I will work to ensure that a congestion-causing, pedestrian-unfriendly development like CVS will not happen again.
Traffic is terrible for local businesses, as well as residents. It is up to local government to try to improve it, and to encourage pedestrian and bike friendly development.
I will help do this by providing greater Council oversight of traffic studies related to proposed new developments. Council Member and Vice Mayor Patrick Slayter, who I am running to replace, ran for office saying that traffic was the city’s biggest problem. Yet less than a year after winning election, he championed the need to push through a “negative traffic declaration” that green lighted the CVS/Chase project that will bring 1,800 additional car trips a day to the most congested and dangerous crossroads of our City when it opens next year.
In contrast, I spent many volunteer weeks investigating the CVS traffic report, and uncovered, on behalf of the public, the falsehood at the core of the report. My work pulled back the curtain on the suspicious “negative declaration” of no “significant” at the most congested crossroads of our community, As reported in WaccoBB.net, inaccurate information had been provided by Sebastopol’s Planning Department to the traffic study group. The traffic analyst was mysteriously instructed to measure traffic heading east to Main Street on Bodega Avenue from High Street, instead of Jewell Avenue, where it always backs up to. As a result, the core finding of the official CVS traffic study concluded that during afternoon rush hour it takes just 35 seconds to get to Main Street heading east on Bodega Avenue. 35 seconds at rush hour? Really?
Yet this was the conclusion that Council Member Patrick Slayter, joining City Planning Director Kenyon Webser, insisted the City Council accept, as can be seen in the meeting minutes of the July 5, 2011 meeting here. Had I been on the Council to provide independent oversight to the approval process, the traffic report would not have been forced through a complacent City Council.
This, to me, is the job of our political representatives: to provide transparency, and oversight, for decisions that have major impacts on the lives of those in our community. An accurate traffic report for the CVS project would have found what everyone in Sebastopol knows: there is already very “significant” traffic on the corner of Petaluma and Highway 12. Far more extensive traffic studies would have been required by law. These would have demonstrated that a project that generated 1,800 car trips a day on that corner would indeed have a significant and negative impact.The CVS project would probably have been abandoned. There would have been no costly lawsuits, no design controversy, and, eventually, a less impactful buyer for “Pellini corner.”
Increased traffic is the biggest threat facing our local businesses. Our Council needs to make sure that new commercial developments do not make a bad problem worse.
Jonathan’s was a community leader in challenging the CVS project and its faulty traffic report. An in depth investigation about the questionable circumstances surrounding the faulty CVC traffic report and the questionable role of the City’s Planning Director first appeared here on WaccoBB and received over 6,000 views and 45 replies in total. It was followed by dozens of letters, reports and public statements providing transparency for the public to better assess the facts behind the CVS controversy.