Sebastopol bans new gas stations
The Rotten Robbie gas station on Healdsburg Avenue.
On April 19, Sebastopol became the third city in the county to ban the development of new gas stations. (Petaluma and Rohnert Park beat us to it.)
The ordinance also forbids existing gas stations from adding new fossil-fuel-based infrastructure (aka gas pumps), but left the door open for them to add renewable equipment, such as charging stations. While the ban forbids expansion of the fossil fuel infrastructure at existing stations, it allows them to replace existing equipment as needed.
The ban was accomplished by a small amendment to the city’s zoning regulations, an approach Mayor Patrick Slayter called “elegant.”
The amendment, introduced at the April 5 council meeting by city planner Kari Svanstrom, came with the full support of the Regional Climate Protection Agency, as well as the city’s own Planning Commission and Climate Action Committee, both of which had unanimously approved it.
At the previous council meeting, Woody Hastings of the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations, urged the council to approve the amendment.
“The solution here is to stop digging the hole,” Hastings said. “This is not a symbolic measure. The two gas station proposals that initiated the formation of the Coalition Opposing New Gas Stations were near Sebastopol — one of them between Sebastopol and Todd Road and one just outside of Sebastopol’s city limits. And there are four active proposals in the county, two of them in West County. And so, it's not a symbolic thing.”
“It's remarkable how people have galvanized around this issue,” Councilmember Sarah Gurney said. “I think we're all just yearning to do something bold and future oriented and want to go in this direction.”
On Tuesday, they did just that. The city council waived a second reading of the amendment and approved it unanimously, along with several other measures on the consent calendar.