Sebastopol council considering amendments to parking ordinance, fine structure

By Zoe Strickland, Managing Editor, SoCoNews, April 18, 2022

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During the next Sebastopol City Council meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, April 19 at 6 p.m., the city council is slated to hold two public hearings — one to amend the language in the city’s parking ordinance, and another that seeks to introduce an increased parking fine structure for the city. Additionally, council members will receive presentations about Ives Pool and about the city’s Relaunch Sebastopol campaign, a report from the Committee for the Unhoused, and consider standard conditions of approval for development projects, merging the city’s Zero Waste and Climate Action committees, as well as potentially adopting the city’s Local Road Safety Plan, among other items.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and is being held on Zoom. Information on how to attend can be found here and the full council agenda can be found here.

Clarifying the RV parking ordinance

Following the council’s Feb. 23 decision to adopt a recreational vehicle parking ordinance, city staff is coming forward with an amended version of the ordinance that provides more detail about who would be permitted to park RVs in what areas of the city and how.

The Recreational Vehicle Parking Ordinance dictates that an RV can only park in a residential zone while loading and unloading — or visiting — for 72 hours, on a complaint-driven basis.

The homeowner and the individual parking in front of their residence must be affiliated for the RV to have “a 72-hour reprieve from a citation or enforcement action,” with tires marked accordingly, Sebastopol Police Chief Kevin Kilgore told SoCoNews on March 1.

Chapter 10.08 of the Sebastopol Municipal Code applies to all vehicles and says, “Any vehicle that has been parked or left standing upon a street or highway for 72 or more consecutive hours,” can be removed or caused to be removed by an SPD officer.

The amended ordinance being presented to the council on Tuesday includes a provision that would allow permitted RV parking for residential zones in the city and introduces exceptions to the 72-hour exception for homeowners, tenants or out-of-town visitors, per the council agenda report. The suggested changed ordinance also introduces language that specifies how far a vehicle needs to move in order to comply with the three-day restriction.

The parking ordinance allows for RV permits to be issued for up to seven days with an additional seven-day extension, and only one RV permit can be issued for each residential address in the city. Should someone want to file a permit application, they would go through the Sebastopol Police Department.

Increasing parking fines

Another public hearing slated for Tuesday night seeks to increase city parking fines, doubling most of them. According to the council agenda, this marks the first increase to the fine structure in over 11 years and, after processing fees for the county are deducted, the city is losing money.

Parking fine violations are classified into the following categories:

Category I: Expired Meter ($20.00 fine)

Category II: Timed Parking (1-hour, 2-hour, 3-hour, etc.) ($25.00)

Category III: Loading Zone and Reserved Parking ($30.00)

Category IV: Red Zone, Double Parking, Parking in Crosswalk ($40.00)

Category V: Handicap Parking

The current and proposed fines are:

Category I: Current $20; Proposed $40

Category II: Current $25; Proposed $50

Category III: Current $30; Proposed $60

Category IV: Current $40; Proposed $80

Category V: Current $275; Proposed $425

Standard conditions of approval for planning projects

As part of the effort to adopt measures that put in place objective standards and conditions for developments in Sebastopol that seek ministerial approval, as well as creating more consistent conditions of approval for all planned projects in the city, the council is being presented with a document that spells out standard conditions of approval. The conditions have been to the planning commission and the design review board, and are now moving up for council-level approval.

According to the council agenda, “The State of California has adopted various laws in the last few years that limit City discretion on certain housing projects and requires approval of such projects at a ministerial level (staff level), such as those going through a streamlined review process such as “SB35” projects. These projects can only be subject to adopted and published standards and objective guidelines. By adopting a standard set of “Conditions of Approval”, the City can ensure that the City’s standard conditions (normally placed on the project through a discretionary review process, such as Design Review or review of a Conditional Use Permit) can be applied to these projects.

“Additionally, staff believes the development of a standard set of conditions for all projects will help streamline review of projects, as this list of conditions will not need to be applied by staff or reviewed by decisionmakers (Commissions/Boards/Council) in detail for each application once adopted.”

Other items up for discussion on Tuesday include reintroducing an ordinance that looks at eligibility requirements for planning commissioners and reduces the number of planning commissioners to five. At a meeting earlier this month, the council introduced the ordinance and waived the first reading to eliminate an alternate position and modify the geographic boundaries for out of town resident and business owner members.

The council will also be discussing how it wants to move forward with holding council meetings — whether it wants to continue online-only, go in-person only, or hold hybrid meetings. Should the council go to in-person only, meetings may still be streamed, but not over Zoom in an interactive format.

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