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Roundup: The Livery and the Library
What's not opening soon, closing because of bad air, and closing for good
Is the Livery Alive?
Becca Lipski, Chief Operating Officer of The Beale Group, the developer of The Livery, replied in email to my question about whether there was a schedule for opening up The Livery in downtown Sebastopol.
“I wish I had better news… We have a permit ready to be pulled, and we had a construction lender lined up in August of last year. We were weeks away from breaking ground on construction when the feds raised interest rates, then again, and again... Unfortunately, our lender ended up bailing on us, as many lenders did to many customers during that crazy time. Interest rates have continued to rise and there is no end in sight.
We are still 100% committed to the project, but we have decided to put a pause on construction for at least 12 months while we wait for the rates come back down, and/or we find the perfect equity investor.
Ideally, we’d like to find someone local who is as passionate about our community as we are, so if you know anyone who is looking for an amazing real estate investment opportunity, please send them our way! If we find the right investor, we could potentially get going sooner!”
The Livery joins Hotel Sebastopol as a project that will be delayed because their financing fell through. Not good news for a city budget desperate for more revenue from sales taxes.
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Why Does the Library Close Because of a “Bad Air” Day?
You may have noticed that the Sebastopol Regional Library was unexpectedly closed Wednesday and Thursday morning due to poor air quality. It happened in August as well. This puzzled us. It’s indoors, after all, and we didn’t recall this happening in years past, and so we reached out to Sonoma County Library Communications Manager Ray Holley.
“Closing a library is always a difficult decision, and it’s never made without considering all options. For the safety of our staff and our public, we close libraries whenever the indoor air quality reaches unhealthy levels for a sustained period of time. We cannot subject community members to unhealthy conditions inside our buildings,” he wrote in an email.
“Closing public buildings for ‘bad air days’ is a comparatively new occurrence as wildfire systems become more severe and last longer,” he continued. “Our older buildings were constructed at a time when air quality was less of a concern, and many are not designed or sealed for this situation. We have invested in high-end commercial air scrubbers and HEPA filters, but in unusual situations like this, our air purifiers simply cannot keep up.”
“We monitor air quality regularly and react accordingly. For example, while we closed multiple buildings on Thursday, some have now reopened.” Holley recommends that if the air quality in your area degrades quickly, check the sonomalibrary.org website before visiting the library. “Our closures are always posted promptly on our home page,” he told us.
Here is this week’s Air Quality Index (AQI) for our area from Airnow.gov:
The AQI is a range from 0 to 500. “When AQI values are above 100, air quality is unhealthy: at first for certain sensitive groups of people, then for everyone as AQI values get higher,” according to an explanation of AQI on Airnow.gov.
Is Sumbody Closed?
Erica Lynne asked this question in the Facebook group, “What’s up Sebastopol?” Stephanie French replied that she had taken a photo of a sign on the door that read: “After almost 25 years with a store/spa in Sebastopol sadly we will be closing our store.” While the store is closed, the business will continue to operate out of its warehouse, selling products online at Sumbody.com and through markets such as Oliver’s, Community Market and Good Earth stores.
The closing of Sumbody on the west side of Main Street is one more in a series of turnovers in downtown storefronts since the pandemic.
How long was the old CVS building unoccupied?
The old CVS building in Redwood Shopping Center remained without a tenant until this month when Spirit Halloween moved in. CVS closed that store the same month it moved to its new downtown location at the corner of Highway 12 and Highway 116 in January 2017. The old store had been unoccupied for a span of 80 months or 6 years and 8 months.
The Spirit Halloween chain has a habit of taking over abandoned retail locations such as the former Bed, Bath and Beyond store on Santa Rosa Ave or the former Kmart in Petaluma, albeit for only a few months.
What is the ‘housing element?”
I may be the only person with this question but I am a confused by the phrase “housing element.” It makes me think of “heating element” as in a stove. Here are some examples of “housing element” in this article:
“At its core, the housing element is about how we can provide for housing,” said Bradley Dunn, a policy analyst for Sonoma County.“ Or in this sentence, “During the last housing element cycle (2015-2023), the county was required to facilitate the building of only 515 homes.”
I asked Laura about “housing element.” She replied: “Because housing is an element of the general plan.” Duh. “Element” in this context is a constituent part of a plan, yet this housing element is one that draws some heat.
What is Substack?
Our 550th paid subscriber emailed us with this question: “who is substack and why is that associated with this? Do they own your paper and do I need to get their app?”
Substack is a technology platform that we use as a service to publish Sebastopol Times. Among the services it provides are hosting the content on a website, distributing stories through email and managing subscribers. Sebastopol Times is an independent, locally owned publication.
You can receive Sebastopol Times by email, or by going to the website, or by using the Substack app. (98% of you receive the Sebastopol Times by email.)
In addition, the Substack platform is used by many others to publish newsletters on variety of subjects. Substack has helped to create a way for writers to get paid by those who value it. As advertising has diminished as a means of support for online publications, subscription revenue is the best option available. That’s why we ask those of you who do subscribe to become a paid subscriber and support our work. We appreciate our subscribers, especially those who renew their paid subscriptions!
Laura has this tip that puts Sebastopol Times on the home screen of your phone or tablet.
For iPhone or iPad:
Launch the Safari browser and go to https://www.sebastopoltimes.com.
Click on the Share icon — the square with an arrow pointing upward. (On the iPhone this is located along the bottom of the screen; on the iPad it’s in the upper right corner.)
Then scroll down till you see “Add to Home Screen.” Click that and voila!
Launch the Chrome browser and go to https://www.sebastopoltimes.com.
Tap the menu icon (3 dots in upper right-hand corner) and tap “Add to Home Screen.”
Type in SebTimes when you’re prompted to enter a name and then Chrome will add our icon to your home screen.
(Note: you can actually add any website to your phone using the above steps.)
Please let us know if you have problems with Substack.
Week of September 16-23
This week’s stories reflect the two sides of a local news publication. Both are essential. One is a story about a man’s love for his dog, who passed away recently. “Nattie the dog” is a “human-interest story” sensitively told by Steve Einstein. A dozen people favorited it. The other is Laura’s report on a heated meeting of local officials and the public in Graton to discuss the housing element of the County’s general plan, which must follow the State’s requirement that rural areas provide high-density housing. Five people favorited it but there were several meaningful comments on the article.