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Oh What a Night!!!
The City Council hearing on the Sebastopol Northeast Plan will be continued on Tuesday, June 17th at the Community Center. This is becoming a virtual filibuster! Stand up and be counted!

On June 3rd a huge crowd of 200 people showed up for the second night of public testimony on the Sebastopol Northeast plan. Citizens, informed and encouraged by the Sebastopol Preservation Coalition, SPC, spoke out, loud and clear, against the proposed Northeast Area Plan.

At the May 20th meeting, 23 people spoke in opposition to the Plan with reasoned, logical and impassioned arguments. NO ONE voiced their support.

In a repeat performance, with standing room only, an articulate and wellinformed public continued to express concern about the traffic impacts, and building in a flood, earthquake and liquefaction zone. The flawed water assessment is of paramount concern, especially since the Governor has just declared we are officially in a drought. It would be unethical to make false promises to our current and future citizens that there will be enough water.

The overall feeling was that we can restart the process with due diligence to the constraints and come together as a a community to enhance the wonderfully eclectic and unique character of our town.

In response to the Mayorís request for solutions, visions of solar power, a car-free downtown, daylighting of creeks and a sustainability training and education center were put forth. The potential for a farmerís market, effective and clean public transportation, senior housing, vital light industry, and the involvement of youth in the process continue to resonate with the vast majority.

After the emergency council meeting in which Jen Thille was chosen to replace Sam Pierce on the Council, folks were definitely dismayed, considering she had already voted to approve of the EIR and the Plan from her position on the Planning Commission.

But, that did not dampen the determination to keep the democratic process alive. At this point it would be impossible for anyone to continue to contend that it is a small vocal minority, when new faces are showing up at every meeting, with new perspectives, and more positive visions of what could be.

Many people feel that we are fighting for the soul of Sebastopol and that we need to plan organically, sustainably, and with care for the Laguna and our current businesses.

The Council was repeatedly asked if they want this to be their legacy; to disregard the will of the people and build another anywhere USA town in our midst. Can they live with a Sebastopol that would bring in chain tores, risking the financial stability of our current businesses and possibly leaving the city libel for flood and earthquake damages, after they had been duly warned?

More and more business people are speaking up, including Tej Greenhill, for Artisana who gave an eye-opening statistic. The square feet of retail space in the plan amounts to 180 businesses the size of her store! Mary Grul from Dressers also spoke out with concern about outlet or chain stores that could threaten the uniqueness of our locally owned Main St.

A handful of people spoke in support of the plan, Teresa Ramondo, CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, gave a long talk on the economic need for going forward, but failed to address a single concern about water, floods, size, and other constraints that had been reiterated all night.

Mark Green from the Laguna Foundation pointed out that there is no mitigation plan to carry out the no net fill objective by dredging in the Laguna to provide more floodwater containment. Without this mitigation the EIR is actually inadequate. But, do we want to dredge the Laguna? The Foundation very much wants to receive the funding for this mitigation, but it is questionable whether the Foundation truly has the best interests of this wetland at heart.

They support the Casino proposed for Rohnert Park, which would be an ecological disaster for the Laguna. Also, There seems to be this odd belief that people, who oppose the plan, oppose change in general, and yet wonderful suggestions for positive and sustainable changes keep being presented with sensitivity to nature and the demands of the times.

Yes, change is good, change is inevitable, and using nature as our teacher we may yet find a way to live in harmony with our Mother Earth, and stop treating her like property to be exploited.

In the documentary, The 11th Hour, it is clearly stated that every way we do things from farming to transportation to social systems will have to change and we are the people we have been waiting for to do it.

The people of Sebastopol are up to the challenge, with experience, expertise and tenacity; we can and will become a model for the world. When the people lead the leaders will follow!

Be there on June 17th, it is always an exciting and dynamic evening of democracy in action! For more info and to keep up on developments e-mail the Sebastopol Preservation Coalition, SPC, at shane5@sonic.net

Questions? Call Magick @ 707-824-1394



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