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Sonoma County Gazette
Sebastappeal By Sarah Glade Gurney

Becoming Community Decision Makers

Jan 27, 2019
by Sarah Glade Gurney


On January 15, the Council spent almost two hours interviewing applicants for openings on the Design Review Board [DRB} and the Planning Commission, then deliberated for a half hour at the regular meeting before voting on its selection. Both of these sessions were open to the public who had the opportunity to offer comments before any decisions were made.

The interview process, managed by the Mayor, is straightforward and somewhat informal. A candidate starts with a brief introduction, then Council Members take turns asking a question. Most Council Members ask each interviewee the same question. Sometimes, there’s a follow-up or clarifying question. Then the applicant makes a closing statement. The whole conversation takes about 20 minutes. An applicant who has completed his/her interview can sit in and observe later interviews. 

Council deliberations highlight the attributes of the applicants and often end with comments like, “We’re fortunate to have such qualified people interested in public service” or, simply put, “This is a tough choice between great people.” 

Congratulations to the newly appointed, advisory board members: Ted Luthin, Cary Bush, and Gregory Beale [alternate] for the Design Review Board; and Zachary Douch to the Planning Commission. Each of these applicants was seeking re-appointment, including for a second or third term. 

One opening still remains on the Planning Commission for a 4-year term ending December 31, 2022. Applications and further information are available at City Hall, 7120 Bodega Avenue, or by email or phone to Assistant City Manager Mary Gourley at or 707.823.1153.  All applications must be submitted to City Hall by 4 PM on February 14, 2019. 

This is the third time this vacancy on the Planning Commission has been advertised because no one applied. Why the lack of interest? It’s been suggested that “everyone’s really busy,” “the next generation doesn’t care about public service,” “volunteerism is down,” or “people get involved only when there’s conflict.” This is puzzling because being involved in community service is intrinsically rewarding.

Get involved in our democracy, and with other citizens, make decisions about land use. Shape our community, now and for years to come. Find out more — attend meetings, talk to current Commissioners, review the paperwork — and consider trying out for the open seat.

To Sell or Not to Sell — Measure A

There will be a special election on March 5 for voters to decide whether or not to lease/sell “Sonoma Specialty Hospital,” formerly known as Palm Drive Hospital. To learn what is at stake attend the League of Women Voters’ Information Forum on Friday, February 8, from 6:30 to 8 pm at the Sebastopol Community Church, 1000 Gravenstein Highway North. Questions can be sent to the League ahead of time to

While voting by mail begins February 4, voters are encouraged to wait and attend this LWV forum and other Town Hall meetings to be announced by the District. Find out what your Yes or No vote on Measure A would mean to the people of Sebastopol and the Health Care District. 

Explore Locally 

Police Chief James Conner is the headliner for the first 2019 Sebastopol Walk on Saturday, February 23. Following registration on The Plaza, the Chief will welcome participants at the Police Station and lead a brief conversation about pedestrian safety concerns, while enjoying “coffee and donuts.”  The group will depart for a walking tour of some of the pedestrian safety improvements in town and some of the significant challenges the City faces. The route features little-known connector streets as well as the West County Trail and includes two rest stops.

Wear shoes that can get wet. Bring water, a snack, and a hat. 3.5 to 4 miles, easy pace with an estimated return time of 12:30 pm. 

The volunteers of Sebastopol Walks lead specialty tours on the last Saturday of the month from now through November. Thank you to returning docents: Vice Mayor Patrick Slayter, Geoffrey Skinner, Virginia Anderegg, Simon Lowings, Richard Nichols, Diana Rich, Max Caruso, Mayor Neysa Hinton, Kathy Oetinger, Marsha Sue Lustig, and me ;-)



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