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Sebastappeal - March 2015


Sebastappeal - March 2015

by Sarah Glade Gurney

Awating Spring

Here are two questions that I’ve been asked, often, since the holidays:

“What’s happening with CVS?”

There’s no formal or official news yet.  Previously, the Council was told that permits would be pulled last October, right after the settlement of two lawsuits, and the project would get underway.   

As I write this March column, our community looks at the chain link fence, tall weeds, boarded-up windows, graffiti, and expanse of asphalt.  From the comments I’ve received, folks are tired of this eyesore and the impression its new owner has created that our downtown area is depressed.

Informal word from City Hall is that their people are talking to our people.  The developer plans to demolish the car dealership buildings, then build in a compressed time line.  Engineers are engaged; Caltrans is discussing ADA improvements and “street-smart” crosswalks. 

All eyes on this corner!  This will be the biggest project in town since The Barlow and it’s located, not on the edge of town, but rather at a key intersection

What’s with all the signs?”

As an elected who’s just completed a campaign [thank you, voters!], I’m sensitive to sign issues.  So, I respond, “Which signs do you mean?” 

“Those red signs [about the Hospital] that we still see in so many front yards!” 

A lot of people expected these signs to disappear last November 5, although they weren’t technically campaign signs and weren’t subject to the same rules about removal, so our landscape remains “littered” with them. 

Given what I’m hearing, these signs may be detrimental now.

When I organized the campaign “Slow Down Sebastopol” with Chief Weaver and a former Council Member, we worried about the efficacy of non-election signs.  Our plan: to have “Slow Down” signs go up and down seasonally, to promote awareness of the safety of students in transit not to stay up indefinitely

“Those sandwich board signs blocking the sidewalk!”  These signs carry different messages about: “courtesy” parking; business name, hours, and/or services; special offerings, such as lunch menus or sales.

People want to walk two and three abreast on our narrow sidewalks.  Lots of folks want room for outdoor seating on our sidewalks.  So these signs cause problems. 

“Signs taped on the buildings!” or “Signs hanging from awnings!”   I believe these refer to the vinyl signs identifying a [new] business. 

Eek!  Rather than pay for a “real” sign that conforms to City regulations, some business owners hang vinyl signs or cover an old sign with vinyl.  The message conveyed by these “temporary” signs could be, without intention, one of expected failure.   

I suggest our Downtown Association, Chamber of Commerce, and Design Review Board consider these issues, related to present practices and conformance with our Sign Ordinance, and bring forward ways to optimize our business’ future.


Mark Your Calendars

March 26-29 Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival

Move quickly because this exceptional event, bringing independent films to West County, can sell out!   Films are shown in several theaters at two venues – Center for the Arts and Rialto – with so many great choices that it’s hard to decide. 

Tickets and passes now on sale.  Become a Festival Member for $40/single or $60/dual for year-long benefits.  Information at 

Have dinner out before the show, ice cream after, or a walk in between. 

March 31 Celebrate Sebastopol!

From 7-9 PM, gather at Guayaki Yerba Mate Bar to celebrate Sebastopol’s recognition as a Slow City or, in Italian, “Cittaslow.”  This evening will highlight accomplishments and introduce upcoming projects, as well as honor donors and volunteers working to keep Sebastopol green, local, friendly, and artistic. 

Seen the orange window stickers and orange street banners?  Make sure you know what Cittaslow is about - you’ll want to get involved! Information at  Confirm attendance, email

April 4 SEB’s 3rd Annual Ukulele Festival

Bring your favorite ukulele or grab that old one in your closet. Come on down to the Saturday workshops, jams, open mic, and performances, from noon to 7 PM at the Sebastopol Cultural Community Center.  Learn how to play “up the neck” or with a group.  Listen to Ben Ahn and other musical talents.  $18/advance and $22/door, at, People’s Music, and the Last Record Store.


If you have something you’d like me to feature in this column, contact me at 707.823.6500 or and be sure to mention SoCo GAZ.