This is a letter published in The Bodega Bay Navigator. The folks in The West County seemed much too complacent over this development. It may be that the changed demographics has engendered a lackadaisical attitude. It needs a jump-start!
The Sebastopol City Council Hearings are over. O'Reilly & Associates have been given approval to re-locate their very highly regarded publishing and computer software company onto an apple orchard to be annexed by the City.
The Friends of West County was formed to preserve The General Plan, Urban Growth Boundries and compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act ( C.E.Q.A .). They are seeking legal review of The Council's action. The Friends... are motivated and determined to maintain the critical eye on development The West County has prided itself in for the last twenty years.
The importance of a broad outreach to expand the current active support of The Friends of West County cannot be overemphasized. Those of us who don't live in Sebastopol are very much affected by the O'Reilly Development.
From the Occidental and Coastal areas, we know all too well the frustration of negotiating Sebastopol traffic. Mill Station Road into Hwy 116 is a funnel from many directions, to and from town. The change from an orchard to a traffic hub alters more than just travel time. Peace of mind, a decision whether or not to go to Sebastopol and the basic driving definition of our community would be forever degraded.
The folks from The River area also have this same change to face. This route is an already constricted corridor serving the entire River and Central to Northern Coastal regions of Sonoma County.
No less a reason for people outside of Sebastopol to support The Friends of West County is that with the Development's approval, we'll see the tacit acceptance of "development creep". One project then another slowly filling in the Green Spaces throughout The West County.
Today, the cost of a development generally includes a green-bone thrown to activists to avoid social-environmental objections. View-shed berms, undeveloped space, sunken parking and a progressive social conciousness or positive community role are all now negotiable chips in the cost of business as usual.
Therefore it's imperative that a broader base raise a voice in this dramatic change that will effect our daily lives. It's unacceptable that The Sebastopol City Council has unilaterally taken action so detrimental to the lifestyle of so many.
The entire West County must view this as an opportunity to coalesce into a strong appeal to ensure in the future that a wider forum of debate be heard on issues affecting us all. The O'Reilly Project has been approved for an unacceptable location. We all must continue to speak our concerns.
Here and now this voice is best expressed through support of The Friends of The West County and their legal effort to relocate O'Reilly & Associates well-intended but inappropriately sited development.