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Sebastappeal - Sarah Gurney - March 2016


Sebastappeal - March 2016 - Sarah Gurney

by Sarah Glade Gurney

On March 1, the Council will hear important safety issues. Please read the packet, attend, and participate. These issues involve everyone on our sidewalks and roadways.

1. Bodega Avenue and Nelson Way

Following an injury accident at Bodega Avenue and Nelson Way, the residents at Burbank Heights and Orchard, an apartment complex located at this intersection, immediately contacted Council Members about their experiences and concerns. Former Mayor Patrick Slayter requested the Council discuss and take action on traffic-calming measures to address this situation. 

Meanwhile, several residents have emailed the Council. Others have spoken at public comment, including a dramatic presentation, with song and dance, “Spotlight on the Stoplight.” The discussion has expanded to include more neighbors on Bodega Avenue and the vicinity. It also encompasses more solutions: speed bumps, speed tables, speed strips, roundabouts, and bulb-outs.  

I’m not sure what the solution is. Each of these ideas has drawbacks: increased exhaust, increased noise from the road surface, increased noise from braking and accelerating. Nor do I know how it can be funded. One thing, however, is certain – we need to talk about how to slow down and be safe.

Chief Braga promotes this message on his sign at the Fire Station: 

Leave Sooner – Drive Slower – Live Longer – Slow Down!

2. Slow Down Signs

Decided earlier this year, two digital speed signs will be placed near the curve on Bodega Avenue, between Robinson Road and Jewell Avenue. Additionally, “Welcome to Downtown” signs will be posted near the entrances to town. Their friendly message includes “Slow Down.” Come see the designs.

3. Pleasant Hill North

Chief Weaver may recommend increasing the speed limit on Pleasant Hill North, from 25 to 30 mph. This road is an “arterial” used to move across town, often to another major street, while avoiding our congested downtown. 

I anticipate that the purpose of this proposal is to create an enforceable speed limit so that speeding tickets cannot be challenged in court. 

Focus on Water Safety

2016 marks the 32nd year for Sebastopol Rotary’s “Learn to Swim” Program. The ten-thousandth young swimmer [age seven] will gain technical skills this Spring, between April 18 and May 12 at Ives Pool. 

Co-Chair Greg Jacobs thanks Ives Pool Manager, Ricardo Freitas, for allowing lessons to take place in the small pool during public swim times. Volunteers are needed, both community members and swimmers’ parents [no experience necessary] for classes on Mon-Wed or Tues-Thurs. The training is easy and fun. Two people can share a class and sub’s are available. 

“For every 100 swim lessons taught in America, a life is saved,” according to Greg, “This program is unique and has made our community a much safe place for our kids.” To help out: or 823.7341. 

Focus on Our Future

1. Review of Draft General Plan

On March 8, the City Council and Planning Commission will discuss the last three chapters of the draft General Plan: Noise, Safety, and Economic Vitality. Each of these elements is crucial to our successful future and quality of life.

About noise, we have experienced the uncomfortable interface between a residential neighborhood and a gas station on Healdsburg Avenue. Also, we’re still living with leaf-blowers, relying on the concepts of neighborliness and courtesy to govern their appropriate use, after the community soundly discouraged any attempts at regulation. Is this working? 

About safety, see above and think more broadly.

About economic vitality, walk downtown and count the empty retail/office spaces. Where is the next generation of gutsy entrepreneurs and cultural creatives who could occupy these buildings and thrill our shoppers with their goods and services? How do we get them here?

Check the City’s website for the start time. Read the material: the consultant’s memo, draft chapters, notes from the citizen’s committee. Join the deliberations with your comment.

2. Renew Sebastopol’s Urban Growth Boundary [UGB]

Volunteer citizens will take to our local streets, mid-March, seeking signatures on a ballot initiative to renew our Urban Growth Boundary for another 25 years. Please welcome them at your door and sign the petition, to protect our future.

Interested in supporting this effort in some way? Contact Kathy Oetinger at or 823.9807.