Sebastopol City Council Preview

By Zoë Strickland, Staff Writer, Sonoma West Times & News, April 5, 2021

City of Sebastopol city council

Council discussing fireworks, CoMission funding

At the next Sebastopol City Council meeting, scheduled for April 6, the council will be discussing fireworks, increased funding for CoMission and will be discussing whether or not to establish a committee to review city financial policies as they pertain to Community Benefit Grants and sponsorships. The meeting is being held virtually over Zoom, with open session beginning at 6 p.m. To view the full council agenda, click here.

Prior to its consent calendar, the council will be issuing a handful of proclamations: recognizing April 4-10 as National Library Week, recognizing April 11-17 as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, proclaiming April 2021 as Sexual Assault Awareness Month and proclaiming the honoree of the next cycle of the city’s Locals Who Make a Different program.

During its regular meeting, the council will consider the following items under the consent calendar:

  • Approval of March 10 study session council minutes
  • Approval of March 16 council meeting minutes
  • Adoption of resolution of local support and approval of a letter of support for the SR 116 and Bodega Avenue pedestrian access and mobility improvements for the quick strike grant application
  • Approval of an amendment to the master agreement with Wood Rogers for Bodega Avenue bike lanes and pavement rehabilitation
  • Approval of notice of completion of Park Village renovations, new RV pads
  • Adoption of a resolution of intention to levy and collect annual assessments for fiscal year 2021-22 for the city of Sebastopol’s lighting special assessment district
  • Approval of letter of opposition to SB 556, removal of local authority of public rights of way wireless broadband infrastructure deployment

The firework debate

Last year, the Sebastopol City Council temporarily banned the sale of safe and sane fireworks for 2020, since events relating to fireworks and the Fourth of July had the potential to encourage large gatherings during the pandemic.

The county is currently under the red tier as defined by the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which doesn’t currently allow outdoor events with live audiences or indoor gatherings with more than three households, though that will change on April 15 when outdoor events with 25 or fewer people will be allowed.

And, according to the council agenda item, the Sebastopol Kiwanis Club has determined that it won’t be holding a fireworks show this year.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the council will discuss fireworks in the city and provide direction to city staff. Items for the council to discuss include whether or not to allow the sale of safe and sane fireworks for 2021, prohibit the sale of safe and sane fireworks for 2021 and review it again in 2022, allow the use of fireworks, prohibit or ban the sale of safe and sane fireworks, prohibit or ban the use of fireworks other than for specific events and other possibilities relating to the sale and use of fireworks.

The council will be discussing fireworks this week and giving direction to staff, but the agenda item isn’t considered an “action item.” That is, the council can direct city staff to bring back the topic for future discussion or action.

CoMission funding

At its study session on March 10, the council reviewed a report of accomplishments by CoMission and discussed its need for additional funding to keep its work going through the rest of the fiscal year, according to the council agenda.

The funding request asks for an additional $20,000 for additional work to be performed by CoMission in May and June. If approved, the request would bring total funding for CoMission to $120,000 for the 2020-21 fiscal year. With the additional $20,000, CoMission said it would continue its existing community councils (business leadership, community benefit organizations and a service organization council) and that the additional funds would “provide us with enough budget to make sure that we are following through with the numerous inquiries we get from community members wanting to participate or learn more about community vitality efforts,” CoMission’s budget request says.

Another ad hoc?

As a follow-up from a discussion at the last council meeting, the council will be discussing approving an ad hoc committee to review the city’s financial policies surrounding grants and sponsorships. Ad hoc committees are committees that exist for a limited amount of time to address a specific need or topic.

“Community Benefit Grants are intended to augment the efforts of nonprofit organizations to benefit programs for specific projects that improve the quality of life and build civic pride in Sebastopol. It is the city’s policy to have a program that can channel requests through an application review, thereby ensuring that all requests are evaluated consistently to enter into agreements for specific measurable services and to ensure that recipients are held accountable for providing the agreed upon services within the specified time frame. Applications are typically solicited in January/February time frame for consideration in the upcoming fiscal year budget,” reads the agenda item. “However, during the year, the city may receive requests for event sponsorships for special events, programs and services conducted by external local entities and the Community Benefit Grant program policy does not address these types of requests and appears to be inapplicable. This item is a request to impanel an ad hoc committee of the council, along with appropriate staff, to research and develop draft policies for the entire council to consider.”

Additionally, the council will consider approving and adopting a resolution condemning and combating racism and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and all people. It will also be considering giving direction to the mayor on voting for various board and committee vacancies at the April meeting of the City Selection Committee and Sonoma County Mayors and Councilmembers Association Meeting.

This article was produced by Sonoma West Times & News, the hometown newspaper of Sebastopol and west county since 1889. See more news at sonomawest.com