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  1. TopTop #1

    Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Anyone familiar with this? If so how & when did you hear about it?
    What are your feelings about the project – Here are some details:


    Location:
    Diamond Lumberyard Site & Sebastopol Tractor Co Store
    6824, 6826 & 6828 Depot Street and 215 & 225 Brown Street

    Project:
    66 room hotel with multiple buildings ranging from 2 to 4 stories
    Conversion of Brown Street to one-way, southbound
    Parking for 122 vehicles
    Zoning Amendment required for increased Structure Height
    Variance needed for 66 rooms

    Additional Building Uses:
    Retail space, restaurant, bar, lounge, wellness center, private gardens,
    meeting rooms, public courtyard, various other hotel amenities

    Notice of Intent:
    Initial Study & Mitigated Negative Declaration has been completed
    Public Review Period began August 11, 2016 and ends at 5pm September 12, 2016

    A demolition permit has been pulled and is pending approval
    A use permit application for a 66 room variance has been filed and is pending approval

    Your thoughts?.........
    Thank you
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  3. TopTop #2
    sealwatcher's Avatar
    sealwatcher
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Not at all familiar except through rumors over the last few months. How did I miss the public hearing?! HOW many stories?! You wanted my thoughts, Rustie? They're not printable for children. CVS, the Barlow with its Marin clones, wine country with its event centers, change that started at least thirty years ago with the construction of Warm Springs. That allowed development on the plain and so it has continued to the present sorry state. But all things change, no denying that, only perhaps better changes for the most vulnerable among us, not the least?
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  5. TopTop #3

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    City council has been talking about this for years. The tractor store was supposed to be open for another month but the owner died a few weeks ago (probably from stress and a lack of support from the city, IMO).
    Are you new to Sebastopol? It might behoove you to attend some city council meetings or at least check out the city's website from time to time.
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  6. TopTop #4

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Here's another one. And another.
    And from this very forum.
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  7. TopTop #5
    sealwatcher's Avatar
    sealwatcher
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    With a zoning amendment and a height variation, and a public comment time of 30 days, I'm not surprised more than a few of us are surprised, Dick. For another story, I remember reading a few years ago about an old man dying, troubled by the sounds of tractors outside his bedroom window. Asked, they would not stop - they were putting in vineyards. Vigilance, like rust, can never sleep. Another growth promoting scheme by the town boosters in my opinion. In the interests of transparency, I prefer the hostility, the inwardness, and the infamous sign switching of Bolinas.
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  9. TopTop #6
    sealwatcher's Avatar
    sealwatcher
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Quote Dick wrote: View Post
    Here's another one. And another.
    And from this very forum.
    Is this the person you referred to earlier who just died? If so, it sounds as though he was bullied to death by the promoter and developer. He was ready to move on to another place but wasn't receiving any help from the developer:
    "Support for the project is not shared by the tractor and equipment service provider, James Saxon who owns Sebastopol Tractor Company. Saxon says that he has 40,000 customers in the area and all around the county. His company employs four people now but that’s down from nine before the recession hit. Saxon says his business is on an upswing and he hopes to hire more help in the near future. The former air-gas building on highway 116 heading towards Graton is a spot that Saxon said “would be ideal” is he has to move again. For now, the move is not something the business owner says he can afford and does not expect Piazza to help him with the costs associated with relocating his shop, equipment and inventory."

    And this from your second source: Baker hopes to see "workshops on the site" to talk about the proposed hotel, but none has yet been scheduled, and says the immediate task is to talk to the "various stakeholders and get their feedback on it." This was from 2015. So they've been talking about it for years? How many? Seems like a couple of years...


    Phooey on this project!
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  11. TopTop #7
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    We are losing Sebastopol and Sonoma County to wealthy tourists. In addition to this hotel, the nearby Barlow may also soon have a hotel. Add those two developments to the giant CVS being constructed, and Sebastopol downtown will be a traffic mess with the intersection of Highways 12 and 116, which some describe as the most heavily trafficked intersection in Sonoma County. In with the onslaught of wealthy tourists, out with the locals, especially younger people, who can no longer afford to buy or even rent houses.
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  12. TopTop #8

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Okay, maybe a bit hyperbolic, but two years is still "years"... Although that slice of property has been on the city's radar for development since the days of the NEAP.

    City council had meetings with Basso in '14 leading up to the creation of the pamphlet I linked to earlier. It was a surreal moment watching Ron Basso and Sarah Gurney metaphorically hold hands and sing "Kumbaya" together at a city council meeting when they celebrated the great collaboration. I'm sure if I took an hour or so I could find it on the city's website, but I'm not really that interested in digging for it while I'm still employed.

    And yes, it was James Saxon. He had just turned 50. The city could have been way nicer to him at least, if not find a way to help him relocate, but it's all about making Sebastopol a tourist destination without really making it a tourist destination and maintaining the fantasy Sebastopol that only exists in the minds of people who would never be caught dead in the Old Main Street Saloon.

    Quote sealwatcher wrote: View Post
    Is this the person you referred to earlier who just died?...
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  14. TopTop #9
    SerpentDove's Avatar
    SerpentDove
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Developers make money, a city park would have been nice over private gardens, and who's listening to me. SerpentDove
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  16. TopTop #10

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Dick and sealwatcher are listening.

    Quote SerpentDove wrote: View Post
    Developers make money, a city park would have been nice over private gardens, and who's listening to me. SerpentDove
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  18. TopTop #11

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Anyone familiar with this? Apparently not, or perhaps few care enough to comment..... thank you to those who did. Interestingly, the small handful of folks who spoke up don't appear to be in favor of the proposed hotel project. The opposition was expected but much to my surprise I thought the tally of displeased and vocal Sebastopolians would be greater. Last I heard we were a town touting our sustainable, environmentally friendly, support-local-everything community. So why is this proposal for a 66 room hotel, located at one of our more highly congested downtown traffic areas not much of a concern? Personally I don't have a problem with appropriate development that speaks to and responds to the needs and desires of our community. I do however question the merits of this project in regard to those fundamental elements.

    How the project was conceived and how our city council and city planners worked, with what appeared to be great effort and city resources, to assist Mr. Basso in finding a buyer for his $3 million private property sale are just some of several factors I find disturbing. In November 2012 the city reached out to AIA (American Institute of Architects) requesting assistance from a Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) to address key issues facing our community – land use, urban design, connectivity, sustainable design and transportation management. In May 2013 the SDAT team began the process. To study the community and its concerns they worked with city officials, community leaders, non-profits, technical experts and local citizens. When all was said and done a 98 page report was submitted.

    The SDAT team focuses on the importance of developing sustainable communities for a sustainable future. The SDAT principle is that “sustainability should be a lens through which we view every human settlement challenge.” It involves “balancing and combining three equally important goals: Environment, Equity (social equity, community, public health and education) and Economy. Leave out any of these three goals, and it is not sustainability.” “Economic development is critical, but economic activity that consumes our environment and the very things we all embrace is not sustainable.”

    So I beg the question – how is a 66 room hotel, a business for which the primary function is to provide short term accommodations to travelers passing through town having arrived via oil based transport, consistent with the principles of the Sustainable Design Assessment Team that our city reached out to for design assistance? Their report did not suggest moving toward a tourist based economy by providing a luxury hotel. Instead, for that very location, their report suggested a mixed use project with residential units, a treed arcade and market-viable public amenities. The community responses quoted in their report were those from stakeholders, teens and third graders all evoking the fundamental theme of wanting Sebastopol to be the town they call home. Kids wanting more places to hang out and teens seeking safer streets and some place to return to after college. The adults spoke of wanting Sebastopol to “stay a working class community”. These were the voices of our residents during the “community outreach & feedback” process. I didn't hear any of those voices asking for a service-industry tourist-based economy and the increased traffic congestion that inevitably comes with a hotel. Nonetheless in June of 2014 there was a city sponsored meeting with unidentified organizers preparing a presentation to City Council for the development of “a brochure outlining key parameters” to be considered for the Diamond Lumberyard redevelopment plan. The notes from that meeting specifically identify a hotel. Was it just a coincidence that the out-of-town mega hotel developer happened to bite on the non-specific January 2015 developer invite brochure?

    Supporters and key players of this project keep telling us that this is what we need and what the community wants. Unfortunately I have not seen the evidence to support these assertions. Certainly the annual increase of 20,000 to 25,000 tourists roaming through our town, driving on our already ill-repaired roads, bustling back and forth on vineyard tours and wine tastings will generate increased city revenues. But is the price we will pay with our newly compromised quality of life worth it?

    To recap, it amazes me that there seems to be so little interest &/or concern on this particular community network board for this proposed project. Perhaps I'm the lone ranger here and the potential gentrification that looms in the shadows with the focus on tourism is just what the go-local, environmentally conscientious doctor ordered. If so I will stand down and accept the majority position on this subject. However if I'm not alone then I would appreciate hearing from folks about this. There is a City Council Public Hearing scheduled for September 27, 6pm at the Youth Annex on the pending status of this hotel. The out-of-town developer has submitted an application for a zoning variance which has not yet been approved. Apparently Sebastopol has a 50 room limit. The developer stated at his January 2016 public forum that if they do not get the 66 room variance they will not move forward with the project. He said, “the numbers just don't work”. Unless City Council intends on approving the variance regardless of public sentiment this is not a done deal.

    Do we want this? If not - Stand up, speak out! Do we organize or sit down and quietly watch our town get sold to the highest bidders?
    Last edited by Barry; 09-19-2016 at 02:08 PM.
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  19. TopTop #12
    jerichsalud's Avatar
    jerichsalud
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Wow Rustie! You are certainly not alone in your concern with this project. I really appreciate your thoughtful post.

    Rustie, as you suggest and I agree with wholeheartedly, Sebastopol should be deliberate and proactive about sustainable economic development that is inclusive and equitable and doesn't leave more of us behind. As a resident of Sebastopol I am concerned that Sebastopol is considering this 66 room boutique hotel that will likely increase the desirability of Sebastopol, create more low paying jobs for people who won't be able to afford to live here and lead to an increase in the cost of housing while at the same time there are no substantial affordable housing projects in the pipeline. While Sebastopol is being proactive about bolstering tourism for out of towners Sebastopol does not seem to be deliberate about bolstering housing opportunities for those of us who are trying to continue to live here and power the local economy. These these seem to be mismatched priorities.

    I'd encourage anyone who is concerned for any of the reasons I or Rustie mentioned or any others to attend the Public Hearing scheduled for September 27, 6pm at the Youth Annex on the pending status of this hotel.

    I hope to see you there!
    Jacob

    Quote Rustie wrote: View Post
    Anyone familiar with this? Apparently not, or perhaps few care enough to comment..... ...
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  21. TopTop #13
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Jacob, Rustie, & others,
    I am also alarmed by this potential tourist trap of a hotel. I cannot attend the Sept. 27 meeting, as it is the same Tues. as our monthly Grange potluck.

    I would invite you to consider doing 2 things: come to the 9/28 Seb. Grange City Council candidates forum, where all 4 candidates will be on the stage. We have prepared a list of questions, including one on the hotel. When participants arrive, they will be given cards to propose questions. If many people write questions related to the hotel, it is more likely to be posed earlier. If you have any handouts, you can pass them out as people enter the hall. If you come early and/or stay late, you can converse with people about this issue. I will be opening the gate at 5 p.m. and people can come at whatever point they want to. We expect a full house, so coming early would be a good idea.

    I also hope that detailed reports of the hotel meeting will be posted on Wacco by many people.

    Quote jerichsalud wrote: View Post
    Wow Rustie! You are certainly not alone in your concern with this project....
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  23. TopTop #14
    jerichsalud's Avatar
    jerichsalud
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    By the way, I believe the meeting is at 7 p.m. not 6pm, Sept. 27, at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center, Youth Annex, 425 Morris St.

    Project information is available online here and in hard copy at City Hall and at the adjacent Sebastopol Regional Library, 7140 Bodega Ave.
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  25. TopTop #15
    KittyW's Avatar
    KittyW
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    I looked at the developer's website and their properties. Nice. Elegant. In keeping with the local flavor. Not at all "tourist traps."

    I read the notice on the photo. The complex would include "artist/maker" studios as well as retail. Nice. Keeping with the local flavor and providing much-needed studio space for creative types.

    Thinking about the downtown merchants, I imagine they could use the boost in business that such a property would bring.

    Perhaps if there were more boutique hotels, there would be more affordable housing. After all, a great number of the cottages, in-law units and spare rooms in the West County area have been taken off the rental market and are now on Airbnb.

    I imagine the range of jobs -- sorely needed in this area -- at the hotel would offer a range of salaries. Not just minimum wage, for sure.

    As far as traffic, assuming if the hotel was full to capacity and each room represented a car -- I don't think that 66 additional cars would add a tremendous burden to the thousands of cars that pass through downtown every day. Sadly, arriving in town via oil-based transport is a current reality. I personally don't walk miles to town.

    Again, looking at the developer's website, they state the goal of the proposed design "will seek to be the missing connection between the historic core of downtown Sebastopol and the newer Barlow project area to the east by filling a gap in active uses and creating an improved, attractive, and continuous pedestrian realm, including wider sidewalks and publicly accessible passages through the hotel grounds. The redevelopment of this long underutilized downtown parcel will help accomplish this long-standing community goal."

    Seems like linking downtown to the Barlow with continuous pedestrian access would help fulfill the desire for "Kids wanting more places to hang out and teens seeking safer streets."

    Just saying.
    Last edited by Barry; 09-21-2016 at 02:02 PM.
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  27. TopTop #16
    ChefJayTay's Avatar
    ChefJayTay
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Edit: I guess I was uninformed about the developer.
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  28. TopTop #17
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Reminder: Next Tues., Sept. 27, 7 p.m., this proposed hotel will be reviewed by the Sebastopol Planning Commission, meeting at the Youth Annex, 425 Morris.

    More information from the Core Project about the proposed hotel follows:

    The Core Project would like to let you know about another opportunity to make your voice heard about a proposed downtown development project. Piazza Hospitality Group is proposing a 66 room hotel, plus restaurant, retail, and artist workshops on the site of the Sebastopol Tractor Company, the former Diamond Lumber Yard, on Petaluma Avenue across from the plaza.

    This was a site identified in the SDAT Report as an opportunity site to create a mixed-use project that could provide a stronger urban edge to frame the east side of the plaza. The SDAT also recommended the city undertake a marketing effort to attract developers to underutilized properties in downtown. The City Council conducted a public workshop to elicit ideas from the community for this specific site in June of 2014. The event attracted many people who brought forward a variety of ideas for the site.

    A hotel was one of the uses identified at that meeting. Subsequently, the city put together marketing materials to attract a developer. The proposed developer has held several public meetings over the past year to elicit more feedback from the community which The Core Project helped publicize.

    Now a formal application has come forward for a use permit and design review, so this is an additional opportunity to make your voice heard. The Planning Commission will review the use permit next Tuesday (Sept. 27), at 7:00 at the Youth Annex. The application may be viewed on the city’s website. We hope to see you there. If you have additional questions, please call Circe Sher of Piazza Hospitality at: 707-431-0414. If you are unable to attend Tuesday's meeting, but would like to submit your thoughts, letters can be sent to the City Planning Director, Kenyon Webster [email protected].
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  30. TopTop #18

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Jacob,

    Thank you for the time correction on the September 27 Public Hearing at the Youth Annex – 7pm

    This public hearing, as Shepherd noted, is a Planning Commission hearing not a City Council hearing. Currently the Sebastopol Hotel is the only agenda item scheduled for that date. The city staff report will be making a recommendation to approve the project and grant the use permit application. After public comment the commission will vote and as it stands now they will surely vote to approve.

    The use permit application is for a 66 room hotel with two code amendment requests. One is for a four story structure, 50 feet tall. Currently that property is zoned for nothing greater than three stories, 40 feet tall. In addition to the height amendment the developer is asking for a parking variance. This includes a request for valet parking and an increase in the number of parking spaces for hotel guests by decreasing the size of each space. In short, they want to utilize valet parking to enable them to cram excess cars on their lot in much smaller spaces.

    It is only the two code amendment requests that need to come before City Council for final approval. The use permit may be approved by the commission without oversight by City Council. As a result of the developer's comments that he would not move forward with the hotel if his 66 room variance was not approved I was mistakenly under the impression that the zoning variance was for the number of rooms, but this is not the case. The fact is that a hotel use permit application submitted for 49 rooms or less goes to the Design Review Board, 50 rooms or more it goes to the Planning Commission for approval. At present Sebastopol has no limit on how large a potential hotel can or can not be. Functionally this means that short of practical limits or potential impacts the 66 rooms is not a sticking point.

    An independent traffic engineering firm, chosen by the city, has already completed their analysis and filed their report regarding this project. They have deemed that this project will have no adverse affects to our traffic &/or parking. Our planning department, and I suspect our city council as well, believe that sufficient public outreach has been satisfied. According to all the stakeholders in this project, which would be our city council, our city planners (they've put a lot of energy into this), and the out-of-town developer, it is believed that the hotel proposal has ample support from the community.

    Here's what I know about the community outreach meetings that I've attended regarding this proposal. The turnout has been between 50-75 people. That count includes our city council members in attendance as well as the developer's staff and associates. The faces have been the same with the overwhelming majority of folks being merchants, restaurateurs, and makers. I can't help but wonder how much due diligence was put forth to ensure not only a higher turnout at these “outreach events” but also a more diverse representation of our resident community members.

    I'm not trying to beat a dead horse and in truth there has been very little discourse on this post. Perhaps that's because this is not in issue for most people. That having been said there has been some response which appears to be predominantly against the hotel.

    If there truly is a significant number of people in opposition to this project then it is my humble opinion that we would need to organize and show up in mass at the September 27 Planning Commission hearing. If we can demonstrate by numbers that this is not the “will of the people” then possibly the Commission will rethink their position and at the very least postpone the vote.

    On the other hand, If at that meeting the Commission votes to grant the use permit I suspect it will be a done deal from that point forward. City council and our planning director have been working on this project since at least 2014, they are poised and eager to push this through.

    If there's interest I will volunteer to help organize (petitions, letters, emails and most important – warm bodies at the Commission hearing). There's not a lot of time so if there are folks out there interested we should jump on this sooner than later. Either way, with or without a large contingent of opposition voices I will be in attendance on Sept 27 to express and put on record my concerns and disapproval of the project and the questionable process that brought it to our town.


    Quote jerichsalud wrote: View Post
    By the way, I believe the meeting is at 7 p.m. not 6pm, Sept. 27, at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center, Youth Annex, 425 Morris St.

    Project information is available online here and in hard copy at City Hall and at the adjacent Sebastopol Regional Library, 7140 Bodega Ave.
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  32. TopTop #19
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Before taking a position on this hotel project I suggest you check out the developer's website.

    Sonoma West also did a good article on it.

    I support the project.

    Here's the description from the developer's website:

    The proposed project at 6828 Depot Street will be a small, design-oriented boutique hotel with 66 rooms. The hotel will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round. The Hotel will also include a lobby and reception area, retail, artist/maker studios, restaurant, bar, lounge, wellness center, public courtyard, private gardens, outdoor rooftop decks, meeting rooms, and other hotel amenities. There will be a total of 122 parking spaces for the project, including 30 on-street and 92 located on an adjacent parcel across Brown Street.

    Designed using feedback from the community, the buildings will be FSC redwood siding and vertical slats, carbonized redwood siding, textured concrete, a light-colored species wood siding, weathered steel panels, and covered in vine planting. The materials reference the local natural palate and rely on naturally sustainable materials.

    The massing of the buildings is broken up to match the smaller scale of the surrounding buildings and context. This provides a finer grain that matches that of the town. The highest portion of the building is positioned across from the tallest adjacent building, the Rialto cinema, and then steps down two stories towards the south corner to adjust to the height of the neighboring building and allow more sunlight into the public courtyard.

    Landscaping will be featured in the public courtyard, private gardens, passage, roof decks, green roofs, and streetscapes. It will be composed of plant species that are native to the area and will be maintained with a rainwater collection system or low-water drip irrigation. Concrete paving and permeable pavers provide a hardscape. The public courtyard will be mostly open to accommodate people and seating, and the private gardens will be an intimate space for the pool and wellness center.

    Signage for the project will be located on both McKinley St and the corner of Petaluma and Depot. It will be placed at street level and will be legible and well-lit.

    This project will take a sustainable green approach to construction and operations, included in the plan are solar roof panels for water heating to conserve electricity, storm water management, renewable/reused materials, and rainwater collection. The project goal is to achieve a LEED certification.











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  34. TopTop #20
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Thanks, Barry. This is very helpful, as was the Core Project report. Something is bound to go into that key space. So if this project is rejected, something much worse could go in there. From what is below, it sounds as if this is a multi-use place that could be good for downtown Sebastopol.

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    Before taking a position on this hotel project I suggest you check out the developer's website. ...
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  36. TopTop #21
    1104GT's Avatar
    1104GT
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    I am surprised that the proposed hotel is news to so many people. Everyone who has lived in town for more than a few years should be very aware that this property has long been the subject of development conversation since the hardware store/lumber yard closed many years ago. To my count, there have been five public meetings. City sponsored meetings discussing development potential, public workshops held by the hotel developer, design review and Planning Commission meetings have all been very well publicized and well attended. I have attended most.

    I enthusiastically support the hotel/retail/maker space project for the following reasons:

    The Diamond Lumber is an Eyesore - The property has languished in its current state of disrepair for decades right in the heart of town. Rather than elevating the downtown experience, it is currently a dead block in the center of of the city.

    Ample Time for Alternatives - A number of posts have mentioned alternative uses for the property. The lumber yard has been available for sale for many years. If a person or group had a viable use/development idea and money to back it up, I'm sure the owner would have entertained a realistic offer.

    Current Use Doesn't Belong Downtown - The current tractor business provides very little benefit to our community. It serves a family small segment of the community and the patrons of the tractor shop probably do little shopping in other downtown businesses. They have work to do. They drive into town, get what they need, then drive back home.

    Development will be good for our town, socially and economically. Guests at the new hotel will shop on Main Street and in the Barlow, taste local wine and spirits, eat in local restaurants, enjoy our farmer's market and can do all this without getting in a car. Our town plaza will finally be completed by a block of attractive new shops and restaurants. Our out-of-town visiting friends and family members will have a nice, central place to stay and might actually want to spend more time in town instead of running off to other destinations. Our local merchants benefit, we residents get a more complete town and the City gets a much needed boost in revenues from hotel taxes.

    Best Use - I think the best uses for this parcel are either mixed-use hotel/retail or retail/housing. Studies of the best potential businesses and the SDAT all mentioned boutique hotels as being one of the most desirable uses downtown. It just happened that a local hotel/retail developer chose to pursue it. If a mixed-use retail/housing developer had come forward, that would have been great by me, but none did that I know of.

    Local Developer - The hotel developer/operator is local to Sonoma County. Not only do they develop the property, they operate the hotel and manage the restaurant, retail and maker spaces. Being local, they have an interest in the success of the place. This isn't a Marriot, Hilton or some other chain business.

    It's More than a Hotel - The project consists of a hotel, restaurant/retail spaces fronting the Plaza and maker spaces kitty-corner from Screamin Mimi's.

    Traffic Impact - A 66 room hotel will have minimal traffic impact. Much less than a 66 unit apartment complex. Being downtown, guests at this hotel will drive less than guests at our other two hotels and less than AirBnb guests outside town.

    Jobs - A hotel will provide a wide variety and fairly large number of jobs; high salary management, well paid staff and wait-people and lower paying housekeeping jobs. Most jobs will be equal or better paying than those found in Main Street shops. Some will support living in town. Some will not.

    I encourage all who are just hearing about this to visit the City website, download and study the design drawings and read the input from the public meetings. After you do, I hope you will join me in supporting this project. I love Sebastopol and feel very strongly that this a great opportunity to make our City even better than it already is.


    Ted Luthin
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  38. TopTop #22
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Quote ChefJayTay wrote: View Post
    I have concerns...
    OK with a hotel... but not downtown.
    really?? I feel quite differently - only downtown seems suitable for a hotel. Where else would one fit??
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  40. TopTop #23
    nancypreb's Avatar
    nancypreb
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Quote 1104GT wrote: View Post
    I am surprised that the proposed hotel is news to so many people...To my count, there have been five public meetings. City sponsored meetings discussing development potential, public workshops held by the hotel developer, design review and Planning Commission meetings have all been very well publicized and well attended. I have attended most.
    So you concede that you're hearing a lot of people say this is new news?! That should tell you something about how "well publicized and well attended" these meetings were. I too have attended most and am not the only one who would disagree with your recollection of the meetings. I just finished sitting with an elderly friend of mine who literally attends every council/planning/design review/GPU meeting and she too said, "I remember the Design Review and Planning Meetings. There were maybe 7 or 8 of us in the room!" And as for the workshops, one which I recall having a specific conversation with you, there were maybe 50 people in total, including city council members, planning commissioners like yourself, city staff, Ron B., and the hotel reps… that left about 15/20 (tops) who were unrelated to the city and/or this project, many of whom were business owners, not your run-of-the-mill citizen.

    Quote 1104GT wrote: View Post
    I enthusiastically support the hotel/retail/maker space project for the following reasons:

    The Diamond Lumber is an Eyesore - The property has languished in its current state of disrepair for decades right in the heart of town. Rather than elevating the downtown experience, it is currently a dead block in the center of of the city.
    In talking to the tractor guys, I understand they put about $80,000 into the building in order to have their business there. Did anyone ever say, "Hey RON! Spruce up your corner!" How is it that, short of this development, he's off the hook for the deteriorating condition of the property?

    Quote 1104GT wrote: View Post
    Ample Time for Alternatives - A number of posts have mentioned alternative uses for the property. The lumber yard has been available for sale for many years. If a person or group had a viable use/development idea and money to back it up, I'm sure the owner would have entertained a realistic offer.
    Sure there's been ample time, but just saying if someone came along sooner, then you're sure something else would have happened, is disingenuous. First, what's a "realistic offer?" It's always a question of how much money an investor wants and how long is he willing to hold out until he gets it. Furthermore, maybe what you mean to say is "the city has had many years" to put together their subcommittee and seek out a developer for this location. This was an unprecedented move on the city's part; not just the formation of a subcommittee for this purpose, but the configuration of the subcommittee: Councilwoman Gurney, Councilman Eder, his wife, and an architect who, from what I can see, mostly designs guest cottages and dwellings. If that wasn't a narrowly selected subcommittee, I don't know what is. Seems to me they knew what they wanted and the "community workshops" were simply a means by which to justify it- a CYA if you will.

    Quote 1104GT wrote: View Post
    Current Use Doesn't Belong Downtown - The current tractor business provides very little benefit to our community. It serves a family small segment of the community and the patrons of the tractor shop probably do little shopping in other downtown businesses. They have work to do. They drive into town, get what they need, then drive back home.
    Now see, this is where I REALLY have to take reeeeally big deep breaths. This statement is a blatant denial of the role this town plays to everyone from Jenner to Point Reyes. This statement denies everyone who is in Sebastopol's sphere of influence. This statement demonstrates how we really aren't supportive of our agricultural or local food community. This statement is astounding and deeply sad to me. This statement reaffirms my suspicion of hypocrisy in our town leadership.

    Quote 1104GT wrote: View Post
    Development will be good for our town, socially and economically. Guests at the new hotel will shop on Main Street and in the Barlow, taste local wine and spirits, eat in local restaurants, enjoy our farmer's market and can do all this without getting in a car. Our town plaza will finally be completed by a block of attractive new shops and restaurants. Our out-of-town visiting friends and family members will have a nice, central place to stay and might actually want to spend more time in town instead of running off to other destinations. Our local merchants benefit, we residents get a more complete town and the City gets a much needed boost in revenues from hotel taxes.
    And we all become the indentured servants, catering to the fancy people with the money. Ok. Won't be the first time I've put on my best dog-and-pony show for a few coins tossed my way. But to be clear, it's not my friends and family, and certainly no one else's I know, who are going to be paying $300-$400 a night! But the TAXES- that's what it's about. That's all it's about. TOT and Sales. Ok- but just stay with that; it's about the taxes, because what you call a "more complete town" is TOTALLY subjective. For me, a complete town is where I can get a fan belt and spark plug for my riding mower. I can pass on the $16 negroni and $7500 boots!

    Quote 1104GT wrote: View Post
    Best Use - I think the best uses for this parcel are either mixed-use hotel/retail or retail/housing. Studies of the best potential businesses and the SDAT all mentioned boutique hotels as being one of the most desirable uses downtown. It just happened that a local hotel/retail developer chose to pursue it. If a mixed-use retail/housing developer had come forward, that would have been great by me, but none did that I know of.
    It did not "just happen that…" I too was at the meetings. I was also a scribe during the SDAT. You are grossly overstating the process that has led us here.

    Quote 1104GT wrote: View Post
    Local Developer - The hotel developer/operator is local to Sonoma County. Not only do they develop the property, they operate the hotel and manage the restaurant, retail and maker spaces. Being local, they have an interest in the success of the place. This isn't a Marriot, Hilton or some other chain business.
    Indeed, Piazza Hospitality is a FINE company. They do beautiful work and run excellent businesses. I honestly can't say anything ill of Cerce, Pablo, or their team. I've known them for several years now. They are good people and since this thing is already a done deal- I'm glad it's going to get done by them. My personal issue has never been with them, their design, or operations. They are great. My issue is with how our city representatives have gone about this and the process our city has taken. My issue is that no business that is not tourist based should ever want to open here in Sebastopol lest our city officials actively pull the rug out from under you for the sake of TOT and Sales taxes… and a "more complete town!" BTW- For those of you who don't know, the owner of the tractor store DIED of a heart attack a few weeks ago. He was in his early 50's. I'm sure the stress of having your own town trying to cast you downstream had absolutely nothing to do with any elevated stress that may have affected his heart- not at all!!

    Quote 1104GT wrote: View Post
    It's More than a Hotel - The project consists of a hotel, restaurant/retail spaces fronting the Plaza and maker spaces kitty-corner from Screamin Mimi's.
    Meh!

    Quote 1104GT wrote: View Post
    Traffic Impact - A 66 room hotel will have minimal traffic impact. Much less than a 66 unit apartment complex. Being downtown, guests at this hotel will drive less than guests at our other two hotels and less than AirBnb guests outside town.

    Jobs - A hotel will provide a wide variety and fairly large number of jobs; high salary management, well paid staff and wait-people and lower paying housekeeping jobs. Most jobs will be equal or better paying than those found in Main Street shops. Some will support living in town. Some will not.
    Can you explain how the guests for the 66 rooms, the employees for the hotel, the employees and patrons for the restaurant, retail spaces, wellness center, and makers spaces…. all adds up to LESS traffic than 66 unit apartment complex? It's really difficult for me to understand that math.

    LAST BUT NOT LEAST- I distinctly recall at the community workshop standing with you in front of the map and you pointing out the property that you own that is right next to/or very near this development and you saying to me, "This is going to be good for me because then I'll be able to do something with my property." Can you please tell us exactly which parcel that was?
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  42. TopTop #24
    nancypreb's Avatar
    nancypreb
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    The Metro Hotel in Petaluma is a great example of a small, boutique, not astronomically priced hotel that is not in the center of downtown, but rather just south of it, yet totally accessible by a short walk! I think the old Sebastopol Charter School campus would have made a great hotel site. Also remember that the city had already approved a permit for a boutique hotel at the French Garden site. I want to know, what other site options were entertained for a hotel- any?!

    Quote ChefJayTay wrote: View Post
    I have concerns...
    OK with a hotel... but not downtown.
    I'm against more generic retail spaces. Retail is in decline due to delivery, and adding more in a declining market...

    I don't like the idea of another large development in downtown that likely will never be divided or local owned.
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  43. TopTop #25

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Kitty,

    Thanks to respond. Maybe most folks around here agree with you, that's what I'm trying to find out.

    I would however like to respond to your comments, maybe we can get some dialogue going. To begin with a “tourist trap” is exactly what a boutique hotel is. By definition a tourist trap is a place, such as a shop or a resort area, that offers overpriced goods and services to tourists. Last I heard the going rate for these rooms is expected to be between $200 to $400/night – Personally, I consider that overpriced.

    The artist/maker studio spaces will be great for those folks. Unfortunately those few available spaces will service only a very small percentage of our community's residents. I for one would prefer to see development on that location that has potential benefit to the majority of our working class community rather than the select few makers and business owners. While I agree that a boost in business for our local merchants would be great I personally feel that it would be more appropriate for that boost to come from locals rather than traveling tourists. We are, after all, supposed to be an environmentally conscientious community. Regardless of how anyone wishes to parse words there is nothing environmentally friendly about tourism. At present it is an oil based industry. If our downtown merchants are experiencing a decline in business perhaps it's because they are not offering enough essential goods and services that local folks need to purchase.

    It would certainly be an anomaly if for some unprecedented reason boutique hotels in our little town were to create more affordable housing. There is not a shred of data to support that hypothesis but you are entitled to your opinion. On the other hand there is a preponderance of evidence to support the complete opposite. Typically as towns begin to cater to tourism, tourists increase, rents increase, property values increase, cost of living increases, service industry minimum wage jobs increase. Available affordable housing decreases, white collar livable-wage jobs decrease, community residents decrease – working class folks simply can no longer afford to live in their own town. This process is called gentrification. We are moving in that direction with this first-of-several proposed boutique hotels.

    No doubt the hotel will bring in some range of jobs but 'some' is the operative word. How many jobs with salaries in excess of $40,000/year do you think this hotel will offer as compared to the total number of jobs that will be available? Typically the majority of jobs brought in by hotels, restaurants, bars and retail shops are minimum wage service jobs. I don't expect this developer to be any different. Next question, where do you suppose the majority of the employees for all these new jobs are coming from? You'd probably be correct if you said Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park or Cotati but certainly not Sebastopol. Why? Because few can afford to live in Sebastopol on a minimum wage job. This is the inevitable effect of insufficient affordable housing. This is the cycle that begins with one elegant boutique hotel. Have you been to Healdsburg lately? Same developer, he started with one elegant boutique hotel in Healdsburg, added a second and is currently working on his third. The entire town has been “elegantly” transformed into a tourist trap.....

    Traffic is probably one of the most obvious downsides if you consider that this 66 room hotel, booked to an average capacity of 70% will generate 20,000 to 25,000 visitors each year. On the low end that is more than twice our entire population. And while you're thinking about that don't forget to account for all of the employees living outside of Sebastopol that will be commuting back and forth to work, for multiple shifts, around the clock, everyday.

    Finally, I think it safe to say that their website is a well written promo piece designed to sell the project to the public. There certainly was more than sufficient assistance from our city council and city planners to create what they thought would “ensure a high level of community support”. My problem with this is that as per the resultant SDAT report derived from the most encompassing and most attended community input events, a hotel, of any size, was not even suggested. I suspect that's because there is nothing sustainable about a hotel. I believe the goal of connecting downtown with the Barlow can be accomplished without destroying our working class, family oriented community with a tourist based economy. In the end I'm not so sure that the new $43 million dollar hotel is going to actually allow our local youth to “hang out” on & around its premises while catering to its elite guests. But in the end I doubt that it will matter, I suspect there will be few local youth left who live in our little town.....

    Quote KittyW wrote: View Post
    I looked at the developer's website and their properties. Nice. Elegant. In keeping with the local flavor. Not at all "tourist traps."

    I read the notice on the photo. The complex would include "artist/maker" studios as well as retail. Nice. Keeping with the local flavor and providing much-needed studio space for creative types.....
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  45. TopTop #26
    Shepherd's Avatar
    Shepherd
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    I appreciate Rustie's response. It is important to consider both the positive and negative aspects of this development, as well as different opinions. We all love Sebastopol and hope to be able to continue working and living here. I hope that this conversation can continue in a cordial way, rather than degenerate.

    Quote Rustie wrote: View Post
    Kitty,

    Thanks to respond. Maybe most folks around here agree with you, that's what I'm trying to find out...
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  47. TopTop #27
    ChefJayTay's Avatar
    ChefJayTay
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Quote podfish wrote: View Post
    really?? I feel quite differently - only downtown seems suitable for a hotel. Where else would one fit??
    I felt one in the north would best compliment the existing hotels in town.
    I guess it was a rather dated opinion upon further consideration, as walking distance to local businesses is better.
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  48. TopTop #28
    Sara S's Avatar
    Sara S
    Auntie Wacco

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Well, the Fairfield is south of town....
    Quote podfish wrote: View Post
    really?? I feel quite differently - only downtown seems suitable for a hotel. Where else would one fit??
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  49. TopTop #29
    1104GT's Avatar
    1104GT
     

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Quote nancypreb wrote: View Post
    So you concede that you're hearing a lot of people say this is new news?! That should tell you something about how "well publicized and well attended" these meetings were.
    I was responding to the number of people on this forum that were surprised by the development. I attend a lot of public meetings and was on the GPAC, so know that the hotel meetings were relatively well attended. Very few people show up to Planning Commission, Design Review, City Council and General Plan Committee meetings, so I feel the hotel meetings were well attended by comparison. Part of the responsibility that comes with being a member of a community is being informed. I led the efforts opposing CVS and that started by my attending a Design Review Board meeting, posting on this forum and speaking at every public meeting. We can't expect government or anyone else to come searching for our input.

    Quote nancypreb wrote: View Post
    In talking to the tractor guys, I understand they put about $80,000 into the building in order to have their business there. Did anyone ever say, "Hey RON! Spruce up your corner!" How is it that, short of this development, he's off the hook for the deteriorating condition of the property?
    Everyone who owns and operates a business invests in it. If a business owner is renting, they know that their investment is only good until the end of their lease.

    I agree that Mr. Basso has done a deplorable job of maintaining his property.

    Quote nancypreb wrote: View Post
    Furthermore, maybe what you mean to say is "the city has had many years" to put together their subcommittee and seek out a developer for this location. This was an unprecedented move on the city's part;
    I don't subscribe to the conspiratorial sentiment you express throughout your response. I have viewed our elected officials and City staff at work for many years and think they do a good job of working on our behalf and balancing the needs and desires of a community with very diverse priorities.

    Quote nancypreb wrote: View Post
    This statement is a blatant denial of the role this town plays to everyone from Jenner to Point Reyes.
    My apologies for poorly wording my comment leading to misinterpretation. I am not discounting the need for a good tractor store. I visit the tractor shop once a year when I need to tune up my mower and enjoy being able to walk there. I walk down, get my parts, walk home and get back to work. My point is that some business are better suited for downtown locations than others. Downtown businesses should activate our sidewalks, fill the plaza, promote adjacent businesses and encourage pedestrian activity. A hotel with retail and maker space will do that infinitely better than the tractor store.

    Quote nancypreb wrote: View Post
    But the TAXES- that's what it's about. That's all it's about. TOT and Sales. Ok- but just stay with that; it's about the taxes,
    Wanting to increase tax revenue is not something to ashamed of. Taxes pay for City services, pave our roads, maintain our infrastructure and keep our citizens safe. I think our City officials do an excellent job of doing a lot with very little. The loss of two car sales businesses was a huge blow to City revenues. With the hotel, we get a more vibrant downtown and the City gets TOT tax revenue from people who don't live here. Sorry, but I only see the positive in this.

    Quote nancypreb wrote: View Post
    It did not "just happen that…" I too was at the meetings. I was also a scribe during the SDAT. You are grossly overstating the process that has led us here.
    Again, I don't support conspiracy theories.

    Quote nancypreb wrote: View Post
    My issue is that no business that is not tourist based should ever want to open here in Sebastopol lest our city officials actively pull the rug out from under you for the sake of TOT and Sales taxes… and a "more complete town!"
    I don't see many businesses of any kind lining up to open shops downtown. Inexpensive spaces right downtown are often for lease. There are several available now. Many people have expressed a desire to see local business that offer essential goods and services to locals, but the reality is that there isn't enough foot traffic or money being spent downtown to support new businesses. The kitchen shop and several clothing stores, even a very affordable one, couldn't make it and many local businesses struggle downtown.


    Quote nancypreb wrote: View Post
    Can you explain how the guests for the 66 rooms, the employees for the hotel, the employees and patrons for the restaurant, retail spaces, wellness center, and makers spaces…. all adds up to LESS traffic than 66 unit apartment complex? It's really difficult for me to understand that math.
    I own rental property and most of our units are rented to people with two cars. That's 122 cars going to and from work each day, plus shopping, picking up kids, running errands etc. A typical hotel room will have one car per room, will be occupied 60%-70% of the time and there will be days when guests chose to walk, ride a bike or otherwise not drive. Add in staff and it's probably a wash with the apartment building.

    The vast majority of traffic downtown is highway related ... people passing through. Unless there's a bypass, that is only going to get worse, not better. There are studies and statistics in the General Plan research materials if you would like to do some reading. Local businesses account for small percentage of traffic, so new development will not significantly affect traffic. And, as a close friend says, "the majority of people complaining about traffic are in cars".

    Quote nancypreb wrote: View Post
    Can you please tell us exactly which parcel that was?
    Sure ... I co-own the small vacant parcel on McKinley across from Taylor Maid. Yes, a hotel will probably have a positive impact on my property value, be being so small, it's a difficult to build on.

    I understand the concern about our town become dominated by tourists and that does concern me. This project is really nicely designed, is scaled perfectly for downtown, will have a wonderful wide sidewalk along the Plaza and has a balance of tourist and local space that I really like.

    As others have mentioned, I would love to see more housing downtown. I'm just not sure how to make that happen. For construction of dense housing to make financial sense, rents will have to rise beyond where they are now.

    There are still quite a few empty parcels in the center of town that will be developed sometime in the future. The former concrete batch plant, empty land on Brown Street, the rest of the CVS parcel and quite a few others. Some are quite affordable. If people have real ideas and business plans (money) to back them up, now is the time to act. Otherwise, we get whatever someone else wants to build. As I often say ... we're great protesters but not great planners. It's time to stop protesting and start proactively planning, promoting and getting the businesses we want in town.

    I look forward to continued discussion.

    Ted
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  51. TopTop #30
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
    Supporting Member

    Re: Project Proposal - Downtown Sebastopol Hotel

    Quote Sara S wrote: View Post
    Well, the Fairfield is south of town....
    and it's ok.. not too big a footprint on the town. But if we're bringing in more visitors I'd prefer they don't have to use their cars except to go winetasting or whatever. If they can just wander from the hotel to restaurants, bookstores, theaters, etc, it would be better than having a source for lots of vehicle traffic on the periphery of town.
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