Sebastopol City Council to address Calder Creek naturalization concept and mid-year budget

By Camille Escovedo, Staff Writer, SoCoNews, February 1, 2022

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The Sebastopol City Council is set to juggle mid-year budget amendments, committee recommendations, board and committee recruitment, voting directions, and the coexistence of Calder Creek and Ives Park at its Feb. 1 meeting.

The agenda and Zoom link for the 6 p.m. meeting are available right here.

Naturalizing Calder Creek

Discussion begins that night with Wilding Studio’s presentation of the Ives Park Calder Creek Naturalization Project. The Sebastopol City Council will consider approval of a preferred concept that would allow Calder Creek to run a more natural course through the park.

Per the staff report, the city is collaborating with the Waterway Restoration Institute (WRI) and Switzer Foundation Fellow Jessica Hall on exploring the naturalization concept included in the Ives Park Master Plan, “as well as up- and down-stream conditions.” The project also considers how the creek might be rehabilitated through downtown, the report said.

Acting as the Parks Commission, the Planning Commission has already met with WRI and Hall several times, most recently in December when WRI showed commissioners three design options for the project. The Planning Commission recommends the stream alignment approaches of Option B or Option C, which both call for modifying the master plan adopted in 2013.

Option B’s “updated charrette” allows for a “dynamically stable channel” that winds the creek away from redwoods and forms “activity nooks such as picnic areas, and art walk installations,” along with lawn space. However, the option takes out the second lawn east of the pool and forces the park’s southwest event space to be smaller, “which would curve further north toward the ball field.”

Option C’s “stable platform creek” pursues an “ideal creek alignment” to take priority over the park’s inner boundaries. While it would make way for a central lawn and event area and forested environment beside the creek, it would involve taking out the entire Little League ball field, which the staff report said could make it hard to get grants from park measure sources.

The commission discourages Option A because the way it constrains the creek is the least stable, least natural and most similar to the adopted master plan.

Changes to the mid-year budget

Later, the council is to consider approving mid-year adjustments to the 2021-22 adopted operating budget and accepting the quarterly financial information report. Associated with the item are the costs of a $328,820 deficit to the general fund, a $371,936 deficit to the water fund and a $654,631 deficit to the wastewater fund.

The city budget adopted in July of 2021 involved a plan to cover the $1,052,433 deficit with Sebastopol’s reserve funds, but the budget committee “revised the mid-year revenue projections for the general fund, water and sewer enterprise.” Now, the budget notes reserve funds are to restore a $328,820 deficit, not a $1,052,433 one, according to the staff report.

Further mentioned is that the City of Sebastopol has made a claim for reimbursement of the insurance regarding the $1.2 million stolen from the city through a fraudulent wire transfer request fulfilled by the County of Sonoma Treasury in 2021.

Two claims Sebastopol has with its own carrier are still pending, but the staff report said various County carriers have returned $375,000 to Sebastopol and it’s expected that another insurance carrier will pitch in $500,000 more. This isn’t shown in the mid-year budget adjustments because there’s no word yet on whether the claim will be fulfilled, though.

What to do about vacancies

Other matters the Sebastopol City Council is scheduled to take up are recommendations from the Committee for the Unhoused left over from the Jan. 18 meeting and direction to staff regarding recruitment and not having enough applications, if any few, to fill openings on the Design Review Board, the Zero Waste Committee and the Climate Action Committee.

In addition, the council may amend city council and staff committee assignments and shall give direction to Mayor Patrick Slayter or a designee for voting on board and committee vacancies at the City Selection Committee and Sonoma County Mayors and Councilmembers Association Meeting on Feb. 10.



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