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  1. TopTop #1
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal



    Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal
    MARY CALLAHAN
    THE PRESS DEMOCRAT October 7, 2019


    A bid to develop much-needed, high-density housing in Sebastopol has put the future of a prized community garden in jeopardy, potentially displacing an acre of tilled land that helps feed seriously ill patients and provides valuable education to teen volunteers through the highly regarded Ceres Community Project.

    Early stage planning for Gravenstein Village, which would be built behind O’Reilly Media headquarters on the north end of town, could allow Ceres’ gardening needs to be integrated into the project as currently envisioned: 18 multistory structures arranged across two parcels totaling just over six acres, according to Phil Kerr, a principal with the development firm with an option to buy the land.

    Alternative locations for the garden are also under discussion, according to city officials and Ceres representatives. The garden is currently hosted on donated land, under a month-to-month lease, until the property changes hands.

    But Ceres Chief Executive Officer Cathryn Couch said replacing the one-acre garden with smaller plots dispersed around the residential project is not workable for several reasons, chiefly the need to maintain supervision and safety for teen volunteers who work in the garden.

    Given eight years of effort and investment in the soil, the Sebastopol nonprofit also is reluctant to confront the cost, disruption and labor needed to start over someplace else, even if a different plot of land were donated, she said.

    Bottom line: Ceres hopes to persuade San Francisco-based City Ventures to design its project around the garden, Couch said.

    “It’s not just having a garden space,” she said. “It’s what the value of that garden is now for the community and our investment in that over time. It’s more complicated than, ‘Oh here’s another tract of land. Build another garden.’ ”

    {snip}

    The first public review of the plan will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday before the Sebastopol Planning Commission at the Sebastopol Youth Annex, 425 Morris St.

    A preliminary design presented during an earlier city Tree Board meeting showed buildings distributed evenly across the irregularly shaped parcels, including the area where the garden and assorted infrastructure are currently located.

    Kerr said there remains plenty of time to work out a creative, satisfactory solution between Tuesday’s meeting and what could be months, perhaps years, of plan development still ahead.

    “Nothing’s been decided at this point,” he said. “It’s really early in the process.”

    {snip}

    See full article here

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  3. TopTop #2
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    Here's some info from Ceres about this project:

    Background
    City Ventures is considering the purchase of approximately 6 acres of land behind O’Reilly Media for housing development. They are seeking public comment and input in the hopes of creating a project that will address community needs and concerns. Ceres is advocating for our existing garden to be preserved as part of the development.

    We need your help now to demonstrate the importance of the garden to our community. With the project going before the planning commission on October 8, it’s very important that your comments are recorded on or before that date, to get your support for the garden on record.

    Talking Points

    Stress the value of the garden to the Sebastopol community. Ceres Community Project’s Garden:

    • Is part of our robust youth development program serving over 200 youth each year in Sebastopol. It is an integral part of Ceres’ program, where youth learn to grow the food they cook in the kitchen. The garden is a place where youth who aren’t able to thrive in our high-intensity kitchen environment find a peaceful, calming environment to connect with their peers, adult mentors and the natural world
    • Grows organic food for the meals we deliver to people who are in treatment for serious illnesses like cancer or heart disease.
    • Is a community resource, open to all to stroll through and enjoy. The garden models what a healthy food system looks like, providing soil building, climate mitigation and an important local food source
    • We hope that City Ventures will find a creative way to include the intact garden, with a minimum size of 1 acre, in their plans
    • If you are commenting/writing in support of the garden, please keep your points focused on the garden, rather than on your support or opposition to the other aspects of the proposed development, including housing

    Opportunities to comment

    Submit a comment to the Sebastopol Planning Commission no later than October 8
    In person at Public Meeting on October 8, 7 pm at Sebastopol Youth Annex, 425 Morris St. Sebastopol
    In writing to [email protected]
    Write a letter to a concerned party
    City Ventures, 444 Spear St, Ste 200 San Francisco CA 94105 [email protected]

    Sebastopol City Council


    Submit a letter to a local newspaper
    Sonoma West Times and News
    1070 Gravenstein Highway South Suite 220
    Sebastopol, CA 95472
    Or, use the e-form to submit electronically via www.sonomawest.com
    Press Democrat

    Email letters of no more than 200 words to [email protected]. Please include your full name and home city for publication. Letters must be original and written exclusively for The Press Democrat. Letters that do not include a home address and daytime phone number will not be considered for publication. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. Mail to 427 Mendocino Ave. Santa Rosa, CA 95401

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  5. TopTop #3
    rossmen
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    I remember when the Sebastopol independent charter school was exploring options to build just north of O'Reilly. Supposedly the controversy of annexing beyond the growth boundary meant that the city utility connections for O'Reilly were undersized. Guess that was a lie. Now my hood is up in arms about 103 townhomes. Let's do the math. 1/6 of 103 is about 18 times 600k equals about 10mil. There is totally a deal to be made here to move the garden.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-09-2019 at 09:40 AM.
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    robert777's Avatar
    robert777
    Supporting Member

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    I was involved in the battle for People's Park in Berkeley in1969 and see this as part of that issue. I'm glad there are possible compromises, but my pessimism leads me to feel like power and money will win, as they usually do in this world.
    Companies ask for more than they know they can get, then "compromise" by getting what they wanted in the first place.
    Good luck in this venture.

    Robert Feuer

    Last edited by Barry; 10-10-2019 at 10:11 AM.
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  9. TopTop #5
    jerichsalud's Avatar
    jerichsalud
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    How many housing projects have we seen come forward in Sebastopol in the last couple years that are still feasible? I'm not aware of many, I can think of one. I'd think it wouldn't be too difficult to identify another place for the garden. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think while it may be a short term difficulty for CERES I think this housing and another location for the garden is in the best interest of Sebastopol.
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  11. TopTop #6
    tommy's Avatar
    tommy
    Supporting member

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    Good reasons are always found in California to not build housing!


    Last edited by Barry; 10-10-2019 at 10:13 AM.
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  13. TopTop #7
    ray50sfo's Avatar
    ray50sfo
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    ...and usually by the same people who decry the cost of housing...

    Quote tommy wrote: View Post
    Good reasons are always found in California to not build housing!


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  15. TopTop #8
    Becky's Avatar
    Becky
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    I don't believe I have heard or read that a food garden for people should replace housing. My understanding is that the Ceres Community Project garden is a valuable part of the community and would serve as the same for a housing community. This garden now grows from soil that has been nurtured for at least eight years. This garden is not only alive on the surface for all of us to wander through to be nourished by nature, but alive beneath to serve as one small piece of Sebastopol that is sequestering carbon.

    Before finalizing an opinion about building necessary housing and/or supporting a unique and established food garden that feeds seriously ill clients and educates local teens, how about considering a volunteer stint at Ceres Community Project? Come and take a stroll through the Fall/Winter garden and talk to the teens who volunteer there. My experience there has made it evident that this garden is a gift to the community, the planet, and would do the same for new residents.
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  17. TopTop #9
    sealwatcher's Avatar
    sealwatcher
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    Would like to come out on Sunday - how do we enter and if coming by to walk through fine?
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    Becky's Avatar
    Becky
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    Quote sealwatcher wrote: View Post
    Would like to come out on Sunday - how do we enter and if coming by to walk through fine?
    There is a gate to the left of the large double door gates. Stroll through and enjoy. Pick some strawberries...and there might even be some raspberries left. And if you ever have a Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday afternoon, come through again and talk to the teens. They are inspired and inspiring.
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  21. TopTop #11
    SonomaPatientsCoop's Avatar
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    As someone who has supported CERES over the years I just want to make sure I have my facts straight in this discussion.

    My understanding is the O'reilly Media has donated the space to CERES for the better part of a decade (no doubt benefitting from both tax breaks and having an awesome space just outside their offices that is a benefit to their employees).

    And now O'reilly media is selling 6 acres- including the land previously donated to CERES over the years, to a developer planning housing?

    I feel like of course I would love to see CERES able to continue there. But I also feel it is a very large ask. To me the reality is O'reilly held land as an investment, and since they were not using the land saw advantages in letting CERES use it- tax breaks, community goodwill, and a space for employees that likely helped both provide a nicer work environment, which also likely helped in hiring. But now we are talking about someone wanting to develop housing...and I doubt either tax breaks, "community goodwill", or even the slight benefit that might come from charging higher rents from having such a space nearby would outweigh the actual losses.

    I would be very interested in seeing numbers. The cost of the acre, how many if any units it would reduce in the plan, how much it would likely affect rental costs, etc, etc.

    I would also be interested in knowing if there has been any discussion at the county/city level of providing a place for CERES at the proposed new Sonoma Compost facility?
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  23. TopTop #12
    karenm97's Avatar
    karenm97
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    My understanding was that the property is no longer owned by the company or Tim O'Reilly.

    from late june: "The three parcels that make up the O’Reilly Media property — including the main building complex and two parcels behind it — have been up for sale for several years now. City Ventures is in contract to purchase the two undeveloped parcels between the building and the West County Trail. The Ceres garden sits on the western edge of the southernmost parcel."

    Sonoma West:
    Saving the Ceres Garden, Jun 26, 2019

    Press Democrat:
    Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal, October 7, 2019

    Quote SonomaPatientsCoop wrote: View Post
    My understanding is the O'reilly Media has donated the space to CERES for the better part of a decade (no doubt benefitting from both tax breaks and having an awesome space just outside their offices that is a benefit to their employees).

    And now O'reilly media is selling 6 acres- including the land previously donated to CERES over the years, to a developer planning housing?...
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  25. TopTop #13
    tommy's Avatar
    tommy
    Supporting member

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    As to "I would be very interested in seeing numbers. The cost of the acre, how many if any units it would reduce in the plan, how much it would likely affect rental costs, etc, etc" ...

    Good luck with that. I doubt Barry has a staff of accountants, tax lawyers, investment dorks, psychics, etc, who could do that analysis. Or perhaps you could create those numbers yourself.

    Regardless, there are larger factors at work. There's the one who owns the land. There's the developer who's put forth a plan. There's the contractor. Then the RE agent. This being America, everybody wants to make money. The party that owns the land perhaps wants to double what they paid for it. Some of the players have big risks. It'll take a lot of money to build the housing. That has to be financed by a bank or ins co. How much money is made, depends on how many units are built, and the timing: when the housing is finally finished, and sold or rented, are prices high? Who knows? Since it'll take a couple of years to finish it, it's risky, we could be in a boom or a bust when it's finished.

    There are several big players who will be calling the shots. Perhaps Ceres could be integrated into the development, which would be beautiful! However, if I were Ceres, I'd be looking for alternatives, to procure the produce. Because my hunch is that Ceres does not have anywhere near the power as the other players in this game.

    Quote SonomaPatientsCoop wrote: View Post
    As someone who has supported CERES over the years I just want to make sure I have my facts straight in this discussion....
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2019 at 02:34 PM.
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  27. TopTop #14
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    Quote tommy wrote: View Post
    ...However, if I were Ceres, I'd be looking for alternatives, to procure the produce. Because my hunch is that Ceres does not have anywhere near the power as the other players in this game.
    While I generally agree with you, I think Ceres also brings a lot to table (figuratively {as in value} and literally {as in food!}!)

    Having a central garden within the development does add significant value (while reducing the 'sellable' land). It can provide its contiguous neighbors with beauty and a sense of purpose, whether it's by actively participating with the garden or not. Plus it engenders wider community support, which also expresses itself as political support, which is going to rather important in this case.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2019 at 02:35 PM.

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  29. TopTop #15
    SonomaPatientsCoop's Avatar
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    Quote karenm97 wrote: View Post
    My understanding was that the property is no longer owned by the company or Tim O'Reilly.

    from late june: "The three parcels that make up the O’Reilly Media property — including the main building complex and two parcels behind it — have been up for sale for several years now. City Ventures is in contract to purchase the two undeveloped parcels between the building and the West County Trail. The Ceres garden sits on the western edge of the southernmost parcel."
    Interesting- and thanks. So... does anyone know who is currently donating the property to CERES ?
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  31. TopTop #16
    ray50sfo's Avatar
    ray50sfo
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    It would be less disingenuous if you were giving away YOUR OWN LAND instead of someone else's.

    Amazing how generous some can be with other people's property.

    If you really care, let Ceres use YOUR LAND...

    Quote Barry wrote: View Post
    While I generally agree with you, I think Ceres also brings a lot to table (figuratively {as in value} and literally {as in food!}!)....
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  32. TopTop #17
    Barry's Avatar
    Barry
    Founder & Moderator

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    Quote ray50sfo wrote: View Post
    It would be less disingenuous if you were giving away YOUR OWN LAND instead of someone else's....
    I'm not saying they (City Ventures) should give away their land. I'm saying they may come to see that accommodating the 1-acre Ceres garden is actually in their financial interest.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-21-2019 at 02:36 PM.

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  34. TopTop #18
    podfish's Avatar
    podfish
    Supporting Member

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    Quote ray50sfo wrote: View Post
    It would be less disingenuous if you were giving away YOUR OWN LAND instead of someone else's.

    Amazing how generous some can be with other people's property.
    and another hair-trigger response based on the fetishization of private property ownership. No-one said anything about giving away land; but Ray's not unique in his fear that ownership is under constant threat. You see the same thing regarding guns. And in both cases, I wish those in fear were more correct. There's no divine right to either; the concept of private property is a convenience, theoretically benefiting society by increasing the motivation of some to work the land, which in theory provides goods for everyone, blah, blah... Adam Smith... etc. Although I guess if you take Genesis literally, and take 'you' as singular rather than as Adam (the other Adam) representing all mankind, he was indeed given dominance (or at least dominion - is that the same here?). So maybe you have a case...

    but as a practical matter, the use an 'owner' can make of his land is heavily constrained by law and convention. The new owners may indeed be good neighbors, willing to make some concessions toward preserving a community resource. There's a nice term, "stewards of the land" which is ideally more accurate than "owner" anyway.
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  36. TopTop #19
    Cynthia Poten's Avatar
    Cynthia Poten
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    I have two questions re: the development project that would eliminate the Ceres Garden and all the good it contributes to this community.

    1. Does the City of Sebastopol have the authority to not approve the project as proposed?
    2. In addition to destroying Ceres amazing garden, it will add considerable traffic congestion to the Rt. 116 intersection with Mill Station Road, Traffic has already increased considerably in the downtown area in the past few years.
    Last edited by Barry; 10-24-2019 at 02:09 PM.
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  38. TopTop #20
    Dorothy Friberg's Avatar
    Dorothy Friberg
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    Although I doubt many of the visible homeless will occupy these proposed structures, more housing is needed and this seems to be a good place to expand Sebastopol. Yes the traffic at Mill Station and 116 is nuts, especially at rush hour and school times but something's gotta give. Perhaps it is you, to slow down at least to the speed limit in these congested areas.

    Quote Cynthia Poten wrote: View Post
    I have two questions re: the development project that would eliminate the Ceres Garden and all the good it contributes to this community.

    1. Does the City of Sebastopol have the authority to not approve the project as proposed?
    2. In addition to destroying Ceres amazing garden, it will add considerable traffic congestion to the Rt. 116 intersection with Mill Station Road, Traffic has already increased considerably in the downtown area in the past few years.
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  39. TopTop #21
    spam1's Avatar
    spam1
     

    Re: Ceres Community Project defends Sebastopol garden against housing proposal

    How can we solve the affordable housing problem without more housing? Anyone know how many housing starts have occurred in Sebastopol last year? How about how many babies were born? We must embrace housing if we are going to have a diverse community and not just a community of rich white hippies.

    Quote Cynthia Poten wrote: View Post
    I have two questions ...
    Last edited by Barry; 10-25-2019 at 03:04 PM.
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