Sebastopol burnished its liberal credentials Tuesday by becoming the second city in California to require solar power systems on new homes and commercial buildings.
Sebastopol and PG&E appear to be on a collision course following the city’s adoption Thursday of a ban on the installation of SmartMeters, the controversial wireless devices that critics contend are a threat to public health.
The Sebastopol City Council, with the controversial CVS Pharmacy project still casting a shadow over downtown, is adding a chain store ban and solar energy requirements as possible ways to preserve the community’s identity and shape new development.
‘As the city grows and develops and learns, there is a lack of clarity in what the city wants future growth to look like, and it is important the council become pro-active,’ said Vice Mayor Robert Jacob. ‘It is very clear our town wants to maintain its unique, small-town identity.’
Sebastopol became the first city in Sonoma County and one of few in the nation to pass an ordinance that makes it easier for bicyclists and pedestrians to sue drivers who threaten or harass them.
Land use consultants Scot Stegeman and Russ Pinto were appointed to the Sebastopol Planning Commission on Tuesday. The two were praised by the council for their long experience in land use planning, which are beneficial attributes as the city gets ready to update the General Plan for the first time in 20 years.
Two new members were seated on the Sebastopol City Council Tuesday night, in a meeting where the outgoing mayor made an eloquent plea for the city to reunite after what had been a divisive and bitter election season.
The city of Sebastopol, which prides itself on being a small community with a big solar energy footprint, will consider requiring photovoltaic arrays on new commercial construction. ‘It would be groundbreaking and it could really lead towards something,’ said Councilman Patrick Slayter, an architect who is proposing the idea. ‘The city of Sebastopol and the County of Sonoma have pretty aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals and this is moving towards meeting them.’
The Sebastopol City Council is expected tonight to give final approval to the controversial CVS Pharmacy project but not before giving opponents a platform for a last-minute effort to try to derail the proposal.
The CVS and Chase buildings, which would look unlike any others in the nation, were designed by Sebastopol architect Kevin Kellogg. But after six hearings before the Design Review Board and two before the City Council, the project still didn’t pass muster. ‘Yes they came back many times, but the focus should be on how good can we get,’ said Lynn Deedler, design board vice chairman.