosa.  

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  6. David Wells says:


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  7. Larry White says:

    Typical dumb idea, no drive-thru’s!

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  8. James Bennett says:

    “The land in the core of this city is too precious for drive throughs.”

    It takes more real estate to provide parking for potential drive thru customers.

    The only way to make sense of a lot of this crap is to know where it comes from and why.

    I hope by now many have connected the dots.

    It’s like having a government within our governments.

    If it wasn’t so serious, it would be funny.

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  9. Van says:

    I suggest banning driving through and giving Sebastopol business. They can add “business free zone” to their list of zones.

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  10. Dave says:

    Once again, the dumb City Council sucking heavily on the Mayor’s marijuana…

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  11. Steveguy says:

    So, after I bring my Mom to the doctor, I can’t drive up to the pharmacy with a ready filled called ahead order ?

    If it’s a hot day, can I leave my Mom in the car while I walk in, or is that not as bad as a dog or a baby ?

    If my legs don’t work very well, do you want to see me struggle into the store/bank so that you can be satisfied of the ‘diversity’ of us cripples ? How dare you !

    Maybe my 84 year old Mom needs a bike and make her ride it. That’s the ticket !

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  12. Phil Maher says:

    Wow! There’s so much talking and other BS going on in Sebastopol about this and other supposedly eco-friendly restrictions that the whole thing probably is developing a measurable carbon footprint all its own. I would be willing to bet that once any kind of ordinance is actually worded and put into effect, I could tell Armstrong and CVS how to easily circumvent it in less than a paragraph…or, with the exception of a few nut jobs and Luddites that remain, maybe if you drive away enough of the people that actually enjoy the conveniences of modern society, you could have a really “green” city…that green just not being because you’re flush with tax revenue. Hell, the Amish probably even fear Sebastopol.

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  13. Grapevines says:

    One can only hope that Armstrong Development of Sacramento sues the city of Sebastopol for so much that the commission and city council can’t afford to buy the aluminum foil hats they wear to ward off the microwave transmissions from the PG&E smart meters and wifi units.

    Santa Rosa is paying out $240,000 for trying to do a similar “end around” on builders (gee, I wonder how many potholes $240,000 would fill?)

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