Sebastopol council choosing two for Planning Commission
By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 8:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 8:33 p.m.
Following an election in which the controversial CVS Pharmacy-Chase Bank project played a pivotal role, Sebastopol’s newly constituted City Council on Tuesday will name two new Planning Commission members.
It is seen as a chance by at least one new council member to appoint someone who shares his vision of what downtown Sebastopol should look like.
“We have an urban growth boundary and a limited amount of land to develop,” John Eder said. “We need to say there will be a mandatory two-story requirement in downtown. We need additional housing that could be provided by two stories, and solar installation on new commercial buildings. Now we only have to prepare for it.”
In the broader picture, however, Sebastopol is preparing to launch an update of its general plan, which was adopted in 1994 and on many levels no longer addresses the Sebastopol of 2012.
“When I look at the general plan, on almost every page there is information that is out of date, references to things that are not there anymore, data decades out of date, and policies we would do differently or that have been accomplished,” said Kenyon Webster, the city’s planning director. “We have parks that didn’t exist back then, and there are policy ideas and issues like climate change that are not addressed.”
The update could take four years, requiring expertise on the Planning Commission and money that Sebastopol doesn’t now have.
The city has set aside $50,000 in its budget for a general plan update that could cost $500,000 to $750,000, depending on how many studies are done, how long it takes and the amount of public debate.
Mayor Michael Kyes and Vice Mayor Robert Jacob said the general plan is on their minds in making the Planning Commission appointments.
“It is a fair amount of work for them,” Kyes said. “I will be looking at people who are qualified to do that work, maybe have more technical expertise, just understanding of the process.”
“We need a broad base of experience to create a plan that will lead our town for the next 20 years,” said Jacob, who is stepping down as Planning Commission chairman to become a new council member.
“Having some knowledge of local government and land use and urban design issues, that is certainly helpful,” Webster said.
The council will interview five candidates Tuesday and is scheduled to name two to the vacant seats on the seven-member commission.
The candidates are Craig Boblitt, who is retired and a member of the Design Review Board; Scot Stegeman, a planning consultant; Russ Pinto, a land use consultant; John Henel, a retired software engineer; and Craig Williams, an architect.
The seats were vacated by Jacob and by Clare Najarian, who did not seek re-appointment.