There's a new meeting at DRB May 16 correct? Time and place?
Wednesday, May 16
Sebastopol Veterans Aud.
4 pm - Dining Room
The CVS/Chase Mall is back along with its 2000 daily additional downtown automobile trips.
Please come to the May 16 Design Review Board meeting to have your opinion heard.
Their first plan was rejected by both the Design Review Board and the City Council. Now the great mall of CVS/ Chase is back.
After some tinkering, this revision is still an auto-centric mall, with two drive-throughs, 210 feet of a 26-foot high CVS building with no entrance on either street for pedestrians, and a driveway in the middle of the project, totally out of place for Sebastopol’s downtown and the only plus will be worse traffic congestion than there is now.
Come to hear the developer’s latest presentation.
Sebastopol deserves better than this!
The documents below have been submitted to the DRB by the developer and will be the subject of the meeting.
Last edited by Barry; 05-15-2012 at 08:03 AM.
The following member has expressed gratitude to Helen Shane for this post:
The new design seems significantly changed, and I like the retro look of the steel awnings and brick facade. Big improvement over other CVS stores I have seen. Of course that's my opinion, and everyone has a right to have an opinion, right?
In my opinion, Helen Shane is exaggerating her objections to the buildings because I believe Helen simply does not seem to like most private projects that have ever been proposed in Sebastopol. There is no 210 foot wall anywhere on the plan as she suggests, yet our existing Main Street is basically a continuous wall on both sides of the street, higher than the proposed new buildings!
The one proposed driveway on Petaluma Ave is very small at 20'. Helen complains of no entrance from the sidewalks, but the proposed store entrance is basically on Petaluma Ave, and part of the parking lot at the same time, which makes sense because there currently is relatively little foot traffic at the street corner. (I wonder why Helen cares where the door is, since it seems she hates CVS and is never going to go there?)
How about some POSITIVE SUGGESTIONS Helen?
What new business have you helped bring to our town Helen?
We seldom have a chance to have this much private money (not public funds) being spent to make improvements in our town. Lets all work WITH these folks to create something positive, particularly since they have shown a willingness to do so.
I for one, am sick and tired of your negativity and obstructionism Helen!
How about helping instead of hindering the process with some POSITIVE input Helen??
Resident and local business owner since 1982
Last edited by Barry; 05-17-2012 at 02:51 PM.
Helen has every right to express her opinion and CVS doesn't fit our community. I bet Bob would be in favor of a Walmart or Hydraulic Fracturing operation here in Sebastopol if there was money in it for him. So shut the hell up Bob.
Oh, here we go "Attic", another lurker who goes by a fake name, has no information in their profile, no photo, no sex, no location, NOTHING IN "ATTIC's" PROFILE AT ALL: probably will not identify his/her/itself, swears at me online, makes accusations without knowing me, and assumes he/she/it knows what I am thinking.
"Attic" has the right to an opinion.
Helen has a right to her opinion.
For some reason because I have a different opinion than "Attic" I am not allowed to express my opinion and I have to "shut the hell up"?
I ask someone to be positive, not negative, and I have to "shut the hell up"?
COME OUT "Attic", you coward.
You want to attack me personally because my opinion differs from yours, then show yourself, you coward!
You sure do not belong on a "Concious Community" bulletin board.
Your personal attack makes me want to say something that would be in really poor taste, but I won't play your game.
Last night I attended the DRB meeting that was held to review the revised site plan for the CVS/Chase project submitted by Armstrong Developers. What I witnessed was a disgusting display by project advocates led by Kathleen Shafer henchman Linda Johnson. When the final public speaker stood to speak, he went over the alotted 3:00 minutes that each speaker is granted. It was then that the Johnson crowd started shouting over every word from the speaker's mouth. Even after the DRB Chair granted the speaker extra time to finish, there was no respect for the chairman or the process. They continued their bully tactics until the speaker sat down. The last time I looked, we were members of a democracy. I just hope our public officials don't cave in to such ruthless behavior.
Like I said you are a coward sniper, and you do not have any respect for an opinion other than those you agree with.
Your powers of observation seem to be lacking as well: you act as if CVS is not already in town, but they have been here for some time, and in fact own the building that they are currently located in.
You are still a coward, hiding behind a fake name, and attacking me personally and using obscenities. You are a piece of work: not the kind of person who should be a part of this community, and you should not live in our town. Go back to Los Angeles or Oakland, or wherever you came from, you snake.
The following member has expressed gratitude to Big Bob for this post:
I have been here since 1971 so get comfortable with the fact that I am indeed a part of this community. CVS should stay in its current location. Bob you own West Valley Welding correct? It is located right by the current proposed sight correct? What might you gain if CVS moves in next door? As for the words between us....I don't like the way you talked to Helen.
The following member has expressed gratitude to Attic for this post:
For Attic (David Prouty [Edit: name corrected] as listed in his profile, which I take to be true) and Big Bob:
I'm tempted to take down the above posts to uphold decorum, but I'll let them stand in the interest of free expression and so I can address them.
Helen does have a right to her opinion and so does Big Bob. Characterizing her stands as "negativity and obstructionism" seems within reason to me (not that I agree), and less than an attack on her character.
While Helen appears to be "sweet little (not so) old lady" she's made of strong stuff!
I can't say what business she has helped bring to town, but I would imagine she has approved more than one business's plans during her many years of serving on city boards and commissions. I've had the honor of serving with her for a couple of years on the planning commission.
Part of fighting for something is preventing things that are perceived contrary to those interests from happening so the positive thing has a opportunity of happening. Part of keeping Sebastopol special is resisting the many interests that would just assume it look like every other generic suburban strip-mall town.
She's not a developer so it's hard to make something happen there.
And that's something to consider in this discussion. Those of us who would rather not see CVS/Chase there, nor that style of suburban development, need to come to grips with the fact that something that is financially viable needs happen there. I've seem seen some dreams posted here that would be lovely, but don't have a chance of actually happening. And we do want something there, and preferably in less than a decade!
So let the discussion continue and please be respectful and tolerant of each other's point of view.
Last edited by Barry; 05-19-2012 at 09:21 AM.
Well telling him to Shut the Hell up may have been overboard but after reading his post and the general tone of it ... I stuck up for her like I would have stuck up for any other lady. My mood about the current state of downtown development doesn't help. That corner deserves better then a Strip Mall. It is a prominent location and needs something better. Its not always about the money.
The following 2 members have expressed gratitude to Attic for this post:
Why does it matter at all yet if it was even the most beautiful, appropriate design??
Beauty is the SECOND issue if the first is ever resolved, and I don't see how it can be.
That intersection is frequently over capacity right now with backups and waits on Bodega and Petaluma of sometimes 5 or more lights!
The ramifications of adding the massive amounts of additional traffic to that intersection is a potential nightmare for locals and visitors and a catastrophe for other nearby local business.
When the feasibility of the additional traffic is resolved, then let's discuss the beauty of the building.
I can't help but notice that traffic is repeatedly cited as a large issue around this development. Yet the new Barlow center is of a magnitude beyond the CVS development and likely to draw significantly more traffic congestion. Even if CVS were never built the traffic amplifcation due to the Barlow (which I do not oppose) will be considerable. Why is it given a pass on this issue? IMO the political correctness hypocracy might be peeking its head out on this one aspect at least.
The difference between The Barlow Project and the CVS/Chase is, as they say in real estate jargon: location, location, location.
CVS/Chase is at the junction of two thoroughfares that happen also to be in the very core of our downtown. CVS/Chase wants drivethrough and driveup business, both of which encourage auto traffic.
These are just a couple of differences. I leave it to those with more patience to expand on it, if they wish.
Actually, is not the downtown core really a block west? And the Barlow, only 1 block east, impacts Morris, Laguna, Depot AND the intersection at the Pellini property. I find it difficult to believe the CVS traffic impact is going to be much greater than the Barlow. And the Pellini building itself has never been seen as a small town architectural gem. Not promoting either one over the other here. Just trying for some perspective.
Last edited by Barry; 05-21-2012 at 04:16 PM.
The following member has expressed gratitude to photolite for this post:
Here we go again ... CVS/Chase is back the same old poorly designed suburban strip project in this month's flavor ... brick! The next meeting is Wednesday, May 30 at 4 pm. at the Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium. If you have an opinion, now is the time for our design review board to hear it once again.
I think you all know my opinion - one more suburban project downtown will just speed up our town's downward spiral into auto centric chain store mediocrity and shrinking tax revenue. Yes pro-business people (and I am a real one), I believe this will result in a net loss of business and tax revenue in time. We need to demand more. Other towns do, why not us?
Here's a copy of my letter to the Board members:
Mr. Schurch, Mr. Douch, Mr. Beauchamp, Mr. Deedler, and Ms. Massey:
Thank you for your continued efforts in reviewing the CVS/Chase project and for conducting an organized and civil meeting. As you know, I oppose the design of this project due to the suburban nature of the site design which has not changed in any meaningful way since the last version which was rejected by your Board, the Planning Commission and the City Council.
1. Front door of CVS moved off the sidewalk - Now this project, with hundreds of linear feet of frontage on our two most important streets, has one insignificant entry on the sidewalk. Really? How can this possiby conform to our General Plan and Design Review Guidelines that call for our downtown to be "pedestrian friendly". This move makes it obvious that CVS is still in "suburban" mode and feels they must tether the entry to the closest parking stalls. Pedestrian and downtown activity is clearly not valuable to them.
2. Mid-block driveway changed to in-only - This driveway is unacceptable in any configuration. Downtowns rely on a City's street grid for vehicular access and should not have mid-block driveways that endanger and discourage pedestrians.
3. Parking lot reconfigured slightly shifting parking away from Petaluma - This resulted in an odd-sized useless "pedestrian" space. Since the building entries or no longer on the sidewalk, there won't be any pedestrians, so why bother? Either make it something real or get rid of it.
4. Windows changed to vision glass - While I applaud this move, I was very aware of Kevin's use of the word "scrim". In theater, this term refers to backdrops and in the signage world, "scrim" is large format digitally printed material used on billboards and supermarket ad banners. I suspect they intend to add a vision block of some sort so we still won't be actually seeing into the space. While this isn't a huge issue with me, the photo attached shows what it will really look like. We might as well know now so we're not surprised later.
5. Wood and stucco changed to brick - Building decoration changes are meaningless and a waste of energy until the site plan is fixed, but I am OK with either scheme.
Many of the findings from both your board and the City Council speak to the project needing to be "downtown" in nature, but nothing has been done to change the nature of this project. I certainly can't find a reason to approve it now when it was unacceptable before. Once again the applicant has done more work on a flawed plan and then gets upset when we are still not happy with the their flawed plan. Kevin wanted 7 points of specific direction, I would give him 5 (in order of importance):
1. Eliminate the mid-block driveway. They are inappropriate in downtowns and ours has too many of them already. If they need emergency vehicle access, that can be designed in. If that's a deal breaker for them, their business model doesn't belong downtown.
2. Move the front door of CVS to the sidewalk, and/or offer a second door at the corner. If that's a deal breaker for them, their business model doesn't belong downtown.
3. Approve the building materials and basic design with the understanding that no more that 20% of the view into the space be obscured by product displays, graphics or other "scrims".
4. Develop the space between the buildings into a usable pedestrian space.
5. Entry on Sebastopol Road is to be right-in, right-out.
Again, I want to be clear that I support downtown development and have no issue with CVS or Chase, but they must propose a downtown project. If their suburban business model is the only one that will work in Sebastopol, then they by their own admission, should not do business in our downtown. We should not be expected to change our downtown to meet the needs of their suburban business model. This same battle is being fought in other places. Here's Lexington: http://www.progresslex.org/lexington-deserves-better/
I also attached some images. The titles describe my thoughts.
I'll leave you with a little story:
A lady wants a poodle, and another man, who sells goats, says he has a perfect one for her. The man shaves a goat to look like a little like a poodle and presents it to the lady the next day. She responds, "that's not a poodle, it's a goat that slightly resembles a poodle". The goat man goes away, does a better shave job on a better goat and brings it back the next day. Again, the lady says. "that's looks a little more like a poodle, but it's still obviously a goat". The man goes away again, finds his best goat and spends five days doing his best shave job so the goat looks almost exactly like a poodle. He presents his prized goat with a fanfare and great pride in his work, but the lady again responds, "I'm sorry, while that's an amazing job of making a goat look like a poodle, I still really just want a poodle". The man gets very angry, yells at the woman about how much time he spent trying to get his goat to look like a poodle and storms off. The lady eventually finds her poodle and the goat man goes back to selling goats to those who want them.
Thank you again for your valuable time and service to our community. I look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.
494 High Street
CVS in Baldwin Park, proving they can have an entry onto a street
Same is true here
What clear glass windows will really look like full of ads and visual clutter. What a great "welcome" to our town! Imagine this on the square in Healdsburg or Sonoma. I don't think so. Their tax revenues are going up while ours decline BTW.
Yay for DRB and all the citizens who have worked to stop this suburban development!
Sebastopol design board once again rejects proposed pharmacy
By DEREK MOORE
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 7:27 p.m.
A controversial proposal to put a pharmacy and bank at a key intersection in downtown Sebastopol was again rejected Wednesday night by the city’s Design Review Board.
The board voted 4-1 to deny an application by Armstrong Development Properties to build a CVS Pharmacy and Chase Bank branch at the site of the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership.
Armstrong submitted its third design for the project but again ran into some of the same concerns that have dogged the plans from the beginning.
“There are all the characteristics of a suburban strip mall on a key block in our downtown,” said Lynn Deedler, vice chairman of the design board.
Image from Sonoma-West Times & News
Zachary Douch, the board’s chairman, was the group’s only member to support the application.
Asked whether Armstrong plans to appeal the board’s decision to the City Council, Bill McDermott, a vice president for the Sacramento company, said, “to be determined.”
The board previously voted on Dec. 7 to reject the development’s design. The City Council upheld the board’s decision while also adopting a series of suggestions for design changes.
McDermott told the board Wednesday that Armstrong addressed the council’s findings to the “appropriate level.”
But several board members still were seeking project revisions, including the elimination of one driveway, more crosswalks and a smaller parking lot.
“To approve this project, something has to be great about it, and so far, I haven’t seen anything great about it,” said board member Peter Schurch.
The plans call for building a 14,576-square-foot pharmacy and 4,327-square-foot bank on 2.4 acres at a cost of $10 million. CVS and Chase would move to the site from buildings elsewhere in Sebastopol.
The project has been the subject of more than a dozen long and often contentious meetings. The City Council has already given the project all of the approvals it needs to go forward, except for its design.
A public hearing on the latest design was held last week. But that didn’t stop several speakers on Wednesday from stating veiled criticism of the project during what was supposed to be time for comment on items not on the board’s agenda.
Shepherd Bliss, who teaches at Sonoma State University and runs an organic farm in Sebastopol, told board members that they should consider the moral and ethical implications of any design they review.
“You would not approve a crack house, but there are some projects that are far worse than a crack house,” Bliss said. “I would ask you to consider that in approving or disapproving that.”
The board is expected to formally adopt the reasons it rejected the latest design at its meeting next week.
Ya know, I have been of a split mind about this project for some time.
Philosophically, I actually agree with the project because it would place a public-good service in the center of town, it would remove an eyesore, it would merely replace one inside-the-city-limits CVS location with another and the diehard opposition would be against it even if the proposal was for a village of yurt huts.
However, practically, I think it is a stupid idea and can't possibly result in more business for CVS.
The current location has more than adequate parking, it is on a site convenient to at least 80 percent of Sebastopol area residents. If it moves to the Chevy building site, it goes to a high vehicle traffic area that most people avoid if at all possible; it doesn't matter how many entrances it will have, they will still be clogged. The only residents that would find it convenient are those in the trailer park and those in in the neighborhood between Petaluma Avenue and the Laguna.
Personally, we have prescriptions at CVS and I would move them to Rite Aid or Safeway because it would be so much more hassle getting in and out of the Chevy building site. I would never go to the proposed site, even though I can just about walk there.
All of which makes me suspicious about the intent of CVS. I question whether the intent is merely to purchase the site and then sell it for some purpose over which the DRB would have less control, having been exhausted from dealing with the earlier CVS proposals.
So, yeah, I think it is an ill-conceived idea that will wind up losing CVS customers.
I am the diehard opposition and would not be against a village of yurt huts. CVS is owned by Chase convicted numerous times of predatory banking practices? Would you let that bank move downtown? Or would you insist that they stay on the outskirts of town? As long as the yurt huts are not owned by a predatory bank that's ok by me.
Last edited by Barry; 06-01-2012 at 03:36 PM.
The following member has expressed gratitude to Attic for this post:
CVS is a predator corporation.
When I was in Gainesville, FL last fall, I was shown 6 different CVS stores that were built directly across from Walgreens stores all within th elast five years. I'm not sticking up for Walgreens, but that the CVS approach; shut 'em down and take the business via cheap products.
Look at CVS in Sebastopol: They desperately want this corner at the end of a one-way street flowing directly from the emergency room of Palm Drive Hospital.
They are vying for a corner that would essentially cut of 3 approaches to Rite-Aid. Shut 'em down.
It is ill-concieved, yes. But there are factions in the city council who have politicized business groups within the community to stand behind CVS.
What will CVS contribute to the community that it doesn't already contribute from its current site other than shutting other businesses down?
By the way, I have asked CVS for donations to our school auction on three occasions and have been turned away every time. So don't tell me they are good neighbors with the community in mind as the representatives from Armstrong Developement have stated.
It's all a load of crap that will destroy downtown and open the door for more of the same. Write your city council, folks. It's going there next.
It is an old and established custom among national franchises to open up across the street from the competing franchisors. Notice how often you'll see a Burger King in near proximity to a McDonalds. It's known as "coat tailing". These guys all do serious traffic counts and demographic research so when one of em has opened a location they've rather telegraphed to the others that prospects of success in any given location are good. It's like Coke and Pepsi. They know that someone will always go for the alternative. It's not necessarily about driving the competition out of business. It's more about there being enough to go around for everybody.
The following member has expressed gratitude to photolite for this post:
Yes, and most of what we say and do is fair in love and war... You've raised something you call human behavior, and regulate and change. Here's another term — status quo. Here's one: Corporate Citizen. Going deep into it with that one.
Public policy: we all help create public policy when we go to the election polls, elect officials who legislate. It gets complicated and messy. That's politics. Next: get political, stay out of it, or dabble in it; a myriad of political and social shades in between. That's freedom of speech, assembly, press and religion. That's America. And, now, a bottom line: If we don't fight for what constituted ourselves since 1789, we'll lose it. Laissez faire, that's another term. "Let It Be" — that's a song title. Cliches are nice; just incomplete. Thanks for reading this; that's called a dialogue. Hope you stick with the conversation, fellow citizen...
McDonalds, Burger King, other corporations and individuals; we and they advertise, publicize, speak, pray, read, write, vote, slander and assault; the whole gamut of legal and illegal human behavior. Corporations are persons: our U.S. Supreme Court said that. Corporations give money to political candidates of their choice; you and me, and we — individuals don't have that much money. We give less money in political campaigns. Far less. So we, the people, in order to affect human society through a government, of, by and for the people, need to join our human behavior together for a common good to affect a power of our choice(s) that large political war chests wage under the banner of corporation(s). Corporate personhood. Yes, I make the distinction. We, the people. Corporation. They are distinctly and wholly separate entities. Yes, I disagree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision. I say, a so-called corporate personhood is clothed in rotting cloth, exposing the Emperor who has no clothes. Our Founders would rise again against this thing called corporate personhood. Corporate personhood is inhuman. It greases machine politics. It, corporate personhood, renders the individual, nay, more-so, very large numbers of people, nearly impotent. Take a CEO making $200,000,000 a year in salary out of a corporation and they are a person. (that $200 mill is real, btw)
So much for the would-be power of human behavior within this framework of looking at human behavior. Look at this way: McDonalds does not care whether you eat their burger. Burger King does not care whether you eat their burger. They are kitty-corner on thousands of corners and intersections throughout our cities and nation. They don't care whether you eat the other guy's burger either. They do care that you eat burgers. They went "healthy choices" only because, we, the people collectively decided a lot of us might die eating their food.
Oh, before I forget: you read our U.S. History; you notice a time when a black person was 3/5ths of a human behavior. How much human behavior was a black man during slavery? We had a Civil War over that one. How many black human behaviors are there in prison as distinct from outside prison, in the U.S. general, voting population? Does that have anything to do with human behavior? Oh, no — please do not go there...
As you notice, I am having a huge problem with your analysis of human behavior...
I'd rather you and me, and we, sort out our differences, and, what we share in common to make society something we can abide by, live and love by.
Now, onward: we want public policy, as translated by our elected representatives, our General Plan, and we, the citizens, as we engage in simple and complicated political discussion and choices. We, in our little town of Sebastopol are faced with what to do at the Pellini "gate-way" corner to our community. And it ain't just about Pellini, me, you, McDonalds, Burger King, CVS, or Chase. Finally, it seems to me, considering all that is at stake here — the whole being greater than the sum of its parts, actually; this thing is not just about a human or corporate behavior, human or otherwise.
The primary issues around this project are
3.The occupants themselves
1. Traffic will certainly increase but not by as much as that caused by the enormous Barlow project at the other end of the block. Until a campaign is mounted against that project with equal vigor to this I think it's time to drop traffic as a legitimate reason to stop this.
2. The developer has bent over backward to comply with community sensibilities and will ultimately design a project in compliance with community standards.
3. The actual downtown core already hosts Westamerica Bank, Bank of the West, B of A and Wells Fargo, not to mention RiteAid. This horse has already left the barn. Kinda hard to justify not letting this project proceed. Personally, I wish all these predator banks were run out of town but other than our personal disdain for their corrupt business practices they have every right to be here.
Photolite, I agree with your points 1 and 3 but completely disagree with point 2. In my opinion, this developer has done almost nothing to comply with our design review guidelines and general plan vision for downtown. Their proposed design is nothing more than their typical suburban junk plunked down and shoved up to the street. They added a little lipstick and called planting areas "rain gardens" and expected us to like it.
As for traffic, we need to accept that our traffic is primarily due to two highways and get over the fact that any new local businesses, regardless of corporate ownership, will generate traffic. If we want more business downtown (I know some people don't) we should expect and welcome the activity that goes along with it.
Regarding corporate ownership, if someone has an example of a workable code restriction that we can use, please share it, because I have not seen one. The only one I am aware of is Calistoga's and I know it has caused them some problems.
It is true the Barlow will create increased traffic and backups at that light.
It's also true that it is an entirely much less complicated intersection than the wacky
scribble at Main/Petaluma/Hwy12/McKinley. In fact, that whole area deeds a redo
in general. Try turning left from Mckinley onto Main to make a right on Bodega today,
and wonder why there aren't lots more accidents there already.
Then imagine how backed up that left turn onto 12 will be if there is a stream of drive-through traffic coming out of Pellini. There could be a whole weird logjam where things come to a standstill around that whole loop.
And the detail that keeps getting buried in this ongoing conversation is that the proposed development is for a
drive-through situation for both businesses. Traffic throughput is likely to be much higher than if it was a park & shop deal.
Leela8 - I couldn't have said it better myself. And how about the following quote?
“Aldridge said the mixed-use project was devised in the face of opposition from Sebastopol residents to condominiums he initially had envisioned, but said his critics were right, in the end.
"I think it turned out way better," he said.
"I think the people were right."
Aldridge, at the Barlow Project fire 5/31/12
Come to the DRB meeting Wedesday at 4 pm at the Veterans' Aud. to add your support to the DRB's 4-1 vote to deny.
The first two are great and I have seen others similar to this too - they do NOT need to build a suburban shopping mall! About the windows, I would rather see this and see real people inside than have a long solid blank wall - or fake windows.
The following member has expressed gratitude to scamperwillow for this post:
The following member has expressed gratitude to Barry for this post:
Appeal to City Council is scheduled for July 17th!
This may be the last time to speak out against this project!
CVS developer appeals design rejection to Sebastopol City Council
By BOB NORBERG
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 11:20 a.m.
A Sacramento developer is asking the Sebastopol City Council to overturn the city design review board's rejection of a design for the controversial CVS Pharmacy and Chase Bank.
It was the third design that Armstrong Development Inc. had submitted for the proposed project, a pharmacy and bank branch at the site of the vacant Pellini Chevrolet dealership.
Sebastopol Planning Director Kenyon Webster said the appeal was not surprising. The project has been the subject of more than a dozen sometimes contentious meetings.
“They want to build the project and the board denied it, they are hoping the council will view the situation differently,” Webster said.
Armstrong officials did not return calls seeking comment Thursday, but have previously said that they believe they have met all the city guidelines.
The proposal has received the major approvals needed to move forward, except for the design. The current design proposal, the third, was denied by the city design review board on May 30.
The board in its findings said that the design is out of character with the downtown Sebastopol core area, and is a suburban-style plan that devotes too much area to parking, drive-throughs and driveways.
Specifically, the board wanted Armstrong to eliminate a Petaluma Avenue driveway and parking spaces, add storefronts, enlarge a plaza, redesign Abbott Avenue and add a crosswalk and relocate others.
The board denied the Armstrong design proposal on a 4-1 vote, with board Chairman Zachary Douch voting for it.
The developer wants to build a 14,576-square-foot pharmacy and 4,327-square-foot bank branch on 2.4 acres at a cost of $10 million. CVS and Chase would move to the site from locations elsewhere in Sebastopol.
The City Council has already ruled in favor of one appeal filed by Armstrong Development, finding that its impact report did not need a separate traffic study. The council, however, has also turned down an appeal by Armstrong challenging the Design Review Board's rejection of a previous design.
The City Council on Tuesday will consider setting a public hearing on the appeal for July 17 and call a special council meeting on July 19 to make a decision.
You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or email@example.com.
Anybody have any comments about these "charges"? - Barry
Is our Design Review process broken or is the Design Review Board (DRB) just not willing to follow the rules?
• Complete disregard of City Council instructions.
The City Council’s review of the CVS/Chase design on February 21 produced a list of findings to justify their decision to send the review process back to the DRB and to provide direction to the developer and the DRB. Some of these findings were specific and offered design revisions that the Council indicated would be acceptable. City staff gave the DRB specific instructions that if the developer included these proposed revisions in their new design, then this would satisfy the City’s requirements and the DRB would not have to reconsider that item. The DRB ignored this direction and instead continued to cite all the things they considered bad, including the ones that the Council agreed would be acceptable. For example, the DRB members indicated they could not approve the site plan with an in-only driveway entrance from Petaluma Avenue, even though the Council indicated it would be an acceptable alternative. The Council also had indicated that an Abbott Avenue design would be acceptable if the city engineer so approved. The developer complied by revising the design to meet city standards and received approval from the city engineer, but the DRB chairman tried to get the DRB to review the City Council findings, one DRB member asked if anyone had a copy of the findings that he could use, an indication of the lack of importance he placed on the council’s desires.
• Individual DRB members’ desires vs. board consensus:
The DRB’s recent review of the CVS/Chase project followed the format used in past meetings. Each DRB member was asked for his/her comments, but a clear consensus was never asked for or achieved in past meetings. Over 50 items were discussed without reaching a majority agreement on any item. Most of the comments/concerns were general in nature rather than specific directions on which the developer could act. Sometimes two board members contradicted each other. For example, one board member wants the Chase building to face the pedestrian plaza, and another says he thinks it should face Petaluma Avenue. Without discussion and vote on a consensus view, what is the developer to do? Most comments were general comments without specifics. For example: “the pedestrian plaza is too small,” leaving the developer to wonder will increasing its size 3-feet be enough or should it be doubled? “The project needs to be great,” was another comment. What exactly does that mean? “The street is too narrow.” Again, should it be increased 5-feet or 10-feet? It was left up to city staff to guess which comments represented the DRB’s requests and produce a list of findings. One member was bold enough to say he wasn’t prepared to discuss specifics but could provide some at another meeting. What the heck has he been doing all these weeks?
Instead of treating this project like other projects that have recently come before the DRB, it seems the DRB has decided to deny this project simply because it doesn’t want CVS/Chase to build on that property. I am sure this is OK with some members of our community, but it is not legal. Using the design review process to pick and choose the businesses that are appropriate for Sebastopol by simply saying the design doesn’t fit is a power the DRB should not have. Both the people and the process need to change.
Nancy Aita is a Sebastopol resident.
The following member has expressed gratitude to Barry for this post:
Personally, I am pleased that the DRB is looking out for Sebastopol's best interests and also pleased that they are not functioning as a simple rubber-stamp for other's opinions. As far as these accusations go, I'd like to hear a response from a spokesperson for the DRB about how the process actually works. I think it is quite easy for people to make accusations about how things may work but our perceptions, conclusions and opinions are not always on the money.
I've attended every DRB meeting on this subject for the past year. Not until the last meeting did I feel the DRB was actually basing their opinion on the General Plan. I'm still surprised they didn't go further in stating their reasons for denial. All I've heard from proponents of this issue is that "it fits the general plan" when it actually doesn't on approximately 22 different counts by my interpretation. I've read this thing over and over and cannot believe the project has gotten this far.
Pragmatically, if we are to support the locall businesses in this community; if we are to populate the new Barlow project as well as downtown commerce with patrons, as well as local wineries who make some of the best wines in the world, then we need to re-think and get something in there (a hotel where people like their bags carried, for instance) that promotes the right kind of traffic, instead of the traffic our town cannot support. Do you folks know that Wine Spectator magazine picked three Sebastopol wineries in the top 10 in its annual Best 100 Wines in the World issue for 2011?!?!?! THAT'S what would bring people here. Not drive-through drug windows. It is heartbreaking to think of this opportunity squandered. Because CVS will do irrepairable harm to the growth of Sebastopol. Where is that Business Outreach committee we're suppose to have in City Hall?
Who wants it?
I take it there are local people who would like to see the project approved despite all the misgivings that have been expressed about it. I'd like to know just who they are and why they want it so much. Because it's "legal" doesn't seem to explain the intensity behind the charges. Does it have to do with money and personal gain? For who exactly, and in what way? Can anyone tell me?
I think the design review board, whatever their motivation, deserves our gratitude for protecting the community from what seems to me like an unnecessary and destructive expansion of corporate presence in the downtown.
I hope the city council fully supports them.
CVS & The battle for a ‘green’ Sebastopol
Published June 27, 2012 SONOMAWEST
by Jonathan Greenberg
The ongoing struggle to rein in a downtown land grab by CVS and Chase, two highly controversial, multi-billion dollar corporations, has become the front line in the battle for a green Sebastopol.
As we celebrate July 4 in our wonderfully independent-minded community, it is a good opportunity to consider the proper role of local government when it comes to serving its citizens. Should the right to sell ones property for millions of dollars to any willing buyer trump the right of our citizens to control the planning and traffic of the most prominent crossroad in our city?
In a recent commentary in Sonoma West Times & News (“Is the sky falling?,” May 24), Kathy Austin, a candidate for City Council in November’s election, laid down the pro-big business ethos that she believes should guide local government. She argued that Sebastopol’s duly authorized Design Review Board, as well as our current City Council, did not have the authority to block the project. She warned, “Because of the trouble this applicant has encountered, our reputation in the area for being business and development unfriendly is increasing from its already bad reputation.”
As a Sebastopol citizen who, like most of my neighbors, wants to sustain a green, accessible, liveable, Go Local Sebastopol, I ask, “whose business is candidate Austin talking about?”
I agree with outgoing Mayor Guy Wilson’s assessment that in Sebastopol, “green is our brand.” Young families continue to flock here for our green lifestyle and progressive schools.
Sebastopol maintains some of the highest average home values in Sonoma County, and local business thrives because thriving, community-minded people choose to live here.
When it blocked the CVS and Chase congestion-causing drive-through window entrances, our DRB stood up for the many small businesses, including consultants, therapists, tutors, etc., who work from downtown and home offices.
Everybody knows this is the worst congestion choke point in the area. Adding 2,000 car trips a day will make a bad traffic situation worse, compelling clients and customers to bypass our city.
In addition, the wasted hours of smog-causing idling time at this traffic choke point will burden all of us for decades to come.
Our DRB found that the CVS plan, with its drive through entrances and lack of streetscape, is fundamentally a suburban mall-like design, not appropriate for this prominent location in the heart of our town. If opposing CVS means that our city develops what candidate Austin calls a “bad reputation” for the Wal-Marts of the world, this is fine with Sebastopol.
In mid-July, City Council will vote on whether to overturn the DRB’s thoroughly considered decision. We know that Councilmember Kathleen Shaffer, who is also for running for re-election as a pro-big business candidate, had promised to work “under the radar” to advocate for helping the Pellini family sell its property for more than $2 million to the CVS/Chase Developer. She will be a sure vote to overturn the DRB and Councilmember Patrick Slayter will probably vote with her, as he has in the past, on anti-environmentalist issues.
Ms. Shaffer and Ms. Austin seem to believe that government exists to facilitate the profits of multi-billion dollar companies, even if it harms the livability of our unique city and viability of small business.
Sebastopol is fortunate that we currently seem to have a 3 to 2 “green” City Council that reflects the shared desire of a majority of our citizens for a green, liveable city that places our ecology over the profits of powerful private interests.
I am concerned that this narrow majority may “swing” to a “pro-business” majority, headed by Ms. Shaffer and Ms. Austin, this November. Rare is the West Coast politician who calls herself an anti-environmentalist. We can expect candidates Austin and Shaffer, leaders of the powerful pro-CVS faction in our community, to be no different.
Instead, they cloak their opposition to community empowerment over our fragile small town environment with their concern for what is “good for business.”
Come November, Sebastopol voters should ask, “whose business?”
The CVS issue has become the front line in a battle for the future of a green Sebastopol.
Jonathan Greenberg is a Sebastopol resident.
Please forgive me if this has been addressed (I've not seen it) but has anyone spoken to the need or lack thereof of yet another national bank and another pharmacy in Sebastopol? Are there long lines at our existing pharmacies? Are local banks turning away new customers because they have reached their limit? I would assume that most Sebastopol citizens, with our commitment to local business, have their accounts at the locally owned banks in town, i.e., Redwood Credit Union and the Exchange Bank. And personally, I would love to support a locally-owned pharmacy.
The proposed CVS/Chase development will simply be another corporate eyesore to ignore and another nail in the coffin of our unique rural charm.
The following 2 members have expressed gratitude to oliviathunderkitty for this post:
Oliviathunderkitty, this is not ANOTHER national bank or pharmacy. Both businesses are currently located elsewhere in Sebastopol--CVS in the former Long's location (which will become vacant if/when the new CVS is built), and Chase bank inside the Lucky store in the same strip mall. Which, to my mind, completely negates the possible sales tax benefit to the city that is continually cited by some.
The following member has expressed gratitude to Hollyanna for this post:
I do understand that these businesses exist in some form now, but the bank, especially, is a major expansion--yet another free-standing national/multinational bank. We have enough. And the pharmacy is an ill-advised relocation.
At the risk of sounding crabby, this plan has been debated publicly so for so long and so often we would be repeating ourselves and others if we did anything but direct you to the Design Review Guidelines and the General Plan, available on the city website.
The duties and responsibilities of the Design Review Board are to study development projects as they are presented, use their skills, training and expertise in this field to ensure that the proposals comply with our General Plan and the Design Review Guidelines.
These documents outline the components that the DRB and the City Council must consult and honor in their decision making process.
The State of California requires every municipality to have a General Plan. The General Plan establishes long-range conservation and development policies. This General Plan was adopted in 1994, and has been amended several times since.
Its purpose is to provide a basis for judging whether specific private development proposals and public projects are in harmony with these policies and to inform citizens, developers, decision makers and other jurisdictions of the ground rules that will guide development and conservation with the Sebastopol Planning Area.
The General Plan’s policies for the Downtown were built on two previous documents: The Downtown Portfolio, 1978, and The Downtown Plan, 1990. These documents are also available on the city website. They really are worth reading. They contain illustrations of what development in the Downtown Core should look like, and what it shouldn’t.
All these plans were formulated through long hours of public meetings and discussions, where citizens, public boards and commissions discussed in open forums their vision and expectations for the future of our town.
These documents do not state that current economic conditions allow for ignoring the guidelines. And evidently it must be said at least once more that property owners have the right to sell their property, and the City has every right to circumscribe what is built on it.
Helen Shane and John Kramer
The people that want it think it will bring jobs and money into the community, ignoring the huge environmental cost and community identity that we all love. I think it will hurt local business - especially the bookstores, liquor stores, local banks - all the things that will now have new competition in the center of town if this goes through.
The following member has expressed gratitude to scamperwillow for this post: