After three hours of sometimes bitter debate about whether radio frequencies cause health problems, the Sebastopol City Council Tuesday allowed additional antennas to be added to an existing telecommunications tower behind City Hall. The council in a 2-2 vote denied the appeal of the EMF Safety Network, a Sebastopol group that has vociferously fought PG&E’s SmartMeters, downtown Sebastopol Wi-Fi and cellphone antennas.
The Sebastopol City Council met Thursday to discuss how to respond to protesters if they begin camping in the town’s plaza this weekend. Camping in city parks, including the plaza, is against Sebastopol ordinances, but council members shied away from endorsing a crackdown.
Facing its first real test of recession-era financing, the city of Sebastopol will have to find a way to trim almost 10 percent to balance next year’s budget. The City Council hopes to avoid layoffs, Councilman Patrick Slayter said. “There is no one to lose without really hurting the city,” he said.
Four-hour council meetings are the norm for many city councils, but the Sebastopol City Council meetings sometimes stretch much longer. Because the 6 p.m. meetings have been running so late, at least one council member thinks future meetings should start at 5 p.m., or maybe even 4 p.m. “Nobody does their best business when fatigue sets in,” said Councilman Patrick Slayter.
6:15 PM UPDATE: The Sebastopol City Council Tuesday night voted to ban the use of leaf blowers by residents and businesses, effective in about a year. The meeting drew few people. Was it because the word “ban” was removed from the description of the ordinance published in the final public agenda?
6:15 PM UPDATE: A split Sebastopol City Council voted Tuesday against a one-year moratorium on the installation of PG&E SmartMeters, which transmit usage data by radio waves. The 3-2 defeat dismayed speakers who had come with a litany of complaints against the meters, which they blame for health maladies, invasions of privacy, increased risks of fire and other offenses.
Sarah Gurney raised the most money and spent the most in her successful campaign to be re-elected to the Sebastopol City Council last year. See where the rest of the candidates finished in the money race.
Despite its environmental leanings, Sebastopol doesn’t have a single bicycle lane. Soon, the city will have to choose between bike lanes or parking spaces as it struggles to become cycling friendly. “We like to think Sebastopol is progressive and green, but if we ask people to park their car for the day, it is like you are taking away their air,” says Vice Mayor Patrick Slayter.
As expected, Guy Wilson was named mayor of Sebastopol on Tuesday night. But in what could be seen as a political slight, Councilwoman Kathleen Shaffer was passed over for the posts of vice mayor and vice chair of the Community Development Agency.
Sebastopol has an opening on its planning commission, which will be playing a pivotal role when the city begins rewriting its general plan next year. The opening on the seven-member committee was created by the election of architect Patrick Slayter to the City Council.